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October 27, 2017 7:36 pm

Light at the End of the Tunnel for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Thursday, December 29, 2016 @ 5:50 AM
BBBS Prince George executive director Tim Bennett - photo 250News

BBBS Prince George executive director Tim Bennett – photo 250News

Prince George, B.C. – 2017 is shaping up to be a much better year than 2016 for Big Brothers Big Sisters Prince George.

In August, the non-profit agency – which provides a slew of mentoring and child care services to 300 kids in the community – revealed it was facing a financial crunch and thus had to delay new programming and issue layoffs.

However, as a new year dawns, executive director Tim Bennett is feeling much more optimistic.

“2016 was a very challenging year, I’m not going to lie but we are slowly starting to look at our programming and how we can continue to offer the best programming to the community without growing too big too fast.”

He says the reaction to news the agency was facing difficulties (see previous story here) seemed to really resonate with people.

“I was blown away by the support we received from the community. We were able to end 2016 in a good spot because of the amazing support of the community and if it wasn’t for the individuals, the businesses, the organizations that helped us out with in-kind donations or financially or by just giving us a call to say thank-you for everything we do – I don’t know if we could’ve gotten through the year.”

He says all the support and their cost cutting measures have helped them to eliminate the $60,000 deficit they had been facing. It’s also allowed them to go forward with delayed group programming such as the Go Girls! girls club, Team Up! Game On! and Strong Youth Fearless Women clubs.

“We will be starting our group programming up again in early 2017. So, information about how to sign up your children will be out once we return to the office in January.”

In addition to that, Bennett says they plan on hiring one full time staff member after laying off one full-timer and two part-timers.

“It’s not necessarily the exact position that we laid off,” he says. “We’re bringing on a position that’s going to be used to support our programming and the other two positions at this time we’re not going to be filling. It’s about ensuring that every decision we make is in the best interest of the kids we serve and we don’t want to grow too big too fast again,” he says.

“The other positions are just going to be incorporated into other staff’s job descriptions for the time being.”

In all he’s says there’s plenty of light at the end of the tunnel.

“You know there is. We’re starting 2017 with a much fresher page. I think things are looking up. We’ve been very fortunate – we’ve already received our 2017 gaming grant (worth approximately $95,000),” says Bennett.

“So, we know that 20 per cent of our budget, which is what our gaming grant equates to, is secured. And it gives us that little bit of assurance as we go through the year.”


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