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Meet Lynne West of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lynne West.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Lynne. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in Brooklyn NY and always knew that I wanted a career that made a difference. I was the one all my friends talked too about their problems, some of them much older than myself. After obtaining a Master’s in Counseling, I moved a lot and had a private practice in Michigan, worked at a Crisis Center and then got to California. When I arrived here, I found out there was no reciprocity between California and New York which led to my 30-year career at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County. I have had many, many mentors along the way who have helped me get to where I am today. People who believed in my leadership abilities, provided advice when I felt I had hit a wall and other Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO’s across the country who have been a wonderful support group. I have definitely had some incredible highs over the course of the years. I have totally enjoyed watching the children we serve grow up, overcome obstacles in their path and become wonderful adults, parents and engage in careers of their choice. I think my story is an accumulation of all those who I have mentored, whether they are children, mentors, staff or board members along the way.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Finding enough funds to run a non-profit agency is always a struggle. In 1993 I almost had to close our doors but was determined to find a way to keep them open. We were down to two staff people and decided to go under the auspices of a sponsoring organization. My only goal was to not let the kids, volunteers and parents down and to keep providing services. Twelve years later, we were able to go back to being a stand-alone agency and have grown to a staff of 17 serving over 1,200 youth each year.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, Inc – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
What sets Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County apart is our one to one mentoring services to the youth of Ventura County as well as being part of a national organization that is over 114 years old. We have been cited as a “best practices” program by SAMSA and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and many other mentoring organizations have utilized a study that was done on our network of agencies. I am proud that what we do makes a difference in the lives of children and that it has a “trickle down effect” to their families, schools and the community. We pride ourselves in helping children stay on a positive trajectory and avoid drugs, gangs, dropping out of school or becoming a teen parent. In addition, we set the goal for every youth we serve to finish high school with a plan for their future.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I think my proudest moment was at a Gala that the staff and board held in honor of my 30th Anniversary, it was truly a tribute that I was both humbled by and amazed as they planned and kept it all a secret from me for over 6 months. But, the moments I will never forget are the speeches that both my adult children made. THAT will be in my heart forever, knowing that they understood what my career has meant both to me and to those that the agency serves and what they have learned from it on a personal level.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 4001 Mission Oaks Boulevard Suite J
    Camarillo, CA 93012
  • Website: bbsvc.org
  • Phone: 805-484-2282
  • Email: info@bbsvc.org
  • Instagram: @bbsvc
  • Facebook: facebook.com/bbsvc
  • Twitter: @bbsvc


Image Credit:

Matt Grashaw

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