Big Brothers Big Sisters unite for more mentoring

The formerly independent Big Brother Big Sisters agencies on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Maui, and the Big Island will be officially united as the statewide organization Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawai‘i, states a BBBS release.

A celebration of the unification took place at the Ala Wai Elementary School, the oldest school mentoring site in operation, Friday on O‘ahu.

Through unification, the mentoring organization, which professionally supports more than 1,200 participants annually, will grow to cover all four counties. The consolidation will enable the agency to serve a greater number of children facing adversity, known as “Littles,” and providing each child with a one-to-one relationship with an adult role model, known as “Bigs.”

Kaua‘i BBBS board member Mike Murakoshi and BBBS of Kaua‘i Community Director Kaulana Finn joined representative from each island in celebrating the statewide unification.

Dennis Brown, the president and CEO of the statewide BBBS Hawai‘i as well as the regional BBBS of Honolulu office, was actually the first “Little” to be matched with a mentor in Hawai‘i almost 50 years ago.

“It’s a wonderfully significant achievement both historically and looking to the future,” Brown said of the unification. “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 Hawai‘i. I am proud and happy that many more children will now benefit from having a Big Brother, or Big Sister, as I did almost 50 years ago.”

Big Brothers started in Hawai‘i in 1963 when Hawai‘i Judge Gerald Corbett summoned a group of civic-minded men to address a common concern over the rise in cases of “fatherless boys” involved in juvenile delinquency, truancy and public disturbances.

The solution was to establish an organization on O‘ahu 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 Sister agencies were similarly formed on Maui in 1968, on Kaua‘i in 2007, and on the Big Island in April, 2012.

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.

Additionally, BBBS provides ongoing professional support to the children, their parents or guardians, and volunteer Bigs throughout 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 future.

The consolidating of all the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs in the state under a single, statewide agency called Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawai‘i, with regional offices on the Big Island, Kaua‘i, Maui and O‘ahu, 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 which is unique to their local island culture while striving to reach people and places that BBBS has traditionally not served before in Hawai‘i.

Visit www.bbbshawaii.org for more about the BBBS mentoring programs on O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, or Big Island, or to become involved as a volunteer, donor, community partner, cooperative sponsor, or to enroll a child.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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