Mon, 30 May 2016 19:57:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ready For Summer? Mon, 30 May 2016 16:05:40 +0000 Continue reading]]> _K7A9396Summer is just around the corner, and we can’t wait to spend the days enjoying the sunshine with our community’s kids!  We’ve got nearly 20 summer camps and summer programs to keep Edmonton and area kids active and engaged over the break. Plus, we do our best to ensure that all of our programs foster self-confidence, create new opportunities, and help kids forge strong relationships.

Last summer, our Millwoods Welcome Centre summer camp took a field trip to Fort Edmonton Park. Many of the children had recently moved to Canada. One child in particular spoke up on the way back to the Centre and said to his friend “I had the best day ever. We’re the luckiest kids in the entire world!” This same young boy had started the camp quite shy and soft-spoken. Over the course of the summer, he blossomed into one of the leaders and became more confident and outspoken!

We hope to be able to share many more heartwarming stories like that over the summer! To view a full list of all of our registered and drop in programs during July and August, please click here. If you would like to volunteer, please click here.

Friendship, Laughter & Cookies Wed, 11 May 2016 17:01:43 +0000 Continue reading]]> Shiloh admits that when she was 10 years old she didn’t get along very well with other kids at school. “I needed someone to talk to,” she says.

Her mom heard about the mentoring programs at Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters (BGCBigs) and Shiloh agreed to try it out. “It’s risky because you’re putting yourself out there. But it turned out to be worth it.”

IMG_0281Shiloh was matched to Danielle, a caring volunteer with a myriad of hobbies and interests and experiences – photography to farming to snowboarding.

Danielle remembers watching Big Brothers Big Sisters advertisements on TV when she was younger and when she moved to the Edmonton from her rural hometown, she considered volunteering.

“The hard part was finding a whole year to commit,” Danielle explains. While she was in university, Danielle would always go home for the summer. One year she just decided she was going to stay in the city and test it out. Soon after, it was time for her to become a Big Sister.

Now, Danielle and Shiloh have been matched for nearly three years. Their laid back and relaxed interactions make it seem like they’ve known each other far longer. Almost every conversation includes a sprinkle of laughter and it’s easy to tell they’re close friends.

“We’re almost into all the same things, but we are also the exact opposite in some ways,” Shiloh says. It’s hard to explain, but it’s part of what makes them get along so well. Shiloh is an avid competitive dancer and loves doing hair and makeup and anything artsy.

One of the main things they have in common is a love of music, food, fantasy novels, and a desire to learn to bake. One of their fondest memories comes from what some might call a failed attempt at cookies.

“We were making cookies, but I didn’t know how to properly pour the baking soda,” Shiloh explains. “Apparently, it clumps at one end, and I was holding it directly over the cookies.”

“I tried to yell out to stop her,” Danielle laughs. “But it was too late. All of the baking soda spilled into the cookies.”

Experiencing a mixture of laughter and shock they continued baking anyway, and the final product tasted suspiciously like baking soda.

“It’s not about what we’re doing,” Danielle says. “It’s about being together. One time we just hung out at Hawrelak park and listened to music in my car.”

Danielle’s car also happens to be the place Shiloh feels most comfortable opening up. Last year, Shiloh lost her mom and she really appreciated having someone in her life who would just listen.

“Having Danielle around was really helpful during that time,” Shiloh explains. “It got me out of the house and got my mind off things.” That feeling is mutual; Shiloh is great at keeping Danielle distracted when she’s feeling stressed.

And they sure do keep each other busy. They go out to eat, make food at Danielle’s place, watch Shadow Hunters, catch up on books they’re reading, bake, go to Rapid Fire Theatre and Shakespeare in the Park, paint, listen to music, walk the Legislature grounds in the summer, go to festivals and so much more.

“One of my favourite things about Shiloh is her ability to just be her no matter who is around. It’s embarrassing sometimes,” Danielle laughs. “I also love how open she is and how she can move past difficult circumstances.”

“Danielle is just a great person. She’s easy to talk too and gives good feedback, even though sometimes it’s sarcastic. That’s just our relationship.” Shiloh says before turning to talk directly to Danielle. “I guess it’s the little things about you that mean the most.”

That’s one of the reasons we say that anyone can be a good mentor to a child. Shiloh doesn’t only appreciate Danielle for one big amazing thing she’s done, but also for all the small ways their friendship formed and is continuously expressed.

