Three Decades of Local Youth Mentorship and Volunteering
In the last three decades, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks has provided mentors to thousands of children in our region, serving more than 500 children annually across 18 counties. Here's a look at our history from the start:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks was incorporated in Springfield, Missouri, and joins nearly 280 affiliates across the country to make up the Big Brothers Big Sisters federation. The founding board included:
Nancy & Larry O'Reilly
In the early 2000's, we were expanding our capacity and it became clear a bigger space would be needed. The vision of our building began with a generous cash contribution from John Heitz, Susan Boswell, and Dick and Anise Pendleton.
After fundraising efforts of staff and Board of Directors, groundbreaking for the 3,500 square-foot building building at 3372 W. Battlefield location took place on March 18, 2005.
Opening in October 2005, the building was named in memory of John’s father, John P. “Jack” Heitz.
The mortgage on the building was paid off in 2007 thanks to much support from several donors, in-kind donations, and a substantial gift left by a generous donor who included the agency in her will. In honor of that donation, Marilyn’s Match Room was established, which is the space where Littles meet their Bigs for the first time.
In 2008, John, Susan, and the Pendletons were so impressed with the way BBBSO was able to build and pay off the building loan in only two years that they decided to give an additional contribution of their 3.4 acre tract of land on which our building currently stands.
To meet the agency’s growing needs, fundraising began with a lead gift from the Heart of the Ozarks Sertoma in August 2010 for an 1,180-square-foot building addition. The addition was completed in April 2012, and thanks to a significant gift by John Heitz, the addition was named in memory of his mother, Edith A. Heitz. All funding for this addition was secured before completion.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't stopped those at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks from creating and supporting one-to-one relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.
100 Years of History
For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids’ perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. And we have over a century of volunteers, donors, and advocates just like you to thank.
It all started in 1904, when a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Coulter was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these kids stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. That marked the beginning of the Big Brothers movement.
At around the same time, the members of a group called Ladies of Charity were befriending girls who had come through the New York Children’s Court. That group would later become Catholic Big Sisters.
Both groups continued to work independently until 1977, when Big Brothers Association and Big Sisters International joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
More than 100 years later, Big Brothers Big Sisters remains true to our founders’ vision of bringing caring role models into the lives of children. And, today, Big Brothers Big Sisters currently operates in all 50 states—and in 12 countries around the world.