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Meet our Matches


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Tim and Nate

Cheryl Holmes, Programs manager, wrote the following about Traditional match Tim and Nate.

Tim Edwards grew up with three sisters in the house and is really enjoying being a Big Brother – “It’s pretty awesome!” Tim and Nate King mark their first match anniversary (September 13th) during Big Brothers Big Sisters Month… only two days before Nate’s birthday. Nate will soon be eight years-old but Tim said it “doesn’t feel like a year.” Nate has brought Tim back to his childhood, to the games and activities he used to play when he was younger.

Nate was a little bit shy answering questions but with some encouragement from his Big Brother admits his life was “boring” before Tim came along. He said, “now life is good…Tim makes it more fun.” The Big Brother / Little Brother combo has done much together in the past year: attended a Toronto Blue Jays game, gone bowling, to the Toronto Zoo, swam and played in the park. As well, Tim taught Nate to skate, ride a bike and introduced him to the game of golf.

Tim says it’s nice to find common interests and teach one another new skills. Tim hopes Nate will one day join the program as a Big Brother. When asked about his feelings for Nate, Tim self-consciously admitted he loves him. “…he’s like family. He fits right in.” In fact, Tim says his whole family loves Nate.

The feeling is mutual. Elizabeth King, Nate’s mom said Nate included Tim in his family tree at school last year. She also said Nate tells his friends all about his Big Brother and if a friends asks him to play when Tim is there, he says no way, he’s not leaving his Big Brother!

At the end of our meeting, Nate gave Tim a humungous hug and didn’t want to let go. Having said that, Nate was even more bashful than Tim about his expressing his feelings in words. It wasn’t until after Tim left the interview that Nate said “Yeah. I love him.”

 


 

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Dave and Aidan

In-School Mentor, Dave Stell, wrote this lovely story about his mentoring experience a couple years ago.

Work can be pretty hard. Paying the bills and taking care of lots of different responsibilities can be challenging. But being a Big Brother? That's easy. I became a big brother in 1999 and I've had four little brothers in that time, two at RH Cornish and two at Prince Albert. Jordan, Jeremy, Nic and now Aidan. They've all been very different from each other, but they shared one common trait: they loved to have fun.

I've been lucky to be able to stay in touch with two of them after they went to high school. That's when mentoring ends, at the end of Gr. 8, but the friendship doesn't have to.

It can be weird later on, though. I was talking to a past little brother recently and we agreed to go out for beer and play pool soon. I can't tell you how that felt, the first time I realized he was old enough to go out for beers. But it's a good kind of weird. And we did go for that beer.

As an in-school mentor, I'm there for just one hour each week. The hour always flies by really quickly, every week.

For the most part, it's just fun and easy. Big Brothers is pretty good at finding kids that you will mesh with. Right now my little brother Aidan is a hockey nut - so we play floor hockey about 90 per cent of the time. It's a blast.

Others have liked basketball or dodgeball or any sport we could make up out of our imagination with any of the equipment we could get our hands on. Those are the best games of all. In the nice weather we take our fun outside and play football or baseball in the school yard.

The school is as accommodating as possible and helps us get gym time or library time with computers or space to play board games or cards. I've also heard that other matches watch movies together and make popcorn in the staff lounge.

It's funny, but I got into it thinking it was all about helping a young boy grow up. I worried that it might be a burden, that I would have to teach him discipline and be responsible for him becoming a man. But it's not that at all. It's been something I get a lot out of myself. It's a rewarding feeling to know my little brother looks forward to seeing me every week. In fact - that's one of the most important things I was told - that stuck with me when I first signed up. Show up! That's 90 per cent of the hard work in being a big brother. For kids with single parents, they sometimes get let down by dad or don't get to see him at all. So if you can just show you can be there for him, it makes all the difference in the world.

