For nearly 55 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Portage County has served youth and volunteers through its one-to-one mentoring program. In 2019, the program acquired Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahoning Valley, making it a five-county service area. Now, the program has grown yet again by expanding into Mercer County, PA.
The expansion, which became effective on January 1, 2023, brings mentoring services to a county where Big Brothers Big Sisters has never been available before, allowing the program to reach more underserved youth throughout Western PA. To reflect this expansion, the programs have taken the new name of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Ohio & Western PA.
The program, which is owned and operated by sponsor organization Family & Community Services, Inc., will now serve a two-state, 6-county service area that includes Portage, Trumbull, Mahoning, Jefferson, and Columbiana counties in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania. With the expansion, Family & Community Services will also increase its footprint to span three states and 28 counties throughout Ohio, Michigan, and now Pennsylvania.
Program Manager of the newly formed Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate, Gabrielle O’Neal, stated that “The staff and advisory board of BBBS are excited for the opportunity to expand into a new service area and connect positive mentors to more youth in need.”
Through the program, youth are matched one-to-one with an adult mentor that helps to support and build the critical social and emotional development that kids need. Over time, these services grow resilience and promote mental health and well-being among youth.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Ohio & Western PA hopes to serve approximately 250 youth each year throughout its service area. But mentors are needed to be “Bigs” to the “Littles.” If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering or assessing services, contact the Mahoning Office at 330-545-0002. To learn more, visit fcsserves.org/program/big-brothers-big-sisters or bbbs.org.