Big Brothers-Big Sisters littles pay big socio-economic dividends

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TRURO - Successfully matched little brothers and sisters ultimately generate big dividends for society, the executive director of Colchester Big Brothers Big Sisters says.

Michelle Misener of Colchester Big Brothers Big Sisters is seeking to attract more volunteers for littles-in-waiting.

"They did a recent study that shows that for every dollar that is put into and invested into Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the social return is between $18 and $24," Michelle Misener told Colchester County council Tuesday night.

That figure is determined, she said, through the fact that children who are matched and responsibly mentored through the program generally go on to attend university, have families, buy homes and become tax-paying, contributing members of society.

"They're being successful citizens and so the social return comes back to the community," she said.

In 2014, 285 "individual and unique children" were served through the Colchester group's various programs, a number that Misener described as a "banner" year.

With an annual budget of $285,000, that calculates into an annual cost of $1,000 per child.

Comparatively, she said, the cost to house and support a child at the Nova Scotia Youth Detention Centre in Waterville is $55,000 per year.

"With a banner year also comes some downsides," she said. "So although we were able to serve that many children, some of our fundraisers suffered."

And while it may always be an effort to keep up with the group's fundraising needs, "the largest challenge" is getting sufficient numbers of volunteers for the unmatched littles.

"We need far more big brothers than we do big sisters," she said.

The Colchester chapter maintains a waiting list of 50 male and female applicants but Misener said there are also far more children who are waiting to get on the official list.

"You can spread the word for us that we need volunteers," she told council.

Twitter: @tdnharry


Organizations: Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Colchester County council, Nova Scotia Youth Detention Centre

Geographic location: Colchester, Waterville

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