Now, one myth I have to bust while I'm talking about the experience is the idea some people have that it will be awkward. Talking to young kids is intimidating to some. But despite my best efforts to be a psychiatrist when I started 12 years ago, boys just aren't talkers. I gave up on it a long time ago. Unless they ask you to talk, or they are visibly upset about something, they are OK and just want to spend time doing something with you. Each match has been a positive experience. Teachers tell me they see a change in their personality and their relationships in class. And all I did was show up and play games and be nice to him for an hour a week. How easy is that?! For those of you who have 9-5 jobs like me - you may be concerned that it will be a pain to get time off to do it. But I've worked for five bosses over the past 12 years and they have all been completely supportive of giving me a longer lunch as needed, or to come in an hour late one day a week so I can keep this mentor volunteer opportunity going. I think companies see it as a way to give back to the community, so don't automatically think your employer will balk at the idea. You'll be surprised. 

 


 

Big Sister Lauren

In-School Mentor, Lauren Walker, wrote this about her matches.

One of my dearest friends had a Big Sister growing up. She’s part of the reason I started volunteering with the association back in 2012. Hard to believe it’s been two years! I’d been toying with the idea for so long. I wasn’t sure if I had the time to dedicate. Was I even good enough to help someone? The biggest surprise is how a little bit of time goes a long way.

It’s only once a week for about an hour. What possible difference could I make in that small amount of time? I think most of us would ask ourselves this question before starting to volunteer. I was the nervous the first day I showed up. I am an in school mentor for Big Sisters. Meeting this young girl, I asked myself…

“Where do I start?”

My reasons for joining Big Sisters was quite simple. I believe that every young person needs someone to talk to. Someone to listen. Even it is just once a week for an hour. I look at it as an opportunity to get to learn about how it is to be a kid these days. From what I learned, it’s really not so easy sometimes. I think if we all took the time to stop and listen, it could really make that child’s life a bit easier.

What surprises me the most is when you do volunteer, the child isn’t the only one who benefits. It’s teaching me to be a better listener. It’s teaching me to laugh at silly things. I look forward to that once a week visit. The best thing is watching how that child seems to just open up more with every visit. They have the freedom to be themselves not just with you (as a mentor) but with everyone.

I think it’s important to remember that in order to be a Big Brother or Big Sister, all you need to be is yourself. You don’t need special skills or talents. All a child really needs is support and encouragement. I think you’d be surprised how that time you spend together can lift a child’s day. It can lift your day too.

I think we all wonder whether or not we can truly make a difference in someone’s life. Don’t underestimate your power to make a positive influence.

If you can awaken a child’s belief in themselves,

you’re giving them wings to fly.

Whispering Words of Wisdom,
Lauren Walker.

 

 


 

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Laura and Kylie

Traditional Big Sister, Laura, wrote this about her match with Kylie.

I have been matched with Kylie for 19 months and the time certainly has gone by quickly. We spend about 3 to 4 hours together each week. I know she looks forward to our time doing fun things and also getting to know each other better. I also look forward to spending time with her, she is easy to get along with and loves to help others. She is eager to help in any way she can and likes to volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters events.

We spend our time at the library, we go swimming, play baseball, go bowling and go to the movies. These events also include walking around town so we get a lot of exercise. Other events include time doing crafts and baking cupcakes. A couple of times a year we do special events - we visited Canada's Wonderland and a live theatre production of Annie in Toronto. (She is looking forward to another Toronto trip!)

I know as the mentor I have a responsibility to help her build skills she needs as she develops and matures. On her part, she is helping to keep me physically active and mentally alert. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with her energy, but l keep going, she is worth it!

Laura

 

 


 

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Mallory and Alora

Traditional Big Sister, Mallory, wrote this about her match with Alora.

I met Alora when she was in grade 4. It's hard to believe that was 7 whole years ago. I had decided to become an In-School Mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham (BBBSND). I had just completed University and felt as though I needed some purpose in my life. I figured that volunteering my time for a child who didn't have the benefits of having a sibling would be a great idea. I had no idea what I would end up finding. It’s interesting because I would have never believed that this program would have that much of an impact on my life. I thought I would just be spending an hour a week with a kid and that would be that.

