Monday, February 17, 2014

Big Brothers Big Sisters in Decatur County

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has been changing lives in Decatur County for over 30 years. BBBS is a non-profit organization whose goal is to help all children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with volunteer mentors. BBBS is one of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organizations in the United States. 

BBBS as we know it today was born in 1977, when two organizations - Big Sisters International and the Big Brothers Association - merged. These two independent mentoring organizations had been operating since around 1904. Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters operates in all 50 states, matching children with caring adult mentors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters in Decatur County was formed in December 1981 as a satellite of the Columbus branch by Rev. Mark Gottemoeller, Mary Mitchell, Marty Ogden, and Patricia Henry. Other early board members and organizers were: Barbara Dairl, Peggy Polanski, Connie Mitchell, Debbie Schilling, Bill Blasdel, Angie Brinkman, David and Linda Fry, Dave and Sandy Hamilton, William Henry, Bill Hunter, Mike Porter, Nora Prieditis, and Bill Wenning.

Early seed money was provided by a Federal Juvenile Justice grant, which was used to hire a caseworker, Jeanette Guthrie. In July 1982, an office was opened at 117 E. Main Street. But finding adult volunteers for the program proved to be a struggle. By February 1983, only five matches had been made, and the list of children waiting for a mentor continued to grow.

The organization stepped up its recruiting efforts, and a year later, 15 matches had been made, but 12 kids were still on the waiting list. In 1993, the program held its first-ever recruitment challenge to match several children that had been waiting for a mentor for several years. The challenge resulted in 19 new "Bigs" signing up.

Bowl for Kids' Sake is the primary fundraiser the Decatur County Big Brothers Big Sisters organization utilizes to raise its operating funds. In the 1980's, the event brought in around $5-6000 each year, with about 150 people bowling for a good cause. By 1995, the event was bringing together 600 bowlers and raising over $30,000. This year's goal is $65,000.

Many local businesses and organizations collect money for Big Brothers Big Sisters during the Bowl for Kids' Sake fundraiser. Last year, Gecom raised $3,342.
Photo provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters

This year, the library has organized a team of bowlers for the event. If you would like to sponsor our team and support Big Brothers Big Sisters in Decatur County, you can make a donation online or send a check to the library at 1110 E. Main St., Greensburg IN 47240. Please make checks payable to Decatur County Big Brothers Big Sisters. You can also make a cash donation at the main circulation desk. Thank you for supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters in Decatur County!

Information for this post was drawn from Greensburg Daily News articles.

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