Big Brothers Big Sisters passionately advocates for vulnerable youth to allow them to reach their full potential and achieve greater goals. During this past month, 180 Degrees Consulting had the chance to speak with Lauren Oke, a Mentoring Coordinator at Big Brothers Big Sisters Orillia, in a virtual interview, to shed some light on the organization’s initiatives, accomplishments, challenges, and how individuals can help and become involved.
What are some initiatives at Big Brothers Big Sisters?
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-profit organization with the mission to “Enable life-changing mentoring relationships to ignite the power and potential of young people.” Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is involved in more than 1,100 areas to help children and young students facing difficulties in their lives. Some of these obstacles include mental health, family, and school. Big Brothers Big Sisters has many initiatives such as traditional community-based mentoring, in-school mentoring programs, and fundraisers. In the past, the organization held curling, hockey, and bowling tournaments to raise money for its organization. All programs for children and mentees offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters are available as free services.
During the pandemic, the organization was able to switch and provide its services virtually. Big Brothers Big Sisters also partnered with other organizations and businesses for children and their mentors to explore more activities outside of a typical mentoring relationship. For instance, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Orillia partnered with the Travis Shilling Otter Art
Club for mentees to attend art sessions.
What are some challenges Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently facing?
From the global pandemic, more children seek mentorship after experiencing social isolation. This resulted in Big Brothers Big Sisters to have an extended waitlist for those mentees to match with a Big Brother or Big Sister. Lauren mentioned that the wait for a mentee to pair with a Big Sister could take up to one year and the wait to pair with a Big Brother could take up to four years.
How can you get involved?
Big Brothers Big Sisters is continuously looking for new volunteers as mentors including university and college students. Mentors are usually individuals over eighteen years old, willing to spend a few hours a week with a younger student. Mentors and mentees can participate in activities and events they are interested in together and occasionally, Big Brothers Big Sisters will provide movie tickets and sports events for them to attend together as well.
Big Brothers Big Sisters encourages everyone to spread awareness about their organization through liking posts on social media and by sharing their content with others. People can also try to tell their friends and family about the organization to encourage others to sign up as mentors. Donations such as in-kind and monetary are also welcome.
Want to learn more?
To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters, the agencies of Big Brothers Big Sisters, how to sign up to be a mentor, and read stories about mentors and their experience, you can visit https://bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/.
Thank you Lauren Oke for connecting and taking the time to do the interview with us!