When I was younger, I attended Prince Albert Public School. It was decided by my BBBSND Coordinator that it would be a great idea for me to mentor a kid who was going to the same elementary school that I had. My BBBSND Coordinator got in contact with Prince Albert’s liaison who ended up talking to a few other teachers at the school who had known me in the past. It was quickly decided that the perfect fit for me would be this young girl in grade 4 named Alora Bridge.

For a year and half, Alora and I would meet every Friday morning at 9:15am for an hour. We would colour, listen to music, play outside and chat about what was going on in her life. As time went on we both looked forward to that solitary hour every Friday morning.

Near the end of Alora’s 5th grade year, my boyfriend and I decided to move to Toronto. I realized that I couldn’t continue with the In-School Mentor Program if I was going to be living over an hour away. I explained to BBBSND that I didn’t want to stop being Alora’s mentor, but I didn’t know how I was going to continue if I was moving away. It was suggested to me that I could become a Traditional Big Sister to Alora, but there was some concern that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill the time requirements of being a Big Sister. I took a lot of time to think about it and realized that it didn’t matter how often I saw Alora, what mattered was how I felt about her and how she felt about me.

I met with my BBBS Coordinator and told her that I wanted to become a Big Sister to Alora and that, yes we would be slightly unconventional, but it didn’t matter. We are lucky to live in the 21st century where technology rules. Alora and I would email, text, Facebook, talk on the phone and do the best we could to arrange at least one day a month that we would spend together. I was lucky that Alora’s parents were so supportive of the match. They had seen a difference in her personality and could tell that I was making an impact on her life.

Since then Alora and I have spent over 4 ½ years matched as a Big & Little. I have lived in Toronto, Whitby, New York City, back to Whitby and then Toronto again. I went from a waitress, to retail sales to struggling singer to law clerk with a prominent lawyer in Toronto. Alora finished grade 8 at Prince Albert Public School, graduated, and begin attending Port Perry High School. She has gone through her early pre-teen years and has emerged as fully hormonal and hilarious 15-year-old young lady. We have both grown so much in our years together and it’s amazing to think that there is still so much ahead of us.

On September 7, 2013 I married Andrew Smith. Alora was one of my bridesmaids and stood beside me as I said, “I do”. She grew up so much during those months of wedding planning. She helped to organize my bridal shower with my mother and step-mom; she bonded with all of the other bridesmaids (all girls my age!) and then danced the night away at my wedding with her best friend and my two brothers. I would have never imagined over 7 years ago when I first met Alora that she would become such an integral part of my life.

We both have many challenges ahead of us: Alora has to finish high school, get into university/college, survive the world of dating and peer pressure and eventually figure out what she wants to do with her life. I have to figure out how to afford to buy a house, hopefully have a baby or two and continue to move my career forward. Although we are both at completely different points in our life we are both able to help the other through the challenging times that come before us.

In the end, that is truly what being a sister is all about.

 

 


 

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Aaron and Xander

Krista Duke, Special Events Coordinator, wrote the following about Big Brother, Aaron and Little Brother, Xander

For the past two years, Xander and Aaron have spent many hours throwing around a baseball, playing soccer, fishing, riding bikes, and occasionally playing video games. Often their visits take place outside, where Xander can burn off some steam, and Aaron can feel like a kid again. Aaron loves being able to teach and show Xander new things, like how to play baseball, taking him to his first Blue Jays game, or a fishing derby where they camped overnight. “I love seeing his reaction to life,” says Aaron. “It’s great to see his passion take off from small events.”

When asked if he had seen a positive change in Xander since they first met, Aaron says he’s definitely noticed that Xander is more resilient than he was before, and that he’s able to use criticism as a building tool, instead of dwelling on it. For example, if Xander doesn’t do so well on a test at school, Aaron simply explains that there’s more to the subject to be learned, and Xander’s able build off that. Aaron also adds that when Xander was asked to make a decision, he used to be pretty indecisive, but now he seems more sure of himself and his decisions.