“I know a lot of people feel like they wouldn’t fit into the role of a Big,” Danielle says. “But in the end we each have so many experiences and so much knowledge and we can pass that on. I’m not a perfect person, but I can be there for her during the things she’s going through as a teenager.”

Shiloh agrees that anyone can be a mentor and that all kids should have one. “I know a lot of people who don’t go out that often. They’re anti-social and their only outlet is social media. Everyone just wants to impress other people. I think lots of kids need someone who they can be themselves around, like I can with Danielle.”

Their favourite part of their relationship is how easy going it is. They both agree that they can talk about anything that’s on their minds and even if it doesn’t come out the right way – the other one just gets it. They have the ability to share laughs during weird or awkward or difficult conversations and they do their best to keep in touch between matches, sending each other funny pictures or songs if it reminds them of each other.

Danielle has one word of advice for people thinking about volunteering: commitment. “Make sure that you’re 100 percent in; so many kids just have people coming into and out of their lives all the time – you can be that constant.”

To Danielle, volunteering with BGCBigs is different than most of her other volunteer experiences because she’s doesn’t feel like she’s tied to our organization; she’s committed to a relationship to a single person. It’s that relationship aspect that has kept her as a volunteer for the last three years and she imagines she will stay in Shiloh’s life for many more.

“I know that I can rely on her,” Shiloh says. “It took me a year to open up to her because I didn’t want her to think I was weird, but that’s the opposite of what she’s there for.”

“Being a mentor is about investing your time in kids today so they they can invest in the future kids,” Danielle shares. “Ultimately, we’re on this earth to help each other; why wouldn’t we want to share our time and knowledge?”

To learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Sister like Danielle, click here. If you’re a student who leaves for the summer but you want to volunteer, check out our Bigs in Schools program that takes place during the school year.

#AlbertaStrong Thu, 05 May 2016 23:09:47 +0000 Continue reading]]> All over the news and social media we’re seeing the amazing resilience of Albertans and their willingness to support one another – donating their time, money, and space inside their own homes all to help evacuees of wildfires.

At BGCBigs, we are also trying to do whatever we can to support residents of Fort McMurray as they wait for news on their community.  Below is a little list we’ve complied (note, the fundraising ideas came directly from the kids in our programs).


Kids of Fort McMurrary Evacuees Welcomed at all BGCBigs Clubs
Kids (between 6 and 17 years old) are welcome to spend time at our Clubs while they’re in Edmonton. We can’t imagine how stressful it must be for families; our Clubs are a place where their kids can just be kids for a couple hours and where they can get a healthy snack and dinner. Click here for a list of Club locations and hours (our McCauley Club is closest to the EXPO Centre).

Drop-In Counselling
For life’s challenges, there is NO-COST drop-in counselling services are in Edmonton. They offer individual, couple and family therapy and services include referrals to additional services that will support the change you desire. There are multiple locations throughout Edmonton with flexible days and times ready to serve you. Click here to learn more.

All donations will be made either to the Red Cross or the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services.

McCauley Club Bake Sale
When: May 16, 2016
Where: Giovanni Caboto Park (or inside the Club depending on the weather)
Contact: Ian Amundson, Club Coordinator, 780.231.5154

Rundle Club Bottle Drive
When: May 10, 2016
Where: Rundle Community
Contact: Kere Lee-Clements, Club Coordinator, 780.822.2526

Tweddle & Rundle Clubs Geomeers Spring & Splash 5Km Walk
When: June 5, 2016
Contact: Brittney Hislop, Club Coordinator (Tweddle) 780.822.2561 OR Kera Lee-Clements, Club Coordinator (Rundle), 780.822.2526

Club Connect Bottle Drive
When: May 9, 2016
Where: Sakaw and Steinhauer communities
Contact: Nirmal Singh, Club Coordinator, 780.483.0383

Kinsmen Club After School Donation Site
When: M, T, W, F from 3 to 8pm, Thurs from 2 to 7pm.
Where: Kinsmen Club, 14803 88A Street
Contact: Todd Bosker, Club Coordinator, 780.822.2560
Notes: Kinsmen has agreed to be an after school hours donation site for the following schools – Evansdale, Cardinal Leger, St. Anne, St. Phillips, and Dickinsfield). Donations can be made at the Club.,


Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way Wed, 27 Apr 2016 17:55:35 +0000 Continue reading]]> participants age group 10-12One of the focuses of our Club’s is to provide kids with new opportunities and experiences. The Afro Quiz is one example. It’s a Jeopardy-style quiz competition held each year during Black History Month to celebrate the rich history of people of African descent across the globe. It also instills a sense of pride and appreciation in the youth of our community.

