Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson is celebrating 50 years in the Old Pueblo.

The nonprofit organization helps children, who are facing a hard time, whether living in poverty, foster care, and who may be struggling in school. The kids get referred to the agency, and staff match them with adult volunteers, who are regular people in the community interested in helping the child.

"They (the kid and adult) spend time together, become friends," said Marie Logan, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson. "The volunteer is a positive role model in the child's life. Some of our matches last a lifetime."

The organization starts working with kids at the age of 6, but also help youth up to 18 years old.

Volunteers can learn about what types of personalities they could be working with, what the little brothers and sisters' interests are, and they are paired up based on compatibility, Logal said.

The agency is currently serving about 520 kids, Logal said.

"But, because of the size of the community...the poverty level...graduation rates....we could be mentoring 1000 or more," she said. Something that would be possible, if the agency were able to expand its capacity. However, they depend on volunteers and donations.

"We are always looking for new volunteers to help us with (all) the children (we get)," Logal said.

Research has shown that there is a big impact in the life of these children because of the positive influence of these adults.

"The children in our program, compared to their peers, are less likely to start using illegal drugs or less likely to try alcohol...skip school," Logal said. "They begin to have a more positive relationship with their family and adults in their lives...it is a very positive experience (in the life of) the kids."

American Graduate segments were produced in corporation with Tucson Values Teachers.

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