Our History

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia

1953: The first Big Brothers group in Roanoke was organized on a volunteer basis by the Roanoke Junior Chamber of Commerce.

1954: Due to lack of funds and staff, the service program dwindled into inactivity.

1968: Thanks to Beirne Carter, Sig Davidson, Jay Walker, Warner Dalhouse, and efforts by the Salvation Army, Roanoke Valley Council of Community Services, the first full-time paid director was hired, and we became fully affiliated with Big Brothers of America

1969: The United Way gave admission to Big Brothers of Roanoke.

1975: The agency began provisions for formal Big Sister services.

1979: The agency became Big Brothers Big Sisters of Roanoke Valley, Inc., serving Roanoke City, Salem, Vinton, Roanoke County, Craig County, and Botetourt County.

2002: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the New River Valley merged with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Roanoke Valley, adding Montgomery County, Pulaski County, Floyd County, Giles County, and the cities of Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Radford to our service area. We became Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia, Inc.

100 Years of History

For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids’ perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. And we have over a century of volunteers, donors, and advocates just like you to thank.

It all started in 1904, when a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Coulter was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these kids stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. That marked the beginning of the Big Brothers movement. At around the same time, the members of a group called Ladies of Charity were befriending girls who had come through the New York Children’s Court. That group would later become Catholic Big Sisters. Both groups continued to work independently until 1977, when Big Brothers Association and Big Sisters International joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

More than 100 years later, Big Brothers Big Sisters remains true to our founders’ vision of bringing caring role models into the lives of children. And, today, Big Brothers Big Sisters currently operates in all 50 states—and in 12 countries around the world.