‘100 Women Who Care’ gives Big Brothers group 10,000 reasons to smile

Community

The power of positivity was prevalent last week when a local agency was presented with more than $10,000.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County received more than $10,000 from 100 Women Who Care following the group’s most recent meeting held in Pictou.

Big Brothers will use this money to start a scholarship for graduating students who are also part of the Big Brothers program.

Making the case for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County was 21-year-old Jordan Cromwell who was a Little Brother in the  program since he   was nine years old.

“I lived with my mom who is a single parent.  When I got a bit older, she had the added responsibility of raising her granddaughter who I helped walk to school and babysit. My mom did an amazing job but it was hard for her as we struggled financially, but she always made things work with lots of love,” Cromwell told the gathering.

His ‘big brother’ Vernon is like family to Cromwell. “He would support anything I would do.  Vernon taught me.. to play golf, fix things and skate.  I still have pictures from the first time I was out learning to skate.  He helped me get into hockey, I played hockey for four years but stopped to focus on school more.  He also taught me to drive, it has gone well, I have been driving for a few years now with no accidents.”

When Cromwell was in high school, his ‘Big’ stressed the importance of hard work.  He graduated from North Nova Educational Centre in 2014. “I was the first person in my mom’s family to ever graduate.”

After graduation, Vernon and Big Brothers Big Sisters helped Cromwell with his resume. “I have been working now at McDonald’s Restaurant for almost two years.  My mom had to move to Halifax for medical issues so I am currently supporting myself, working part time and (I am) happy to say that I just started at the Nova Scotia Community College in the Automotive Service program after being out of school for two years.”
The program has a profound effect on Cromwell.

“One of the challenges that youth like me and others in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program face is that most of those that want to go on to college or university cannot afford it and many do not qualify for any of the scholarships and bursaries unless their marks are in the 80s and 90s.  Some of us have not been able to attain that average, however, we are hard workers, have passing grades and still want to succeed at an education.”

It is Big Brothers Big Sisters’ hope to use the money as seed money to start a bursary program that would be used specifically for Little Brothers and Little Sisters in the program to assist with secondary educational costs and skill development assistance.
Margie Grant-Walsh, executive director of the Big Brothers program, also spoke about the importance of the program. She cited a Boston Consulting Group Return on Investment study that noted for every dollar Big Brothers Big Sisters receives, they receive $18 in pay back.

“Kids that go through the program stay in school longer, get better jobs, are healthier and give back to their communities, however, if financial barriers are placed in their way they sometimes will give up and not continue on their dream.  Not only that, earlier in life if kids are not able to develop skills like music, art, sports just because they do not have the funds to pay a fee or purchase materials or equipment, where does that leave them?”
Cromwell said, “I was one of the fortunate ones because I had Vernon, but not all the other 200-plus kids in the program have the same benefit.”

Thanks to the 100 Women Who Care, more kids may be helped to pursue their dreams.


Margie Grant-Walsh, left, and Karen Chapman, right, of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County, stand with Jordan Cromwell who is a former ‘little brother’ of the program. The trio show off the money they received during the latest 100 Women Who Care meeting held at Pictou United Church at which Cromwell spoke about the positive influence the agency has had on his life.  (Brimicombe photo)

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