Volunteer shortage leaves kids waiting for mentors in Bath and Brunswick
Two dozen local children are waiting to be matched with adult mentors, partly because of a pandemic-driven shortage of volunteers, according to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Brunswick/Bath.
Addysen Malkoch, 9, and her friend Dena Bachman, 43, can’t keep from giggling as they recount their adventures. Since they met nearly four years ago, the pair have tie-dyed shirts, examined school cafeteria food under microscopes and built a marshmallow castle. Addysen is quick to pull out her stash of photos as proof. “I have all the pictures of me and you doing things,” she tells Bachman.
For 40 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Brunswick/Bath has fostered deep one-on-one connections between area kids like Addysen and adult mentors like Bachman. But even as this pair has forged a bond that Addysen’s mother Lindsey Hinkley calls “unbreakable,” a pandemic-driven shortage of volunteers has left 24 other children waiting for a match, according to the organization’s leadership.
Adults willing to make a least a one-year commitment are invited to request an application through the group’s website, bbbsbathbrunswick.org, Hodgkins said. After a vetting process that includes background and reference checks and an interview, those selected as Bigs will receive training before they begin mentoring their assigned Little.
Those pairings, which can stay active for a decade or more, can be even hugely impactful for everyone involved, according to MacDonald.
“It’s really a support for the family as a whole,” she said, noting that many Littles come from low-income or single-parent homes that could especially use a helping hand. “This is a program that literally changes children’s lives.”
Bachman, herself a mother of two, said she knows firsthand that the program’s time commitment can seem daunting, but it’s an experience that anyone would find rewarding.
“We all have time for the things that matter, right?” she said as Addysen ran back to her room to grab more tokens of their friendship. “No kid deserves to be on a waitlist.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters in Midcoast Maine working through volunteer shortage
BBBS in Bath/Brunswick Working Through Volunteer Shortage– WGME (watch video at this link)
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick are dealing with a volunteer shortage. The organization pairs kids with adult mentors, but two dozen Maine children are currently waiting to be matched with mentors. The waitlist is caused largely by the pandemic and the organization is seeing fewer volunteers overall. At the end of 2019, they supported 195 big and little matches and their families. By the end of 2021, they supported 117.
Lindsay MacDonald, the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick, says it’s more important now than ever before to get volunteers with the number of challenges families are facing during the pandemic.
“One thing that we are asking that people ask their friends and family and anyone they know that would be a wonderful big to volunteer with our program and put forth an application. Word of mouth is key. I will also very active on social media,” MacDonald said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick are hoping to find more adult volunteers. They’re asking for a year commitment from folks.
If you would like to volunteer, you can submit an application through their website.