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Start Something Big: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana celebrates 50th anniversary

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MLK bridge BBBS

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Downtown Fort Wayne went green Tuesday.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial bridge lit up bright green in honor of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana’s 50th anniversary.

Board President Phil Henry thought it was worth getting up before dawn to celebrate.

“Where I come from, supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters, we call it a family value,” Henry said.

Henry is the grandson of Jerome Henry Sr. who started Big Brothers Big Sisters in Northeast Indiana 50 years ago.

Now he carries on his family legacy as the president of the organization.

“What we’re really looking to do over the next 50 years and beyond is solidify our agency for the longevity and the longterm, funding-wise, volunteer-wise and our presence in the community,” Henry said.

They do not only want to honor the past; Josette Rider says they have big plans for the future as well.

“Our goal this year is to recruit, screen and train 500 mentors and match them with children all over northeast Indiana because we’re all over northeast Indiana,” Rider said.

Those plans started with the launch of their partnership with Citilink busses.

“We’ve had some funding from some local foundations that have allowed us to really raise awareness throughout the community for the first half of the year just to call out to people to know that Big Brothers Big Sisters is in your community and that we need more mentors,” Rider said.

She hopes when it drives around the city, people will remember the work Big Brothers Big Sisters does and want to get involved.

“It’s not about saving anybody. It’s about igniting their potential and that’s what the bus is about; it’s about igniting potential. And the images you see on the bus are local matches,” Rider said.

She looks forward to making more local matches in the coming years.

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