Best Nonprofit Organization (2002)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Texas

At a time when most organizations are paring down, Big Brothers Big Sisters is pouring it on. Under the guidance of president Deborah Ortiz, Houston-based BBBS has expanded into an incredible 31 counties that stretch from the Gulf Coast upward into East Texas. The organization manages to be dead serious about its mission -- and yet not make the mistake of many agencies in taking itself too seriously. The so-called Bigs have fun; one event featured "Hunk Night" (Houston firefighter calendar models and the Houston Texan cheerleaders). And BBBS has evolved with the times. There are now programs for couples and entire families to "adopt " a child in need of reliable adult friends. In the last few years, agencies, politicians and pretty much everybody else seems to have discovered the power of the M-word -- mentoring -- as the solution to salvaging our youth. But that new buzzword for others has been the backbone of a half-century of efforts for BBBS. Staff and volunteers prove that with enough sweat and love, it gets results where others fail.


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