Since 1904, there has been an organization where children have been able to get one-on-one interaction with an adult, and often this is life-changing for those the children. This relationship goes a long way in helping these children become successful in school and in life. This organization is called Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. There are many locations around the world, but right here we have our own Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati. They are helping kids all around Cincinnati get not only a friend, but a mentor to guide them through their childhood.
When Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America first began, they had thirty-nine volunteers. They started out as just a Big Brothers organization. These volunteers became friends with one boy looking for a big brother. The man behind it all was Ernest Coulter. Twelve years later, in 1916, the Big Brothers organizations were in ninety-six cities. In 1917 it became the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organization. Now, there are over 350 individual organizations spread across the country.
Often through the mission statement we see what a company is all about. Big Brothers and Big Sisters mission statement is to “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.” This mission statement says a great deal about what their focus: They want to give children who are struggling the support they need through interactions with a suitable adult. This adult will help this child with whatever they need help with to change his or her life.
The organization matches the adult volunteer, who they call the “big,” with a child looking for a match, who they call the “little.” These “bigs” then become the bigger brother or sister to this little. They are there when they need them, just like any other brother and sister would be. They match the kids by getting their background information, values, and interests. They then find a suitable adult and match them with the kids. In a recent interview, a former little he said, “I felt as if they did a wonderful job matching me with a big. We both shared similar interests and I felt as if we really connected.” He said that they are still friends today and believes as if Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati changed his life.
For example, on the website they have stories of littles looking for a brother or sister. There is a fourteen-year-old-girl who is the oldest child in her family. She wants to find a bigger sister that can get involved in her life. This adult will provide one-to-one interactions where she can paint, sing, dance, etc. If she could find a match, it would change her life forever. She could enjoy her teenage years with a big sister, just like many of us have had our entire lives.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati has many different activities that they promote on their website. These events are for the bigs and littles to go out and enjoy each other’s company. They have a free paint and bake event going on for matched bigs and littles.
They also have a dance event, and a big can take a little to the Newport Aquarium and the little will be free with a paying adult. These are just a few of the activities the matches can do for fun. Through these activities, the bigs and littles can bond, helping them strengthen their relationship.
To be able to put on these activities, the organization has several requirements, but most importantly the organization needs money, and bigs and littles to attend the activities. For example, the organization used donations to help pay for a commercial during Super Bowl 51. It portrayed littles, and a former little, trying to get people to volunteer to become a big. They hope people see the commercial and volunteering to become a big. This ad used the former little who had a big growing up as an example. He was a part of this organization when he was a kid. Big Brothers and Big Sisters helped him become more successful in school, and now he not only has a great job with a good company, he also is helping the same organization by encouraging his coworkers to volunteer as well. Showing people how he was successful may encourage others to volunteer to become a big. This ad may have only been thirty seconds, but it will go a long way in helping this organization.
How did they get the money for this ad? Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati put on many different events, and the purpose of them all is to help get donations. They use these donations for commercials, activities, fundraisers, and more.
The events that this organization put on include “Bowling for a Kid’s Sake.” During this event, the participants get together and help raise $500 per team of five. The participants then get a few hours of bowling, drinks, prizes, and pizza.
They also a put on a big event called “Over the Edge.” This is another fundraising event, and is so named because participants rappel down a seventeen-story building. The participants are clearly going “over the edge” for the organization.
All these events help in several ways. They do get the participants to raise money, but they also get publicity for their organization. People are talking about them and this may help get more people to volunteer to become a big. They may also get people to donate more money so they can put on more activities for the bigs and littles.
These events and activities are wonderful in and of themselves, but people wouldn’t do all of this if they were not seeing results from the organization, and based on their website and their research, they are in fact seeing results. The students in the program are more confident in school and this is helping them do much better. Having an adult friend is also helping the littles get along with their families more. According to the organization’s website, participating littles are 46% less likely to use drugs, 27% less likely to drink alcohol, and 52% less likely to skip school.
A former little said, “Before Big Brothers and Big Sisters, I didn’t really care about school and I even did drugs. After getting matched with my big, I started caring about school and drugs were out of my life.”
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati is wonderful, local non-profit organization, and like most non-profits, they post their financial statements online. This helps reassure the people who are donating their money, and states what it is being used for. For example, in 2016 they spent roughly $170,000 on fundraising, approximately $1.5 million on guidance and information, and about $70,000 dollars on management. This transparency is important to the long-term viability and credibility of an organization such as this.
However, an organization like this obviously cannot be successful if it doesn’t have volunteers. A volunteer recently said, “When I was a kid I felt lonely, and if only I had a bigger brother I feel as if my childhood would have been better. When I heard about Big brothers and Big Sisters, I knew I could make a difference. I volunteered and eventually got matched. I feel like he’s changed my life just as much as I have changed his.”
Even though Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati has helped many kids in our area, there are still kids waiting for their big brother or sister. Please consider helping this organization, whether it is by volunteering or donating. Every kid deserves someone he or she can look up to and just hang out with, and through this organization they can have this. These kids are waiting for your support, and hopefully this will help a kid find his or her big brother or sister. For more information on how you can help, go to Bigsforkids.org.