Many Central Texas groups mentor.

Right off the top of my head, I think of Greater Tee, Boys and Girls Clubs, Andy Roddick Foundation, Girls Scouts, Camp Fire, Boy Scouts, American YouthWorks, Austin Partners in Education, Southwest Key.

Only Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, however, specializes in mentoring one-on-one over a sustained period of time.

This is no secret. The concept has been around for more than a century.

And it’s considered effective. According to a study by Public/Private Ventures, BBBS-mentored children are:46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs27% less likely to begin using alcohol52% less likely to skip school37% less likely to skip a class33% less likely to hit someone

So it’s no wonder that its annual Ice Ball attracts a crowd. The annual August event, one of the first three big galas of the season, now spreads out over two floors at Hilton Austin.

Among the guests are volunteer mentors from varied backgrounds. They wind their way through the ice sculptures, food stations and open bars, waiting for the auction and social dancing.

It’s a long one. VIPs arrive by 6 p.m. and night owls leave at 11:30 p.m.

This particular event nets about $350,000, which puts in the upper percentiles for Austin charity galas.

This proved to be my third or fourth Ice Ball, but I don’t pretend to have cracked the social code on this charity’s local culture.

Must wait, watch and listen.