On December 28th 2017, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cowichan Valley was selected as the recipient of a $21,000 donation from local philanthropy group 100 Women Who Care Cowichan.
100 Women Who Care Cowichan meets four times each year to consider nominations submitted by members on behalf of local charities/non-profits. At each meeting, 3 nominations are drawn randomly. The selected causes are invited to present the crowd with a 5-minute pitch for support, and the “winning” nomination is determined by a crowd vote. The chosen organization/cause receives an aggregate donation from those in attendance.
The December contribution from 100 Women Who Care to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cowichan Valley (BBBSCV) enabled the organization to launch a major volunteer recruitment campaign, specifically targeting hard-to-find male mentors. At the time of the meeting, over 53 children were waitlisted for a match – with boys facing the longest wait times and many at risk of “ageing-out” before a match can be found. As part of the winning presentation, a small t-shirt (corresponding to the average age of most “Little Buddies” when they first register for the program) was contrasted against a large t-shirt (corresponding to the average age of most youths when they age-out of the program) helped to illustrate the impact of lengthy waitlist periods, and drive home the need for support.
The Cowichan region is currently facing a crisis of childhood vulnerability – including excessive regional rates of EDI vulnerability, child poverty, family food insecurity, adverse childhood experiences, and child/youth mental illness. As more children in our community risk “slipping through the cracks,” mentors are needed more than ever.
“Childhood mentoring is a proven protective factor against multiple social challenges,” states Erin Generous, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Cowichan. “Mentoring helps youth-at-risk transcend cycles of vulnerability to reach their full potential. Moreover, research shows that adults mentored as children are far more likely to give back our community through economic contributions, volunteerism, and philanthropy. This leverages the investments in our program and creates new cycles of resilience.”
Following the donation from 100 Women Who Care, BBBSCV launched a comprehensive, large-scale recruitment campaign to attract new volunteer mentors to the program – with an emphasis on enrolling scarce male mentors (Big Brothers). Since December, this campaign has included radio, print, and social media advertisements, event outreach (Capitals games, Hometown Hockey Festival), and monthly community information sessions. Funding will also support expanded efforts associated with volunteer screening, training, and management – necessary activities that make matching/placing waitlisted children possible.
BBBSCV’s new recruitment campaign has been a tremendous success, generating more male mentor inquiries in the month of January alone than all inquiries received in 2017. So far the initiative has successfully matched 4 Big Brothers to waitlisted Buddies – a huge jump for this target demographic.
Generous is thrilled with the results of the campaign. “Thanks to the contribution of 100 Women Who Care, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cowichan Valley is on track to reach our goal of matching all 53 waitlisted children by the end of 2018.”
“100+ Women Cowichan is so pleased to see our sixth donation to the community go to BBBSCV. Our mandate is to improve our community through support of local not for profits. The work of BBBSCV in shaping the next generation of community members is so important to the ongoing strength of our community and our members clearly recognized the value of their work.”
Although this campaign has already helped BBBSCV to achieve some incredible goals, the organization would like to remind community members that the number of vulnerable children in the Cowichan region is likely to continue to rise over coming years – heightening the need for mentoring interventions reaching at-risk youth.
BBBSCV is actively seeking Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Big Families. With a variety of mentoring programs ranging year long, one-on-one relationships to 7-week group sessions, there are options to fit mentors of all ages and availabilities. BBBSCV is an independent Registered Charity that provides services free-of-charge and relies entirely on community support to sustain operations. Donations of any amount are very much needed throughout the year.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cowichan Valley
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cowichan Valley (BBBSCV) is an independent regional branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada. BBBSCV matches at-risk children and youth with volunteer mentors from the community – fostering enriching interpersonal relationships that change young lives for the better. The organization has served the community since 1972, dramatically improving individual outcomes for youth and positively affecting the social determinants of health in the Cowichan region.
About 100 Women Who Care Cowichan