Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Our Programs

If you're not familiar with how our different programs work, I'm going to break them down really easy for you:

The Traditional Program
  • You see your mentee once a week for 3-4 hours in the community. You have your choice of doing whatever you want!
The In-School Mentoring (ISM) Program
  • You see your mentee once a week for 1 hour (no more) on school property, during school hours, for the duration of the school year.
Go Girls
  •   You follow a 7-week program with a group of 6-8 girls, for 1 hour/week for 7 weeks on school property during school hours.
Game On
  • You follow a 7-week program with a group of 6-8 boys, for 1 hour/week for 7 weeks on school property during school hours.
 Kids in Motion
  •  You develop your own 7-week program (or follow one of ours, options now are: crafts, sports) with a group of 6-10 boys and girls for 1 hour/week for 7 weeks on school property during school hours.

Pretty basic right? Well what if you're in the ISM Program but you want to spend time with your mentee during the summer? 
Usually, that would be against our rules, but if you're registered in BOTH the Traditional and ISM Programs, you can see your mentee for the 1 hour during the school year as usual, then you can take them out in the summer, too! This program is great if you've developed a good relationship with your mentee and you want to see them in those summer months or if you just want to take them places off school property!
If this, or any of our programs sounds like it would be a good fit for you, please call our office more information! Cheryl Holmes, Programs Manager, 905-985-3733 ext. 2.

For more information on our programs or our organization, please visit our website here. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Guest Blogger: Big Sister, Mallory Smith-- "It's not just about what you can give to your Little"

Written by Mallory Smith

Making the choice to switch from the In-School Mentoring (ISM) Program to the Traditional Big/Little program was presented to me at a time in my life where I felt as though I had no direction. I was a struggling graduate (like most are these days) and I was moving from quaint Port Perry into the budding metropolis of Toronto to live with my boyfriend. I was flat out terrified. I remember my Mentoring Coordinator calling me and saying that I couldn't continue with ISM if I lived so far away, so I had to decide if I want to become a full-time Big Sister to Alora.

Having been a big sister to three other awesome siblings since the tender age of 2.5 years old, I knew what this meant. I knew it meant a life commitment. You don't just tell a sweet 11-year-old girl that you'll be her Big Sister and then bail on her 6 months later. If you say it, you have to mean it and it you have to mean it for life.

I'm sure that some people would say I did a beautiful thing by becoming Alora's big sister. I took time out of my life to give something to her that she was lacking... but that's not really the way I look at it. At a time in my life, where I had no direction, I was given the choice to become a major influence on someone and in turn, being that influence, helped me on my own path in life. I know I've made an impact on Alora, but by being impactful, she in turn has made an impact on my own life.

I am at the age where I remember 16 years old as if it were yesterday but have 13 more years of wisdom behind me. I'm pregnant with my first child and as those mothering instincts kick in they mesh together with the remembrances of being a vivacious 16-year-old girl and I'm able to provide Alora with a perspective on the traumas, turmoil and adventures of the day-to-day life of being 16 without sounding 100% like her or sounding 100% like her parents.

We are unique in that we do not spend much time together. Distance, schedules and Alora's lack of mobility from Port Perry to Toronto (she will get her license this year though!) have stood in our way for some time, but it doesn't seem to make a large impact on how we move forward with our relationship. We have both played large roles in each other's lives since we were first matched. I went to Alora's grade 8-graduation and saw her win an award. Alora was a bridesmaid in my wedding and helped to plan the bridal shower. Alora will be an aunt to my new baby and I'll help her fill out applications and prepare for university/college. She reminds me to be young and I remind her that growing up, while hard, is totally worth it in the end!

Being a Big is not just about what you can give to your Little; it’s also about what your Little can give to you.

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Durham Region Feature: FUN Things To Do This Summer Part 2!

