The Art of Wine: Supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters
This year the SMS Wine Auction in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo was held on Sept 27th at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Center. There were 350 people in attendance and the agency raised $65,000.
In celebration of our fifth year, we not only wanted to treat our guest to a night of great and unique wines, we also wanted to give our guests and supporters a chance to learn more about the organization they were supporting and inform them about an organization that has been in Fort McMurray for more than 30 years.
This year the theme was The Art of Wine. The event had a feel of a modern art gallery. Throughout the event guests were exposed to the missions and values of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Whether it by quotes that were displayed or the pillows on the chairs.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has been a part of the Fort McMurray community since the early 80’s. During this time the agency has changed the lives of many children through mentoring. We have grown from an agency that started with tradition matches (Bigs and Littles) to one that now offers different programs that now serves over 150 children and youth in the Wood Buffalo region.
Community Program or Big/Little Program: is a one to one mentorship between an adult & a child. The volunteers are required to spend two to four hours per week with the child and must commit to a minimum of one year. 25 matches with 15 children on waitlist.
The In School Mentoring Program: This program is a relationship based initiative that matches volunteers, on a one-to-one basis, with an elementary school student. Currently serving 45 children in 7 schools. Volunteers are from all walks of life and every age group. Businesses in our community support In-School Mentoring by providing their staff with time off each week (one hour) to take part in this important community program. We also run this In School Mentoring program in Anzac using the teens of the community as mentors in the classrooms of the younger children under the supervision of the staff at the schools.
Full Circle Aboriginal Mentoring Program: This in an Aboriginal-based, after school program that provides aboriginal youth with an opportunity to learn about their culture and traditions in a fun and interactive way.
We run this program 4 times a week in different areas of town (Gregoire, Downtown, Thickwood and in Anzac).
The goal of the program is to provide First Nation, Métis and Inuit youth with a positive mentoring experience, and to increase their cultural heritage knowledge while having fun. Mentors and Mentees will showcase their new skills and friendships during Aboriginal Day Celebrations in June. Big Brothers Big Sisters is different from other mentoring organizations in that we seek volunteers who are committed and consistent, willing to serve at least a year, but we hope until a child graduates high school. Studies show that by doing so, our mentoring services help kids stay in school, avoid risky behavior, and experience first-hand the importance of helping others in their community.
Our mentoring programs provides youth with a role model and a friend to talk to and share the experiences of growing up with. Through regular outings, a relationship is developed between the mentor and the mentee that is built on trust and common interests, and is supported by our experienced caseworkers. The result is a life-changing experience for both the mentor and the mentee.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a donor supported volunteer-driven organization recognized for our mentoring programs for children and youth in schools and communities throughout Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo Region. As we are not United Way Funded we depend on the generosity of our business community in order to maintain our high standard of service. We do this through our three major fundraisers SMS Wine Auction held in the fall, Curl for Kids which is being held March 2015, and our Rubber Duck Race held in August 2015.
Photos by: Susan Walker