BBBS launches new family mentoring program

Family Mentoring programw ill match a resident family with a newcomer family to the country.

  • Jun. 13, 2013 10:00 a.m.

Kaity Brown

The Big Brothers Big Sisters group of Cranbrook has volunteers for people to act as big siblings to kids who are struggling and who have suffered from loss. But now the group is bringing something new to the table — family mentoring.

The Family Mentoring program is a pilot program with the goal of getting local families from both Kimberley and Cranbrook who would be mentors to the new families.

“What we are looking at doing is creating a program that will match a resident family with a newcomer to the country, someone who has lived in Canada for less than ten years,” said Dana Osiowy of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cranbrook.

“What we are looking for is the chance to help and get families more involved in the community for someone who hasn’t lived in Canada for very long.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters has done mentoring with families across the country but this is the first time that Cranbrook has introduced a program of this nature to the community.

The plan is that the pilot program will run for six months and then from there it will depend on the response from the community.

“We have created the framework for the project, all the forms and that kind of stuff, and right now is when we are going to start our recruitment,” Osiowy said.

“We are going to start with recruiting a family, which is just two or more people, it doesn’t mean you have to have kids or anything like that. It’s just two or more people who are interested in being mentors.”

Osiowy said that the program is a great opportunity for not only the immigrant families, but also those who are doing the mentoring.

“It’s something cool where you can learn about a different culture and all of that kind of stuff but yet still be able to spend that time with your family.”

The families would help the new members of the community by showing them what our communities have to offer such as service agencies, recreation opportunities, community groups and local festivals and events.

“We will have training and we will have some group activities that can really help. Sometimes it can really be isolating when you move to a rural community, maybe you don’t know how to get a driver’s licence or you don’t know what Sam Steele Days is.

“This will be a great opportunity for newcomer of the country to learn about all the stuff. And for resident families they get to do it all again, you know? To really re-discover their community.”

But family doesn’t mean the stereotypical and nuclear family of husband, wife and two kids. Osiowy wants both Kimberley and Cranbrook to know that it’s a minimum of two people.

“When you call us we would do a criminal record check, fill out some forms and give you some training,” said Osiowy.

The training for the program includes all the information that a family would need to mentor another, from safety information ranging to what kind of activities and events to try.

Anyone who would be interested in getting involved with the program should call the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Cranbrook at 250-489-3111 or toll-free at 1-855-489-3111.