However, it’s not only Xander that’s learning new things in the relationship. Aaron says that mentoring has taught him to “hone his patience” and he’s pleasantly surprised with how much trust he has in such a young person. Aaron also said that Xander has opened his eyes to how much Xander, as a kid, has to offer to their relationship. “I’d be lying if I said the match was just for Xander,” said Aaron. Aaron admits that Xander keeps him grounded, humble and open to other’s issues and situations. It was two years ago when Aaron was living in Uxbridge that he signed up to be a Big Brother for Xander, and at that specific time, mentoring was something that he needed. Since then, Aaron has moved to Oshawa, but is willing to commute every week in order to continue his mentoring relationship with Xander.

Aaron also adds “Through my relationship with Xander, I’m able to narrow down what makes me happy; simply, seeing him happy makes me happy.”

 


 

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Justin and Owen

Public Relations Placement Student, Rachel McLean, wrote the following about Big Brother, Justin and Little Brother, Owen.

In April of 2012, Justin and Owen were matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham in the Traditional Mentoring program. Now, after almost three years, they both say it’s like they really are brothers.

24-year-old Justin says being matched with 12-year-old Owen has really helped them both to grow and mature. “I think the program is incredible. I’ve noticed a huge difference in Owen and even in myself. It’s evident, the purpose that we’re serving as big brothers, which is great. I don’t even really feel like I’m in a program anymore. I just feel like he’s actually my little brother, which is a pretty cool feeling,” says Justin, as Owen smiles and nods along. “It’s amazing,” he chimes in.

Justin says he’s never been responsible for someone so close like a little brother so the match has really helped him to learn a lot about himself as he learned more about Owen, who is now in Grade 7 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Elementary School.

Owen thinks having a big brother is great, and it is easier to stop playing Call of Duty, his favourite video game, when he knows Justin has some fun things planned for the day. “Owen is the only kid in the history of the world who never has homework,” jokes Justin, who tries to make sure they spend as much time as they can doing things outside. Together they do a lot; soccer, baseball, basketball, ping-pong, swimming, paintballing, golfing, and this year they are going on their first camping trip.

Having a big brother is a lot different than having a younger brother, explained Owen, who says he gets along much better with his 9-year-old younger brother since joining the mentoring program. Big brother Justin has taught him to have patience and has helped him to see situations differently with his own little brother, who is also in the traditional program. Owen says the only thing he would change about his match with Justin is that they would spend more time together; their 35-minute distance limits the amount of time they get.

“I’ve always wanted a little brother,” says Justin, who grew up with three older sisters. “I always asked my parents for one for Christmas, and they never gave me one. When I found out there was a huge need for big brothers, it didn’t take much convincing. I jumped right on the chance.”

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Holly and Megan

The following was written by co-op student Shelby Godziola about Big Sister, Holly, and Little Sister, Megan.

Big Sister, Holly, a certified makeup artist and hairdresser in Port Perry is matched with Megan, a 15-year old active, bubbly teen. The two have been matched for almost a year now and like to do many different activities in the 3-4 hours they spend together, including shopping, getting pedicures, and going to the movies. Holly says that her favourite activity they did was taking a haunted tour in Toronto’s Distillery District. Megan really enjoys when Holly dyes her hair fun colours, and does her makeup. Holly even taught Megan a makeup course and she likes to practice on Holly.

The girls love teaching each other new things. Holly has taught Megan how to rock climb, while Megan has taught Holly how to be more creative in drawing and painting. The girls love going over to each other’s houses to do crafts and just hang out.

Holly has definitely seen some positive changes in Megan since being matched, “I have noticed that Megan has become more open to trying and doing different things. Megan has also become more assertive, but in a good way”. Holly said that she would ask “What do you want to do?” and Megan would reply “You choose.”, but now when Holly asks, Megan isn’t afraid to say what she wants them to do during their time together.

Even though Megan is 15 and their time in the Big Sisters program will end when Megan is 16, the girls still plan on keeping and growing their strong friendship they have gained in their time matched together.

 

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Cailey and Gill

 

Public Relations Placement Student, Rachel McLean, wrote the following about Big Sister, Gill and Little Sister, Cailey.

