by Heidi Riley
BGC, formerly known as Boys and Girls Club, is a national organization with over 600 club locations across Canada.
“The benefit of being a national organization is having access to resources such as the Model for Success, the foundational program structure we use nationally,” says Jacob Sheffield, Program Manager.
“It is built on providing a respectful, inclusive, and engaging environment, relationship building, mentoring, physical activity, health and safety, leadership growth and empowerment.”
Their mission is to provide safe and supportive places where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships, and develop confidence and skills for life.
“We prioritize access to care, food security, and caring connections,” says Jacob.
The Charlottetown location of BGC has 15 paid staff members and over 30 volunteers who help run a number of programs that serve about 65 school-aged youth per day.
The after-school program runs Monday to Friday, from 2:30 to 6 pm. The program provides snacks, activity sessions, and there is an open fridge policy.
A breakfast club was recently launched, which runs Monday to Friday starting at 7 am, offering a healthy breakfast and a safe place to start the day.
Evening programs run from 6 to 8 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and offer two progressive skill-building programs focused on healthy living, self-exploration and expression, and social and emotional learning.
Kitchen Quest covers cooking, food literacy, and health literacy. Imagination Station explores fine arts such as painting, colouring, dance, and music. “We see a lot of happy faces during those hours,” says Jacob. There is also a youth program from 6 to 8 on Wednesdays.
The Project Backpack program is a grocery subsidy for families who can sign up and receive a weekly bag of groceries to help supplement the increasing cost of food.
During the summer, they also offer an eight to 10-week summer camp which runs 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday to Friday. And they are in the process of starting a youth program for early teens.
“We are hiring Program staff right now, and are pretty much always hiring for this position,” says Jacob.
Program staff work full-time eight to 10 weeks in the summer and part-time (21 hours a week) during the rest of the year. “This role helps participants connect with a caring adult outside the home. This person creates and facilitates programs, plans, and activities such as STEAM, cooking, physical education, literacy, art, botany, gardening, and agriculture.
“We try to recruit and engage staff members with diverse skill sets, and we encourage them to bring those skills into the space every day.
“In the summer, we hire a lot more summer students and full-time people. We will probably hire at least five positions for the summer in 2024 who will work full-time hours for at least 10 weeks. Depending on funding, the jobs may be extended to 12 or 16 weeks.”
Opportunities to advance
“Although we are a relatively small organization, there is opportunity to grow. We are currently in a position to expand our growth and extend our programming. We recently launched our breakfast program and evening programs, and we are seeing a lot of traction as there is a clear need in the community.
“The breakfast program coordinator was one of our part-time staff for about two years, and they moved into a full-time facility support role, and then into the full-time program coordinator role for the breakfast club.
“Our evening program coordinator was a part-time employee who went on maternity leave and then applied for this full-time position. We are continuing to grow other roles as well.”
Benefits of working with BGC
- Those who work at least 21 hours a week have access to a full health benefits plan.
- “All staff members get paid statutory holidays off, and we are very flexible, particularly with students who need time off for exams or other times when they need a break.”
- The ability to connect with other community organizations: “We just launched a training opportunity for staff which was developed in collaboration with other organizations such as PEERS Alliance, the Black Cultural Society, YCRH, and ResourceAbilities.”
“BGC has thrived because of volunteers. Volunteers can engage with direct service, which is ideal for many Child and Youth Worker students from Holland College who need to earn 100 volunteer hours.
“We also have some Master of Business Administration students who need volunteer hours. Duties include being on the floor during program hours, helping our young people engage with the sessions, helping with program and food preparation, and serving snacks and meals.”
There are also opportunities in social media, promotional graphics, facility maintenance, program preparation and organization, and additional opportunities based on your skills and knowledge.
“As a non-profit, there are always things that need to be done, and always a shortage of Human Resources. If you have a really cool skillset you can bring, we can always find the time to work together and collaborate.
“Being part of BGC means you get to connect with the community – that is the best part of my job,” says Jacob. “I moved here from Toronto two years ago knowing very few people on the Island.
“Through working at BGC, I have connected with the 65 young people who come in daily and the families who pick them up, the greater care circle, the student wellbeing team at schools, and other community organizations. The web of community starts here at BGC and is infinite. You get to connect with like-minded people and can learn from others.
“There are also opportunities for mentorship, based on your goals for volunteering. If you just want to show up and play Lego for two hours and then head home – great. If you want to learn more about how to manage a budget in the non-profit world, you can do that too. If you want to learn about how to create a communications plan, we have people who do that job and would welcome your help and are willing to mentor and teach.
“Volunteering will also get you a reference for future employment opportunities.”
How to become a volunteer with BGC
- Contact Jacob and send a resumé and cover letter saying why you want to get involved with BGC.
- An interview
- Emergency First Aid training for those working directly with participants
- Criminal Record Check
- Vulnerable Sector screening
International students are welcome to apply as long as they are eligible to work in Canada.
Summer positions are posted by February or March. All positions are posted on Indeed.ca and WorkPEI.ca. They also welcome resumés and applications.