Facing unprecedented funding shortfalls, the Calgary Big Brothers Big Sisters group has temporarily suspended applications for new volunteers in its mentoring program.
The group says since the economic downturn began two years ago demand for mentors has surged, but resources have dwindled, and programs are now at capacity with hundreds of children on a waitlist.
Earlier Big Brothers Big Sisters had to cancel its main mentoring fundraiser because it was having trouble getting sponsorships.
President and CEO Karen Orser says its been tough.
“Our donations are down which has made it a challenge to continue serving the 2,000 children that we do serve, let alone the thousands of children that reach out to us every year that are on our waitlist or that we have to turn away.”
Orser says they’re saddened to have to turn away volunteers at a time when the demand for mentors is larger than ever, but she says it wouldn’t be fair to keep children and volunteers waiting indefinitely when there aren’t resources to support them.
To help make up the shortfall, the organization has launched a new public fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $100,000. The All-Star Campaign is enlisting the help of some Calgary stars-people like Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, Flames forward Sean Monahan, and Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser. Money raised will be matched by two long time supporters.
Orser has a message for those who would call Big Brothers Big Sisters a “nice to have” charity.
“Mentoring is about providing vulnerable children with healthy relationships. That’s essential for healthy development and resilience. We are working very intentionally with youth and children facing barriers who absolutely need these positive relationships.”
42 per cent of the organizations funding comes from donations.
Volunteers are still being welcomed for all programs in Airdrie, Cochrane, High River and Okotoks and for its mPower, Youth-in-Care, and Youth Engaging Supports programs in Calgary.