Businesses recognize the importance of youth

Coming together for the benefit of the community seems to be a major focus among residents in Ponoka and the mentality has incorporated its way into local businesses as well.

  • Oct. 22, 2008 7:00 a.m.

Coming together for the benefit of the community seems to be a major focus among residents in Ponoka and the mentality has incorporated its way into local businesses as well.

Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Community Savings and Ponoka News are some of the businesses and organizations that encourage their employees to be involved in the community.

These three establishments allow their workers to take time to mentor for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ponoka in school mentoring program during the work hours without taking from their pay.

Joanne Comeau executive director of FCSS, believes it is important to offer this option to the employees at FCSS because of the positive results to the employees, the children and the community.

“Investing an hour a week in the life of a child is invaluable,” said Comeau. “To have one on one time with an adult can really impact a child’s life.”

Comeau also says FCSS’ Joyce McDowell has been an in school mentor for about three years and has thoroughly enjoyed it.

The program has been active in the schools and the community in making a difference in the lives of young people by providing a friend and mentor where one is needed.

The staff at Community Savings are also encouraged to do in school mentoring during weekdays and is given an extended lunch hour for that purpose. Dennis Jones, branch manager, feels that the program is important to the community.

“We all support the community in different ways,” said Jones. “If you can support the youth, that pays dividends in the end for the community.”

The challenge goes out to other businesses to become involved and give their employees the same opportunity.

The BBBS in school mentoring program has about 20 matches and Beth Reitz, executive director for BBBS says more mentors are always needed as there are many community kids looking for guidance, a positive role model, friendship and fun.

“We love that FCSS, Community Savings and Ponoka News are willing to allow and even pay their staff to in school mentor,” said Reitz. “It shows a real commitment to the youth in our community and makes such a difference in the lives of the kids.”

Reitz believes that what these businesses are doing with this program is a real testimony to their mandates and shows incredible leadership in the community.

“It is so important for employers to allow their employees to do this for several reasons,” she said. “It creates a great morale in the workplace as they all give back to the community together.  Also employees tell us often how rejuvenated they are when they come back to work after sharing time with a young child.  It refocuses them and given them great delight.”

Reitz knows from experience how much mentors get back from their little brother or sister and how the time spent with them filters positively and energetically into their work.

“I personally mentor and after I spend time with my little brother it always helps me focus on the “big picture” and return to work with a renewed sense of ambition,” she said. “Here at the Ponoka Youth Centre and BBBS we also encourage and allow our staff to mentor during work time – it has been a great experience for our staff and the joy and energy they receive from it – It really boosts the morale and work around here.”

Reitz asks businesses and community members to talk with them about the program all it includes.

“We encourage anyone to come and talk to us and see how spending an hour a week with a child can not only change their life — but yours too,” said Reitz.  “Schedules are not an issue — we will help it fit into yours.”

For more information contact BBBS at 403-783-3112.