So, you've 'been there done that' to paintballing, you've found 1000 Geocaches and you've conquered your fear of heights at Treetop Eco Adventure Park...and it's only June. No fear, here are some more ideas of things you can do without leaving Durham Region! Enjoy :)


Stand Up Paddleboarding

Want to keep up with the latest FUN fitness craze? This is it! Test out your balance (it's not hard, don't worry) with Port Perry SUP on Lake Scugog. Fun for the whole family!


Goodwood Kartways

Got the need for speed? Then Goodwood Kartways is for you! Take the family or friends here to see who's fastest on the track! It's not often you can test how fast a vehicle can go, so take advantage of that here! 


 Cedar Park Resort

Splash around in Bowmanville's Cedar Park Resort this summer with the kids! Not only do they have splash pads, water slides and pools, but also mini golf, camp ground, tennis courts and more. All you need for a fun-filled family day :)


Pickering Playing Fields

You and your friends can't decide on an activity? Why not visit the Pickering Playing Fields that holds a variety of options: Mini Putt, Driving Range, Beach Volleyball and Batting Cages. Choose 1, 2 or all activities with your friends or family and enjoy the outdoors all day!


 Pingle's Farm Market

There's stuff to do at Pingle's all year round! In the summer, there are wagon rides, a Barn Bouncer, visits with the farm animals, mini golf, giant board games and more. Best of all, all of this fun for only $5 per person! Check it out in the fall, too for an awesome corn maze!


Bowmanville Zoo

Not only are there a lot of really cool animals at the Bowmanville Zoo, but there are also rides, a splash pad, and camels rides! Take the kids for an educational but fun day to the zoo where they can learn and play at the same time :) If you really want to splurge, you can book a private Big Cat encounter!

For more ideas of what to do this summer outside Durham Region, click here.

Missed Part 1? Click here

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Meet a Match: Gill & Cailey

Gill & Cailey

Public Relations Placement Student, Rachel McLean, wrote the following about Big Sister, Gill and Little Sister, Cailey.

In September 2012, through the In-School Mentoring Program at Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham (BBBSND), Gill was matched with Cailey, a happy young girl just beginning the seventh grade. Cailey was smart, popular, doing well in school, and not at all the type of child one might consider to be in need of a mentor. But Gill quickly learned that even the happiest of children could always benefit from a little extra attention from a positive role model. She also learned that mentoring can go both ways, and describes Cailey as a great role model herself, always bringing positivity into any situation.

“Her smile lights up a room. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without a smile. Her positive energy is contagious,” says Gill, who spends as much time as she can with the equally busy Cailey. Both girls are students, Cailey now in Grade 9 and Gill in post-secondary school, meaning their time together is limited. But when they do get time together about once a month, they make the most of it. “We rarely do the same thing. I’ve taught her how to ski and snowboard, we’ve gone mini-putting, to the movies, checked out unique restaurants, and had some girls’ nights.” Cailey says her favourite activity they did together was when they drove race cars at Mosport last year. Her younger brother, Bryce sometimes joins them, “we’re like a trio, the 3 of us,” says Cailey, “she’s actually like my sister.”

Since Cailey and Bryce live with their grandparents, they have both benefited a lot from having Gill around. Having a strong female role model in her life has helped her to continue along the positive path she’s on, which can be difficult for some girls when entering high school for the first time. “I’ve gotten to see her grow as a person,” says Gill, smiling. “When I met her, she was confident, she worked hard in school and she was happy and she has just continued to be on that path. How can you not want to spend time with a person like that?” Cailey agrees that she’s changed a bit as a person adding “since meeting Gill for the first time, I’m more happy and more talkative.” When Cailey was asked if Gill had changed at all since the beginning, Cailey claims “she’s still the same old Gill, but more funny, smarter, and always having fun.”
Gill grew up with an older brother and a twin sister and says that Big Brothers Big Sisters was an obvious choice when she decided how she was going to give back to her community. “I grew up with a really good life and I wanted to make sure I could give something back,” she explains.
“If you want to have a positive influence on someone or bring joy to someone’s life, this is the thing to do. Mentoring is something you can do regularly, so you get to see the influence you have on them and you can see them grow up.”

