SACKVILLE, N.B. – Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking at building a presence in Sackville.
Peter MacDonald, executive director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) organization in Greater Moncton, said he is hoping to get a few mentoring programs off the ground in the Sackville-area but will need support from the community to make that happen.
MacDonald said with a limited staff at the Moncton BBBS office, it’s essential to ensure there is “community buy-in” in order for the programs to be effective and enduring.
“We have the resources to help facilitate the programs but you need the volunteers,” he said to members of council during a presentation at their monthly discussion meeting last Tuesday evening.
MacDonald said he was approached by a Sackville resident about two months ago about the possibility of BBBS bringing some services to the area – to address concerns over some of the youths in the community who are falling through the cracks.
With the university presence and the potential to tap into the student market for volunteers, MacDonald said Sackville should definitely be considered as a location for BBBS programs, particularly the in-school mentoring.
“I always thought there should be something in Sackville,” he said, noting that Sackville is actually one of four New Brunswick communities that was proposed as a future satellite location for BBBS within the organization’s five-year strategic plan. “It’s a project I’d like to see move forward.”
MacDonald said he recently met with Sackville RCMP’s new community program officer as well as representatives from the Tantramar Family Resource Centre to determine how they might all be able to work together to get something going in Sackville.
“Hopefully this is an opportunity for us to be able to do something, to look at what we can do and how we can go about it.”
MacDonald didn’t come to town council last week with any official requests or proposals, except to actually get the conversation started and to perhaps “help drum up community support” by getting the word out about the organization and the services it can offer locally.
So far this year, as of July 1, more than 150 kids have been mentored through the Moncton chapter of BBBS; which is on track to be way ahead of last year’s numbers which totaled 156 for the entire year in 2013.
“It’s crazily growing big quick,” said MacDonald.
Big Brothers Big Sisters, through its wide range of mentoring programs, has been making a positive difference in the lives of youth throughout the country. The mentors, who serve as role models, teach by example the importance of giving and giving back, of staying in school, and of having respect for family, peers and community.
MacDonald said it’s amazing the opportunities that can be given to youth or the change that can be created just by volunteers committing their time through the programs.
Coun. Margaret Tusz-King said she hopes that BBBS will find a way to partner with local organizations to make this work.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters is a tremendous organization and I’m really pleased you’re looking at Sackville,” she said.
Mayor Bob Berry agreed.
“This is a worthwhile organization and having a chapter here would be good.”