Big Brothers program coming to Rimbey in fall

TREENA MIELKE/Rimbey Review

A new program to provide support, encouragement and positive role models for youths is coming to Rimbey.

Big Brothers Big Sisters will begin here in September. A part-time staff member will be hired this summer to begin the process of implementing the program. The new staff will work out of the Blindman Youth Action Society’s office.

Beth Reitz, executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ponoka, said she was approached by representatives from Rimbey Family and Community Support Services and Neighborhood Place to bring a satellite program to Rimbey.

She said the program has operated successfully in Ponoka for more than 20 years.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters believes that every child who needs a mentor should have a mentor. We are excited that this program will be coming to Rimbey to serve the needs of the youth in your community,” Reitz said.

Rimbey FCSS has donated start-up money for the program, but more funding will be needed in the future.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rimbey will be seeking volunteers to sit on a fundraising committee that will provide leadership and assistance in raising the necessary funds to sustain the program,” she said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Rimbey will begin with a traditional match program and an in-school mentoring program.

Reitz explained that a traditional match involves a little brother or little sister and a big brother or sister.

“The little brother or little sister is a child between the ages of six and 17, primarily from a single-parent family. With the parent’s approval, a request is made for the process to begin and a friendship is initiated between the little and a big brother or big sister.”

Reitz said an extensive screening process is undertaken by the agency to ensure that the little brother or sister’s needs are met and expectations of the big brother or sister and the parents are agreed upon prior to the match being made.

The in-school mentoring program is a collectively-developed program between Big Brothers Big Sisters, the board of education and volunteers in the community that matches a caring volunteer with a student to help improve the student’s self-esteem and school interests.

“The meetings between the students and the big brother or sister occur once a week, are one hour in duration and are held on school property,” said Reitz.

Jodi Bramfield, principal of Rimbey Elementary School, is looking forward to seeing the school partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters in School Mentoring Program and the positive experiences it will provide for children in the school.

“These students will benefit from having another positive, caring adult in their life who is there just for them,” she said. “Some of the goals of this program are to help the students to build their self-esteem, confidence and gain new skills through friendship, guidance and sharing.”

Peggy Makofka, Rimbey FCSS executive director, is pleased to see Big Brothers Big Sisters come to Rimbey.

“It is something we have wanted to see happen for several years,” she said. “Not only will it be helping children, it will provide volunteer opportunities for people to work with children.”