Friday, April 8, 2011

Wanted: Volunteers and hill climbers

Advocates, Big Brothers Big Sisters pursue April initiatives

Express Staff Writer

Racers set off from Hop Porter Park in Hailey for the annual Carbonate Hill Climb to support the Advocates. Photo by Willy Cook

In 1974, former President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week. The week has now grown into the entire month of April to promote volunteering all year long. The many nonprofit groups in the Wood River Valley have plenty of volunteer opportunities, especially since several rely on volunteers to assist with operations.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho's satellite operation in the Wood River Valley is capitalizing on April as volunteer month for the recruitment of big brothers and sisters. The nonprofit organization has been in operation since 1979 and works to help children and youth achieve their potential through positive adult relationships.

"This valley is run on volunteers," said Bronwyn Patterson-Nickel, program coordinator in Blaine County. "It's what is needed to make organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters work."

Patterson-Nickel said Big Brothers Big Sisters is all volunteers with one and a half paid employees.

"Without volunteers, we would not exist," she said. "We are seeking bigs to match up with kids."

Patterson-Nickel said Big Brothers Big Sisters would like to have 100 volunteers by December, and the organization is a quarter of the way toward its goal. Thirty kids are on the waiting list for bigs. The cross-section of kids ranges in age from 6-15 and varies in backgrounds, interests and needs.

"The list grows every day," she said. "I can't match kids. Some have been waiting eight months."

Big Brothers Big Sisters receives money from grants and private donations. To sign up and find a little brother or sister, e-mail, call 578-5405 or visit

Big Brothers Big Sisters is partnering with the Advocates and the Hailey Chamber of Commerce for The Advocates' Carbonate Hill Climb event and Easter egg hunt and barbecue on Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to noon. April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The Easter egg hunt is free. The climb is $10 per person and $25 per family during pre-registration. Day-of-race registration is $20 per person and the barbecue is $5. The race will start at Hop Porter Park in Hailey and go up to Carbonate ridge. Free childcare will be provided during the race. Pre-registration online is available at Sturtevants, The Elephant's Perch and Backwoods. Prizes will be awarded to the top three women and men and for first-place 12-and-under girl and boy.

"The Advocates' April activities will reinforce the 2011 Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign theme, 'It's time to get involved,'" said the Advocates' community education coordinator, Trish Tobias.  "In 2010, the Advocates provided assistance to 46 women and 37 children affected by sexual assault." 

Parents are encouraged to have an open dialogue with their pre-teen children, boys and girls, about sexual assault prevention—how not to be a victim or perpetrator of the crime.  Tobias said that the more people understand how to help prevent sexual assault, the more they can help create environments where people are safe in their relationships, families, neighborhoods, schools, work places and communities.

For details, call 788-4191.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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