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Mentor program receives national award

The Columbia chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters was one of two winners in the Midwest region.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:43 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

In its 37th year of service in Columbia, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri has received its second national award this year.

The organization was given the Annie E. Casey Foundation award, which recognizes nonprofit organizations for their contributions in helping strengthen the outcomes of disadvantaged families and children.

“All families have their own needs, and anything that can help the child can indeed help the family,” said Georgalu Swoboda, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri.

Swoboda said the organization in a way is like a respite and takes a little pressure off families by providing mentors to spend one-on-one time with children.

In the past, Swoboda said, mentors known as “bigs” have helped families move, find furniture for their homes and even build decks.

“Bigs by no means replace parents, but they are an extra friend that’s always there,” Swoboda said.

The foundation gave the award to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which dispersed it to 10 organizations in five regions. The Big Brothers Big Sisters chapters in Bloomington, Ind., and Columbia received the two awards for the Midwest region.

Swoboda said her organization received the award for $12,500 at a regional conference last month.

“It was a great thing to receive,” Swoboda said. “It was very exciting.”

Swoboda said Big Brothers Big Sisters will use the money to help extend its services to more families in need.

This is the second national award Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri has received this year. In June, it was recognized as program team of the year at the organization’s national conference. The local chapter has matched over 1,100 children with mentors this year.


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