Former awards recipients of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saint John will be front and centre of the charity's upcoming award ceremony later this month.
With no new award recipients and in-person celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ 2021 Inspire Mentoring Awards will honour past award recipients virtually, with a “where are they now” series, according to the charity.
"We just thought we'd take a different spin on it and catch up to people who received the awards in the past," said Laurie Collins, the charity's executive director. "We just thought we'd do something different."
The charity decided to run the event like this because new awards recipients wouldn't get the full experience of an in-person celebration, she said.
"Going virtual to award events really takes away from the celebration of the new winners," she said. "Virtual is obviously a lot different from in-person and the environment that's created and the fun of the event."
The online event series, set to take place over a couple of weeks at the end of October, promises to bring inspiration as the organization catches up with past recipients to find out how life has unfolded for them, and what they are up to in their business and volunteer efforts.
Weathering the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for Big Brothers Big Sisters because it hasn't been able to hold its normal fundraising events. But Collins said the charity stayed afloat better than some charities and non-governmental organizations that had to close their doors or stop offering programs as funding dried up.
Last year, the charity was forced to cancel its major fundraiser called Bowl for Kids Sake, but managed to bring in money from private sponsors and businesses. In 2021, they held the fundraiser virtually, which helped but didn't bring in the same fundraising dollars.
Like other non-profit and charitable organizations that provide social services, during the pandemic BBBS moved its mentoring services online to keep its in-school programs going to provide support during a time when it's needed more than ever, added Collins.
"Kids are more isolated and not connecting with their friends as much as they were before," she said. "Having the mentors available virtually is where we shifted all of our programs really.
“Mentoring is such an impactful method of inspiring others to discover their strengths and realize their full potential. Mentors help set goals and assist others in their pursuit of identifying who they would like to become”, said Collins in the release. “Having the support of a positive mentor during all phases of life is so important in helping people succeed in school, in the workforce and in their community.”
Robin Grant, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal