When a young businessman in Cincinnati stopped by his office to catch up on work one hot July day in 1902, he observed an impoverished boy rummaging for food in a garbage can. The man was so deeply touched by what he saw, he introduced himself to the boy; eventually striking up a long-time friendship. The man urged his friends to do the same for other disadvantaged youth in the area and several took him up on the challenge. When one of the youth referred to his mentor as "my big brother, " the name stuck. Soon other groups for youth (i.e. Big Sisters) began to form.
In 1933, the Big Brothers Association was formed here in central Ohio. Herb Wise sat in his dining room with ten other men discussing the plight of young men without fathers in Columbus. In 1947, the agency joined with similar organizations in 12 other cities to become a chartered federation called Big Brothers of America.
While under the tenure of W.E. "Dick" Richardson the agency began to grow. Big Brothers acquired land in the Hocking Hills area known today as Camp Oty'Okwa. The camp has become a mainstay in the Hocking community as well as central Ohio. In 1977, Big Brothers of America and Big Sisters International merged to become Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Here in Columbus our merger became official in 1979.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Columbus and Franklin County was established by the new Executive Director, Don Pickens. Under the leadership of Don Pickens, the Columbus agency began to gain recognition as one of the premier agencies in the country constantly receiving national accolades for its outstanding mentoring programs.
With the Columbus agency continuing its growth spurt, it was necessary to look at a name change. In 1999, Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Columbus and Franklin County became Big Brothers Big Sisters Assocation of Greater Columbus. Under the guidance of Dave Schirner, the Columbus agency became the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters Association in the country by serving more children than any other agency. With the acquisition of the Union and Delaware County programs, the agency officially changed its name to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio.
The original logo of the Big Brothers Association has roots in local history. In 1947, thirteen Big Brother organizations from across the country joined together to form a national organization. One of these organizations, Big Brothers of Philadelphia, had an artist who was willing to devote time to develop an appropriate logo for this new partnership. Ideas for the logo were requested from the thirteen agencies.
As ideas arrived at the new national office, one from Columbus, Ohio caught the attention of the group surveying the proposals. A photo of a man standing, his arm over the shoulder of a young man and pointing, seemed to capture what the Big Brother program was about: friendship and guidance. It was decided that this suggestion would be given to the artist as a beginning and the artist could work from there to develop an appropriate logo for Big Brothers of America. And that's exactly what Norman Rockwell did. His original work was drawn in pencil on a red and white background. The logo was used on letterheads, envelopes and a variety of other business products by all Big Brother programs until 1977 when Big Sisters International was merged with Big Brothers to form Big Brothers Big Sisters Association. An original signed lithograph was given to each of the thirteen charter organizations as a gift from Norman Rockwell.