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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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HIV North

 

Serviceable For All

By Bryanna Webb, Project Coordinator

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HIV North is a non-profit organization who joined as a member with the Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau in 2014. The renewal of the membership was important to the organization because it provides good networking opportunities with other community members and that’s with the professional and non-profit organizations as well as volunteers in our community. Belcourt further explained, “There are some terrific opportunities to be able to participate in education and community events through the GPVSB which is nice, easier to make the connections and make it happen”. By having such a beneficial membership, it has helped to seek volunteers for last year’s AIDS Walk; visible volunteer opportunities for the staff in the community as well. The educational opportunities have been good and network opportunities for leaders in the community. “So, I’ve attended a couple executive director meetings which have been interesting,” Belcourt noted.

As the executive director of HIV North, Sue Belcourt has very broad responsibilities; everything from answering the phone to doing financial statements. Her main duty is to make sure the organization is running well and has the resources to do their jobs, human resources as much as financial resources. A big part also is to scout out funding opportunities, applying for grants and recording once received the money. The organization provides towards corporate sector, healthcare sector, education sector; which does include sexual health education. They offer a variety of workshops and presentations which include HIV, STI, homophobia, GLBTQ. Each workshop and all presentations are tailored made for each type of audience. Go out into the community and see what the need is and develop a workshop with the materials that are specific to that population; for example if there were an Aboriginal community that needed a workshop cultural based, they would then work with the Elders of that community.

HIV North serves Northern Alberta; north of Fox Creek up to the North-West Territories boarder, out to the British Columbia boarder, and then down to Grande Cache. “There is another location in Lloydminster but we are the full North Peace of this province” Belcourt reassured.

“We provide straight forward support for individuals who need to be supported in a very non-judgemental way” Belcourt states how they benefit the community and its individuals. Help those trying to navigate the system. A lot of client navigation and outreach support is done. Time is the biggest challenge! She then expressed, “We have a wonderful team of amazing people who do amazing things but there never seems to be enough time to do the work we want to do”. People don’t want to talk about HIV. Volunteer needs being met right through to talking and understanding.

Volunteers can do anything right from helping in the office to out in the community.  Many programming require specific people who can relate to those in the drop-in clinics and also cooking a meal for groups. Some community events such as parade float for July 1st, setting up of chairs, and help taking in registration. A benefit the volunteers will acquire is to have fun! Belcourt adds “I think every volunteer can be guaranteed a fun and worth-while experience.” It is a great chance to give back to the community.  A lot of the clients are living in high-risk situations and are very vulnerable, whether street involved or even youth whom are impressionable, by volunteering it is a prime opportunity to have a positive impact and feel good doing it. To become involved as a volunteer, just call there they can inform potential volunteers as to what’s happening. As for long-term, there is a volunteer application form to fill in and will be kept on file along with the rest of the process such as a criminal record check.

People need to understand that they are here to help everybody in the community! Services are free. They provide a variety of workshops and presentations which are offered and will be done at any organization free of charge. Each workshop or session is tailored for the audience, especially so that needs are being met. “I think people assume we only work with marginalized folks and we don’t, a significant part of our work is with that population, but we will go out to the corporate sector, healthcare sector, anywhere for educational workshops for anybody” Belcourt suggests. HIV North always needs volunteers. Keeping that in mind, AIDS Walk is September 20, 2015 this year in Grande Prairie. Many other resources we offer include women’s drop in, a street nurse, and harm reduction education and supplies.

In Summary, HIV North is very accepting and accomplishes what needs to be done in a non-judgemental matter for working towards a vision of a world without AIDS.

 

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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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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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