Meridian has invested $20,000 to support the Big Brothers, Big Sisters In-School Mentoring Program in Meridian communities in Ontario. Under the program, volunteers who are 16 and older agree to spend an hour after school each week to mentor a young person or child. The program is delivered in the school. In addition to financial support, Meridian is encouraging its own employees to volunteer as mentors.
“This program can make a huge difference in a child’s life,” Brian Berton, manager of Meridian’s Vineland branch, said.
According to research commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters, 90 per cent of mentors saw a positive change in the child they were mentoring; 88 per cent of students showed improved literacy skills; and 64 per cent demonstrated higher levels of self-esteem. The program is open to any child or young person who wants to participate, according to Berton.
“What appealed to us most is the fact that it is such a perfect fit with our Good Neighbour Program, which is all about building strong, vibrant, inclusive communities. It benefits everyone involved,” Berton said.
In addition to the benefits to children being mentored, 85 per cent of the volunteers felt that they had made a difference in their community and 89 percent said they felt better about themselves. There is also a range of benefits to companies that are involved including improved job performance and reduce absenteeism.
Meridian has been a staunch supporter of Big Brothers, Big Sisters in the past, primarily through its support of Bowl For Kids Sake local fundraising events. According to Berton, the In-School Mentoring Program offered Meridian a chance to help Big Brothers, Big Sisters at a whole new level.
“We can now help a number of the communities we serve over the course of the entire school year. This is a very worthwhile program and we’re proud to be involved,” Berton said.
Meridian’s support of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters In-School Mentoring Program is just one of the many community-based organizations and causes Meridian supports. Since 2005, Meridian has provided more than $4 million in donations and sponsorships to support more than 1,500 neighbourhood organizations and events.