JANUARY is Mentoring Month, but Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver (BBGV) says it has stopped accepting new children in Surrey for its community mentoring program because of a shortage of volunteers, the organization announced on January 17.
“Surrey has the largest wait pool in the agency, with 30 kids waiting for a Big Brother. The wait pool is so large that adding more kids to it is currently on hold. Essentially there are families on a waitlist to get into the wait pool for matching! The current average wait time to get a Big Brother for Surrey wait pool “Littles” is two years, which is almost double the amount of time from other cities,” says Navkiran Brar, manager of family engagement.
The term wait pool is used by BBGV to describe Little Brothers approved for the program and waiting to be matched.
BBGV is a registered charity whose mission is to empower children and youth to reach their full potential though impactful mentoring relationships. The charity aims to serve more than 1,000 youth through free programs in Surrey, Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster, the North Shore, Delta and White Rock.
“It’s unfortunate. We’ve had to stop accepting new families who’d like to be paired with a Big Brother in Surrey because of the lack of volunteers applying. This is the most urgent need for mentors I’ve seen in my five years with the organization,” Mandy Wong, manager of development and marketing at BBGV, says.
In Surrey, the charity has an immediate need for at least 38 volunteers to meet the current demand throughout their free programs.
Right now, there are hundreds of youth waiting for their mentor and friend. If you’ve ever considered volunteering as a mentor, now is the time, says BBGV.
As one BBGV volunteer and current Big Brother, Hari, recently explained: “[Volunteering] is a lot less scary than you think it is and it’s a lot more fun than you think it will be and you’ll end up learning a whole lot more about yourself … There’s a lot in it for you that you’ll end up finding and you’ll be surprised with what comes out at the end of it.”
Other cities in Greater Vancouver with a high need for volunteers are Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Vancouver and North Vancouver.
The organization’s mentoring programs pair volunteers with children and youth between the ages of seven and 17 who share common interests. Volunteers spend one or more hours per week with their matches doing fun activities.
BBGV has six programs you can get involved in: the Big Brother Community Program, In-School Mentoring, Game On!, Mentoring With Math, Roots and Teen Mentoring.