Long-standing organization celebrates milestone

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Since the first organization started matching young people with adult volunteer mentors in Toronto in 1913, Big Brothers Big Sisters has grown to more than 123 agencies serving 1,000 communities across Canada, including Red Deer.

The agency in the City was established in 1976.

“We are very proud to be celebrating 100 years of serving Canadian communities and impacting the lives of youth across Canada,” said Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “But we are even more excited to look ahead to the next 100 years and see how we can further improve the lives of Canada’s young people.

“We know that people are busier than ever and are crunched for time. So we’ve created mentoring programs that address specific needs and offer flexibility for volunteer mentors. It’s win-win.”

New mentoring programs such as In School Mentoring, which involves one hour a week of mentoring during the school year, has proven, through research, to address issues such as truancy and lack of school involvement.

It’s just one way Big Brothers Big Sisters intends to remain relevant in the next 100 years, officials said.

But whether through the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs or new mentoring programs such as In School Mentoring, the young mentoring services provided by volunteer Big Brothers Big Sisters have proven to be instrumental in reducing bullying and other related negative behaviour such as lack of interest in school, truancy, low self-esteem and drug and alcohol abuse, said MacDonald.

Meanwhile, the need for volunteer mentors is great. In Red Deer alone, there are more than 80 children and youth waiting to be matched with a mentor.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada provides quality mentoring services for more than 33,000 children and youth. The organization currently has more than 25,000 volunteer mentors.

For more information on activities that will be taking place this year or to get involved in the program locally call 403-342-6500 or visit www.bbbsreddeer.ca.

– Fawcett