It’s been a hectic month for staff of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lacombe and District, with the ‘40 Mentors in 40’ Days going full steam ahead.
September is Big Brothers Big Sisters Month nationally, and Sept. 18 marked Big Brothers Big Sisters Day as well, explained Brianna Berthiaume, executive director.
The month also features the annual Smile Cookie sale at Tim Hortons, where the proceeds are going to support the local Big Brothers Big Sisters office.
Berthiaume said the organization is extremely grateful for the support they’ve received from Tim Hortons via this popular campaign.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds from every Smile Cookie goes back into Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs,” she said, adding that just being onsite at the store decorating cookies has been tremendous as lots of folks stop by to share their own experiences over the years with BBBS.
“This year, we have also served 30 percent more youth in our programs than we served all of last year to date, so we are really appreciative of these dollars that will go back into mentoring.”
September also brings the ‘Turn the Town Teal’ campaign, where businesses and organizations are encouraged to put up teal-coloured decor – teal being the brand colour of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
It’s another way to bolster awareness about the organization and the ongoing need for mentors.
“The month has flown by, and the support from the community has been astronomical,” she said during a break from decorating Smile Cookies. “We’ve also had additional people and groups reach out for ‘Turn the Town Teal’ or how they can share information about mentoring and what we are up to.
“Throughout all of our towns and communities we’ve had such a big reach, and I really appreciate all of the businesses and community members who, even if they aren’t sure about mentoring themselves, they’ve been inquiring and asking lots of questions. That goes a long way,” she said, adding about 35 businesses across the region took part in ‘Turn the Town Teal’.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Lacombe also covers Clive, Bentley and Blackfalds.
“We are really pleased. Also, a majority of our schools have had signs up supporting our goal of signing on more mentors. Our ‘in-school’ mentoring program was one of the most impacted ones during COVID, and now we are really trying to gear back up and get all of those volunteers back into the schools to help,” she said, adding that so far this month, about 35 people have inquired about volunteering as a mentor.
Another 16 people, as of Sept. 22, are in the midst of going through the application process.
“We’ve had a lot of success during the month,” she said, adding that the need for mentors still continues to grow as more youth are seeking that connection. “There is always a need.”
Prospective Big Brothers and Big Sisters can serve in several capacities – they can sign on as community-based mentors, or in-school mentors or they can spend time with their mentees at the BBBS location here in town (the Bamford House) which is located at 5103 – 49 St.
“They are out there in the community with their mentees doing any number of activities, whether that’s playing basketball, doing arts and crafts, attending Lacombe Days – those sorts of things,” she said, adding that planning a schedule that works for both the mentor and the mentee is typically a pretty flexible process.
In-school mentoring involves one hour a week on school property. Both adults and teens can participate in that program (as mentors).
As mentioned, the mentors and mentees can also spend time together at the Bamford House. “Our basement is set up for activities, so they are also able to mentor onsite here, too.”
Again, there is plenty of flexibility in making it all work.
”We are definitely able to say that we have the opportunities, and here is what they could look like.”
For more information, call the local office at 403-782-7870 or visit lacombe.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca.