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The Social Development Department is appealing for volunteers, in particular men, to be positive role models in the lives of young males as they mark this week as Mentorship Week.

Family and Children Services Supervisor within the Social Development Department Stacie Stoutt says the need is great.

“Through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Programme, we are always looking for volunteers from all walks of life, but right now there is a great need for men. You can be taxi drivers, firemen, teachers, lawyers, shop owners, executives, or just fathers–– it does not matter. You just have to want to make a positive impact on the life of a child.”

Ms. Stoutt explained that in the BVI, the need for volunteers is now critical. “We are faced with a crisis. Many of our young men are at risk of dropping out or being expelled from school, getting involved in drugs—losing their way. Having a Big Brother who can guide and help them make positive choices will change their lives and make our community stronger. One-to-one mentoring reduces violence and truancy, and improves relationships with their peers and families,” she added.

The needs of many of the young men vary from being a part of a single parent to no parent homes; a home with many children but only one boy; in bad company or falling into bad patterns at school, Ms. Stoutt explained. “What they all share in common, she added, is the need for friendship with a caring adult.”

Chief Social Development Officer Mrs. Annie Malone Frett noted that the department knows the importance of community-based mentoring for children in fostering supportive and lasting relationships with older persons and is doing its best to expand the Big Brother/Big Sister programme.

“The department is committed to the success of this programme and to garnering public support and involvement in the programme,” Mrs. Malone Frett noted.

One year ago, the Department launched its Big Brothers/Big Sisters Mentorship Programme’s Website at www.bvibbbs.org for easy enrollment of persons wanting to participate in the programme.

The website is used to provide general information about the programme and give interested web surfers an opportunity to apply online. Information on the process of online applications is also available. The site is regularly updated to provide current events.

Mrs. Malone-Frett noted that the launching of this website is indicative of the department’s commitment not only to providing access to information but garnering public support and involvement in the programme.

For more information about the Big Brother/Big Sister Mentorship Programme or the work of the Social Development Department call Stacie Stoutt at 494-3431.

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