September is Big Brothers Big Sisters Month, and here in Rimbey, it’s primarily about building awareness about the need for more mentors.
This month also marks the 10th anniversary of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Rimbey, said Alyssa Belsey, program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wolf Creek – Rimbey.
“We are going to be doing a ‘Turn the Town Teal’ campaign because our colour is teal,” she explained. “So basically, we will be going out to local businesses and asking them if they want to decorate their work-spaces in teal – we will provide them with some decorations,” she explained, adding that this campaign runs from Sept. 12 to 25.
“National Big Brothers Big Sisters Day is on Sept. 18. And then they can share pictures of their decorated work-spaces and just help us also spread the word about mentoring,” she said.
According to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada web site, the organization has provided life-changing mentoring experiences since 1912.
As Belsey mentioned, ‘Turn the Town Teal’ is indeed about helping to bolster awareness about the need for more mentors for the youngsters. Folks who sign up with the organization can either help out as in-school mentors or community-based mentors.
“The need for mentors is pretty much ongoing – and the start of the year is always the time when we need them the most because we have matches closing from the year before and people moving in different directions.
“We also have all these kids on a waiting list in September, and we kind of have to scramble to get them matched as quickly as possible so that they can take advantage of the full school year together,” she said.
Again, in-school mentoring is one hour each week.
“You go and spend time with your little brother or sister at school, and all the activities are provided for you. With community-based mentoring, there is a little bit more variety in what you can do – you can meet out in the community, and you can do activities together.
There is also always a need for more male mentors, she said.
In the meantime, mentors say how rewarding it really is to belong to the program.
“Most of our mentors really feel like they are benefiting from the connections that they have made.”
Alongside that program is the Boys and Girls Club, which is also kicking into gear these days with after-school programming.
“We are definitely getting excited about getting back to seeing everyone after school,” she said, adding that the Club had an awesome summer with several fun events and outings.
For Belsey, who has been with the organization for nearly a year, it’s a perfect fit.
“It’s been so awesome to see how supportive the community is – especially for Big Brothers Big Sisters in particular,” she said. “The mentors are so dedicated, and just kind of rolled with things through the whole past year – if we had to make some changes to make sure everyone was safe, making adjustments to keep in line with government restrictions, they just took it all in stride and remained dedicated to their matches,” she explained. “It’s so impressive to me. And the kids are just all so resilient. I will really always be inspired by how resilient they are.
“It’s definitely such a rewarding job.”
As for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Belsey emphasized that a person doesn’t need any sort of special skill set to serve as a mentor.
“All you need to be a mentor is to have care and concern for kids, and to want to make their lives better,” she said. “If you have that, I think you should jump in and try it out!
“We also have lots of training – and you have a caseworker assigned to you. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with us. If something isn’t going the way you had expected, or you are having some challenges, we will be there to help.”
For more about the Boys and Girls Club or Big Brothers, Big Sisters, call 403-843-1066 or find them on Facebook at ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rimbey’ or ‘Boys and Girls Clubs of Wolf Creek-Rimbey’.