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Big Sisters making big comeback

BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW scott@northernlife.ca With increased funding and a positive outlook on the future, Big Sisters of Sudbury and District is quickly becoming a major force in the community again, and that means good news for local girls.
BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW

With increased funding and a positive outlook on the future, Big Sisters of Sudbury and District is quickly becoming a major force in the community again, and that means good news for local girls.

In the fall of 2000, Big Sisters was down to just one-and-a-half staff because of low funding. Now, the organization has two full-time and two part-time workers, two Human Resources and Skills Development of Canada (HRSDC) contract workers, and two placement students thanks in large part to increased funding from the United Way, a three-year grant from the Trillium Foundation and extra funding from HRSDC.

This is encouraging news for the community.

Â?In the past, we didn't have the staff to handle the calls from people wanting to become Big Sisters,Â? said Judy Tremblay, executive director. Â?Our whole process of making those people become Big Sisters is now quicker. We have over 50 kids on the waiting list right now, and if 50 women called in the next week, we have the staff to handle it. We are in a better position right now, than we have been for a long time.Â?

With the additional staff, Big Sisters is calling on the women of the community to come forward and make a difference in a girl's life.

Â?Big Sisters make a big difference by making the girls become more social, giving them more self confidence and esteem, and by just being an extra support system,Â? said Maija Mallory, case worker. Â?For just three to four hours a week, a woman can make a positive impact on a young girl, and provide her with a life-long relationship.Â?

Big Sisters needs women for potential little sisters in Sudbury, and especially the outlying areas of Sudbury.

Â?Some kids have been on the waiting list for three years,Â? said Mallory. Â?It takes a long time to find matches for kids in the outlying areas such as Levack, Coniston, Garson, Capreol, Hanmer and Lively. Spending three to four hours a week teaching a kid about life skills can go a lang way.Â?

Women interested in sharing their time are encouraged to call Big Sisters.

Â?The first step is to pick up the phone and call us,Â? said Lesley Bishop, membership drive coordinator. Â?We will get them started on how they can be a friend, open the world up and provide positive reinforcement to a young girl. Being a Big Sister will make you feel better about yourself.Â?

It's not just the Little Sister that benefits.

Â?It's a wonderful feeling seeing a child blossom,Â? said Tremblay. Â?We have proven that kids we have matched stay in school longer, get better grades and are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol or be violent. One match makes a positive difference in the child, woman, and the community as a whole.Â?

Big Sisters of Sudbury and District is also celebrating 30 years of outstanding service to the community this year.

Â?We're asking anyone who has been involved with Big Sisters in Sudbury over the years to call us and share their stories and triumphs to help us celebrate,Â? said Tremblay.