Aashwin and Chaitanya are two boys who regularly attend the Sakaw Boys & Girls Club. Nirmal, the Club Coordinator, told them about the Afro Quiz 2016 and got them excited about the opportunity. Online they were able to register and find the study materials and together they prepared for the quiz.

“They both prepared their own notes and also kept an eye on the current events related to the African community to get prepared for the competition,” says Nirmal, noting how awesome it was to see them get so invested in the competition.

FiChaitanya gautam second prizenally, the day of the Afro Quiz rolled around. When the kids and Nirmal arrived at the Stanley Milner Library, there were already over 100 kids and their families getting ready to participate and cheer on their friends.

As part of this year’s literature theme, local author Tololwa Mollel – whose 17 books have been published internationally – also attended the event. That’s when our kids realized that this Quiz is a big deal in Edmonton. Because our Sakaw boys had never participated before, none of them were expecting to win a prize plus there were so many other kids there who had been coming back year after year.

“My goal was just to give the kids exposure so that they get some sort of experience about the quiz and get know about the African culture and heritage,” Nirmal explains.

So finally the show began and Nirmal asked his boys if they were ready.

“Yes, we are Nirmal!” They said in unison with resounding confidence.

So they got up onto the stage with 8 other contestants. Aashwin and Chaitanya were both bit nervous in the beginning and little hesitant to press their buzzers. However, both the boys got in the momentum soon as they learned quickly how to play and compete with other participants.

“I was really impressed with their self-confidence and how quickly they adjusted themselves according to the situation,” Nirmal says with pride.

group photoAfter the quiz was over, the convener announced the results: Aashwin and Chaitanya secured first and second place! They were over the moon with their success and to top it off they won an iPad mini and a Samsung Galaxy tablet and two books about Africa culture.

Two other participants from our Sakaw Club, Tejas and Suryansh, also got prizes and participation certificates. And we are just so proud of all of them.

Overall it was great day for our Sakaw Boys that was filled with fun, learning and winning. They really proved the saying “where there’s is a will there’s a way”.

To learn more about our Club programming, click here. 

Volunteers: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Sun, 10 Apr 2016 15:00:29 +0000 Continue reading]]> “I cannot alone change the world, but I can cast a stone to make many ripples.”

Sometimes it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the things in this world that seem to need fixing. Passionate people want to change the world, but how on earth do they decide how and where to start? Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters is proud to have 3,000 caring individuals who have decided to start something with us. On the surface spending an hour a week with a child in a Club, a school, or in the community might not seem like a big deal. Maybe spending time helping our staff with filing or coming out to events  doesn’t feel like it has a big impact. But every hour invested in our community’s kids, directly or indirectly, has an incredible impact.


  • Support our staff in admin tasks such as filing, photocopying, putting together volunteer training packages, and so much more. The quicker we can get through those bits of work, the more time we can spend on our kids and their families.
  • Enable our agency to fundraise by spending their time selling 50-50 tickets at Oilers games, working Casino shifts, and spending their days at our Golf and Lobster Lovers fundraisers (to name just a few).
  • Spend a hour with a child, in their community, at their work, or in a school making them feel special and supported.
  • Spend their week nights in one of our 10 Clubs, helping kids with homework, engaging them in important programming and building relationships.
  • Come into our Clubs as part of Days of Caring and do something special for our kids that day, from playing games to making them cookies.
  • Give parents peace of mind knowing that someone else truly cares about their child and wants to help them succeed.

Since today is the start of National Volunteer Week, we wanted to send out a gigantic THANK YOU to our caring, talented, humble, devoted volunteers.

Our friends at Volunteer Alberta created this video about the importance of volunteers in creating vibrant communities. We want to share this with you today, so that you know just how important our volunteers are, not just to the individual people they see in their volunteer work, but to our community as a whole. Volunteers create ripples of positive impact in our community and we are so incredibly grateful for their dedication and passion for making our communities better places to call home.


So this week, let’s tell these stories! We’ll be sharing stories and quotes from our families, volunteers, and staff on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about how volunteering creates ripples in our communities. Join us by using #NVW2016, #yegvolunteers, or #welovevolunteers and tell us about a highlight moment you’ve had as a volunteer, how a volunteer has impacted your life or you community, or simply why you believe volunteers matter. Tag us with @bgcbigs. Together, let’s make sure that the world knows volunteering is the foundation of our community!

NVW 2016 FB Post - Agency