PARTICIPANTS from last year’s Bowl for Kid’s Sake fundraiser are shown in the photos. This year’s event takes place Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1, bringing together 152 teams from local businesses, high schools and the community for a weekend of bowling at Yankee Lanes and The Bowling Bowl.

PARTICIPANTS from last year’s Bowl for Kid’s Sake fundraiser are shown in the photos. This year’s event takes place Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1, bringing together 152 teams from local businesses, high schools and the community for a weekend of bowling at Yankee Lanes and The Bowling Bowl.

BRUNSWICK

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Program of Bath/Brunswick facilitates nearly 300 matches, but 15 children are still waiting for a mentor.

“That feels really terrible to say out loud,” said Executive Director Lindsay MacDonald regarding the wait list during an interview at their Maine Street office.

The wait time can vary, from three to 12 months, depending on gender and personality, because the organization strives to match the most compatible relationships, and match men with boys and women with girls. Mac- Donald explained the match process is not first come, first serve. For the relationship to develop and remain long lasting, interests, family dynamics and personalities must complement each other, she said.

The organization serves Brunswick, Harpswell and all communities of Sagadahoc County, and also fosters school- and site-based mentoring that matches high school and middle school students with elementary school children.

The program also matches community mentors with students where they meet at school, that can transition to doing activities in the community, outside of the school setting.

The organization, involved in the region for 36 years, is holding its largest fundraising event on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1, bringing together 152 teams from local businesses, high schools and the community for a weekend of bowling at Yankee Lanes and The Bowling Bowl. The Bowl for Kid’s Sake theme this year is “Back to the ’80s,” with music and decor for the event hailing from the decade.

MacDonald said it is the signature event for agencies nationwide, but noted all the funds raised, about $75,000 last year, will serve local kids. The event this year so far has raised more money than last year’s event, which the organization hopes is a continuing trend.

“The more money we raise, the more kids we can serve,” said MacDonald.

The organization raises its own money for operations from private means, receiving no state or federal funding. MacDonald said they are really counting on community involvement and support to keep the program strong.

Bath Iron Works employees alone have raised more than $50,000 in donations for the organization in the last five years, she said.

MacDonald herself mentored a student, who was 11 when they first met. She is now a college student living in Georgia. “It’s really exciting to see,” MacDonald said of how participants go on to forge their paths.

One friendship in particular, MacDonald said, that has been very successful is the one between mentor Bill Babbin and Marcus, who is now a high school senior. Babbin, in a story about their friendship, wrote that his own children view Marcus as a younger brother and that during his time as a mentor, he worked toward helping Marcus achieve his goals, including attending college and becoming a paramedic.

“I met him when he was in third grade and his 18th birthday is on Saturday,” Babbin said of their nine-year friendship.

Babbin said he was encouraged to become a mentor when his own children were becoming adults and he was searching for a way to become more active in the community. He said when his children were younger he coached sports teams, and he missed that connection with youth.

“Being involved and being a positive influence in a young person’s life gave me more of a purpose. Seeing the world through Marcus’ eyes and watching him experience new things was really satisfying for me,” Babbin said.

He now serves on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and said he would recommend community members at least try being a mentor. “I got at least as much, if not more, out of it than Marcus did,” he said. “I was really lucky to be matched with such a great kid.”


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