‘He’s like family to me:’ Big Brothers Big Sisters Northeast Florida striving to help the youth

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A local organization is striving to help the region’s young people reach their full potential.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida works every day to build one-on-one mentoring relationships.

Action News Jax Alexus Cleavenger sat down with a big and little pair.

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“He was the one, the person that I needed in my life,” said Takai Grigsby. “He’s like family to me.”

Takai Grigsby met Sherman Riley when he was just seven years old.

“When I first met him, he was in elementary school,” said Sherman.

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And over the last four years, they’ve built a bond.

“We’ve done quite a bit of different things,” said Sherman.

This pair gets together once a month, sometimes it’s something as simple as a scoop of ice cream that brings them together.

Takai and Sherman were matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida.

“It gives youth a chance just to connect with an extra champion in the city,” said Sara Alford, the CEO of BBBS Northeast Florida. “The majority of people that come to our program are faced with layers of challenge. So maybe they are some economic hardships in the household, maybe there’s just a family structure that doesn’t always allow a ton of time for that young person to really be poured into.”

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In September, the organization launched a campaign, calling ‘It takes a little to be big.’

Sara said in Jacksonville there are still about 100 youth waiting for a big, and she hopes to continue to work to build life-long friendships for the pairs like Takai and Sherman.

“I think we all have had mentors in our life whether it was through a program or just the gift of a coach, the gift of a counselor,” said Sara.

“It makes me so happy that I can be someone in his life that’s a positive role model,” said Sherman.

In January the organization will hold its 7th Annual, Little Big Run, a 5K/1 mile race.

EVENTS – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida (bbbsnefl.org)

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