Senior gives back to community through non-profit class

Acebedo visits with Morgan before heading to prom

Leigha Acebedo is a busy senior, majoring in political science with an emphasis in public administration. She transferred to University of Montana from Montana State University with the hopes of continuing her studies next spring in the Master of Public Administration program. Through her Non-Profit Serve class this semester, Acebedo was given the opportunity to re-connect with and give back to Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), a non-profit that has been a big part of her life.

“As soon as I learned that we would need to find a nonprofit and call it home for most of the semester, I instantly reached out to BBBS!” Acebedo said. “We are required to complete 20 hours of service learning, but I hope that I have the opportunity to stay a little longer here in the Missoula office! Plus, Professor Keri McWilliams is an awesome professor!”

BBBS helps connect little kids (littles) to adults (bigs) to live out their mission “to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”

For 12 years, when Acebedo was 6-18, she was a “little” to a woman in Butte, Janel Morgan. “Janel is an amazing woman. She was there through and for everything,” Acebedo shared. “We were matched when I was in the first grade. I had no older siblings, so to have a ‘big’ was a little terrifying. Janel was only 21, so I imagine that having a six-year-old hanging out with her wasn't exactly easy for her either.”

Acebedo continued, “The outcome of my life could have been completely different if my dad had not have reached out and found me a match that ended up changing my life for the better. We did amazing things over the course of 12 years! Two weeks after I graduated high school, BBBS unmatched us officially and encouraged us to keep in touch. Janel and I are still extremely close. I will forever be thankful for BBBS – they brought someone into my life that changed it and helped me grow into the individual I am today.”

As an intern at BBBS, Acebedo has been hard at work marketing this weekend’s BBBS Bowl for Kids' Sake.

Bowl for Kids' Sake is the biggest annual event for BBS. Every dollar raised through Bowl for Kids' Sake directly funds the Missoula program and helps maintain and sustain mentoring relationships, such as the one that Acebedo and Morgan share.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake is Sunday, October 28, 1:00pm-3:00pm and Saturday, November 3, 7:00pm-9:00pm at Westside Lanes and Fun Center. Each year the event is themed, with this year’s event named "Hollywood Bowl." Bowlers are encouraged to dress as their favorite Hollywood star. Bowlers form a team of five players and register with BBBS for a bowling date and time. Bowlers gather pledges in person or through fundraising pages, then they gather on bowling days to celebrate their fundraising success with free bowling, pizza, and prizes for individuals and teams who raise the most money.

If you would like to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters or sign up your time, call (406)-721-2380 or go to Big Brothers and Sisters of Missoula.

Acebedo peeks out from behind Morgan during a BBBS appreciation dinner
Acebedo peeks out from behind Morgan during a BBBS appreciation dinner

Acebedo visits with Morgan before heading to prom
Acebedo visits with Morgan before heading to prom