OWATONNA — Last year, the little office at West Hills that houses the community’s mentorship program spent its summer celebrating.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota reached an impressive milestone when the national organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, recognized the non-profit as the 2017 Small-Mid Agency of the Year. The accomplishment was something that BBBS of Southern Minnesota Executive Director Michelle Redman had been striving to achieve for years, and just a couple weeks ago the agency proved that it wasn’t just a stroke of luck.

On June 27, BBBS of Southern Minnesota was recognized for the second consecutive year as the 2018 Small-Mid Agency of the Year. The local organization was selected based on growth in the number of children served, quality and length of mentoring matches, and increased revenues, which ensures the agency can continue to grow and serve more children.

“In all 50 states, local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies are strengthening their communities through mentorship, but these agencies have truly excelled in providing quality services and growing their reach,” said Pam Iorio, president and CEO of BBBS of America. “These agencies are helping thousands of children reach their full potential.”

In 2018, BBBS of Southern Minnesota served 708 children in the four-county service area of Steele, Rice, Dodge, and Waseca counties — crushing its 2017 number of 594 and surpassing its original goal for the year of 625 children serve.

“We are honored and truly humbled to accept this award for the second year in a row,” Redman said. “This award is not only a testament to the wonderful work of our volunteers and staff, but also to the outstanding communities we serve.”

BBBS creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of area youth. Their approach is evidence-based and designed to create positive youth outcomes including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and improved relationships. The BBBS of Southern Minnesota agency has been serving the area for the last 47 years.

Currently, 200 children are on the BBBS of Southern Minnesota waiting list, anxiously anticipating a connection with a positive role model in their life. The local agency makes thoughtful and intentional matches and provides support throughout the duration of the match. In addition to making the match, BBBS of Southern Minnesota organizes special activities for Littles and their Bigs each month, ranging from sporting events to picnics and everything in between.

“What Big Brothers Big Sisters does is urgent and important,” Redman said. “Together, we are all defenders of potential.”

To learn more about getting involved, visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota website at bbbsofsouthernmn.org, like them on Facebook, or call 507-451-5922.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 444-2378 or Follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie.

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