Gravenhurst council hears programming update
By Jane Glenn
Gravenhurst council received a programming update on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muskoka (BBBS Muskoka) by executive director Chrissy King at the June 15 Committee of the Whole meeting.
King gave an overview of BBBS Muskoka’s mission, the need for mentoring, current programs and how to become involved.
“We envision a Muskoka where every child who needs a mentor, can have a mentor,” said King. “Always the goal is to serve as many kids as we can.”
She acknowledged that Big Brothers and Big Sisters is a recognizable ‘legacy brand,’ however, “people may not have a clear picture of what we do.”
Currently there are 14 children being served through the In-School Mentoring Program and 20 community-based matches in the Big Brother, Big Sister and Big Couple programs. There are six different programs offering services and “we are always looking for volunteers,” said King.
“Eighty percent of youth we serve have had two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We can’t eliminate ACEs, but we can mitigate effects,” explained King. She noted that even two or three ACEs “can have an impact for years to come” including falling behind and health issues.
There are currently 31 Littles waiting to be matched in Muskoka: 10 in Gravenhurst, nine in Bracebridge, nine in Huntsville, two in Severn Bridge and one in Milford Bay.
Deputy mayor Heidi Lorenz asked King what a typical duration was for mentoring, noting that it is difficult to make a commitment “if someone doesn’t know what their next year looks like.”
King said two to four hours per week for one year is required, however the in-school mentoring is less, as it happens on school premises for one hour per week from September-June. Mentees tend to be more public school age, although a few are older.
Coun. Terry Pilger asked what kind of training was offered for potential mentors. King said there is an extensive six-step training process and that the mentor-mentee “relationship is very intentional” and uses rubrics to make and track goals.
Earlier this week, the Town of Gravenhurst also presented BBBS with a $3,000 grant via the Terrence Haight Funding program.
“With this support, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muskoka will provide additional digital community outreach activities in Gravenhurst,” said Chrissy King. “The goal of these outreach activities is to increase our agency’s presence within the Town of Gravenhurst to reach our overall goal of recruiting more volunteers from the area.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 705-205-9385 or 705-644-9914.
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