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 Welcome to our Member Spotlight Page. This special feature showcases GPVSB’s most valuable assets– our members! Spotlighting members from across the GPVSB spectrum, Member Spotlight reflects the rich tapestry of our membership and profiles active Non-profit and business organizations. If you would like to be featured in this section please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Create your own member story: join GPVSB today! 

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Big Brother Big Sisters

Mentors Changing Lives

By Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grande Prairie & Area’s (BBBSGP) overarching goal is to provide every child who needs a mentor with a mentor. Amy Mohr, Executive Director at the local BBBSGP agency, explained in more detail that their mission is “to enhance the healthy development of children and youth and their families through positive mentoring relationships.” I sat down with Mohr to get a deeper insight into everything BBBSGP does in our community of Grande Prairie: their vision, their goals, and how they impact the lives of youth.

Not only does BBBSGP serve Grande Prairie, but they also aim to provide service to Peace River Rycroft, Wembley, Clarimont, Beaverlodge, Sexsmith and Bezanson. High-quality, continued client care is important to BBBSGP. While still finding “small, sustainable ways” to serve the area around Grande Prairie, they are focusing on maintaining and supporting their current client base.

It made sense to connect with a local agency: GPVSB. “It is a good fit for us,” Mohr explained. “It is important for us to be connected with those agencies in a city that are like-minded, and to support each other where we can.” BBBSGP relies on volunteers: they recruit mentors as well as members for their Board of Directors. Volunteers are also needed for fundraisers such as raffles, barbecues, breakfasts, and their feature event, Ultimate Escape, which is held every January.

BBBSGP definitely has a marked impact on the individuals it serves. “The kids that are mentored . . . their self-esteem improves, their self-confidence improves, their grades can improve, their relationships with peers and family improve . . . Their overall sense of self can improve,” Mohr listed, explaining the numerous benefits. And there’s concrete evidence to back these observations up. A study was conducted in 2013 which found that every dollar invested into BBBSGP yields an 18 dollar return. The monetary value reflects a shifted societal standing and perception of mentees, whose overall lifestyle trajectories are greatly enhanced by the mentoring process. Mentees are more likely to have better-paying jobs, to donate more and to volunteer more, than non-mentored peers. Mohr concluded that because of the mentoring program, “The community benefits as a whole.”

Not only are the mentees benefitted by the program, but the mentors as well. Big Brothers and Big Sisters are a friend and role model to the mentee. “We don’t want them to play the role of a parent substitute. They’re there for the child. To listen, to spend some time with them one on one,” Mohr described. Mentors generally spend eight hours a month with the child for a minimum of one year. Although kids graduate from the program at eighteen, the relationship is often maintained well into adulthood, Mohr noted. The longevity of the match is also supported by matching mentors and mentees based on compatibility, experience and interests. “It’s a really cyclical program in that those Little Brothers and Little Sisters grow up to be Big Brothers and Big Sisters,” she added. BBBSGP is definitely thankful for the dedication these volunteer mentors have to their mentees. Whether through a thank-you card or email, recognition as Volunteer of the Week or a small gift, BBBSGP lets their volunteer mentors know they are appreciated.

If you’d like to become a mentor, the application process includes three references, training, an interview, and understandably, police checks. “It might sound like a lot of work to become a Big Brother, Big Sister,” Mohr said, “but our number one priority is the safety of our children. And it’s such a fun and rewarding experience. You benefit as much as the child does. Mentors . . . have a sense of giving back and assisting their community.”

To get involved, you can call (780) 532-0620, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their website: www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/grandeprairie.

 

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Bear Creek Funeral Home

Gift of Time

By Bryanna Webb and Rachael Rode, Communication Specialists

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Bear Creek Funeral Home is the first corporate member of Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau as of 2015, so we were excited to interview this distinct member of GPVSB. We sat down with Eunice Kuill Friesen and Heather Gallagher-Rowe who are the Owner and Attendant at the funeral service, respectively. Although we weren’t sure what to expect when interviewing this specific type of business, we were more than pleasantly surprised by the extraordinary vision the staff have for individuals, families, and the community.

At Bear Creek Funeral Home, the staff’s number one priority is caring for families. This includes funeral planning, meeting their clients where they’re at, and aiding in the healing process. “We’re a part of Grande Prairie, and Grande Prairie is a part of us,” Friesen said, speaking of their involvement at a local level. However, they serve the entire Peace Region including Grande Cache, Fox Creek and Fairview. They are even active internationally. “Because of our mobile society there are a lot of people who die away from home,” Friesen explained. “If need be we will organize the services, and in that case, we work in conjunction with a funeral service provider in the other country, to get the family’s needs met.”

Nevertheless, Grande Prairie is Bear Creek Funeral Home’s primary focus. They became a member of GPVSB because the community is of high importance at the funeral service, evident in the copious amount of volunteer work they do as individuals and as a corporation. Death Café and Good Grief are both monthly group meetings that the funeral home runs, which are open to the public for individuals to share their stories, their thoughts and their grief. Support groups such as these are essential for the wellbeing of a community. As for supportive roles, Bear Creek Funeral Home staff volunteer time with the Hospice Palliative Care Society, Tiny Hands of Hope, Swinging with the Stars for the hospital foundation, Grande Prairie Live theatre, Suicide Prevention Resource, the Street Performers’ Festival, the Century Play, and the Relay for Life . . . “Just to name a few,” concluded Friesen. “A lot of companies give of their money and we do as much as we can, of course, but we know that the gift of time to an organization is as valuable as the gift of finances.” The time Bear Creek Funeral Home gives in our community may not be publicized, but it has deeply benefitted the individuals and organizations involved.

Friesen asserted that we needed to talk about Petey, their “comfort dog”. “We rescued him from a rescue shelter two weeks ago,” explained Friesen. It’s clear already that Petey is a perfect fit for the family at Bear Creek Funeral Home. The goal is for him to become a certified therapy dog.

 

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More innovations are forthcoming and have already been achieved by Bear Creek Funeral Home. They currently utilize social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “We were the first Funeral home in the Peace Country to use social media,” Friesen noted. “We’re going to redefine the standard funeral service in Grande Prairie.” And indeed they have. Friesen described how their services are family-centered, concerned with providing a unique and individual experience. For example, the services they organize can include live bands and other personalized customizations, such as placing the deceased’s motorcycle where the casket would traditionally go. The aim is to help family and friends remember and celebrate their loved one through the grieving, and healing, process.

Although Friesen explained how crying can be beneficial, she also believes in the healing role of laughter. Bear Creek Funeral Home is far from the traditional gloomy image of a funeral service corporation. “We don’t just do death, we do life too,” Friesen stated. The simple phrase definitely encompasses the big heart Bear Creek Funeral Home has for their clients and the community at large. The staff at this funeral service sets an excellent example of how to make an impact in the community by both giving of your time and treasuring the time you have with loved ones.

If you’d like to know more about Bear Creek Funeral Home and get involved, you can contact Eunice Friesen at 780-830-7743, drop by their office at #103, 10920 – 84 Ave, or visit them online on their Facebook page. 

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Disclaimer of Liability: This page contains links to third-party service provider websites. Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau is not responsible and assumes no liability for the content or materials available on any linked third-party sites.

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