(HawaiiNewsNow) - On July 1, 2012, the formerly independent Big Brother Big Sisters agencies on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island officially united as the statewide organization Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii. Through unification, the mentoring organization, which professionally-supports over 1200 participants annually, will grow to cover all four counties. The consolidation will enable the agency to serve a greater number of children facing adversity ("Littles"), providing each child with a one-to-one relationship with an adult role model ("Bigs").
Representatives from each island celebrated the statewide unification on June 29th at Ala Wai Elementary School, the oldest school-based mentoring site currently in operation. Representatives included BBBS Hawaii/Honolulu President/CEO Dennis Brown, BBBS of Maui Executive Director JD Wyatt, BBBS of Kauai Community Director Kaulana Finn, and BBBS of Hawaii Island Advisory Committee Member Tom Goltz.
Dennis Brown, President/CEO of the statewide BBBS Hawaii as well as the regional BBBS of Honolulu office, was actually the first "Little" to be matched with a mentor in Hawaii nearly 50 years ago. When asked what the unification means to him personally, Dennis remarked, "It's a wonderfully significant achievement both historically and looking to the future. The unification makes us stronger as a collective group which will improve our ability to provide more and better services to the children and families of Hawaii. I am proud and happy that many more children will now benefit from having a Big Brother or Big Sister as I did nearly 50 years ago."
Big Brothers began in Hawaii in 1963, when Hawaii Judge Gerald R. Corbett summoned a group of civic-minded gentlemen to address a common concern over the rise in cases of "fatherless boys" involved in juvenile delinquency, truancy, and public disturbances. Their solution: establish an organization on Oahu where qualified and dedicated role models could extend themselves to youth in need of guidance and support through one-to-one friendships. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies on the neighbor islands were similarly formed on Maui in 1968, on Kauai in 2007, and most recently on Hawaii Island in April 2012.
Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters professional staff matches children with volunteer mentors in long-term one-to-one mentoring relationships at schools and in the community. In addition, Big Brothers Big Sisters provides ongoing professional support to the children, their parents/guardians, and volunteer Bigs throughout the life of the match. The result of these relationships has been proven to have a positive impact in three focus areas: to help youth achieve educational success; avoid risky behaviors; and have higher aspirations and hope for their futures.
Consolidating the Brothers Big Sisters programs in Hawaii under a single, statewide agency called Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii, with regional offices on Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui and Oahu, will increase cost savings in operational areas to support more one-to-one mentoring programs for youth statewide. Each regional office will maintain the identity that is unique to their local island culture while striving to reach people and places that Big Brothers Big Sisters has traditionally not served before in Hawaii.
To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii's mentoring programs on Oahu, Maui, Kauai or Hawaii Island and to become involved as a volunteer, donor, community partner, corporate sponsor, or to enroll your child, click HERE!