BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS ORGANIZATIONAL INFORMATION AND HISTORY
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) has been the nation's preeminent youth-service organization for over a century. The agencies of BBBSA have been providing one-to-one mentoring services to at-risk children of single parent families since 1904. Our service is based on our volunteers. We have proven success in creating and nurturing positive relationships that benefit everyone involved, including the volunteer, the child, families and the community.
Locally, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Beaver County (BBBSBC) has been fulfilling this need since 1975. Initially the agency operated under the sponsorship of the Community Mental Health Center. The agency functioned under the umbrella of the Beaver County YMCA from 1981 until 1990, when it incorporated independently.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with caring and committed Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Big Couples. Our programs are designed to assist at-risk children from primarily low-income families. Youth development experts agree that at-risk children benefit from having additional supportive, caring adults in their lives to instill confidence and self-worth. It is the hope that, ultimately, as the children mature, each will be positively influenced and guided by the positive experiences that are shared between a Big volunteer and a Little. The children become well-adjusted, contributing members of our community.
BBBS works closely with parents to match every child with the right Big Brother, Sister or Couple. Each potential Big is screened, trained and supervised to help ensure that the relationship will be safe and rewarding for everyone involved.
An eight-member staff including six full-time employees and two part-time employees work together to provide professional support in developing and maintaining cohesive, long-term mentoring programs based in our communities, campuses and schools. Whether volunteering through a community or school-based program, a single, binding commonality remains constant: a Big can help an at-risk child discover a world of possibility by simply being a genuine friend.
As part of our Community program, adult volunteers spend two to four hours per month with a Little Brother or Little Sister with a minimum of an 18 month commitment. They share everyday activities and experience the joy that simple moments of friendship can bring. Our community volunteers consistently say that being part of a match is just as enjoyable and fulfilling for them as it is for their Little.
Partnerships with Geneva College and Penn State-Beaver encourage college-age students to mentor school-age children while our school-based programs in the Ambridge, Aliquippa, Western Beaver and Rochester school districts pair high school students and/or community volunteers with younger students. In both the campus and school-based programs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters are recommended by school staff or parents in a proactive effort to positively influence each child’s academic and social skills.
As one of 380 agencies nationwide affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, our staff and Board of Directors members receive access to a multitude of training opportunities and an exceptional source of shared knowledge to expand our program development.
Approximately 5,000 children and youth ages 6 through 14 have been mentored in Beaver County since 1975. In 2011, the agency served 350 at-risk children with 92 on the waiting list. While the agency endeavors to provide every at-risk child a mentor as a friend and positive influence, a ready-to-be-matched list does exist. For community-based wait list children and their parent/guardian, the agency offers ancillary services until a Big Brother, Sister or Couple is available.
Enrollment as a Little Brother or Little Sister in the community or school-based programs is free. This is made possible through annual fundraisers: Bowl for Kids’ Sake, Autumn Auction & Dinner and the Golf for Kids’ Sake Golf Outing. Additional sources of support include fee-for-service contracts, foundation grants, corporate sponsorship and private donations.
A 1993 independent study conducted by Private/Public Ventures (PPV) concluded that the consistent oversight and support provided by BBBS professional case managers to matched volunteers and children is crucial to the longevity and, therefore, the ultimate success of the volunteer/client relationship.
In 1995, a landmark nationwide research study of Big Brothers Big Sisters demonstrated that adolescents in structured BBBS one-to-one mentoring relationships were less likely to use drugs alcohol, less likely to hit someone, more likely to attend and do better in school and more likely to get along with peers and family members (Tierney, Joseph; "Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sister," Philadelphia, Public/Private Ventures).