An “up and running Big Brothers Big Sisters program, with ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ matches” could be in place by January, 2008.

“The momentum is here,” Janet Ardoyno, president and CEO of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Texas in Abilene told about 35 people who attended the first of two organizational meetings Tuesday at the Family Services Center.

“We need a promise. We need everyone in this room to be a volunteer,” Ardoyno said. “Then we need everyone in this room to recruit a volunteer.

“I have a big dream — a dream that 2008 will be the year that is great for our children in Brown County.”

The two meetings on Tuesday were to gauge the interest locally, and to tell people about the program and structure. The immediate next steps in organizing a Brownwood/Brown County Big Brothers Big Sisters program, Ardoyno said, are to set up a local task force. That task force will pull together a board.

But also, on average, the start up for the “Big” and “Little” matches costs about $1,000 per match.

“That’s the calculation I’m using to figure start up costs,” Ardoyno said. “If we have 100 children, then we need about $100,000.”

Those serving on the board will be community leaders, she said, people who will be able to raise the money, solicit donations.

But, Ardoyno said, office space is available in the Family Services Center, and for $5,000, a year’s lease could be paid in full.

“Securing the office space, would help a lot in the fund-raising efforts,” Ardoyno said.

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships with measurable results, Ardoyno said.

For more information about volunteering and about the program, contact Amber Moore at 641-8267, or Ardoyno at her Abilene office, janet.ardoyno@bbbs.org or 325-677-7839.

Ardoyno said any money raised for the Big Brothers Big Sisters in Brownwood will be 100 percent dedicated to a local program, which will be called Big Brothers Big Sisters Serving Brownwood.