It’s nearing that time of year again when Big Brothers Big Sisters will be putting out the call for folks to sign up as mentors for the youth the organization serves.
There are several mentoring programs that residents can join where they can have a very profound impact on the life of a young person, explained Chelsea Hudkins, a case worker with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lacombe and District.
The ‘40 Mentors in 40 Days’ kicks off in early September.
Hudkins said to help spread the word about 40 Mentors in 40 Days, some awareness-building events are set to run over the next while as well.
“We have 40 days to find 40 mentors, and we have about 38 kids on our wait list right now. So we take this new wave of mentors that we will be getting and try to get these kids off of the wait list,” she said.
Hudkins said that in order to get the word out as effectively as possible, the organization plans lots of awareness-building events around town from lawn signs to lemonade stands.
“We have the great big, huge yellow signs that we put up on all the fences at the schools as well,” she said, adding they are also focused on recruiting teen mentors in the high school as well. “They can also get credits for volunteering, and we can give them a scholarship letter as well which is huge. The kids also just love the teenagers!
“With our in-school mentoring program, it’s strictly one hour a week in the school. With the traditional program, it’s a bit more flexible. We have some of our matches that have a set schedule, and will meet every Tuesday for example. Or they just wing it – get together on a Saturday for a special event.”
The program really can mean the world to the youngsters involved.
“It makes them feel special that they have someone just for them,” she said. “I love to see the impact on the kids’ lives and how excited they get to have someone in their lives like this. It’s also exciting to see when the ‘littles’ grow up and they want to become mentors, and they get to share the experiences that they’ve learned, too.”
In the meantime, it’s been a busy and successful summer for the organization, said Hudkins.
“We had our Kids and Cops summer camp which was really successful,” she said. “We partner with the Lacombe Police Service and the Blackfalds RCMP, and it’s a four-day camp that we run with 24 kids. We take 12 kids from Blackfalds and 12 from Lacombe, and they get to experience what it’s like to be a police officer for a week,” she explained.
“They get to do a tour of the police station and they all get to dress up like officers and take part in different scenarios around town,” she said, adding that there are also some 100 volunteers onboard throughout the community to help out with the camp. “There is so much behind-the-scenes stuff; we even have actors set up in the community like at Home Hardware, for example.” An actor may portray a shoplifter, and the youngster has to decide how they would deal with that particular scenario.
“We usually have such a huge wait list because the kids can only take it once, as they ‘graduate’ from it.
“The feedback is phenomenal, and again, the kids are pretty devastated they can only take it once,” she said. “They have so much fun, and we also really try to encourage the kids that have taken it to come back as camp leaders when they are a bit older,” she said. “So we have a lot of previous attendees help us, which is really cool.
“A lot of kids leave (the camp) wanting to be police officers, too.”
Looking ahead, the Landlord for the Month program is also going strong as well.
The Lacombe Rotary Club sponsored six ($6,000) months of the Landlord of the month program, and other community businesses and organizations have sponsored the rest of the year.
“We are taking bookings into 2019; 2018 is all taken care of, and it was taken care of right at the beginning of the year,” said Hudkins. “It’s been essential to our operations for sure.”
Check out www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca or cal the local office at 403-782-7870.