Be a 'Big'
By Jenn Watt
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kawartha Lakes Haliburton needs the men of this county to join them in their mission of empowering kids and teenagers to fulfill their potential.
The organization, which has served this county for the last 20 years, finds itself with a list of kids (“Littles”) in need of adult male role models (“Bigs”) across the Highlands.
Although Big Brothers Big Sisters also serves girls, they have been able to match women with girls, but haven’t had enough men come forward to fill the need.
Across the county, 18 kids are on the waiting list to have a positive role model and mentor sign up. Most of those are boys.
Alyssa Wilson, a case manager with the organization’s Haliburton/Lindsay branch, says in some cases, time is running out to match the Littles waiting for Bigs. She’s seen cases of young people who waited so long that they grew up without ever having a mentor.
The kids and teens are often referred to the agency by the schools, but also sometimes by family members. The role of the Big is to engage the young person in conversation and friendship, to set an example of someone who is responsible and caring.
Often, the young people in the program will be at high risk for dropping out of school or having attendance issues for a variety of reasons. Having someone solid and consistent in their lives can be the difference between giving up and moving forward.
The commitment is enough to be meaningful, but is hardly burdensome.
Big Brothers Big Sisters asks that the mentor and mentee meet up once a week for three hours.
Together, they can do any sort of activity based on mutual interests. It could be building a sandcastle, baking cookies, tossing a football or learning to skate. Chatting over hot chocolate on a cold day or flying a kite at the park can provide a break from stresses in everyday life for both the Big and the Little and is the joy of the program.
Over the years, the Echo has written several stories about these Big Brothers or Big Sisters partnerships and we often hear that the pair keep lifelong connections that have mutual benefit.
The organization is flexible about timelines, accommodating snowbird schedules and other breaks in the weekly commitment.
If you’re able and interested, Big Brothers Big Sisters wants to hear from you.
The difference you could make in a young person’s life is profound and incredibly worthwhile. You can contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kawartha Lakes Haliburton at 705-324-6800.