The Big Brothers Big Sisters International, or BBBSI, is considered to be one of the best brand names that the United States of America has ever offered to the world. The BBBSI is a non-government, non-profit organization that was created for the purpose of offering one-on-one mentoring to young people in challenging situations. Forbes Magazine has once named it as the best charitable organization in the United States.
The Origins of BBBSI
The BBBSI started out as a small organization in New York City more than a hundred years ago, in 1904. At that time, a court clerk named Ernest Coulter began work for the New York City Children’s Court. He found himself disturbed by the fact that so many young boys were finding themselves in this courtroom. He had the idea back then that perhaps, if these boys were brought under the influence of caring adults, they could stay out of trouble and be led to developing more productive and positive lives.
Out of this idea, Ernest Coulter decided to form the Big Brothers of New York City. He got a number of volunteers, and each volunteer was supposed to befriend a young boy in challenging circumstances. At about the same time, the Ladies of Charity of New York City began to work with young girls who were brought to the New York City Children’s Court. Later on, the Ladies of Charity became known as the Big Sisters.
Through the efforts of its founders, the work of the Big Brothers and the Big Sisters spread throughout the United States, gaining support all the way. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge became one of its patrons. Many other US presidents and notable figures in American politics lend their efforts to the work done by these two organizations.
In 1977, these two separate organizations merged and became the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. In 1998, the organization went international and became the Big Brothers Big Sisters International. They have an established presence in 11 countries outside the United States, namely Australia, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia and South Africa.
The Impact of BBBSI
BBBSI deploys volunteers, called Bigs, who are required to spend four hours every month with their Littles. The volunteers are rigorously screened by the BBBSI staff through interviews and background investigations. According to its website, BBBSI is currently in need of more male volunteers.
There are studies reporting that spending time with adult mentors has truly led to a lot of positive effects among young people. As stated by the BBBSI official website, after 18 months of being mentored by a Big Brother or a Big Sister, the kids are less likely to get involved in using illegal drugs or alcohol, and are more likely to attend school regularly. Self-confidence is another reported result of spending time with a Big Brother or a Big Sister. Another outcome of mentoring is an increased ability to adjust to family members and to mingle with other people.
This Article is written by John C Arkin.
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