Big Brothers Big Sisters in Altona is better equipped to build life-long friendships thanks to an expanded slate of services in the community.

Coordinator, Kerri Bennett, explained one of the new programs involves community-based mentorship that matches up a Big, or a volunteer mentor, with a Little, a child that could benefit from having another adult in their life. The pair then spends time together once a week and do various activities within the community.

She noted that since starting up in Altona in Fall 2016, BBBS has only offered an in-school mentoring program where a Big and a Little spend time within the school during regular school hours.

"Although the relationships tend to restart in September when school starts up again, they do have a break and...the relationship doesn't really evolve past that," added Bennett.

She explained the community-based mentorship program allows for the pair to learn more about each other on a more personal level and even helps them develop relationships with their families.

"They develop a connection with picking up or dropping off their mentee at their house," she said, noting that the in-school program has the pair slightly detached from that personal relationship. "Because the school administration would be the ones that supervise the match and do all of the communication."

Bennett noted that another great aspect of the community-based program is that people can volunteer as mentors either as individuals or as couples.

Also among the full-service menu now offered in Altona are couples mentoring, teen mentoring, and Go Girls! groups. Bennett pointed out that these services are available to any youth who is interested.

"We believe that you can never have too many people in your life that care for you and want to build a relationship, and show children that they're important."

Any individuals or businesses interested in supporting these mentoring programs are encouraged to contact Kerri Bennett at 204-216-2100 or for more information.

Bennett submitted a quote from a volunteer with the in-school program to that said: "As a volunteer and someone who has spent a great deal of time working with youth, I can truly say this has been one of the most fulfilling volunteer opportunities I have ever had."