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Mentoring programs adapt to social distancing

Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors turn to FaceTime during coronavirus outbreak.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Mentoring programs across the country are continuing even as people practice social distancing. 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik FaceTimed with a mentor from Big Brothers Big Sisters Wednesday about what it's like to stay connected during the coronavirus outbreak.

Big Sister Erin Rogers has been paired-up with her Little, Juliana, for almost four years, but this is the first time they haven't been able to do activities together in person. That isn't stopping them from hanging out, though.

Credit: Erin Rogers

Rogers says they love to do stuff outside — bike riding, rollerblading, just hanging out and exploring. They see each other probably two to three times a month, so it's been a bit of a change for both of them not having the one-on-one in person interaction. They're just trying to stay healthy and safe. Rogers is working from home. Juliana is doing her schoolwork at home. All of their visits have been through FaceTime.

“We always want to keep that relationship constant, to be a constant in their life because, you know, we are a friend and a mentor to them," says Rogers. "So, just making sure we she knows that I am still here for her, and if she needs anything, I tried to say to her, I kept repeating, you know, I'm in this, too, so whenever you need to call me or FaceTime me, I'm just working from home, too."

Connecting through FaceTime brightens up both of their days, which was especially true when it came to celebrating Juliana's birthday.

"She just turned 11 last week, so I communicated with her mom to figure out how we could interact," Rogers said. "So, on her actual birthday, we FaceTimed so I could, you know, say to her happy birthday and wish her a good day. And then, I sent her a birthday card and a few little gifts. So, then, when she received the gifts, we FaceTimed again, and so, I could watch her open her presents, which was really fun because she was so excited, and it just made it like feel like we were still able to interact and celebrate together, which was nice."

Rogers got her a craft kit and a card game and told her to get really good at it so they can play in person soon.

Interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister? Visit the organization’s website.

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