Danville Big Brothers Big Sisters Celebrates Forty Years

Danville, VA - It's a big anniversary for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Danville. This year they are celebrating 40 years.

People in the program say that they have made a huge contribution to the community over the decades.

When Big Brothers Big Sisters of Danville started, they only had about 10 boys in the program. Now they have 177 kids involved and a waiting list for more.

Over the years, they say you can really see the results.

Harry James Johnson has made his mark on the program from the start, going from one of the original board members to being big brother to several kids.

"We had a lot of kids that were getting in trouble, a lot of kids that were idle in the afternoon with nothing to do," said Johnson. "Having a big brother that they can pal around with or just talk to was very important."

The program used to only accept boys, but five years after inception, girls could also take part.

"I think the program has changed a lot. I don't think the concept has," said John Gilstrap, Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

A concept of one child paired with one mentor has proven to be a successful formula.

"Our success rate and our statistics are higher than the national average," Gilstrap said.

"Being able to just go out and give back to the community is just something that everybody should aspire to," said Big Brother Justin Pierce.

For years, the Averett Men's Basketball team has worked together off the court as well. They each have signed up as big brothers.

"It's always a good experience to give back to kids and see smiles on their faces," Pierce said.

Johnson says the rewarding experience doesn't fade away, even years later.

"They don't forget the things that you did for them when they were in school. You are still their big brother for the rest of their lives," Johnson said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is on a campaign to get 50 mentors to volunteer by March 22.

For more information on the program, click here.