Emilio Padilla is a bright, promising young man, a kid who has been waiting for a break for all of his 11 years.
Emilio's mom got involved with drugs. His family was torn torn apart.
"She stole a car," said Emilio. "One day, she just left us."
Emilio's dad had troubles of his own, but won his kids back from CPS. Manuel Padilla now works with fathers going though his same situation but fears he isn't spending enough time with his own son.
"I wish I could take him fishing or do some male bonding," he said. "I wish I had more time."
Emilio has two sisters - one older, one younger. He says he's lonely for male companionship. That's where Big Brothers/Big Sisters of NW Washington usually steps in and helps, but a 61 percent drop in donations and the loss of two major grants since the recession have forced them to close programs and put kids on a wait list. The organization typically serves nearly 400 boys and girls in Skagit and Whatcom Counties. Now, it's down to just 85.
"We're cut to the bone," said Executive Director Colleen Haggerty. "Closing is an option."
Emilio has been waiting for his big brother to come for over a year.
"I would just like if we could play chess after school, or something. Pass a football, kick a soccer ball," he said.
Big Brothers and sisters help mentor kids through school, steer them toward college and just act as a friend during tough teen years. Without them, kids like Emilio are more likely to turn to drugs to cope. And for now, he is still waiting for that big break, a big brother to come.
"It would make me feel great," he said. "Just like I really had a brother."
Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Northwest Washington needs about 100 people to donate 80-dollars per month until they can get back on their feet. A fundraiser is scheduled for June 8th at Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham.
For more information visit www.bbbs-nw.org