In the News

 BBBS of Northeast Iowa Among Top in the World

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa, based in Waterloo and Waverly, is this year’s recipient of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America’s Gold Standard Award. This is the highest honor given to a BBBS agency. BBBS of Northeast Iowa was selected for their high overall program quality, sustainable program growth, mentor/mentee program retention and demonstrated youth impact. After one year of BBBS mentoring, all local youth show improvements in the areas of educational success (success in school, self-advocacy, improved attendance and grades), avoidance of risky behaviors (gang involvement, illegal substance usage), greater confidence, stronger peer and family relationships or higher aspirations (established career and life goals with action plans in place).

The local agency has received the Quality Award from the national BBBS organization for many years but this is the first time the agency has received the Gold Standard Award. “We have worked hard to continue to build our local Big Brothers Big Sisters legacy this year,” states Katie Orlando, Executive Director of BBBS of Northeast Iowa. “Our staff, volunteers, families and supporters care a great deal about the communities we serve and give their all to ensure a successful future for the youth enrolled in our program. It is a huge honor to lead this organization as we continue to grow our services in Black Hawk, Bremer & Butler Counties and seek to expand our services to new counties in Northeast Iowa.”

The biggest success of our local agency is the average relationship between a “Big” and a “Little” match. In the agency’s 31 school-based programs at local elementary, middle and high schools, mentors and youth spend an average of 6 ½ years together, meeting weekly at the child’s school, during the school day. Some of the local matches first started meeting when the child was in first grade and the child, now young adult, is getting ready to graduate high school in a few months. To provide a comparison for how strong our local agency’s program is compared to other BBBS agencies in the country, the national average for BBBS school-based relationships is only 15 months.

Mayor Quentin Hart believes the mentoring Big Brothers Big Sisters provides to the City of Waterloo is incalculable. “There is no value that can be placed on the relationship between Mentor and Mentee. Every interaction, every smile, every conversation helps to shine a light within the heart of a young person. As Mayor, I am proud that our very own local BBBS Program stands as one of the great pillars for changing lives.”

Sheila Baird, President of the Cedar Valley United Way, a long term funder of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa, believes that “Having a Big Brother or Big Sister is a life changing experience for the children. Knowing we have one of the best in the world matching and providing the guidance for that life experience is simply outstanding.”

“I am very proud of BBBS of Northeast Iowa and how we are growing steadily and serving more children in the Cedar Valley and surrounding areas,” states Bonnie Sadler, Board President of the local BBBS agency. “We have an excellent staff and their focus in the right place. I couldn't be prouder of where this organization is headed.”

Jill Krall, Big Sister and Executive Director of the Waverly-Shell Rock United Way, a long-term funder of BBBS in Bremer County, is very impressed with our local BBBS agency. “The organization continues to impress us with their efficient operations, responsible growth, and impacts on young lives. I recently became a "Big" and I quickly learned that beyond the expected academic improvements and changed behaviors, the value of the smile on Emma's face when I walk in is priceless. Her life has been impacted forever with just an hour of one-to-one time with me each week.”

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© 2011 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa, 2530 University Avenue, Waterloo, Iowa 50701, 319-235-9397