Friday, March 6, 2009 | 1:57 p.m.
Summerlin resident Paul Hoyt already knew that 12-year-old Vinny Maldonado was a good actor, but he'll never forget the first time he saw his "little brother" go on-stage last year.
"He played 'Jafar' for his school's production of 'Aladdin,' and he was phenomenal," Hoyt said. "He had a big singing solo on his own."
Hoyt, 38, is vice president of Colliers International - Las Vegas, a commercial real estate firm. On Feb. 12, he was named "Big Brother of the Month" by Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Nevada, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing mentors for local children.
When Vinny and his big brother are hanging out, there's a good bet the two will be hiking, go-kart racing or playing the Nintendo Wii.
"He's a great kid," Hoyt said. "At first, he was a little shy. But now that he's come out of his shell, he's very outgoing. He loves sports and acting."
Hoyt said that unlike some other children in the Big Brother Big Sister program, Vinny has a stable family life -- although his mother and father often work long hours.
"I try to bring a little balance into his life and be a mentor," Hoyt said. "Someone positive for him to be around."
Volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Nevada surprised Hoyt at his office on Feb. 12 with balloons and candy in honor of his award.
Jenna Byrd, match support specialist with Big Brothers Big Sisters, said she nominated Hoyt for the award because he has shown "tremendous" dedication to the program.
"Some volunteers kind of withdraw from the program after a while, but Paul is very dedicated," Byrd said. "He sees his little brother two to three times a month, which is more than your average volunteer. He's taken an interest in the things that are important to Vinny."
Hoyt said he toyed with the idea of joining the program for several years before signing up a year ago. Since then, he said, it's been "nothing but fun."
"I just wanted to be a mentor. Hopefully, I can pass on some knowledge to a child who might need it," Hoyt said.
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Nevada, visit www.bbbsn.org or call 731-2227.
Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.