34 Years of Better Forevers

We have lived to serve, and we will continue that mission.

Local History

In 1983, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks was incorporated in Springfield, Missouri. The founding board included:

  • Nancy & Larry O'Reilly
  • Tom Barr
  • Norb Bagley
  • Stan Jinks
  • Franklin Greene
  • David O'Reilly
  • Larry Dixon
  • Katie Tynes
  • Les Reynolds
  • Dee Brooks
  • Betty Israel
  • Calvin Allen
  • Steve Johnson
  • Pam Mark
  • Vivian Bruner
  • Mark Morris

Since its inception, BBBSO has grown to serve more than 700 children annually through its mentoring programs in 18 counties. The vision of our building began with a generous cash contribution from John Heitz, Susan Boswell, and Dick and Anise Pendleton. Groundbreaking for the new building named in memory of John’s father, John P. “Jack” Heitz took place on March 18, 2005. Through fundraising efforts of the staff and Board of Directors, the construction of the 3,500 square-foot building was completed and opened in October 2005. 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 2 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.

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.