By Katie Mills Giorgio

The ultimate goal at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Cedar Rapids is to make a difference in a child’s life today to create a lasting impression for the future.

“There are so many worthy nonprofit organizations in the community,” said Steve Worthington, community relations specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “I would say what makes us unique and an important resource is that we are all about making a difference today to build a better tomorrow. Many other nonprofits are dealing with immediate needs, like food, shelter, clothing or job training … but Big Brothers Big Sisters wants to make a difference in a child’s life today so that they might never have to use those programs in the future.”

That very idea was the reason behind the organization’s arrival in Eastern Iowa. According to Mr. Worthington, the Big Brothers Program – the predecessor of Big Brothers Big Sisters – began in Linn County in 1975, when a group of citizens became concerned about the large number of boys from single-parent families entering the court system.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors designated $30,000 in federal funding as seed money for Big Brothers, which was administered through the YMCA at the time.

Today, the organization employs 20 people, most of whom work as match support specialists. These specialists are responsible for creating the most suitable youth and adult mentor relationships.

In 2013, Big Brothers Big Sisters served 703 boys and girls in the Corridor.

“Our mission continues to be providing children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever,” Mr. Worthington said.

And he said it’s easier than most people think to get involved, as you don’t need any special training to be a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer, otherwise known as a “big.”

“You just have to have the willingness to share a small amount of time every month with a child,” Mr. Worthington said. “It doesn’t have to be anything fancy either. You can go to a ballgame or a movie if you want, but what is most important is the time spent with a child. Walking a dog or playing a game of cards can mean just so much to them.”



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