On May 16th, 1973, a group of concerned community members met in Carleton Place to form a ‘Big Brothers Association’. 14 people attended the meeting, and the what we now know as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lanark County was formed.
The original minutes showed that the group talked about how to launch the organization, who they would help, and how the community could support them. Under the heading of facilities, it was written “Schools will provide room, duplicating, projector etc. Service clubs will make donations. The watchword is ‘scrounge’.” Mr. Ted Power was named the first ‘Chairman’.
While the agency was initially formed to only serve area boys, that quickly changed to be more inclusive as the need was discovered to be significant.
Since it’s inception, thousands of children and youth in Lanark County have benefited from agency mentoring programs. Big Brothers Big Sisters creates one on one and small group mentoring programs between caring adults and vulnerable children and youth. Because a child’s brain is still developing, mentoring can support that process through back and forth interaction with a volunteer adult. It leads to healthy and resilient young people.
On April 19th, 2023, the agency held it’s 500th Board of Director’s meeting. Mayor Shawn Pankow met the board, who gathered in Smiths Falls, to pass on congratulations. The CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada dialed into the meeting to do the same. A formal group photo was taken by Jacqueline Marie Photography for posterity.
Celebrating 50 years in Lanark County this year, the staff and board will hold a number of celebrations and welcomes the community to get involved. “We have mentored thousands of children over the years, thanks to area volunteers and community donors.” says Brenda Gray, current Board Chair, “2023 will be a year of celebration so that we can say thank you for the support and to take the chance to look forward to the next 50 years.”
50th anniversary plans include a summer picnic for participating families and a gala celebration in Carleton Place in the fall.
The agency encourages the community to help celebrate by sharing stories about how the agency has impacted them, by volunteering as a mentor or in one of the agency’s thrift stores, or by making a gift to the agency. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lanark County is a registered charity and can provide tax receipts.
For more information about sharing stories, volunteering or contributing to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lanark County, call 613-283-0570.