Nordstrom Rack welcomes Big Brother Big Sister of Orange County to shop at its new location


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Mar 20, 2023

Nordstrom Rack welcomes Big Brother Big Sister of Orange County to shop at its new location

Nordstrom Rack opens a new 32,000-square-foot store in San Clemente Plaza this

Nordstrom Rack opens a new 32,000-square-foot store in San Clemente Plaza this weekend, and participants in Big Brother Big Sister of Orange County were among the first to shop in a special mentorship moment and store preview on Tuesday.

"Our partnership with Big Brother Big Sister dates back to 2019," said Carl Jenkins, senior vice president of Nordstrom Rack. "Today we were able to welcome 10 littles and have each one of them shop for themselves and their family with a $400 gift card. They were our first customers."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County is a nonprofit organization that brings one-to-one mentoring to youth facing adversity by matching "bigs" (adults) and "littles" (youth) with one another to develop positive relationships.

"We have had an amazing partnership with Nordstrom Rack for a few years, and they have supported us twice a year through campaigns," said Bianca Carranco, director of development at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County. "This specific event is really focusing on providing a shopping spree gift card to amazing littles in our program so they can shop for school, college, work and even for graduation."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County uses four program models to provide one-to-one mentoring. In community mentoring, adults 18 and older are matched with children aged 6 to 12 to plan activities together twice a month while the big couples program matches two adults in a relationship for two years or longer with a "little brother" aged 6 to 16. The high school bigs program matches high school students in grades nine to 11 with an elementary school student for one-hour mentoring sessions that take place at school once a week and are led by a Big Brothers Big Sisters program specialist.

The program also offers workplace mentoring for corporate employees at participating workplace mentoring companies to mentor high school students once a month at company headquarters for 90-minute sessions facilitated by a program specialist.

To date, Nordstrom Rack has donated more than $1.5 million in support of its long-term partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and this spring, Nordstrom Rack locations across the U.S. are partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to host "littles" in the store to shop for the season.

Alyson Beukema and her "little," Emily Baeza, were among the excited shoppers on Tuesday afternoon in San Clemente. The pair has been matched for four years and was searching for a graduation dress for Baeza who is a graduating senior this year at Godinez Fundamental High School in Santa Ana.

"We actually went shopping for her eighth-grade promotion outfit together too, so this is full circle," said Beukema.

During their time together Beukema said she has seen Baeza mature and grow.

"When I first met Emily, she was very shy. We would drive in the car, and she would say one or two words," said Beukema. "But even just now, driving here from Santa Ana we chatted the whole way. Just seeing her blossom into the woman she is has been really cool and really awesome to be a part of."

Baeza said she has enjoyed having a friend like Beukema too.

"Being in a relationship with Alyson has been good for me because it has gotten me to experience a lot of moments I wouldn't and meet new people," Baeza said.

Carranco said Baeza has always been proactive about setting herself up for success and is waiting to hear back from several four-year universities.

For Tuesday's event, Carranco said they reached out to staff that works directly with the "littles" to hand select those who would benefit the most from a shopping trip.

"There are various reasons as to why they would benefit from having a gift card," said Carranco. "We have some students that need support as they are graduating and going to college and need the appropriate attire. Or they need clothes for interviews, professional attire for transitioning into adulthood. Or they have graduations coming up, and even though their parents are working incredibly hard, but they can't afford to buy a dress."

Connor McGill, shopped with his mother, Michelle Madrid, on Tuesday.

"I am looking to get some new clothes because my clothes are like a couple centuries old," said McGill, as his mother held up a polo shirt for his approval.

McGill joined the program a few months ago at his mother's suggestion and has enjoyed being a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

"My mother, she knew a friend who participated in the program, and that friend had a lot of fun and knew a lot of people and actually felt a lot better once joining Big Brother Big Sister, so I decided to join in," said McGill.

Madrid said she has been happy with the experience her son has had with Big Brother Big Sister and the friendship he is developing with his "big," Peter.

"Big Brother Big Sister is a really nice organization," said Madrid. "I am extremely happy with it and I am very glad I enrolled my son in it."

The new Nordstrom Rack store at 403 San Clemente Plaza  officially opens to the public on Thursday at 9 a.m., with a grand-opening celebration that will include light bites, gift card giveaways and beauty activations.