Big Brothers Big Sisters of America originated in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1904. Irving Westheimer, a young businessman noticed a boy foraging for his dinner in a garbage can and thought it would be possible to help him and others like him by spending time together in a one to one mentoring relationship. There are currently over 400 Big Brothers Big Sisters programs in the United States. The program began in Buncombe County in 1982, added Henderson County in 1989, and expanded to serve eight Western North Carolina counties by 2009. In 2011, 672 children benefited by having a Big in their lives.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC has three main programs:
- Traditional: Volunteers ages 18 and older are matched with children from single-parent families for activities two times a month. Matches spend time doing simple, fun activities. Volunteers must be willing to make an initial one year commitment.
- Mentors & Matches: Volunteers ages 16 and older are paired with elementary age youth for fun activities one hour each week at the child’s school. Mentors commit for at least two semesters.
- After-School Mentoring: Volunteers ages 16 and older are paired with a young person for fun activities one hour each week at the child’s after-school program site. Volunteers serve for at least one school year.