Big Brothers Big Sisters teach kids the joy of giving

We’ve all heard that it’s better to give than receive – and for more than 10 years, Rudolph’s Red Tag Sale has been giving kids the opportunity to experience that joy for themselves.

The sale is run every year as a Day of Caring at agency partner Big Brothers Big Sisters. Companies from around Winnipeg collect items that can be used as gifts – everything from purses to neckties, jewellery, vases, books and baseballs – and bring them to BBBS.

Didn’t see toys on that list? There’s a reason. The auction is a chance to the kids of BBBS to feel  the joy of giving by buying something all on their own to give their families, Big Brothers or Sisters, teachers, mentors, or someone else special in their life.

Volunteers come in to sort and price the items from a penny up to a quarter. And on holiday party day, hundreds come streaming through the doors – Little Brothers and Sisters with their families, Bigs and Littles together. The adults are ushered upstairs while the kids get to go shopping all on their own.

“The kids really get that feeling of pride, feeling that “I bought something,” ” says Andrea Gantzel, Director of Development at BBBS. “They’re so excited and thrilled to be able to shop for their families and their Bigs and give a gift they got themselves.”

Volunteer pre-wrap empty boxes, so gifts can be wrapped right then & there and hidden from the eyes of family and Bigs upstairs at the holiday party.

Happy holidays to everyone, and thank you to all the companies and volunteers who participated this year: CIBC, MPI, Grain Insurance & Guarantee, and the Sponsored Executive alumni!

Winnipeg students among 2011 CIBC scholarship winners.

CIBC is a great supporter of our community through United Way of Winnipeg.

CIBC is a great supporter of our community through United Way of Winnipeg.

They participate in Days of Caring, send teams to our annual Plane Pull, and run workplace campaigns throughout their 38 Winnipeg branches, making them one of our Top 50 workplace campaigns.

But their support for our community doesn’t end there. Each year, CIBC proudly invests $1 million in 30 youth across the country through the CIBC Youthvision scholarship program.

This year, Winnipeggers Jasmine Irwin, Lisa McFadzean, Melissa McFadzean, Sabrie Sudi, & Evelyn Watts are receiving scholarships valued at up to $36,000 each.

“Education is so important for the economic prosperity of all Canadians and we are pleased our Youthvision scholarships have been able to help close to 400 young people on their path to college or university,” said Gerry McCaughey, CIBC’s President and CEO. The CIBC scholarship is intended for young people who demonstrate tremendous potential but who might not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue a university or college education.

To be eligible, Grade 10 students must be enrolled in a mentoring program with either Big Brother Big Sisters or YMCA-YWCA. Both organizations are United Way agency partners.

Now in its 13th year, this one-of-a-kind scholarship program has already helped 360 students. Winners receive summer internships at YMCA-YWCA and $4000 toward tuition fees each year for four years. They also benefit from ongoing mentoring from either Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada or the YMCA until they complete their post-secondary education.

The CIBC Youthvision scholarship is one of the most unique programs in Canada because it is not based solely on academic achievement,” said Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. “The selection process looks at the whole student – whether they have a mentor, the role they play in their family, the volunteer work they do – in addition to the potential for acceptance into post-secondary education.

“Without the support of CIBC Youthvision scholarships, hundreds of kids would not have been able to attend university and realize their full potential,” said MacDonald.

Congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients and to CIBC for your continuing commitment to youth in Winnipeg and across the country!

Read Sabrie Sudi’s story now

2011 Youth Day of Caring sees over 120 volunteers working towards a better Winnipeg.

More than 120 students from 13 local high schools showed their commitment and community pride by participating in United Way of Winnipeg’s 6th annual Youth Day of Caring on Friday, May 20, 2011.

Working alongside staff and volunteers from 6 neighbourhood agencies, students spent the day picking up litter, painting, gardening, cleaning and organizing – whatever they could to support non-profit organizations that support Winnipeggers.

Youth Day of Caring volunteers making the community a better place for everyone.

The day began at 8:30 am with a Welcome Breakfast at Broadway Neighbourhood Centre, followed by a group warm-up led by Yoga North‘s Drew Perry. Students then went to work at non-profit agencies in the neighbourhood including: Broadway Neighbourhood Centre, West Broadway Youth Outreach, West Broadway Development Corp., West Broadway Biz, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the John Howard Society.

Volunteers were entertained by the amazing talent of Broadway Neighbourhood Centre’s Hip Hop Academy while they enjoyed a delicious pizza lunch courtesy of Santa Lucia. At the end of the day, after completing a few more projects, everyone returned to Broadway Neighbourhood Centre for an apple toss prize give-away hosted by HOT 103 morning personality LTI.

Every year, hundreds of youth throughout Winnipeg make significant contributions to our community through United Way. As volunteers, participants and leaders, their energy and enthusiasm is shaping a brighter future for everyone as they set an example for all to follow. Thank you!

A special thank you to sponsors: Santa Lucia Pizza, High Road Commercial Cleaning Inc, and Yoga North for your support in making the Youth Day of Caring a huge success!

Building self-esteem, confidence through mentorship of children.

Winnipeg Free Press, Saturday October 23, 2010. Reproduced with permission.
By: Matt Preprost. Photos: David Lipnowski

It took eight years before Justin Hogue found an older brother to call his own.

Justin Hogue: giving back

Justin Hogue: giving back.

Only 10 at the time, Hogue grew up in a divorced family, with his mother and younger sister around him. That was until his mother signed him up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg to find a male role model that could actively be in his life.

After a false start — Hogue’s first brother moved away to open a fishing lodge in Ontario — Hogue was matched with Kevin. From there, the two have bonded over sports, travels to Europe and university — both earned economics degrees from the University of Manitoba.

“Our interests were so similar, he just stuck with me,” said Hogue, now 25. “We went to a lot of sporting events, the Moose, Bombers and Goldeyes. I remember my 15th birthday, he bought us two season tickets so that we could go to all the games.

“My dad wasn’t around and my mom wanted me to be able to go and do things I wouldn’t do otherwise because she always had to go out and worked two jobs to support us,” he said.

“I finally had someone who was always there for me, which I never had other than my mom before.”

The power of having a male role model in his own life pushed Hogue to smarten up and focus in school.

“I was definitely a little troublemaker. I was mad at the world, I didn’t understand why kids got to do things I couldn’t, why their parents were together,” he said. “Kevin was something to look forward to, a reason to care about not getting into trouble. There was always the consequence of not seeing Kevin, which was reason enough to not get in trouble.”

This year, the United Way invested $245,000 into the Winnipeg chapter of BBBS, which helps to pay for the process of matching and monitoring 480 “Littles” and their respective brothers and sisters.

About 100 kids are waiting to be matched at any time.

“Our mission fits very nicely with the United Way philosophy,” said Hogue, who now sits on the board of directors for BBBS in Winnipeg.

“The United Way is working to create opportunities for a better life for everyone. For children and youth they support mentorship and after-school programs that give children the self-esteem and confidence they need to become engaged and productive adults. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg does just that.”

The two brothers stuck with each other until they were 18, the age when matches close.

Kevin, now in his early 40s, works for the Nunavut government. But the 2,000 some kilometres between them doesn’t mean their brotherhood is over.

“He keeps offering me jobs up there,” Hogue laughed.