On July 4th, 1903, a Cincinnati businessman named Irvin F. Westheimer started a movement that would grow to affect millions of lives around the world- child and youth mentoring.
When the young professional saw a boy rooting through a garbage can, he took him under his wing and became his “big brother.” He encouraged his friends to do the same with other boys and young men from father-absent homes. Before long, the Big Brother movement was born.
Fast forward ten years to a growing delinquency rate in Toronto and the need for an innovative solution. Several businessmen became aware of what was happening in America to combat the same problem and after seeing the positive effect the program had for our neighbors to the south, Big Brothers came to Canada.
Four decades later on March 8, 1957, five caring businessmen met in the boardroom of a bakery at the corner of Boundary and Kingsway for the first meeting of Big Brothers of BC.
With a strong desire to support the children and youth in the Lower Mainland, founding board members Cecil S. Walker and well-known men’s clothier Murray Goldman got involved with Big Brothers shortly after the mentoring movement came out west. Goldman was introduced to the idea when one of his clients, then Executive Director Donald Waring, joked that he would agree to buy a suit from him in exchange for his participation.
Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver was established in 1978. We now run our prevention-based mentoring programs in Burnaby, Delta, Surrey, New Westminster, the North Shore, Richmond, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver, with a satellite agency along the Sea-to-Sky Corridor.
We have a broad service area for a diverse group of individuals. Today the young people who need a mentor come from all walks of life.
Although the Big Brothers movement was born out of a need to combat a growing delinquency rate, our mentoring programs now serve a much broader purpose. The notion of our prevention-based mentoring programs remains the same but the driving force behind the concept has evolved. We recognize that the mentor-mentee relationship is a shared, meaningful experience for both the child and the Volunteer. Everyday experiences mean BIG impacts for the child, the Volunteer and the community at large.