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

5 Ways You Can Get Involved with US!

Have you thought about getting involved with but you don't know if mentoring is for you? Well, there are many other options where you can show us your support!

1. Become a Mentor with us
We want you to LOVE your mentoring experience, that's why we set you up with a child who has similar interests, and in a Mentoring Program that fits your needs. Don't want to commit to 3-4 hours a week for a year? No problem--why not try the In School Mentoring Program and see if it's right for you. Remember: your role as mentor is not to change a child's life, but in most cases, you will be there to listen to them, support them, have fun with them, and be their friend.

2. Join Our Board of Directors
We're always looking for new faces to join our Board. We are currently looking for community-minded individuals from Uxbridge, Scugog and Brock to join our Board with the following experience and interests: Financial, Social Service, Legal, Marketing, Educator, Fundraising/Special Events. Contact our office if you need more information.

3. Volunteer at one of our events
We have many events throughout the year that we need lots of help with! Typically we have our Wing Night in February, our Bowl for Kids Sake in April, our Ride for Kids Sake in September, and our Halloween Party in October. We always have a bunch more of third party events we could use your help with. We're always happy to help high school students looking for their 40 hours of community service.

4. Join a Committee
We're currently looking for people to join committees for the following:

  • Our 40th Anniversary Committee (2016)
  • Our 1st Curl for Kids Sake Committee

5. Donate 
There are many ways you can donate to us that we would really appreciate. Here are a few examples:

  • In Kind goods and services to be auctioned/raffled off at our events
  • Goods and Services we can use at the agency
  • Monetary Donations
  • Sponsoring one of our families at Christmas with our Gift Program.

We always appreciate everyone who's involved with us! We really cannot continue to run our programs without the help and support for peoples in our community!  Call us if you're interested at 905-985-3733 ext. 4

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Meet a Match: Dave & Aidan

 Dave & Aidan

In-School Mentor, Dave Stell, wrote this lovely story about his mentoring experience a couple years ago.

Work can be pretty hard. Paying the bills and taking care of lots of different responsibilities can be challenging. But being a Big Brother? That's easy. I became a big brother in 1999 and I've had four little brothers in that time, two at RH Cornish and two at Prince Albert. Jordan, Jeremy, Nic and now Aidan. They've all been very different from each other, but they shared one common trait: they loved to have fun.

I've been lucky to be able to stay in touch with two of them after they went to high school. That's when mentoring ends, at the end of Gr. 8, but the friendship doesn't have to.

It can be weird later on, though. I was talking to a past little brother recently and we agreed to go out for beer and play pool soon. I can't tell you how that felt, the first time I realized he was old enough to go out for beers. But it's a good kind of weird. And we did go for that beer.

As an in-school mentor, I'm there for just one hour each week. The hour always flies by really quickly, every week.

For the most part, it's just fun and easy. Big Brothers is pretty good at finding kids that you will mesh with. Right now my little brother Aidan is a hockey nut - so we play floor hockey about 90 per cent of the time. It's a blast.

Others have liked basketball or dodgeball or any sport we could make up out of our imagination with any of the equipment we could get our hands on. Those are the best games of all. In the nice weather we take our fun outside and play football or baseball in the school yard.

The school is as accommodating as possible and helps us get gym time or library time with computers or space to play board games or cards. I've also heard that other matches watch movies together and make popcorn in the staff lounge.
It's funny, but I got into it thinking it was all about helping a young boy grow up. I worried that it might be a burden, that I would have to teach him discipline and be responsible for him becoming a man. But it's not that at all. It's been something I get a lot out of myself. It's a rewarding feeling to know my little brother looks forward to seeing me every week. In fact - that's one of the most important things I was told - that stuck with me when I first signed up. Show up! That's 90 per cent of the hard work in being a big brother. For kids with single parents, they sometimes get let down by dad or don't get to see him at all. So if you can just show you can be there for him, it makes all the difference in the world.

