ST. GEORGE — Do you spend too much time chasing that promotion? Or maybe you have a cool hobby and nobody to share it with? Have everything, but still don’t feel fulfilled?

L-R: Becca, Christopher Rosa, Cougar Whipple, Todd and Clay enjoy a day rock crawling their trucks in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Christopher Rosa, St. George News

For those who answered in the affirmative, community service might help to connect with the Southern Utah community, raise the spirits of a child and help them to reach their potential, all while helping a mother.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah Southern Utah manager Stephanie Lundgreen told St. George News the nonprofit organization is currently looking for adults, known as Bigs, to mentor local youth.

Lundgreen said not all kids, known as Littles, come with a troubled past. Challenges faced by Southern Utah children range from school bullying, children being raised by grandparents or relatives, and those with incarcerated parents.

Yet, many are boys with mothers looking for help.

“They recognize the need for a strong male role model to mentor their son,” Lundgreen said.

Beverly Whipple and her sons, Cougar and Sebastian, at a Big Brothers Big Sisters Utah event in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, St. George News

St. George realtor Beverly Whipple said she signed her son Cougar Whipple up for a mentor in 2021 “to get him out and show him that there are still good people in the world.”

“They just needed somebody awesome who is respectful and well-to-do,” she said. “And I can’t fill that.”

Now that Sebastian Whipple is past the 6-year-old age limit to be a Little, his mother signed him up for a Big, too.

“Again super respectful, had a great time,” she said. “They came in the other day and James was full of energy, they had a fun time. And it’s nice to see that, not only does it affect him in a positive way, it affects the big brother as well.”

Marine veteran James Cates started utilizing his GI Bill benefits at Utah Tech University after leaving service. While strolling along campus one day he came across a recruitment booth, signed up, passed a background check and not long after was paired.

“I had already been thinking about doing something with the massive amount of free time that I have,” Cates said. “I thought this might be something that would get me out of my element, so to speak.”

Cougar Whipple showing James Cates the remote control car given to him by his former Big in St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Beverly Whipple, St. George News

Listening skills, problem solving and patience are just some of the traits he has learned from participating in the organization, Cates said.

“I honestly think it’s truly life-changing,” he said. “Because it allows you to see perspectives that you otherwise wouldn’t have realized were there.”

Whipple noted although sometimes the lessons can be tough, her children learn valuable coping skills. Such was the case when Cougar’s first Big moved to Montana, or when there are unavoidable cancellations, rainy days or flat tires.

As a mother, she said she also enjoys the alone time she gets to spend with the children when one or the other is with their Big.

Christopher Rosa grew up in Florida without a father present. He said he enjoyed time spent with a Big provided through the nonprofit, so when he moved to St. George, he thought it was the right time to give back to a Little.

Cougar Whipple, Christopher Rosa and other remote control car enthusiasts enjoy a day rock crawling their trucks in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy Christopher Rosa, St. George News

“It’s always nice to have someone that you kind of look up to, respect, bounce things off of,” Rosa said from Montana. “Or go play RC cars, which is what we did a lot.”

A father himself, Rosa has learned how to deal with the disappointment of having to move away too, among other things.

“My daughter is 27 now,” he said. “Some of the things that I might have felt impatient with my daughter doing, I actually chuckled that (Cougar) would do just because I realize it’s not the end of the world.”

Nationally and historically, more youth are committing suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The suicide rate among Americans aged 10‒24 increased 62% between 2007 and 2021.

“We, especially in the state of Utah, have really high incidents of people and kids that have suicide ideation,” Lundgreen said. “We’re really in a crisis that way. I think it is an epidemic of loneliness.”

The Southern Utah branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah in St. George, Utah, Feb. 1, 2024 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George News

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, visit their St. George office at 530 E. Tabernacle Street or visit their website. Lungreen said prospective mentors must make a one-year commitment, pass a background check and meet with their Littles two to three times per month.

“A lot of the Littles we work with do have abandonment issues or struggle to make that connection,” she said. “It takes that amount of time to have a meaningful relationship.”

Those wanting to support the cause can also knock down a few frames while perfecting their delivery. Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2024 takes place Feb. 24 at Dixie Bowl, 146 E. City Center St. in St. George.

The cost for a team of five to register is $500, which includes a T-shirt, food and fountain drinks. Business sponsorships and registration information can be found at this link.


If you or someone you know is in danger because of suicidal thoughts or actions, call 911 immediately. Suicide is an emergency that requires help by trained medical professionals and should always be treated seriously.

Nationwide suicide hotlines, 988, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (8255), have counselors available 24/7. The Southwest Behavioral Health Center also offers help for Southern Utah residents; call 800-574-6763 or 435-634-5600.

Other resources include, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology. All provide comprehensive information and help on the issue of suicide, from prevention to treatment to coping with loss.

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