Mentoring is a Way to Connect in a Truly Meaningful Way

Today, we’re sharing an interview with Big Sister Edwina. She’s been matched with her Little Sister for three and a half years. Here’s how it’s made a difference in her and her Little’s lives.

1. Why did you want to become a Big?

I was looking to volunteer and I’d heard that there are many young girls signed up with the Big Sisters program who are waiting for a match. The thought of any young girl having to wait for someone to show they cared was hard. My volunteering meant one less girl would be waiting.

2. Tell me about your match. What do you do together?

We bake a lot. It is wonderful to watch my Little Sister learn how to bake. I am hopeful that it will be a legacy that she will carry on when she has a family of her own. Seeing her in the kitchen and how much she has learned is really cool. Also, I have a background in hairdressing, so many weeks we do hair. We also make popcorn and watch movies or sometimes paint or do art projects.

3. What is your favourite thing about your Little?

She is a compassionate young lady. Young boys and girls with any disabilities seem drawn to her because she is kind, understanding, and warmhearted.

4. What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourselves in your match?

Each week, as the day came closer for us to spend time together, I would constantly think about trying to come up with ideas for things we could do together that my Little Sister would enjoy. On a few occasions I literally couldn’t come up with something that she was interested in doing and we ended up just sitting on the couch talking and finding funny videos on YouTube, or she would show me some apps that are popular. So what I learned was, it’s not always about doing “something,” it is just spending quality time, finding common interests, sharing what we love (or find funny), and most of all having conversations.

5. What is your favourite memory together?

Getting to go to a Canucks game (thanks to a generous donation) was really fun. My Little Sister was hyped up on sugar and we had a fun time. Also when we made crepes with Nutella, strawberry, and banana. They were so good we overate and both felt a little sick, but laughing at how piggy we both were, and how we absolutely didn’t regret it, and we should do it again sometime.

6. How have you grown as a result of your mentorship?

I feel this experience has opened my eyes to other people’s reality. Watching my Little navigate through some difficult times has allowed me to think of ways I can be supportive and try not to be judgmental.

7. Has your perception of yourself and/or what you’re capable of changed since being matched? If so, how?

I have always been a very responsible person, but I guess I do find myself thinking that I am somewhat different to many of my colleagues and friends. Many of them see volunteering, for something like Big Sisters, as too big a commitment, and they can’t imagine how they would find the time in this hectic life. For me, I feel I owe it to myself to do something that can make a big difference in a young girl’s life and at the same time makes me feel so good. That wonderful—and so underrated—feeling you are left with when you know you can—and have—made a positive difference in this world. It’s so worth finding time for that! Make time for the things that really matter. That gives me a sense of peace.

8. What struggles have you overcome together?

My Little Sister has been through a lot over the past few years. There have been days when I picked her up from home and on the drive to my home she doesn’t speak. Every conversation I tried to have was received with a one word response or a shrug of the shoulders, times where I felt that she would rather be somewhere else and perhaps not spending time together. Over time, I realized that for our match to be the best it can be I needed her to feel that she was in control of the times she would like to get together or not. We now have a system where I text to ask if she would like to get together this weekend, and she says yes or no. If she says no there is no hard feelings, it just means I have a full day to do anything I want, and she doesn’t have to feel that she always has to get together. Now I find that when I do pick her up it is a very different dynamic, she is relaxed and we have some of our best conversations on the drive back to my place.

9. Why should people volunteer for Big Sisters?

I find it interesting that in this era where people are constantly on phones, Facebook, and social media in general, all in an effort to feel connected, yet this incredible Big Sisters opportunity is right there to connect in a truly meaningful way. It’s an opportunity that will be so much more rewarding and have a lasting positive effect in this world. We need more of that.

10. What impact does a donation to Big Sisters have on your community?

I imagine, donations lead to more matches and support for current matches. People giving back to their community creates a positive environment and a place that we feel blessed to live.