Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates 100 years

A century of mentorship. At its Lacombe annual general meeting on May 23, Big Brothers Big Sisters highlighted

A century of mentorship.

At its Lacombe annual general meeting on May 23, Big Brothers Big Sisters highlighted that 2013 marks the centennial of the organization in Canada.

Crystal Zens, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lacombe and District, said there will be a number of local events and happenings taking place this year to help celebrate that accomplishment.

“We have some tricks up our sleeves,” said Zens. “Any local event we are going to try to splash our centennial.”

Events planned include Big Brothers Big Sisters 100 Days of Summer and the dedication of a flowerbed by the City of Lacombe, said Zens. She added that further details on both those celebrations will be available in the near future.

Some annual events that Big Brothers Big Sisters regularly put on will be altered slightly to fit the centennial theme as well, said Zens.

For example, the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters picnic will include old-fashioned picnic games, like the three-legged race and adopt the moniker ‘Centennial Picnic.’

Of course, Lacombe is not alone in celebrating this centennial.

Canada Post recently released a stamp commemorating Big Brothers Big Sisters century of mentorship.

“That’s pretty significant and cool for us to be on a stamp,” said Zens. “I didn’t really like stamps until we were on one,” she added with a laugh.

For Zens, who has been with Big Brothers Big Sisters for five years now, reaching the organization’s centennial is an amazing testament to what can be accomplished by people with good intentions.

She said it reflects on the passion of those who believe it is a worthwhile cause.

Mentorship is something that is even more important today than it was when Big Brothers Big Sisters first started, said Zens. Families today are busier and have less time for everything. Issues like bullying are also putting more pressure on today’s youth.

“Kids nowadays definitely have way worse pressures; way more serious pressures than what I did when I was growing up.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides much more than mentorship, said Zens. It creates bonds that are mutually beneficial for both mentors and children.

Bonds like the one between Big Brother Andy Pawlyk and his match Chris Sellathamby, who have remained in contact for over 35 years.

During his guest speech at the annual general meeting, Pawlyk spoke of how his friendship with Sellathamby went above and beyond the expectations of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We broke the one hour a week rule,” Pawlyk said in his speech.

That friendship is still strong today and has transcended generations, as Pawlyk’s granddaughter is now friends with Sellathamby’s daughter.

Big Sister Marti Ingram, another guest speaking at the meeting, also spoke of the bond that developed between herself and her match, saying that she has gotten just as much, if not more, from being a Big Sister than her match has, 10-year-old Ally Cameron.

“It has been really worthwhile to see this shy, nine-year-old girl become this silly, funny, confident young lady,” said Ingram.

Zens said that these mutual bonds are a big factor to why Big Brothers Big Sisters has been around for 100 years.

“I think because, if the mentors are getting gratification out of it then that’s going to make them 10 times the mentor,” said Zens. She added that this leads to a cycle where many of the ‘littles’ of Big Brothers Big Sisters grow up to become ‘bigs’ in the program.

“It does go full circle.”

One great example of this is local country music star Gord Bamford.

Zens said that while Bamford is not directly involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, it is a cause that he strongly supports because of the experience he had in it as a child. This past year in fact, Bamford donated $100,000 to Lacombe Big Brothers Big Sisters through the Gord Bamford Foundation.

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