When the world is going through a pandemic, everyone feels disconnected. However, Donna and Cindy show us that even through isolation, when you have a Sister by your side, you will never feel alone.
“Isn’t she a wonderful young woman?” These were the first words that Big Sister Donna said when she heard Little Sister Cindy’s name.
Donna grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland with her parents. When Donna was 14, her mom and dad divorced. Her mom left and her dad turned to alcohol. Her rough upbringing came at an age where she needed a good influence in her life and someone who she could rely on.
At 18, she decided she had enough and jumped on the first flight she found. She landed in London where she was lucky to find a family that showed her how families should be. “I saw that connection, I saw that love, I saw that respect & I really liked it.” She began to work with children with special needs and found this was her passion.
Eventually, she decided to make a move to Canada where she met her husband. Together they raised 2 wonderful daughters and celebrated their first granddaughter. Donna spent the majority of her days teaching and volunteering with children in need which ultimately led her to volunteer with Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland where she was matched with Cindy.
Little Sister Cindy immigrated to Canada in 2010 when she was in grade 2 with her mom and younger brother. She noticed a big change in the cultural differences and had issues with school as she was not yet fluent in English. Fortunately, Cindy’s mom found Big Sisters and signed her daughter up for the Study Buddy program.
Cindy was matched with a few Big Sisters who helped her with her schoolwork and English skills. Once as her English was proficient and her grades were improving, Cindy no longer saw the point to Big Sisters – until she was matched with Donna.
Donna and Cindy are two peas from the same pod. Despite have a larger age gap than other Sister matches, they share the same hobbies and interests. In the beginning, the pair enjoyed spending a calm day sewing, doing arts and crafts, and baking together. However, now with both Sisters having busy schedules, any chance they get to meet up, watch a movie, and relax is a day worth looking forward to.
At the end of grade 8, Cindy felt a huge emotional toll after her father left. She kept it a secret from everyone, especially Donna. “I felt ashamed to tell her about my family situation,” Cindy says. It took Cindy two years before she was able to finally open up to Donna. This was a huge moment for the both of them in their relationship. Donna felt privileged that her Little Sister felt she could trust Donna enough and Cindy finally realized that she wasn’t alone. “My caseworker found me the perfect person,” Cindy shares, “I value her friendship so much.”
7 years have passed since their initial encounter and the pair’s mentoring relationship is as strong as ever. Cindy considers her Big Sister a second mom. Donna has helped Cindy with her college transition and even taught her how to drive. “When I needed someone else to step in, Donna was there to lend a hand.” Now that she’s in university, Donna notices the growth and maturity emanating from Cindy day by day which she believes brings them closer together.
Due to COVID, Donna and Cindy were not able to see each other often. However, despite living through a pandemic and with Cindy’s university halfway across the country, Donna and Cindy are confident and comfortable knowing that they are both only a phone call away. With years of history and deep conversations building the foundation of their relationship, they both agree that their friendship is going to last a lifetime.