‘Big Brother’ makes a big difference

Helping big brother

From participating in the Peace Corps to building houses in Africa for Habitat for Humanity, Scott Guenthner hasn’t stopped making a difference since he settled in Flagstaff.

After getting a job at NAU, Guenthner, a lecturer in the English department, was itching to participate in a local volunteer activity. He got involved as a “Big Brother” for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff, a nonprofit organization striving to help children succeed by matching them with adult mentors. Often the children come from single-parent homes.

“Any volunteer work will give you a bigger perspective on what the true problems or issues in your life really are,” Guenthner said. “It has been a stress relief to realize some things in life just aren’t as big of a deal.”

Guenthner spends a few hours each week hanging out with his “little brother” Chris, an observant 10-year-old who is crazy about sports. Chris has won an award each year in school for being the student in his grade with the best character.

Normally, the two play football, Frisbee, or another sport outside. They also attend movies or local events together. Sunday is the only day of the week they can’t meet, unless Guenthner agrees to watch the entire Cardinals football game, as Chris never misses a game.

“As an English lecturer, I’ve gotten him interested in reading books, and we talk about books a lot,” Guenthner said. “I also bring him to my office to do homework, and he’s gotten very comfortable talking to the staff at the English department. He’s not as shy as he used to be.”

Guenthner has been volunteering as a “big brother” for one year and encourages his students to get involved in community service.

“If you’re an NAU student, you’re fairly privileged, and a lot of people in our community don’t have that opportunity,” Guenthner said. “I think it’s important to give back that privilege and share what you have with other people.”

For information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff, visit bbbsf.com/index.htm.