In September 2012, through the In-School Mentoring Program at Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham (BBBSND), Gill was matched with Cailey, a happy young girl just beginning the seventh grade. Cailey was smart, popular, doing well in school, and not at all the type of child one might consider to be in need of a mentor. But Gill quickly learned that even the happiest of children could always benefit from a little extra attention from a positive role model. She also learned that mentoring can go both ways, and describes Cailey as a great role model herself, always bringing positivity into any situation.

“Her smile lights up a room. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without a smile. Her positive energy is contagious,” says Gill, who spends as much time as she can with the equally busy Cailey. Both girls are students, Cailey now in Grade 9 and Gill in post-secondary school, meaning their time together is limited. But when they do get time together about once a month, they make the most of it. “We rarely do the same thing. I’ve taught her how to ski and snowboard, we’ve gone mini-putting, to the movies, checked out unique restaurants, and had some girls’ nights.” Cailey says her favourite activity they did together was when they drove race cars at Mosport last year. Her younger brother, Bryce sometimes joins them, “we’re like a trio, the 3 of us,” says Cailey, “she’s actually like my sister.”

Since Cailey and Bryce live with their grandparents, they have both benefited a lot from having Gill around. Having a strong female role model in her life has helped her to continue along the positive path she’s on, which can be difficult for some girls when entering high school for the first time. “I’ve gotten to see her grow as a person,” says Gill, smiling. “When I met her, she was confident, she worked hard in school and she was happy and she has just continued to be on that path. How can you not want to spend time with a person like that?” Cailey agrees that she’s changed a bit as a person adding “since meeting Gill for the first time, I’m more happy and more talkative.” When Cailey was asked if Gill had changed at all since the beginning, Cailey claims “she’s still the same old Gill, but more funny, smarter, and always having fun.”

Gill grew up with an older brother and a twin sister and says that Big Brothers Big Sisters was an obvious choice when she decided how she was going to give back to her community. “I grew up with a really good life and I wanted to make sure I could give something back,” she explains.
“If you want to have a positive influence on someone or bring joy to someone’s life, this is the thing to do. Mentoring is something you can do regularly, so you get to see the influence you have on them and you can see them grow up.”

 

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 Saige & April

 

Past Big Sister, Saige, wrote this guest blog post about her relationship with past Little Sister April.

My name is Saige, my wonderful little sister’s name is April and this is our story. I grew up in Port Perry with one older brother, always wanting a sister. April also grew up in the Port Perry area with two older sisters. April’s eldest sister Nicole and I attended Port Perry high school together and I met April a few times when she was really little. When April was 7 years old, her middle sister Carrie passed away.

In August 2010 when April was 9 years old, Big Brother Big Sister of North Durham (BBBSND) enriched my life by finding my PERFECT little sister match with her. After the first time I met April, I knew it was meant to be, we even look like sisters! I soon started doing In-School Mentoring with April a few times a week on top of hanging out all the time outside of school. We lived 2 minutes down the street from one another and in no time we were pretty much inseparable.  April and I grew an unbreakable sister bond that I am forever grateful to BBBSND for. April’s other sister Nicole and mother Jennifer also became a big part of my life and now they are my family too, blood or not. We are no longer a part of the BBBS program as April is now in high school but she is still a huge part of my life. I moved to Alberta for a little while for work, and that did not stop us!! April has been to Alberta 3 times to visit me, we travelled all over the Rocky Mountains together and she even got to see the Tim Horton’s camp her sister Carrie went to out here.

I will be moving back to Ontario soon and a big part of the reason is because of how much I miss my sister, but no matter where I am in this world April will forever be an important part of my life. She is the most loving, thoughtful and kind sister I could have asked for. And even though she is the “little”, she has taught me so much over the years and has benefited my life as much as I have hers, if not more. She has made my life better, happier, brighter and I can’t imagine life without her now. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that your organization does and for bringing her into my life. 

Big Brothers Big Sister of North Durham brought us together but now NOTHING will tear us apart!!