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Big Brothers Needed!

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  • Big Brothers Needed!

    Hi all! My name is Lucas Porciello, I am a Volunteer Recruitment and Training Facilitator with the Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area. Quite the mouthful, I know. But back in 2011 our agencies combined efforts to better serve the youth in our community and became the first amalgamated organization of our kind in the entire world. Nowhere else is there such an agency who provides youth with all the necessary supports they require to become as successful as they can be in life. Last year alone we helped over 5000 families with the ongoing support and dedication of more than 3200 volunteers! If you don't know about who we are or what we do, essentially we match volunteers with youth who share similar interests and who could use an older individual to be a mentor they can look up to. Being a mentor may sound daunting - but it's really just about being a friend who can consistently spend an hour or so a week with the child and try new things together with them. And there's a lot of different ways to get involved outside of our Big Brother/Sister program.

    Right now, though, we are facing a very real and concerning issue. Volunteering with youth is not exactly top of mind for a lot of men. So as the years have gone by, we've found that less and less men are applying to be Big Brothers. As a result, more and more young boys have been put on a waiting list - waiting for their Big Brother to apply. As it stands right now, we have more than 600 young boys on this waiting list. What's astonishing is that this number has DOUBLED from the 300 we had last year. To put this into an even more alarming perspective, we have the exact opposite scenario with our Big Sister and Little Sister matches - there are actually Big Sisters waiting to be matched to Little Sisters in certain areas of the city. What's worse is that there are an equal number of Little Sisters as there are Little Brothers. The only solution is that more men start considering becoming Big Brothers.

    To respond to this need for male mentors, we've initiated a 100 Men 100 Days campaign. The name speaks for itself: we hope to add 100 new male volunteers to our agency within the next 100 days, and we need all the help we can get! Our programs are designed to fit into your lifestyle! Becoming a volunteer with us doesn't mean giving up some of your time each week to spend time with a kid, it means we help you find a way to help a kid fit into the way you already spend your time. If you watch sports, put down the beer and pick up a little brother to watch one a game a week with. If you play sports, bring a little brother along with you. Do you even lift bro? Then pick up a little bro once a week. If you like to try new things, share those experiences with a little brother who would never have the chance to otherwise. Simply by spending time together, even if it doesn't seem special, makes a world of difference to our kids. You might even notice it make a positive change in your life as well.

    We urgently need more men to man up and become mentors. Visit bgcbigs.ca and learn more about our programs and apply to become a volunteer today. Or feel free to get in touch with me personally to learn more. Shoot an e-mail my way: [email protected].

  • #2
    ^ i am afraid that, as a gay man, I will find myself entangled in a unfounded sexual assault charge made by unaccepting parents or youths.

    I feel that men are largely discouraged from working with children by society.

    Simply put I would love to but I am too afraid that something negative will happen.
    "Do you give people who already use transit a better service, or do you build it where they don't use it in the hopes they might start to use it?" Nenshi

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    • #3
      Unfortunately this is a concern for many men wanting to work with youth and has deterred many from volunteering. Through the BGCBigs enrollment process we prevent situations like this and ensure the safety for all through:
      - A Nationally Standardized training session to all volunteers, children, and parents/guardians on what a healthy match relationship looks like and the appropriate boundaries.
      - Every volunteer, child, and parent/guardian is interviewed to determine if they are a suitable fit for the agency. We take various things in to consideration to ensure we are not placing any party at risk.
      -Matches are supervised by a Match Facilitator and each party will be asked to give updates on how the match is going. This will give each party a chance to voice any of concerns they have with the match. As a volunteer you are able to contact the Match Facilitator anytime you please. We are here to support you in any way we can.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by edmonton daily photo View Post
        ^ i am afraid that, as a gay man, I will find myself entangled in a unfounded sexual assault charge made by unaccepting parents or youths.

        I feel that men are largely discouraged from working with children by society.

