Wednesday, 18 March 2015 16:15

Southeast Alberta group encouraging people to Bowl for kids’ sake

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Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Medicine Hat and District literally want to be bowled over by support for the main fundraiser March 27.

The Bowl for Kids Sake takes place March 27 at Panorama Lanes in Medicine Hat from 4 p.m. to midnight.
According to BBBS case worker Jill Forsythe, they have 50 teams registered so far which usually warrants 250 people, but not all of their teams are registered. It looks to be extra fun for the 39th annual five and 10-pin bowling event as this year’s theme is “Hawaiian Luau”.
“We had 50 teams last year as well, so while we are pleased to have matched last year’s numbers, we really do have the potential to double those numbers. Past events have had 100 teams so we know it’s possible,” explains Forsythe. “We are not sure how to measure if the Hawaiian theme garnered any more interest, we simply choose a theme each year to create an atmosphere of fun. It’s not your typical night of bowling, it just adds something a little extra special to the event.”
There is no actual cost to bowl for the team, the premise is that each team member (classified as four per team) raises $100 in pledges or $400 per team. Everyone is encouraged to go tropical and wear sunscreen, flip-flops and surfboards.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization has a lot of Medicine Hat programs, but recently started increasing their reach to outside the area with a program in Redcliff where little brothers or sisters are paired with “bigs” from Eagle Butte HighSchool in Dunmore.
Forsythe says the bowling fundraiser is important to the organization.
“Because all of the funds raised from BFKS (Bowl for Kids Sake) stays in our community, a successful event means we can continue to offer support to more than 100 children a year,” explains Forsythe.
"Ultimately, we would like to continue to grow and support even more children, youth and families in our district. This agency offers several different mentoring programs, each with their own requirements and needs. By supporting BFKS the community is supporting a variety of programs.
“Teen Mentoring at Eagle Butte (with Littles from Margaret Wooding) ran successfully for 10 weeks in the fall, and started a second spring session on March 3 and will run until May 12. I also have two in-school matches (an adult matched with a child in elementary school meeting during the school day once a week at the school) at Margaret Wooding in Redcliff, but so far the mentors are volunteers from Medicine Hat. We really want to start seeing volunteers from Redcliff mentoring the kids in their own community. I was also able to start teen mentoring at Medicine Hat High with their first session running in the fall semester, and their second session just started March 5 running to May 14.”
“Our vision is to be able to provide a positive mentor and role model to every child who needs one in our area, and a successful BFKS allows us to continue that vision,” adds Sandi Grass, Medicine Hat BBBS executive director.
BBBS has been in southeast Alberta for more than 40 years.
Forsythe says the organization has been a quiet constant in the community, but in order to offer their programs to as many children and youth as they can, they need to get the word out to as many people as possible in the southeast.
Forsythe says one of the group’s biggest struggles is that the public largely believes there is only one type of mentoring program, the Community-Based Mentoring program.
While this is the program that BBBS was created around and is highly successful, Forsythe says it is now the group’s smallest program. 
“In-school mentoring is the fastest-growing program for BBBS nationwide, and still the majority of people in our community don’t even know it exists,” adds Forsythe. “People tell me all the time they didn’t realize their kids can actually volunteer as teens in teen mentoring, and we also have two after school programs, Game On for boys, Go Girls for girls.
“People need to realize that we can cater to each individual that walks through our doors looking to volunteer, whether they want to mentor a child, help plan a fundraising event or support our volunteer recruitment and program development efforts.”
“We welcome calls and e-mails from anyone curious about BBBS. Possibilities are endless when people sit down and talk about needs and work together to create relationships, which is what BBBS is really all about,” adds Grass.
BBBS needs volunteers to help with Bingos at Top Hat every month. They also require people who can help plan, organize and facilitate Bowl For Kids Sake which involves approaching local businesses for sponsorship and prizes, picking up prizes and sponsorship donations and the incredibly overwhelming list of general administrative duties that go along with planning events of this magnitude. 
Their efforts did not go unrewarded as they have a lot of great prizes for the Bowl for Kids even this year including a freezer package from Seven Persons’ Premium Sausage, Harley Davidson T-shirts, Elkwater Interpretive Centre donating a guided mountain bike tour and Medicine Hat Drag Racing tickets to name just a few items.
BBBS also needs volunteers each summer tohelp plan, organize and facilitate the MDA (Motor Dealers Association in conjunction with Davis GMC Buick) Golf Tournament held at Desert Blume; to help with Conquer the Coulee, and each winter the BBBS administrators have their WestJet raffle and need volunteers to help sell those tickets to southeast Alberta residents. 
“I myself look for community volunteers to come into Eagle Butte and Hat High to share fun activities with my teen mentoring groups,” says Forsythe.
As examples she says Medalta comes in to do an interactive session with clay, YogaYou4ia is coming in to do a children’s yoga session and Heartbreakers is helping by overseeing a children’s Zumba session. 
“We truly do have volunteer opportunities for anyone and everyone. We are an incredibly small staff to be running the programs that we do, and on top of our program casework, we have to take time away from those programs, just to be able to work on our fundraising events, which exist to keep our doors open.”
Any questions or for more information, resident can contact Big Brothers Big Sisters as soon as possible at 403-527-6640.

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Ryan Dahlman

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