Midcoast agency announces expansion to Kennebec, Somerset counties

Posted Nov. 13, 2012, at 11:11 a.m.

In less than three months since Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kennebec Valley closed its doors, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine announced on Oct. 23 that it would expand its service area to cover Kennebec and Somerset counties. The agency provides one-on-one youth mentoring services to 560 youth in Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot and Waldo counties, and expects with the addition of Kennebec and Somerset counties to reach 800 youth annually.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine primarily serves youth from single-parent, low-income families that struggle socially and academically. Some have behavioral challenges, such as poor performance in school, low self-esteem, distrust of others or lack of regard for authority.

The agency helps children ages 5-14 (Littles) by establishing a stable, positive relationship through matches with an older high school or college student or a caring adult (Bigs). Mentors provide support, guide and encourage their Littles to become confident and caring members of their family, school and community, while the agency nurtures each match with training, activities and professional support. The aim is to help a child increase in confidence, social competence and stronger feelings of caring for self, family and community.

CEO Alex Gaeth said his agency has been working with the BBBS of Kennebec Valley board of directors since July to develop a strategic plan for leadership, funding and programming to present to BBBS of America. The final plan was completed and submitted Sept. 24, and approved by the parent organization on Oct. 10.

Gaeth said recruiting has begun for new staff members and the agency will begin meeting with previously closed matches, reviewing new applications from prospective Littles and Bigs, and meeting with previously participating schools and prospective new schools over the next few months. He said he is hopeful some school programs will start in January.

One of the constant challenges the agency faces is recruiting new mentors to serve as Big Brothers and Big Sisters for the children who need them. Gaeth said, “We are always looking for adults who are willing to spend time with children — it only takes a couple of hours each week. I always tell people, ‘You don’t have to change your life to change a child’s life.’ We do our best to create matches that share the same interests and live near each other.”

For information about how to support the agency or become a Big Brother or Big Sister, call 593-0380, or email info@bbbsmcm.org.

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