From the community

BBBS of Midcoast Maine Announces Expansion to Kennebec Valley

Posted Oct. 23, 2012, at 9:37 a.m.

(Augusta) In less than 3 months since Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kennebec Valley closed its doors, another agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine (BBBSMCM) announced it would be expanding its service area to cover Kennebec and Somerset Counties. The agency presently provides 1-to-1 youth mentoring services to 560 youth in Knox, Lincoln, Penobscot and Waldo Counties, and expects with the addition of Kennebec and Somerset Counties to build the capacity to change the lives of 800 youth annually.

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

BBBSMCM helps these 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). These mentors provide support, guide and encourage their Littles to become confident and caring members of their family, school and community, while BBBSMCM nurtures each match with training, activities and professional support. The end result of this relationship is a child with increased 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 on September 24, and approved by the parent organization on October 10.

“This approval is great news for children in Kennebec and Somerset Counties,” Gaeth said. When BBBS of Kennebec Valley closed, they were serving approximately 70 matches, which had to be closed. Now that we can move forward, these matches and more new matches can be made. We will be opening an office in the Augusta-Waterville area and hiring two new staff members to serve this area.”

Gaeth said recruiting has already begun for new staff members and that 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 says he is hopeful some school programs will start in January, 2013. “We will also be holding our popular Bowl For Kids’ Sake fundraiser in April, 2013,” he adds.

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 says, “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 to each other.”

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

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More Information about BBBS of Midcoast Maine

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine first provided services to children in the Boothbay region in 1978. In 1988, the agency changed its name to Lincoln County BBBS and relocated to Damariscotta. In September, 2005 new leadership reinvigorated the agency, taking it from under 100 youth served to over 300 youth served annually. Then in October, 2008 the agency centralized its operations by opening a new office in Rockland to better serve the youth of Knox, Lincoln, and Waldo Counties. In 2011, after Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Maine stopped providing mentoring services in Penobscot County, BBBSMCM worked with community leaders, businesses and funding organizations to expand its services to that area, just as it has done now with Kennebec Valley.

The agency presently has four offices – one in Damariscotta at Farrin Properties; one in Unity at the Unity College Center for Performing Arts; one at the Bangor YMCA; and its central office in Rockland. It will be adding a fifth office in the Augusta-Waterville area.

The agency presently has 6 full-time staff members and will be adding 2 more in the coming months.

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