In the early 1900’s a NYC reporter by the name of Ernest Coulter decided to leave journalism and go to work in the first Children’s Court. There, day after day he witnessed the neglect and misery in the lives of children brought before the court. A colleague of his asked him to speak to a men’s club made up of middleclass businessmen, professionals and civic leaders. He talked about his experience. He told the story about a young boy recently charged with a crime that would likely result in the boy being sent to a harsh reformatory which held little hope of rehabilitation. Here is an excerpt from his speech:
“There is only one possible way to save that youngster, and that is to have some earnest, true man volunteer to be his big brother, to look after him, help him to do right, make the little chap feel that there is at least one human being in this great city who takes a personal interest in him; who cares whether he lives or dies.”
Thirty-nine volunteers signed up that night and became the first Big Brothers. Shortly after, the first Big Sisters program emerged. Today there are over 500 BBBS agencies throughout the country.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Central Ohio has provided service to Youth in this area for years.
Our Mission has been the same over time: to provide quality volunteer and professional services to assist at-risk youth in achieving their highest potential as they grow to become responsible adults, and to avoid more expensive and less effective treatments in the future.
Big Brothers Big Sisters was incorporated in August 1998 and was granted 501(c)3 status as a non-profit agency. We recieved provisional membership in the National Big Brothers Big Sisters Agency, and opened our office at the Friendly House in Mansfield, Ohio on January 4th 1999. We are now a designated member of the United Way, and have full membership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Our board of trustees is committed to strengthen this agency as the primary youth mentoring agency in the North Central Ohio service area..
Our Agency actually started in 1970, as a program of the Family Services of North Central Ohio. This United Way agency merged with the local Masfield Area Guidance Center and our program was brought along into the new Center for Individual and Family Services in 1975. Our program ran there until 1994 with some funds from the United Way through the Center. The Center terminated the program in 1995, and we were adopted by the Volunteers of America of North Central Ohio. The program applied for provisional affiliation with the National Big Brothers Big Sisters Agency in 1995 and hoped to gain full affiliation within three years. In 1998 the Volunteers of America had undergone many internal changes and chose not to affiliate with the National Big Brothers Big Sisters Agency. It was at this point in time that Big Brothers Big Sisters decided to form our own agency.
The Friendly House stepped forward to offer us office space and served as our fiscal agenct until our start up grant from the Richland County Foundation and our 501(c)3 status were in place. We continue to depend on the Friendly House in this cooperative venture.