Our Volunteer Recruitment & Training Facilitator Medina Bendalli and Volunteer A.J. Keller took some time to chat with CBC’s Mark Connolly about what becoming a volunteer looks like, what to except, and why the need is so high.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’ve got nearly 800 boys on our waiting list for a Big Brother and many of those boys will wait for up to two years before they’re matched. Why? Because we simply don’t have enough men who believe they can be a positive influence in the life of a child. But we know that if one cares about kids, that person will make a wonderful role model. So, we are challenging ourselves and our community to find 100 men – in only 100 days – who will become mentors to 100 children.
Will you help us?
The need for male role models is ever growing as our community faces economic challenges and families struggle to get by. It might not seem like a lot but spending one or two hours a week with a young man can make a huge difference between him growing up into a life of success or a life of poverty.
Below is a short little testimonial from a current Big Brother about how the littlest things can have a big impact.
Our 100 days is officially over, and we are over the moon about the number of caring men who stepped up in our community: one hundred and fifty seven.
Thank you to much to all of our friends and partners who helped make this possible:
- Taylor Hall & the Edmonton Oilers
- Oilers Community Foundation
- 630 CHED
- Jason Gregor
- TSN 1260
- 100.3 The Bear
- Metro Edmonton
- Gregg Reynolds & CISN Country
- Boston Pizza
- all the community-minded places who put up our posters and set out our coasters
- every single person who shared our campaign with friends and family and coworkers
- and each man who decided to make the jump and apply!
*Group High Five* Now, we are busy getting to work screening, training and matching these wonderful men. Let’s get those kids matched!
Please know that we are always looking for caring adults of all genders and cultures. Click here to learn more.
They walked into the coffee shop and it was clear they were a Big Brother, Little Brother match. They looked nothing alike, yet they acted like brothers. From across the room, one could tell they were making jokes and easily carrying on a conversation about whatever was around them. It’s hard not to smile when you see a pair like Ryan and Sammy. Ryan is confident and outgoing and Sammy is a quiet and reserved, but they meet in the middle naturally when they’re together.
We sat down with Ryan and Sammy to hear about their match and get tips for anyone considering becoming a Big.
Can you tell us about yourselves?
Ryan: I’m a combination between outgoing and pretty techy and innovative. I’m a perpetual rule breaker, and I enjoy music and being creative. Currently, I work for Cintas in outside sales.
(Sammy seemed a little shy, so Ryan answered for him). And my buddy Sammy here likes being outside, playing basketball, and we’ve both got a newfound love of badminton.
How long have you guys been matched?
Sammy: Since October or September.
What things do you guys do together?
Ryan: We’ve done a whole bunch of stuff. Laser tag, board game café, driving around, soccer, basketball, corn maize, bowling, mini golf, Oil Kings game, badminton. I’m new to Edmonton so getting out with Sammy I get to see more of Edmonton than I would otherwise. Sammy wants to try swimming, going to the lake this summer, and visiting a sweat lodge.
Sammy: And I’m going to teach Ryan how to snowboard!
Why did you want to be a Big Brother?
Ryan: When I lived in Kelowna I was matched for a couple years. I wanted to take the time and do something better than sitting around and watching TV. I knew a young girl who was removed from her family and she wasn’t allowed to communicate with them. But she was allowed to write to my girlfriend and I. It was during that period that I realized how important it was for kids to have more than just their parents in their lives. Plus, I wanted the excuse to act like a kid.
Why did you want a Big Brother?
Sammy: I wanted to do something after school. Ryan does a good job keeping me busy.
Why do you think so many boys want Big Brothers?
Sammy: It’s fun because you get to do stuff with your Big Brother and go anywhere you want if it’s okay with them. And you can try new experiences. I did some stuff with Ryan that I didn’t do before – like laser tag and badminton. He taught me how to play real badminton.
Ryan: I also taught you how a wedding worked. We spent a whole hour talking about weddings and watching proposal videos.
How would you describe your relationship?
Sammy: We’re bros. Ryan is funny. Ryan, remember in Costco, when you were supposed to sit on one of those exercise machines and you almost fell backwards?
Ryan: (laughing) Oh yeah. It was one of those ones where you lean back and bring your legs up, so I laid in it and I went flying. Sammy just ran away. He was too embarrassed to be around me. But being serious, my favourite part about hanging out with Sammy is his urge to learn; he’s always asking questions. Plus he’s got a great attitude about things. Like his basketball tryouts. He told me: “I didn’t make the team but I got 6th place!” He’s optimistic about everything.
What is the biggest barrier to guys becoming Big Brothers?
Ryan: I think people worry a lot about commitment. It’s a matter of guys changing their mindset. You can work being a Big Brother into your lifestyle rather than needing to completely change your lifestyle. Just give it a shot!
To learn how you can become a Big Brother (or Sister), click here.
Fifth year Golden Bear Hockey player Brett Ferguson just became a volunteer with Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters as an In School Mentor to mentor Owen, a 4th grade student. Matched just over a month ago, the pair have quickly became best of friends. Watch the video below to hear about how Brett makes time for a Little, and how you can get involved.
(Huge thanks to the U of A Golden Bears for creating this lovely video)
We still need caring men to volunteer! Help us reach 150 new Big Brothers before April 9th, by volunteering today!
Scott Sherstobitoff become a Big Brother to bolster his application to a university education program — but then he met a boy who reminded him of himself at the same age.
“The first time we met was in the Big Brothers offices. I remember Jake was a lot shorter back then — probably about a foot shorter, at least. And he was very shy and very docile, very quiet, and he barely spoke the whole time.
“So mostly I had to talk to his mother. But I remember thinking, ‘He seems like a really nice kid,’ and I thought “This is going to work out really well.’ Jake just turned out to be a gem.”
That’s Jake Scriven, now 17 years old. He’s an only child, so his mom suggested he try the program to have a role model — Sherstobitoff laughs as Jake says this — and make friends.
Click here to read the full article in the Saskatoon StarPheonix.
You can make a difference in the life of a child just like Jake. Male volunteers are needed in Edmonton to make a dent in our waiting list of boys. Click here to apply today.
Wow. Just Wow. Our community is simply amazing! We found 100 men to become volunteers to boys on our waiting list in less than 60 days. We are over the moon and grateful for everyone who helped us reach this goal!
Now it’s time to surpass it.
With over 700 boys still on our waiting list, we’ve decided to continue the campaign right to the very end and get as many caring men as possible. If we can continue getting just one new male volunteer application a day for the rest of the campaign we’ll have 144 brand new Big Brothers. Please help us out by continuing to tell your friends about our programs, our kids, and the need in the community.