How it all began…
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America originated in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1904 with a young businessman named Irving Westheimer.
It was from his office window one day, that Westheimer noticed a young boy and his dog rummaging around in a garbage can—foraging for food. When he asked the boy what he was doing, Westheimer learned that the boy’s family had no food and that this type of foraging was the only way they were going to be fed.
As it turned out, the boy was one of several children—all living in poverty in a fatherless home, and after first mentoring this young boy, Westheimer realized that it would be possible to help others like him by providing one to one mentoring opportunities on a larger scale.
There are now over 334 Big Brothers Big Sisters programs in the United States.
BBBS Western North Carolina
Locally, BBBS evolved from the “Friends” organization—a program that began in 1975. Until 1980, it existed on government support and was mainly used by the courts to provide volunteers for juvenile offenders and operations ceased when this support was withdrawn.
A modest grant from the Phoenix Organization enabled the program to reopen in August 1981 and then in August 1982, it officially affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Five years later, we added our Henderson County branch office, and over the following thirty years, we expanded to serve 11 Western North Carolina counties.
Cumulatively, Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC has served over 14,000 children. In 2016-2017, almost seven-hundred children benefitted by having a one on one relationship with a Big and over 2,000 were served in total.