“There have always been children and youth waiting, but this year we have a sponsor who is supporting a national recruitment campaign for Bigs,” says Leard.
With the increased social media, radio, billboards and print advertising, the agency is hoping that the concentrated effort will help increase the number of individuals applying to be Bigs, says Leard.
Leard says children and youth are referred to the program from a variety of sources, most often by their parent or guardian. Once a parent/guardian makes an application, staff meet with the parent/guardian and the child, who must be at least seven years old, to conduct an interview.
Once a young person is accepted into the program, agency staff review their information, comparing it to information on available Bigs, to determine a potential good fit. If a potential match is found, Leard says staff set up and facilitate an introduction between the family and the Big.
Rob Graves who has been involved with the program for over 20 years, first as a Little then as a Big. He says positive adult mentorship is a fundamental part of a child's development.
“In today’s society, more then ever, our youth have so many mixed influences coming their way than ever before in history and it is up to us to make sure that those influences can be weighed out by positive mentorship,” says Graves.
Anyone can be a Big, adds Leard.
“We have young, single university students; young working professionals; parents with kids at home; and retirees,” says Leard.
The only requirement is that they must be 18 years of age. High school students, however, can also participate as a Big in some of the school-based mentoring programs.
Bigs and Littles generally spend a few hours a week together, while some see each other for three to four hours every second week. In the school mentoring program, the Big and Little spend one hour per week together during the school year.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering is asked to complete a volunteer inquiry form and review information on the website (bbbsannapolisvalley.ca) or call the office at 902-678-8641.
To help offset program costs, several fundraising events are happening in October. First up is a softball tournament on Oct. 14 and 15. Leard says the main goal is to raise awareness so Big Brother Big Sisters can match more kids in the program.
“We just want people to come out and have some fun, win some prizes, and of course we’re hoping we’ll raise some money for the program,” says Leard.
If someone would like to put a team in they can call the office and speak with Tracy at 902-678-8641 or visit www.bbbsannapolisvalley.ca and download the registration form.
Then, on Oct. 28, Spooktacular will be held at Willowbank Farm in Port Williams. This is an annual family event with a haunted corn maze, various games for kids, fireworks, bon fire, and a barbecue. Funds collected at the gate, the barbecue and the games all go towards supporting the agency’s programs.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters is an organization built on youth mentorship,” says Graves, “and it is a great avenue to participate in if you truly want to have a positive impact on our youth and our societies future.”
Go online: Find out more at www.bbbsannapolisvalley.ca