Oct. 2, 2009
MIRAMICHI (CNB) - Non-profit organizations in New Brunswick face many challenges - including obtaining funding, upkeeping facilities and finding volunteers.
Despite these challenges, they continue to make a difference in the province, said Brian Kenny, minister responsible for Community Non-Profit Organizations.
"Non-profit organizations are the foundation of many community-based services and programs," Kenny said. "They have great goals and ideas, and they accomplish much with the resources they have. It would be, sky is the limit, if they were able to operate under perfect conditions. New Brunswick would be all the better for it."
The Miramichi Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Miramichi Boys and Girls Club are among the most successful non-profit groups in New Brunswick.
Sheree Allison, executive director for both groups, said dedication, a sense of organization and pride, and ongoing community support sustain their programs and operations. The challenge for non-profit organizations has become even greater during difficult economic times. The Miramichi economy has been hit hard by downsizing in the forestry industry, coupled by the global recession.
"The biggest challenge for us is to be reliable in very unreliable times," Allison said. "A turbulent world creates uncertainty, and, with a scarcity of resources, it can be very challenging for us to meet the growing needs of families combined with shrinking funds in the community."
Big Brothers/Big Sisters began in Miramichi in 1979. As the demand for children's programs grew, the Boys and Girls Club was established in 1996.
"Miramichi is unique in New Brunswick with the two organizations working together," Allison said. "One facility houses both organizations. One board of directors and one staffing model create an effective method for delivering youth programs from both perspectives."
Big Brothers/Big Sisters is a leading child and youth serving organization in Canada. Men and women (18 or older) give of their time to become a mentor to a young person who can greatly benefit from having an adult role model in his or her life. Big Brothers/Big Sisters in
Miramichi provides 100 children and youth six to 18 with personal one-to-one mentors in the community and at school.
Young people and their families are also involved in Boys and Girls Clubs across Canada. The Miramichi Boys and Girls Club hosts summer camps, educational programs, and after-school programs year-round for 400 children and youth five to 14. The club reaches out to children and youth who cannot afford or who do not have access to other community programs. The role of the club is to provide new opportunities for children and youth, to help them overcome barriers, to build positive relationships, and to develop confidence and life skills.
"Children need to have caring adults in their lives," Allison said. "They need a sense of community, and they need to have hope and opportunity. By engaging volunteers and financial donors in our efforts, we are able to mobilize resources to create meaningful, long-lasting programs for children. Families and the community benefit as a whole."
Allison said it is rewarding to see the children involved in either or both of the organizations grow up and become volunteers for the same programs they enjoyed.
"We take pride in volunteer and donor retention," she said. "We strive to support them in their efforts and acknowledge they are central to our mission."
Both Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club rely on community fund-raising for 98 per cent of program costs. The funding is raised through four campaigns: the Festival of Trees in November, Bowl for Kids in March, the Dream Cottage in summer, and the Monthly Donor Club.
"We would not be here without our volunteers and the generosity of the community," she said. "To grow and continue to deliver quality programs, we focus on leadership; collaboration; and inspiring volunteers and donors with our mission. Every day, we need to be moving our mission forward. That is how we have been successful."
The Community Non-Profit Organizations Secretariat is working to create public awareness about contribution of non-profit organizations in the province while also developing and implementing initiatives to facilitate their efforts.
For example, a multi-year funding program for non-profits within government departments; a provincial advisory committee has been formed; and access to affordable insurance for non-profit organizations is being facilitated in partnership with the insurance industry.
Regional meetings continue to develop networking opportunities among groups. Training sessions are being organized from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3 to help non-profit organizations with fundraising. The secretariat's website provides additional information and resources.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Judy Cole, communications, Community Non-Profit Organizations Secretariat, 506-444-3522; Sheree Allison, executive director, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Club of Miramichi, 506-778-2444.