Now, one myth I have to bust while I'm talking about the experience is the idea some people have that it will be awkward. Talking to young kids is intimidating to some. But despite my best efforts to be a psychiatrist when I started 12 years ago, boys just aren't talkers. I gave up on it a long time ago. Unless they ask you to talk, or they are visibly upset about something, they are OK and just want to spend time doing something with you. Each match has been a positive experience. Teachers tell me they see a change in their personality and their relationships in class. And all I did was show up and play games and be nice to him for an hour a week. How easy is that?! For those of you who have 9-5 jobs like me - you may be concerned that it will be a pain to get time off to do it. But I've worked for five bosses over the past 12 years and they have all been completely supportive of giving me a longer lunch as needed, or to come in an hour late one day a week so I can keep this mentor volunteer opportunity going. I think companies see it as a way to give back to the community, so don't automatically think your employer will balk at the idea. You'll be surprised.

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2.

Meet a Match: Justin and Owen


Justin & Owen

Public Relations Placement Student, Rachel McLean, wrote the following about Big Brother, Justin and Little Brother, Owen.

In April of 2012, Justin and Owen were matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham in the Traditional Mentoring program. Now, after almost three years, they both say it’s like they really are brothers.

24-year-old Justin says being matched with 12-year-old Owen has really helped them both to grow and mature. “I think the program is incredible. I’ve noticed a huge difference in Owen and even in myself. It’s evident, the purpose that we’re serving as big brothers, which is great. I don’t even really feel like I’m in a program anymore. I just feel like he’s actually my little brother, which is a pretty cool feeling,” says Justin, as Owen smiles and nods along. “It’s amazing,” he chimes in.

Justin says he’s never been responsible for someone so close like a little brother so the match has really helped him to learn a lot about himself as he learned more about Owen, who is now in Grade 7 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Elementary School.

Owen thinks having a big brother is great, and it is easier to stop playing Call of Duty, his favourite video game, when he knows Justin has some fun things planned for the day. “Owen is the only kid in the history of the world who never has homework,” jokes Justin, who tries to make sure they spend as much time as they can doing things outside. Together they do a lot; soccer, baseball, basketball, ping-pong, swimming, paintballing, golfing, and this year they are going on their first camping trip.

Having a big brother is a lot different than having a younger brother, explained Owen, who says he gets along much better with his 9-year-old younger brother since joining the mentoring program. Big brother Justin has taught him to have patience and has helped him to see situations differently with his own little brother, who is also in the traditional program. Owen says the only thing he would change about his match with Justin is that they would spend more time together; their 35-minute distance limits the amount of time they get.

“I’ve always wanted a little brother,” says Justin, who grew up with three older sisters. “I always asked my parents for one for Christmas, and they never gave me one. When I found out there was a huge need for big brothers, it didn’t take much convincing. I jumped right on the chance.”

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2.  

This story was recently featured in the June issue of the Focus on Scugog. Read it here.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

SHL 15th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

Cheers to 15 years!

Last Friday, all our staff was at Wolf Run Golf Course for the 15th Annual Scugog Men's Hockey League Golf Tournament! This year's 4 beneficiaries were Ride For Dad, Community Care Durham, the Sunshine Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham!

The highlight of this tournament was chair of the Golf Committee, Rob Scott, presenting a faux cheque to the charities that showed that they have given over $200,000 to many local charities over the passed 15 years!

 This year alone, they raised $18,000 for the 4 charities!

The 123 golfers included SHL players, as well as their family and friends, who came out to play a round of 18 holes on this picture-perfect day. There was also taste-testing of Carlsberg and Black Fly Beverages and all players left with an awesome goodie-bag from our sponsors!

Thank you so much to everyone involved, including the players, the staff at Wolf Run, the SHL Golf Committee, the volunteers and the sponsors! Can't wait until next year :)