        Simply put I would love to but I am too afraid that something negative will happen.
        Indeed the present litigious nature of society has basically precluded active involvement in such activities with somebody elses children. Such immense liability with that. For any adult.
        Of course on a volunteer basis there would be no liability protection whatsoever.

        Unfortunately the whole concept of big brother is I think dying. At present its become largely an avenue that either the very young adult with no assets, or older adult with no assets will accept.

        I think the big sister mode will survive longer and again due to less litigation and lower rates of charges/accusations made against females.
        "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BGCBigs View Post
          Unfortunately this is a concern for many men wanting to work with youth and has deterred many from volunteering. Through the BGCBigs enrollment process we prevent situations like this and ensure the safety for all through:
          - A Nationally Standardized training session to all volunteers, children, and parents/guardians on what a healthy match relationship looks like and the appropriate boundaries.
          - Every volunteer, child, and parent/guardian is interviewed to determine if they are a suitable fit for the agency. We take various things in to consideration to ensure we are not placing any party at risk.
          -Matches are supervised by a Match Facilitator and each party will be asked to give updates on how the match is going. This will give each party a chance to voice any of concerns they have with the match. As a volunteer you are able to contact the Match Facilitator anytime you please. We are here to support you in any way we can.
          Being a 30 yr professional in the Helping professions I have to take umbrage to your wording. The word "ensure" in this context is a nonstarter. At best some degree of mitigation of risk occurs even with the utmost screening, matching, etc. As per precedents that occur regularly nothing close to ensuring is the case. People reading this thread should probably know this.

          I do fear that some of the wording could result in false assuredness where in reality none exists. The right or wrong parent, or child, or volunteer, would possibly have unknown triggers and could make false claims due to unresolved issues, situational confusion, for instance stemming from past sexual abuse. So much as getting in the car and going for a drive with a not well known person could elicit all kinds of triggers previously not exhibited. Of course you know most victims of sexual abuse do not self report consistently. You wouldn't even know much until the accusation came to be.

          Lets be clear here as well for the readers. Myriad alleged improvements in screenings typically come about because whatever screenings that ever occurred before(that always came with false assuredness as well) we're subsequently found to be insufficient in safeguarding. But with more involved screenings not necessarily effectively decreasing risk. Its just inferred, nothing more.

          Indeed, in view of todays shortages of volunteers this also puts into play a wanting to accept candidates that do apply. So in this greater scrutiny is possibly blindsided by supply and demand of possible candidates.

          I'd like to clarify my comments are not at all relative to any specific org but just dynamic in nature and that impact any volunteer recruitment in stated capacity. Also in no way is this meant to reflect that orgs don't work very hard and diligently at trying to protect and ensure no risk. Just that its impossible to do that. Risk is going to be there in such endeavor. With all sides being exposed to that.
          Last edited by Replacement; 08-05-2014, 05:05 PM.
          "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

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          • #6
            BGCBigs,

            Thank you very much for posting here. Big Brothers valued organization and know several people throughout my lifetime who have either volunteered for, or been the very happy recipient of the camaraderie that way more often than not is a result of Big Brothers.

            Nowhere was that more evident to me that at the Go Kit Derby that we hosted as part of RACE WEEK Edmonton. All the parents that help the soapboxes become reality were amazing to watch, but those from big Brothers and big sisters were specially gratifying and warmed my heart. I sincerely hope that eventually the politics around Indy will die and we will readily be able to resurrect that amazing event with both go kits and the real all American soapboxes.

            Here's wishing you success in your campaign, and I know you and your companion organizations will keep up the exemplary work you all have been doing for generations.
            President and CEO - Airshow.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the reminder, Lucas. I've been toying with the idea of volunteering and even had my references already lined up. Not sure what is all involved with the program, but I'm willing to keep an open mind, learn, and take advice/direction. I've submitted my application and will wait to hear back. So, maybe it's only 99 in 100 days now.

              Cheers!
              -- xcalibur

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