Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County, on an initiative from Broward County PBA President Rod Skirvin, announced a partnership with the Coconut Creek Police Department to launch Bigs in Blue, a one-to-one mentoring program which pairs youth with police officers. Bigs in Blue helps children develop into confident adults while building stronger bonds between law enforcement and the families they serve.
Fifteen Coconut Creek Police officers – including Chief of Police Albert Arenal – have signed up as Big Brother or Big Sister mentors for this innovative program. Chief Arenal, a Little Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Charlotte County during his formative years, understands firsthand the importance of empowering children through professionally supported, mentoring relationships.
“Growing up in a single parent home, my mother recognized that I needed a positive male role model in my life, and my Big Brother fit that part perfectly. He took me fishing, we went to the movies, he gave me the support that I needed during those critical adolescent years of my life,” Chief Arenal said.
Because of his Big Brother’s productive role in his life, Chief Arenal encouraged his officers to step up and be a part of this life-changing program.
“In addition to mentoring youth with an important role model, the Chief and his officers also understand that Bigs in Blue helps kids recognize that police officers are not to be feared,” said Ana M. Cedeño, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. “They’re simply regular individuals whose job it is to keep our community safe. The end result is a stronger bond between police and the public, which ultimately will strengthen our communities.”
This takeaway underpins the Broward County launch of Bigs in Blue, which is a result of the leadership of Florida State Representative Michael Gottlieb, co-chair of the initiative with Keith Williams, an attorney with Saul Ewing & Arnstein and a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. Rep. Gottlieb connected Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County to local police leadership, including Chief Arenal and the Coconut Creek Police Department, generating a strong commitment to this important program.
“We are at this point today because of the leadership of Rep. Gottlieb,” added Cedeño. “We’re so grateful for his vision for Bigs in BlueSM and incredibly thankful to Chief Arenal and all of the officers at Coconut Creek Police Department for standing with us to empower youth and defend their potential.”
In addition to Chief Arenal, Coconut Creek police officers in the process of being paired with Big Brothers Big Sisters youth include:
- Sergeant Dan Eberly III
- Officer Rocco Favata
- Sergeant Frank Fuentes
- Officer Kennard Garvey
- Sergeant Barb Hendrickx
- Sergeant Jenna Kriplean
- Public Information Officer Scotty Leamon
- Officer Chris Lewis
- Detective Cody McKinney
- Sergeant Francis McManus
- Officer Andrew Reynolds
- Detective Larry Scates
- Broward PBA President Rod Skirvin
- Officer Cheri Stabile
Bigs in Blue, the first national initiative aimed at recruiting local law enforcement to serve as mentors to youth in their local community, was launched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in 2016. It has since spread to 100 local agencies across the country. In Florida, more than 3,000 kids currently are paired with law enforcement mentors.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County is dedicated to creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Its larger vision is for all youth to achieve their full potential. For more information, visit www.bbbsbroward.org or call (954) 584-9990.