“Little Brother” Arual and “Big Brother” Jacob Gersh

As part of National Mentoring Month celebrations, Big Brothers Big Sisters presented Correctional Deputy Jacob Gersh with the “Big in the Spotlight” award in recognition of his exemplary service as a volunteer mentor. The 23-year-old Paso Robles native accepted the award in the company of his colleagues and supervisors in the SLO County Sherriff’s administration building at the County Jail, with his Little Brother, Arual (age 12), in attendance.

“Little Brother” Arual thanked “Big Brother” Gersh and said that his favorite advice he has received from Gersh is “to keep out of trouble.” His mother said, “The time you dedicate to Arual really means a lot,” and shared that the preteen years can be a difficult time for kids. Though Arual has his own 9-year-old brother Aidan, who is also served by the program, he said that he will likely volunteer as a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters when he’s old enough.

Gersh will complete his one-year commitment to the mentoring program in March but said, “I will be Arual’s friend for life.” He says he has been positively impacted by the relationship and appreciates the ongoing care from Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, saying “I feel really supported by you guys.”

In addition to spending 6 hours a month playing basketball, longboarding and bowling together, Gersh and Arual helped recruit new volunteers to the program by appearing in a recent public service announcement. “Thanks to volunteers like Gersh, local youth benefit from the impacts of mentoring, which include better education, improved family relationships and reduced risk of high-risk behaviors such as underage drinking,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo’s Program Director Tatiana Abundis.