MONCTON – A drastic shortage in male volunteers has put Big Brothers Big Sisters of Moncton is in a crisis situation.
Spokesperson Peter MacDonald says the shortage means many boys in the community will be never get a big brother.
“Boys wait on our wait list for over a year and a half sometimes up to two years,” he said Friday.
Right now 50 young boys are on that list waiting to be matched. MacDonald says the sad truth is many of those boys will likely age out of the program before ever getting a big brother.
READ MORE: Moncton Big Brothers Big Sisters has critical need for volunteers
He believes part of the reason is stigma, and that some men in the community fear being labeled as child predators.
“Well you know there has been a lot of bad press with the churches and other youth organizations where there has been charges and stuff. But that hasn’t happened in our case.”
Big Brothers and Big Sisters members hang out on a Friday afternoon. Shelley Steeves/Global News file
Big Brothers and Big Sisters members hang out on a Friday afternoon.
Shelley Steeves/Global News file
He says there has never been a reported case of inappropriate contact between a big brother and a little in the Moncton group’s history.
The Moncton group has been paring “Bigs” and “Littles” for more than 40 years.
MacDonald says safety is always the number one concern.
Big differences in little time
Mathieu Boutet has been volunteering as a Big Brother for 4 years. He was paired up with 11 year old Colby Waite about 7 months ago.
“It’s a lot of fun because it forces you to just relax and be silly and be a big brother and you don’t have to think about your obligations and your job and so on.”
Colby, who does not have a brother of his own, says it’s nice to have a Big Brother to look up to.
“We watch movies we go to the comic book store and talk about super heroes and stuff,” he said.
Their focus is fun. But MacDonald says the long term impacts of having a male mentor is life changing for boys like Colby.
“They are more likely to finish school, they are more likely to get a higher education, get a better job and pay taxes and go further along in life,” he said.
“It’s only four hours every two weeks that can actually change the path of a child’s life.”
He says it’s a shame that fear is preventing some men from stepping up to the plate acting as mentors for these boys.
For Mathieu, being a Big Brother has it’s perks for the young at heart.
“I love cartoons and I take Colby to see a bunch of them and that’s fun because it’s something we both enjoy and I say, ‘well, Colby wanted to see it.’”