06/14/12 Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) was honored Tuesday by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as the recipient of the 2012 Charles G. Berwind Lifetime Achievement Award, the organization’s highest honor for a volunteer mentor.

“I am honored to receive this award from an organization that has made a significant impact in my life and the lives of so many,” said Coats. “Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children across America and is committed to making a positive impact in our communities. It is a privilege for me to be associated with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the hope it brings to so many boys and girls facing adversity.”

A committee of Coats’ peers selected him to be the recipient of the Berwind Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer leaders who have devoted substantial time and energy over the course of their lives to the cause of youth mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization created the award in 1990 in honor of Charles Graham Berwind, a founding father of Big Brothers of America, who dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the organization and led its national network for 23 years.

Senator Coats joined Big Brothers Big Sisters in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1972 as a mentor to an elementary school student named C.J. Bundy. The two developed a lasting friendship and Coats served as Bundy’s best man at his former mentee’s wedding.

In the late 1970s Coats expanded his volunteer service to the mentoring program and joined the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana. He served as board chair from 1978 to 1980. In 1993, Coats was elected to the national board, serving for seven years, including a two-year term as board chair from 1998-1999 during which he focused on helping the mentoring network increase its volunteer and donor bases.