Andrew Veilleux and his Little Brother Jalen at Veilleux’s wedding. The two are in their fifth year of being matched in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Contributed / Andrew Veilleux

Big Brothers Big Sisters, with a waiting list of 46 area children, hopes to recruit 60 new adult mentors before March 1.

Men especially are needed to be Big Brothers because 35 kids on the list are boys.

“You don’t have to have a huge skillset,” said Miranda Hardy, program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine, which is based in Westbrook. “You just have to have that want to fulfill the commitment and, beyond that, you have full support from our program.”

The Southern Maine group oversees matches in 18 communities and has needs now in Buxton, Cape Elizabeth, Gorham, Gray, Portland, South Portland, Standish, Westbrook and Windham.

The waiting list for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, referred to as “Bigs,” has grown since COVID, Hardy said, and the organization is now seeing more kids with anxiety, particularly in social settings, who could benefit from one-on-one time with a trusted adult.

Andrew Veilleux was matched with his Little Brother, Jalen, in 2017.


Jalen and I hit it off from day one. I can’t imagine my life now without him. He’s seen me grow up and I’ve also seen him grow up,” Veilleux said.

He was inspired to join the program because as a boy, he had a coach who was a mentor to him, Veilleux said.

“I was grateful for what he did for me, and I felt it was right that now I give back to a young man,” he said.

Veilleux and his old coach continue to talk to this day and Veilleux invited him to his wedding. Jalen was invited too.

“As a Big, it’s amazing what I’ve gotten out of it. It’s taught me patience, basic responsibility and accountability,” said Veilleux, adding that the relationship has prepared him to be a better father “down the road.”

More men like Veilleux are needed to commit to spending time with a child twice a month for at least a year. Although Big Brothers Big Sisters does match some women with Little Brothers, most boys want to be matched with men, Hardy said.


She emphasized the importance of the volunteers being fully committed once they are matched with a child.

“Some of these kiddos are coming to us because they may have had somebody who bailed on them or let them down before, so knowing that their Big will be there every other week … that consistency is really important,” she said.

The children come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

“Every kid could use a positive support system in their world,” she said.

Veilleux said the commitment pays off.

“An extra two hours a week can be so beneficial to a Little who is looking for someone to hang out with,” Veilleux said. “It can be as simple as going to grab lunch, taking a walk or shooting hoops … Once you build that relationship, you want to spend more time than you have to.”

The organization encourages “low-cost” activities, Hardy said, “because the real gift is the gift of time spent when they’re doing things together.”

Hardy has been a Big Sister to her current Little Sister, her third, for about two years. She loves to see the world from Little’s perspective, she said, and experience her joy in little things, like duct tape wallets, for example. Most volunteers tell her they get more from the program than the kids do, she said.

Aspiring mentors are asked to complete an application along with three references, consent to a background check and must be a minimum of 18. For more information, visit

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