Written by: Rachel Mills
One of the most common questions we get at Big Brothers Big Sisters St. Catharines – Thorold and District (BBBS) is: how important are your volunteers? It is a very easy question to answer. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our agency. They come in all shapes and sizes, ages and abilities. We are truly grateful for every person who volunteers at our agency. Without them, we would not exist.
Since 1937, BBBS has been providing mentoring for children and youth. We are now the leading youth mentoring agency in Niagara serving over 1,000 children in St. Catharines, Thorold and Niagara-on-the-Lake though our six mentoring programs. I know what you are thinking – that’s a lot of volunteers! We have over 600, the majority of which are Brock students. We have a great relationship with Brock University and greatly appreciate the sheer number of students who are interested in becoming involved with us.
We have volunteer opportunities available for almost everyone’s schedule. The program with the biggest time commitment is our traditional Big Brother and Big Sister program that requires at least a one year time commitment. You are matched with a child and will spend time with them in the community for 2-3 hours per week.
Our In-School Mentoring program is our fastest growing and hugely popular with Brock students. You are matched with a child during their school year (Sept-June) to spend one hour a week with them on school property. It is a great way to break up your day and complete required volunteer hours to graduate.
The Go Girls! and Game On! programs are for girls and boys respectively to provide information around healthy, active living and provides support in dealing with emotional, cultural and social issues that kids face today. The volunteer would commit to a seven week session for 1-2 hours at a time. This program is great if you want to volunteer with a friend and help kids with issues such as cyber bullying, peer pressure and body image.
Finally, our Not Just Homework Club provides group or one-on-one mentoring to a child after school for a few hours. Volunteers help the kids with their homework and bond over educational activities on school property.
We strive to empower youth through mentorship. In order to do this, our volunteers go through a detailed volunteer training at our office. We insure that all of our volunteers are prepared and comfortable. With our caseworkers on hand, the support system available is second to none.
We are looking for volunteers for all of our programs and upcoming special events. Please visit our booth at this year’s VolunteerFEST or call our office to speak to a caseworker at 905-646-3230.