Small town spirit grew into big time fun, Friday evening, as teams of bowlers gathered at Sunshine Lanes to donate some spare cash to make a positive change in the lives of disadvantaged kids — and have a bit of fun at the same time.
Bowlers brought pledges or their own donations for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization and when it was all totalled by event coordinator Angel Elias, the people of Hope had donated $3,400 toward the mentorship programs offered by the organization.
Elias said that four nights of bowling in Chilliwack had raised $20,000 — so Hope’s total was significant, considering the much smaller population.
“Hope has been a huge supporter, for such a small community,” said Elias, who works out of the Abbotsford office. “Last year, we raised $4,000 in Hope — but there was one individual who wasn’t bowling this year who came in with a couple of thousand dollars in pledges.
“In bigger centers, we have to pay for the bowling,” added Elias, “but Sunshine Lanes didn’t charge us a thing. Basically, what we made tonight comes back to local programming.”
Facility owner Drew Paton said, “This is their third event since I’ve been here. It’s the least we can do to help out. It’s a great cause. It’s good to see the kids out too, helping other kids.”
Unlike last year, the event needed two sessions. Cooper’s Foods and Free Rein brought big teams for the 5 p.m. draw, along with kids as young as three years old. Paton had set up the gutter guards that keep shots from going sideways — ensuring success for bowlers of lesser ability.
“Envision Credit Union, Jamie Davis Towing and the film crew of Highway Thru Hell came out for the second shift,” said Elias. “It was a lot of fun.”
Prospera Credit Union is the main sponsor of the events throughout the Fraser Valley but local sponsors helped reduce the cost of putting on the event in Hope. As it was the 100th anniversary of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Canada, Dutchie’s Bakery donated a cake. Panago Pizza supplied free snacks for the bowlers and the Hope Lions and Adams Freight also donated.
Also bowling in the second draw were Roland and Diane Brunet.
“Diane will be an in-school volunteer mentor in Hope,” said Elias. “We have three levels of mentorships. We have community-based matches, which involve visits of two to four hours a week, outside of school hours. There’s also in-school mentoring that is one hour per week. And there are group sessions, ‘GameOn’ for boys and ‘Go Girls’ for girls. The group sessions are usually run by university students.
“All of our volunteers have to pass through a vigorous screening process,” said Elias. “They have to meet national standards.”
The Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Canadian website says, “We believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential, both as individuals and citizens – that by doing so, they will not only do well, they will also do good.
“We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future. That it could lead to a reduction in poverty and unemployment. Or to safer schools and neighbourhoods. Or to a renewed optimism for growth. That it could even lead to change on a broader, more far-reaching scale.
“We believe that opening a child’s eyes to what is – opens their mind to what could be.”
If you would like to help make a difference in the life of a local boy or girl — or if you know of a boy or girl who would benefit from having a mentor — Elias invites you to call the Abbotsford Big Brothers Big Sisters’ office at 604-852-3331.