"We have grown from serving one child on the first day to 350 children from the community," said Becky James-Hatter, president and chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, at Thursday's open house.
The new office in the Regent's Parc building, she said, has up-to-date technology, "big and little chairs" and colorful walls that make it more accessible and inviting for volunteers and students.
In 2001, Cape Girardeau became an agency of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, which is Big Brothers Big Sisters of America's 13th-largest affiliate and was No. 1 in making the longest-lasting matches in 2008.
Tricia Bachus, Midwest regional director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, presented the President's Award to the Cape Girardeau School District for its partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri and the creation of the ABC Education Initiative.
The initiative tracked the attendance, behavior and classroom success of all Big Brothers Big Sisters participants in Cape Girardeau. A three-year study found many students in Big Brothers Big Sisters improved in those areas.
Bachus said the initiative is the "first of its kind in the organization's history and is being studied for national replication."
Cape Girardeau launched the pilot program, and James-Hatter said it is the first school district ever to receive the national award.
Southeast Missouri State University was also recognized for its partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri and its help with the ABC Education Initiative. Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins accepted the Partner Award on behalf of the university, saying, "We look forward to many, many more years with Big Brothers Big Sisters."
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder also announced Big Brothers Big Sisters Amachi Missouri as the official charity of the Tour of Missouri, a bike race scheduled for Sept. 7 to 13.
"Amachi" is an African word that mean "who knows what God has brought us through this child." Amachi Missouri serves children with fathers and mothers who are in prison or jail.
"Seventy to 80 percent of these children are certain to end up in prison themselves," Kinder said. "This program helps break that cycle and address it on the front end."
Kinder said the tour will bring thousands of visitors to the area.
1610 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau 63701
501 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO