Monday, February 10, 2014

 

City News

The 4 Deadly Sins: Bully, Fight, Lie & Steal

Big Brothers Big Sisters have 117 kids in Chilliwack 

Staff/Voice photo

 

David Sheach from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley gave council an overview the organization last Tuesday.

 

avid Sheach, Executive Director, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley was at the Chilliwack City Hall afternoon session to update council and give overview of their programs.

 

What Sheach lacked in visuals on the overhead he made up for it in his eloquent delivery. It was a treat to listen to Sheach deliver his narrative and the Mayor let him go over the usual 10 minutes allotted for council presentations.

The copy below is what he told council:

The outcome of having someone come and visit you is immeasurable. It changes who you are and when a person chooses to be my friend, I'm always shocked. I always wonder what is that about? Why would you do that. But it makes me feel like a whole new human being when somebody says; 'You are worth my time. It changes my sense of my future. It changes my sense my past and it changes my sense of today and that's the kind of thing that happens and the work that we do with families and children.'

Big Brothers and Big Sisters is entering it's 101st year of service to Canadian families. It was founded in Toronto in 1913 by a man who worked in the justice system and looked across his desk and saw a boy who was in trouble and thought to himself; 'I could do something about that.'

He reached out his hand, introduced himself, and said; 'If we were to be friends, our lives would be changed.'

And that has happened time and time and time again when adults and youth make the choice to volunteer in their communities and to be a mentor to a child.

So we are 45-years-old in Chilliwack. Big brothers and Big Sisters was founded in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge all in about 1969 when they were incorporated and received the charter from Big Sisters Big Brothers of Canada.

Our organization is now known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley, Big Brothers Abbotsoford-Mission-Ridge Meadows serving Abbotsford Mission and Pitt Meadows amalgamated with Big Brothers Big Sisters Upper Fraser Valley serving Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison, Hope and points in between, and we now serve that full area.

We have 10 staff, an annual budget of around $700,000 and last year, we served 456 children in one of the three programs that we do.
 

Our Programs
We do have three programs; the original, the classic Big Brothers Big Sisters program where a man or a woman is screened as a mentor, as a volunteer, is matched with a girl or boy and they are tasked with spending 2-4 hours per week with each other, doing things of mutual interest. It's never about spending money and exposing them to things that they can't afford. it's exposing them to the reality of a friend.

So if you do things like go to a hockey game or go to Starbucks and go for a walk in the park. Those are all just tactics and tools to create that friendship and to create some experiences together.

The in-school mentoring program was established in the mid-90s, as an opportunity for a volunteer to spend an hour a week with a child in school, on-site, during school hours, during the school year and not outside of that.

In both cases, the student thinks a mutual interest; reading a story, talking about what's going on in their lives.

Two of my favourite stories with respect to that are (he gave examples).

About five years ago we also started some group programming, so Game on and Go Girls which we've done in Chilliwack quite a lot, those are both gender-specific after-school programs with a healthy eating, active living, a positive self image purpose behind them.

Last year, I said we served 456 children, 117 of those were in the Chilliwack area and about half of those are in the school program and the other half are in the community mentoring program.

Our Impact
So we've had two pieces of research that have been published in the last two years that I think are really, really worth telling about and worth acknowledging.

The first one was in 2012 published by the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction and it told us five things; that kids that have a mentor are two-times more likely to feel attached in their school; two-times to be more successful academically, two-and-a-half-times more likely to participate in extra-curricular activity. It also told us that boys that have a mentor are two-times less likely to bully, fight, lie and steal.

Girls, that have a mentor are four-times less likely to bully, fight, lie and steal.

Those numbers, all of them, strike me as enormously significant in the conversation that we're having across our province and across the country about kids health and about survival.

I think if we have an opportunity to double the person's chances of success, that's an exceptional way to change life and it also strikes me that if I have experience with success and with belonging, with trying new things as a young person, then I am liable to desire to find that again and have some confidence in myself knowing that I had some experience with that once, but I can find it again and I think that's what leads people to get involved in as adults with Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs and Chamber's of Commerce in a leadership role, so I think that's what makes people good managers, good husbands, good employees and contributing citizens and to that point, we had research published last year, by the Boston Consulting Group which is based in Toronto, and they interviewed 500 men and women that had a Big Brother Big Sister when they were a child, with a control group of 1000 that did not and they found an 18-to-1 return on investment.

18-to-1 comes from on one hand 80-90 per cent reporting that they were happier, that they made good life choices, that they were financially literate, that they were more likely to volunteer that when they did volunteer, they were going to volunteer for more time and that they were going to donate $81/yr more than average to charity.

It also told us that people that had a mentor are more likely to have a post secondary education, are more likely to be in a leadership position in their company and are going to earn 13 per cent, or, $13,315 more in their lifetimes.

I was shocked when I read that. I know that what we do is good, and I know that there's lots of stories, anecdotal stories, or opportunities to observe men and women, men and boys, or women and girls spending time together and you can see that there's a connection. But honestly, to think that there's an 18-to-1 return on investment.

I love going and talking to banks, I've gotta say, because I can give you a better return than you can give me in terms of the investment. I think it's also important to note, in my mind, I've had some people say to me, 'Well, you know that's like savings in the future and people don't have the money now and sometimes we talk about how; a dollar spent today saves seven later, and I don't think it's like that in this situation. I think its like buying out General Motors. We said then as citizens or as a country, that we need to invest in that now so that we can get a pay off in it later, and I think that's what we're able to do here and in all of the ways that we get support though volunteer hours, through contributions from corporations, from citizens, from governments and all of the ways that we earn our revenue, we're able to invest that in the life of a child, in the time spent by a volunteer and there's a payoff in the future, in terms of better performance at school, better academics, more participation and that proceeds into adulthood with respect to career choices, to contributions, to social and mental and physical health.

I'm really proud of what we do here. I'm really proud of my staff in Chilliwack. I guess I should tell you that of the ten staff that we have, two of those are based here in Chilliwack. We rent an office there on Vedder Road from Community Services.

Big Brothers Big Sisters was nominated for an Acceptance Award a couple of weeks ago and I think it's entirely to do with those two staff, they are exceptional people, they've done fabulous work, they've worked really hard at getting connected to the community through the Child & Youth Committee, through their roles that they take and volunteering and their ability to be out in the community, so I'm very very pleased with them. They also have programming in Agassiz-Harrison and we continue to work at building the program and finding a foothold in Hope.

So we do have active matches in every major town that we serve and we continue to grow in terms of the numbers of kids that we're able to and our ability to continue to expand and provide a service to families in the region.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz
I think all of us have been around for a long time now and have been able to watch Big Brothers Big Sisters grow in our community and when you grow and the influence of Big Brothers Big Sisters grow as well.

I'm extremely grateful for the work that you do. I know that for a a lot of kids in the community, this is the only chance to have a mentor and have people that would give up their time so freely and their commitment to having their kids have that security and have that kind of leadership is truly remarkable and I do want to say thank you to Ms Berlin too, because I've been able to meet with Ms Berlin on other occasions and know that you've chosen very well and adding her to your staff. In honesty, she's just adding so much to your organization as she has with so many others. So thank you very much for that.

I'm really thankful, 117 kids in our community that have this opportunity that would not have had that opportunity without your organization. I want to really thank you on behalf of the citizens of Chilliwack for that.

 

 

 

Copyright (c) 2014 The Valley Voice