BARRY’S BAY – Mum’s at work. She’s always at work. She works two jobs just to keep food on the table. Mum is a single parent trying to raise me, trying to cope in a complex world. I’m lonely. I’m shy. I’m scared. I’m discouraged.
These thoughts resonate with many young people in our society. Lacking support. Living in fear. Short on the encouragement that will enable them to grow and succeed. Time is tight and they are falling through the cracks. They have become collateral damage in a society that seems to be spinning out of control.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada was formed over a century ago to address such situations. September is Big Brothers Big Sisters Awareness Month. 2020 marks 50 years of service to the area for the Ottawa chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. With satellite offices in Pembroke and Renfrew, the community-based organization works to build relationships, matching qualified adult volunteer mentors with individual boys and girls, with a goal to provide and model leadership, as well as promote inclusivity within diverse communities.
According to the Ottawa website, the ultimate vision is to help ‘all young people realize their full potential.’
An international organization, Big Brothers had its genesis in the United States in the early 1900s. A New York court clerk named Ernest Coulter was concerned about the number of young people he saw coming through his courtroom, realizing that there was an ever-growing need for guidance and direction to help them stay out of trouble. Within a few short years, thanks to many volunteers, the program blossomed and subsequently spread to 96 cities in the United States.
Similarly, the movement began in 1912 in Canada with the first Big Sisters organization formed in Toronto. A Big Brothers agency was established the following year. After working separately for decades, Big Brothers merged with Big Sisters into one non-profit organization, becoming Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBS) in 2001.
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