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Meet the Team: Afton Darsow

Meet Afton Darsow, one Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Mentoring Relationship Specialists (MRS). As an MRS, Afton pre-matches Bigs and Littles, opens matches, and checks in with Bigs, Littles, and their families to ensure everyone in a match is happy, safe, and getting the support they need. She also helps with programs like Bigs in Schools and oversees the Big Pride program.

Afton stands next to some art, smiling.
Afton with some art she created that is for sale at OneWell Brewing in Kalamazoo


As soon as Afton found out about Big Pride, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.

“I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and I think it’s really important that somebody who is educated about our community does the advocacy for the Big Pride program,” Afton explains. “It’s been really special to see how successful matches can be and see how much they benefit from the aspect of community that we provide.”

Afton’s background working with young refugees and children in foster care inspired her to apply to BBBSMI. Although she had heard about the agency growing up, she learned much more after seeing a hiring advertisement.

“I really quickly was interested in it – I just thought it would be nice to fit into a place where I could still continue to help youth in our community,” Afton shares.


Afton sees her coworkers as one of the best parts of her job. “It’s such a small and close-knit agency, and we all really rely on each other and support each other.”

Afton’s love for community service extends outside her work life. She spends a lot of her free time with animals, whether they’re the dogs she walks at the SPCA or her own bunny, Clover. To relax, she loves to paint, draw, and play video games.

Afton holding her pet bunny, Clover.
Afton holding her pet bunny, Clover.


“Making a difference, to me, is just being able to help the program grow,” says Afton. “I really want to see the Big Pride program grow more…I’ve been able to see firsthand how beneficial this program and this agency can be for families.”

Afton has noticed that many of the people she meets haven’t heard of BBBS – and if they have, they may not know what we do. This makes her all the more passionate about spreading the word. She shares, “I think it’s an important journey for us to just outreach more and really get the whole community involved in what we have to offer.”


Afton also emphasizes how much she’s learned from the Bigs she works with.

“They’ve exceeded my expectations so much. When you see people mentor successfully and do it with ease, it really makes you think more people can do this than they think. So many people think that there are so many obstacles to it, or that it’s so much harder than it is. But I don’t think that’s the case. The expectations on you aren’t as big as you might think,” Afton encourages. “It’s also an important thing to know that they’re going to change your life, too.”