The Big Brother movement started in 1904 in New York City. Mr. Ernest Coulter, a clerk in the New York City Children’s Court, addressed a group of business leaders regarding delinquent boys saying, “These boys’ only guilt is that they have been deprived of a basic childhood right—the right to a father’s love, understanding and example. It is a right which they and others like them may never receive unless men like you give it to them.” So impressed were the 40 club members by Coulter’s words, they volunteered their services and the first Big Brothers Agency came into being.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine (BBBS Mid-Maine) first provided services to children in the Boothbay region in 1978. It operated as an affiliate of the Boothbay Region YMCA as Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Boothbay Region. It received its charter as a Big Brothers Big Sisters of America agency in 1979. In 1988 it changed its name to Lincoln County Big Brothers Big Sisters, which accompanied a move to its location on Main Street in Damariscotta.
A satellite office was established in 1983 at the St. Phillips Church in Wiscasset and a second in 1990 at the Knox County Child Abuse and Neglect Council office in Rockland. These later were folded into operation at the Damariscotta office. In March of 2000, an office was established in Belfast, to accommodate the addition of Waldo County to the service area. The office employed a program coordinator/case manager and VISTA member to maintain the programming in that county.
In the Spring of 2003, the Belfast office was closed and the responsibility for providing mentoring program options to the Midcoast region was re-centralized in the Damariscotta office. In March 2005 after a transitional period of a few years, one of the original founders of BBBS Mid-Maine returned to help recruit new leadership. The new leadership led to a renewed mission focus and strong, sustainable growth. The agency expanded its staff by securing a grant for two VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) member positions in 2006 and hired a Director of Development in 2007. The result was an increase in annual revenue and youth served from less than 100 to over 350 throughout Knox, Lincoln and Waldo Counties.
The strategic growth plan of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine, called Vision 400, outlined an expansion of both the Community-Based and School-Based Mentoring Programs through 2010. The team implementing Vision 400, a plan to serve 400 youth through both programs on an annual basis, brought the agency back to previous highs for annual youth served achieved during the early 2000’s.
In the summer of 2010 the organization began exploring the addition of Penobscot County to its service area when BBBS of Eastern Maine stopped providing mentoring to the area. In January, 2011, BBBS of America approved the expansion plan, and a Penobscot office was established at the Bangor YMCA.
One year later, in the summer of 2012, BBBS of Kennebec Valley also made the difficult decision to close, and BBBS of Mid-Maine stepped in to continue serving local youth in Kennebec and Somerset counties. The office was initially established at the Waterville Boys and Girls Club and YMCA at Alfond Youth Center in Waterville but later relocated into a space donated by United Insurance in Augusta. Today, there are seven school and site-based programs, as well as community-based programs, collectively serving over 100 youth in that region.
In an effort to increase program efficiency and best serve children, agencies seek ways to share resources and consolidate. In 2016, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Androscoggin County separated from its sponsoring agency, Community Concepts, to become part of BBBS of Mid-Maine. This decision allowed continuation of services to 100 youth, including the highly successful program matching students from Bates College with Littles in the community.
Our History speaks for itself. Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine serves 7 counties and is changing the lives of 700 youth annually.