Recruiting starts strong for Bath/Brunswick mentoring program

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BRUNSWICK — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick got a boost in its 2015 mentor recruitment campaign in January, thanks to National Mentoring Month.

The initiative, matching mentors with children on a waiting list, “focuses attention on the need for mentors and how individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for our young people,” the 85 Maine St. organization said in a recent press release.

BBBS’ goals include boosting involvement from volunteer mentors, especially men, expanding mentoring in the Bath school system and Bowdoin Central School, and decreasing the time children wait for a good match.

Since February, the organization has matched seven youths with mentors. Mentors are encouraged to visit the child two to four times a month, and to enjoy common interests and activities. Pairings are made with a focus on common interests and personalities, and the needs and strength of the child and mentor, according to BBBS.

One boy among the newly matched pairs had waited almost three years for the right Big Brother. On average, the organization reported, 70 percent of children on the wait list are boys, while only 30 percent of volunteer inquiries come from men.

Eleven boys and nine girls ages 6-14 in Brunswick, Harpswell and Sagadahoc County are still on the waiting list. But once connected, more than 80 percent of mentoring pairs remain matched for more than a year, BBBS reported.

“In addition to thorough volunteer screening procedures and a thoughtful matching process, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ professional staff monitors and supports each mentoring match on an ongoing basis,” the press release said. “The organization holds itself accountable for children in the program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as higher aspirations; greater confidence and better relationships; educational success, and avoidance of delinquency and other risky behaviors.”

Volunteers say their mentorships are just as rewarding an experience for them as it is for the youth, according to BBBS.

Contact the organization at 729-7736, community@bbbsbathbrunswick.org, or log onto bbbsbathbrunswick.org.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Among those participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick mentoring program are “Big Brother” Craig Ela of Harpswell, left, and “Little Brother” John, who have been matched since May 2014.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.