I swung my feet in the air as the school office was busy around me. I was waiting for my mom to take me to the dentist. She ran in and noticed some flyers on the front desk. I watched her get them and kneel down to me. “Honey, this is for Big Sisters,” she explained: a great program helping girls who need a mentor to be matched with one.
I was told I would be on a waiting list that could take up to two years. I was handed an activity book with a smile from the case worker. I did that booklet that night dreaming about what my Big Sister would be like.
I did not have to wait long in 1994, I was matched with my Big Sister Joan. Joan and I saw Big Sisters combine with Big Brothers and become Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC).
She saw me graduate with honours and go to college. She watched me gain a voice and be an advocate for sexual assault survivors. She watched me go back to college, and later get married. She watched me get voted into the OPIRG board. She saw me branch out and use my voice to help others.
I would not have been able to do this if Joan did not give me the time and support I needed. This is what mentoring does.
From their start they aimed to match kids aged 6 to 16 with a mentor. The needs these kids/teens have can be helped by a mentor. 63% of the mentees are enrolling into post-secondary education and 87% of mentees have built a strong social network that will help them succeed in life.
BBBSC, for almost 102 years, has been known for matching one on one. This traditional match is still in works, however they have found more ways to branch out to kids and teens in need.
Now somebody wanting to volunteer can undergo more programs (some require fewer hours, such as the traditional match). Programs such as: In School Mentoring GoGirls; Game On!; Big Bunch; Couples for Kids; Teen Mentoring; Post- Secondary Readiness Program; Between Generations; Kids N Kops; and DreamCatcher.
In 1994, as I was handed the booklet with a caring word from our case worker, it began.
So the magic started with Joan when we had fun sitting in the rain one day when we could not get to an outing. In the car, I knew that this was not just a match, I could tell this was my sister for life.
As I am going to Guelph, I get a text from a happy Joan saying she cannot wait to see me. That is the magic that lasted for much longer than the years that we were matched for.
A relationship can grow out of a match, which can last a lifetime. I believe that mentoring does work and students can make the impact in the community.
If you wish to know more, visit BBBSC at www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca. Then go on and share a little magic.