Out of nearly 500 affiliates nationwide, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mississippi was ranked No. 1 by its national board.

The award, "2003 Agency of the Year," recognized BBBS of Mississippi for being a growth leader in the regional division and in the national Large Agency Alliance because of its rapid increase in the number of children it serves annually. The agency served just over 1,000 children in 2001 and 3,100 in 2002, including nearly 320 children in Lee, Itawamba, Pontotoc and Monroe counties.

"We're thrilled with this award and consider it recognition for our wonderful volunteers and supporters," said Lee Norris, local program manager. "Providing one-to-one mentoring to children, we quite literally could never serve our 320 children in north Mississippi without our 320 caring and committed volunteers."

Each volunteer commits to spending six to eight hours a month with a child and to visiting the child at school for one hour per week. The Mississippi affiliate of BBBS is now the third-largest in the country, following California and New York.

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