As the cold rain poured, Carol Ferguson opened her architecturally fascinating 1929 home, designed by George Washington Smith, to friends and guests for what she had coined a "bruncheon."

Fires in the fireplaces, drinks to sip, a massive formal dining-room table laden with filling treats and several hours of good conversation warmed the combination brunch-luncheon, with the sun peeking through by the conclusion. Large baskets in the airy atrium foyer held freshly baked and wrapped loaves of bread, a hostess gift for the women to take home.

The pleasant morning of gracious living also had an informative purpose tucked in: "a new awareness of Big Brothers Big Sisters," said board chair Peter Maiurro, who has been a Big, meaning he was a Big Brother.

Started in 1918 as Big Brothers of Denver, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado matches Bigs with Littles, the majority of the children ages 7 to 12 from single-parent or caregiver homes below the poverty level. What develops naturally is, "we want you to have a friendship for a lifetime," said BBBS - Pikes Peak CEO Danielle Summerville.

Former Hewlett-Packard general manager and admitted "geek engineer" Tom Saponas said he had convinced himself he just didn't have the time to be a volunteer mentor or a volunteer period. A chat with four-star Gen. Colin Powell in Washington, D.C., changed all that. If the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff could find the time to be a mentor, Saponas could as well, he said sheepishly. In a deja vu, his first Little majored in chemistry in college. Today Saponas is on the BBBS board as well

Natalie Nikula, for all appearances one of the stylish guests at the bruncheon, was a former Little and the daughter of a single mother who moved her family 11 times during the first five years of Natalie's life. She had known "the shame of growing up poor, of not feeling I was good enough," Nikula said. "Poverty is a state of mind, it's hopelessness."

Teamed with a Big when she was 11, Nikula could use that to escape her environment, she admitted. Her Big took her into her life and her family and Nikula learned what a healthy family was. What she learned helped her understand how to be a good parent, Nikula said. "My Big walked alongside me."

Upcoming BBBS events:

-Bristol Brewing Karma Hour with a special performance by Waves are Water, 5 p.m. Oct. 15, Ivywild School, 1604 S. Cascade Ave.

-Bowl for Kids Sake, noon, Oct. 19, Brunswick Zone Circle, 999 N. Circle Drive., cq

-, - BigSistersPikesPeak