Nearly 60 youths in the Annapolis Valley are waiting to be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister, and it’s a wait that the organization is hoping to remedy soon.
Jonathan Leard, the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Annapolis Valley, said the upcoming Bowl for Kids Sake will not only raise money for the mentoring opportunities but usually serves as a way to recruit volunteers. For him, that is a win-win.
“Bowl for Kids Sake is really about raising the funds to help us get those young people matched. It’s a high priority for the organization,” said Leard in a phone interview.
The Annapolis Valley branch has about 60 matches this year, connecting youths from Hants, Kings and Annapolis counties to adults.
“Bowl for Kids Sake has been the signature fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters not only in the valley but right across the country since the 1970s,” said Leard.
“Individuals or teams sign up, gather pledges and then they come out and bowl and enjoy some pizza with friends and family. All of the proceeds go to support Big Brothers, Big Sisters here in the Valley.”
The goal this year is to raise $10,000 between the two Valley sites: Windsor Bowling Centre (Centennial Drive, Windsor) and 14 Wing Greenwood Bowling Centre (Church Street, Greenwood).
When the New Minas bowling alley was operational, the three sites used to bring in upwards of $25,000 for the Valley chapter.
“We’re trying to revitalize it in Greenwood and Windsor. We’ve had really great support in both those communities,” he said.
“I’m hopeful that we will hit our $10,000 goal this year.”
The Greenwood event will be held March 29 with Windsor’s taking place March 30 from 7-9 p.m. Bigs and Littles plus family members bowl during the day as well.
“It’s really a lot of fun. It’s just such a casual atmosphere. People are usually pretty pumped up about supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Leard said.
“Almost every year at Bowl, someone will come up and say ‘I was a Big’ or ‘I was a Little’ and talk about their connection with the organization.”
Jennifer Daniels, a West Hants councillor and downtown Windsor florist, has been participating in the fundraiser for the last few years. She says “it’s a great cause” and is a member of the West Hants Strikers — a group that is currently listed as one of the top fundraising teams for the area for 2019.
“People I know who have been Big Brothers or Sisters have told me how rewarding the program is,” said Daniels when asked why she supports the cause. “One of my friends was a Big Sister and I saw the joy it brought to both the youth and my friend.”
Daniels said the organization enables youths to have access to positive experiences that they may not have otherwise.
“Personally, what I get out of it is knowing that this community organization is vibrant because it’s one of many venues that ensure youth are engaged,” she said. “Of course, the other thing is the social part of Bowling for Kids Sake. We have fun during the event, meet people and enjoy an evening of laughs. Many times at my own expense!”