As a young insurance professional in Atlanta, Randy Tanner (BBA ’79) easily found volunteer opportunities within his industry. But the UGA grad wanted to get more involved in supporting his greater Atlanta community, so he researched new opportunities. His search led him to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta – where, 30 years later, he serves on the board of directors.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national organization that facilitates one-on-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Through over 235 chapters across the United States, more than 2 million children have been served in the past decade. Another UGA grad, Artis Stevens (AB ’97), became the organization’s president and CEO in January.
In the three decades since first hearing about Big Brothers Big Sisters, Tanner has served as a “big brother” to two “little brothers.” In 1991, he was matched with Cody. After Cody’s family left Atlanta, Tanner then matched with Adam. When Cody moved back to Atlanta, Tanner maintained relationships with both Adam and Cody—as part of the program and as they became adults.
The ‘Rolls Royce of mentoring’
Tanner calls Big Brothers Big Sisters’ model “the Rolls Royce of mentoring.” Potential volunteers participate in an orientation process to introduce them to the program. Once a volunteer commits to at least one year of mentoring, the organization matches them with a child and the child’s family.
As Tanner embarked on the journey to become a mentor, he weaved his mentee into his life. From sharing a meal to throwing a football at the park, the flexibility of the program allowed Tanner to invest in mentoring relationships while operating Tanner, Ballew & Maloof, Inc., an independent insurance agency he founded in 1993.
“My responsibility was to get together with them regularly and have a good time,” Tanner said. “I was a part of their lives and let them see my life, ask me questions, and talk about their plans.”
The Big Brothers Big Sisters experience also allowed Tanner to engage in the Atlanta community as he desired when he was first seeking a new volunteer experience.
“In Atlanta, we have such a vibrant nonprofit community,” Tanner said. “There are a lot of good things being done, and the need is great with Big Brothers Big Sisters.”
More than a mentor
Mentoring led Tanner to serve Big Brothers Big Sisters beyond being a big brother. After serving as an ambassador and then a board member, the local board elected him as chair in December 2020.
In this role, Tanner directs fundraising efforts and raises awareness for the organization as it facilitates mentoring relationships with approximately 1,100 children in metro Atlanta. He also gets a front row seat to the organization’s mentoring success stories.
Last fall, Tanner received the 2020 V. Thomas Murray Founder’s Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta in recognition of his commitment to the community.
“The award allowed me to reflect and experience a great deal of gratitude for all that I’ve learned during the process and from being a big brother,” Tanner said.
A lifelong commitment
Tanner retired from Tanner, Ballew and Maloof last month, so he plans to dedicate some of his extra time to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Just as Tanner maintained connections with his little brothers, he plans to stay connected with the nonprofit.
To Tanner, commitment means learning how and why you can give back to the community. His ‘how’ has been mentorship, and his ‘why’ has been relationships.
“It’s primarily about having compassion for people and wanting to help those who are in a tougher station of life than you,” Tanner said. “I’m committed to Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I anticipate staying involved for life.”
WHERE COMMITMENT MEETS COMMUNITY
Whether life takes them to new cities or to the neighborhoods where they grew up, Georgia Bulldogs do more than get jobs – they elevate their communities. Bulldogs lead nonprofits, effect change and create opportunities for others. Wherever people are suffering, wherever communities are looking for effective leaders and whenever the world cries out for better solutions, Bulldogs are there to answer the call to service. It’s more than our passion. It’s our commitment.
Caroline Odom, an intern with UGA’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, brings you a spring blog series that celebrates Bulldogs who embrace that commitment to helping others in their communities thrive.