Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Importance of Having a Mentor In Our Life

I grew up in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico and although you have the best of both worlds (Delicious food and the best opportunities) I didn’t have a real mentor until I was an adult (Although my biggest inspiration has always been my dad!) But without any disrespect (TQM Papi) I think a mentor at an earlier age would have been helpful, for example, I wish someone would have told me how important it is to attend a U.S  high school  instead of Mexico, where no one ever talks about mentorship.

It was until I started working at the NBC station (I was 32 years old) When I had my first mentor, her name Phyllis Schwartz, at that time, General Manager of the station, my boss!

From the beginning Phyllis took me under her wing, guided me, advised me and because of her, I succeeded in my position as a the first Spanish speaking news anchor at an English station, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t even be writing this post today.

Phyllis taught me NEVER TO GIVE UPno matter what the circumstances are. I will always be grateful to her.

Today Phyllis is the VP and News Director at WFLD-TV (Fox Chicago) but I still call her when I need advice and she’s always there for me.

Coincidentally, Phyllis introduced me to my other mentor, Lidia Martinez, whose speciality is to connect people and although she’s extremely busy,  she’s the Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots at Southwest Airlines, Lidia always has time to talk to me when I need an opinion or connection.

It’s because of Lidia I became a mentor after she introduced me to United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (The photo above it’s at last years USHLI conference, Lidia is second from the right.) whose mission is to promote education, research,  leadership development, and empower Latinos.

For the last 2 years I’ve been a speaker at USHLI conference in Chicago where my goal is to empower young Latinas with workshops like; Latina Power and 10 Reasons You’re Not a Leader.

Here I’m with a group of Latina Leaders after my workshops.

Let me tell you, even though I’m suppose to empower these Latinitas, they empower me! And I love being a mentor to some of them and see how they’re overcoming obstacles everyday to achieve their goals, just like I did with the help of my mentors.

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you that I’m part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Latino Recruitment campaign whose mission is to match adult volunteer mentors (Bigs) with children, (Littles).

As a Latina and journalist who is always looking for interesting stories, sadly, every day I learn how much help or  Latino youth needs  to avoid dropping out of school, using illegal drugs, underage drinking and gangs. It’s not that Latinos are bad parents,but most of them have 2 or 3 jobs, work long hours and can’t spend a lot of time with their children, they have to choose between a baseball game with their son or a day of work so they have food on their table that night.

That’s why Big Brothers Big Sisters are looking for a few good hombres y mujeres to serve as role models  to our Latino youth.

Here are some facts:

  • 20% of the children Big Brothers Big Sisters serves are Latino, but only 9% of  ‘Bigs’ are Latino.
  • More than 70% of the children ready and waiting to be matched with a mentor are boys, only 3 of 10 volunteer inquiries come from men.

And what better time to contribute to your community and help a Latino build a better future than Hispanic Heritage month, don’t you think?

Isn’t time to pay it forward and help a Latino, just  like that special person helped you achieve a better life!

Just visit or, you can change someones life Today!

Need more inspiration to become a ‘Big’? Watch more incredible stories about ‘Bigs’ and “Littles’ on their YouTube Channel

And follow Big Brothers Big Sisters on Facebook and Twitter

Make sure to join Latina Mom Bloggers and Big Brothers and Big Sisters on Wednesday, OCT 10  from 7- 8:00 pm ET for a Twitter CHAT! There will be lots of information regarding our Latino ‘littles’ and their need for ‘Big’ volunteers!

Lets work together to support our youth, our future. Follow the hashtag #LatinoBigs

Disclosure:This is part of a supported campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Big Brothers Big Sisters.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. Eva Smith says:

    Congratulations Tania! Your post is very inspiring. I agree its time for us to pay forward.

  2. pattie says:

    My mom was always a huge inspiration for me, but as far as mentors, I think I really got one when I started my last job. She was so helpful and always there to lend an ear. I completely agree that we need to do more for our community. It takes a village!

  3. Shannon Bradley-Colleary says:

    Hi Tania — you continue to impress me with your passion and fortitude. I will pass this along.

  4. It just seems to me that when a parent has to choose between putting food on the table and being present to his/her child, there’s something very wrong – not with the parent, but with our society. That being said, mentors are important for all children, whether their parents are available or not. But when there are parents fighting to keep their families alive with multiple jobs, etc., mentoring becomes even more critical. Hope you get lots of guys, especially, to step up.

  5. The State of California currently spends $79,000 per inmate per year. Conversely, only $7,500 per student per year is spent on our children!

    Our Latino children are dropping out of school at a record pace and filling the prisons!

    We can do something about it this November by voting NO on Proposition 30 and YES on 38!

    Please visit:

    I AM 38!