Big Brothers Big Sisters happy with community support

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Bowl for Kids Sake raises over $60,000 at annual event

Their fundraising numbers weren’t where they hoped they would be, but Big Brothers Big Sisters is thankful for the ongoing community support.

The Town of New Glasgow Animal Quackers pose for a photo during Bowl for Kids Sake on Saturday. Front row from left: Janine Linthorne, Trudy Vince, Melody Board and Cohen Ross. Back row from left: Alanna MacDonald, Cheryl Young, Nancy Dicks, Debbie Greencorn and Kelly Sloan. 

Coming in around $60,000 on Saturday at the annual Bowl for Kids Sake, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County fell short of their goal of $73,000. In the past few years their fundraising totals have continued to drop. In 2012 they raised $77,000, which dipped again in 2013 to $73,103.

This year’s drop is the largest Margie Grant-Walsh, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County, has witnessed in her 27 years being involved with the organization.

“I think there are many different factors as to why that is,” said Grant-Walsh. “The economy has been tough recently. There are also a lot of causes in the county that are valuable and worthy, which people are trying to support as well. Also when you hear of bad news like at Michelin lately people also get nervous about spending money because there is only so much to go around.”

This event makes up approximately 40 to 50 per cent of their annual operating according to Grant-Walsh. She said they receive four per cent of their budget from government grants. The rest of their budget is made up of donations and other fundraising events.

Before this decrease in fundraising dollars the year was already tough for the Pictou County office. They had to cut a staff member in New Glasgow and close their satellite office in Antigonish, although they’re still serving kids there.

“Usually we’ll sit down after an event to debrief and discuss what worked and what didn’t,” said Grant-Walsh.

“With not reaching our fundraising goal for this year we will try to recover some of those funds elsewhere, but we can’t take on anything more in special event fundraising. Our mandate is to serve the kids, not to raise funds.”

Unfortunately the funds do allow them to help serve the kids, which Grant-Walsh said is a balance. Right now the Pictou County office is struggling with having sustainable funding and recruiting mentors.

Last year they had 300 kids involved with the program, but there are currently 80 kids on a waiting list for mentors outside of the school programs.

“Currently there are different grants, but the government puts on so many different types of criteria that we don’t always fall into those,” she said. “In some cases they want you to create a new program. For us we have such amazing programs that work well for us that we want to continue them, but need more funding.”

Grant-Walsh said she is optimistic about the future, even though things are tough right now.

“All the volunteers involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters are amazing; Pictou County is amazing,” she said. “It’s tough for everyone right now and we understand that. I just want to give a huge thank you to those that supported us this year and in recent years.”

Organizations: Big Brothers Big Sisters

Geographic location: Pictou County, New Glasgow, Antigonish

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