Washington, D.C. (June 12, 2012) –Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has awarded U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) with its 2012 Charles G. Berwind Lifetime Achievement Award, the organization’s highest honor for a volunteer mentor. Coats accepted his award today at the Big Brothers Big Sisters National Leadership Summit in Washington, D. C., a gathering of leaders of the national mentoring network’s nearly 350 agencies.
A committee of Coats’ peers selected him to be the recipient of the Berwind Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer leaders who have devoted substantial time and energy over the course of their lives to the cause of youth mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization created the award in 1990 in honor of Charles Graham Berwind, a founding father of Big Brothers of America, who dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the organization and led the national network for its first 23 years.
Coats’ involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters began nearly 40 years ago when he signed up to be a volunteer mentor, or Big Brother, with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Then a 29-year-old lawyer, Coats was matched with an elementary student named C.J. and the two soon became amazing friends. Like many strong and enduring friendships created at Big Brothers Big Sisters, the relationship has lasted the test of time. Coats and C. J. remain in touch today and Coats even stood up as best man at his former mentee’s wedding.
In the late 1970’s Coats expanded his volunteer service to Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs, joining the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana, the agency through which he was matched, and serving as board chair from 1978 to 1980. In 1993, Coats was elected to the national board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, where he served until 2000, including a two-year term as board chair from 1998-1999 where he focused on helping the mentoring network increase its volunteer and donor bases.
“Through his decades of service to our organization, Coats has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring programs. As a leader, an advocate and a role model, he has made a significant impact on creating positive outcomes for children who are facing adversity,” said Max Miller, co-CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ professionally supported mentoring programs help children succeed in school and in life. Earlier this year the organization released its first Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Survey Report, which showed statistically significant improvements for youth during the first year of enrollment in its programs in three targeted outcome areas – educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, such as truancy, and socio-emotional competency. Youth progress in these areas is linked to longer-term outcomes, such as high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency, and college or job readiness. The organization relies on donations to carefully make mentoring matches and provide ongoing assistance for mentors, mentees and families to help sustain the long, successful relationships unique to its programs.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success; avoidance of risky behaviors; and higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships. Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”) and monitors and supports these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. The first-ever Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Summary, released in 2012, substantiates that its mentoring programs have proven, positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth, areas linked to high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or job readiness.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity, often those of single or low-income households or families where a parent is incarcerated or serving in the military, with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization’s 100-year history. With about 350 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 630,000 children, volunteers and families. Learn how you can positively impact a child’s life, donate or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org.