GREENSBURG – In 1904, a young court clerk in New York City named Ernest Coulter noticed an increasing number of young boys coming through the court and founded Big Brothers so caring adults could spent time with the youths and help them reach their potential through positive, healthy relationships.
Coulter started Big Brothers with 39 volunteers, each of which had agreed to befriend one boy and be a positive example in his life. By 1916, Big Brothers had spread to 96 cities across the country, changing the lives of the young boys involved forever.
Close to the same time, a group called Ladies of Charity was befriending young girls who came through the New York Children’s Court. Ladies of Charity later became Catholic Big sisters. Both groups worked independently until Big Brothers of America and Big Sisters International became Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS)of America in 1977. Currently, BBBS programs operate in all 50 states and 12 countries around the world.
The organization’s century of service to the nation’s youth has had a profound and measurable impact among the children who have been involved in the various programs offered by BBBS. National research has shown that the little brothers and sisters who participate in the youth mentoring programs are more confident in their schoolwork, leading to better grades; able to get along with their families better, leading to happier home lives; 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs; 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol and 52 percent less likely to skip school.
Positive results like that are hard to argue with. Locally, BBBS serves the children of Decatur County with a variety of programs for children of different ages, like the school program, where volunteers spend 30 minutes each week having lunch with their little elementary school-aged brother or sister at school and spending time together, or the community program where Big Brothers and Sisters spend one on one time with their little brother or sister on a weekly basis. However, the organization finds itself with a shortage of volunteers to act as mentors.