The first time I ever heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters, I was about eight years old.
My mother mentioned one day that she’d contacted Big Brothers to see if they might be able to find a match. For, uh, me.
I remember wrinkling my nose at the prospect. Mom. What would I want with a BROTHER?!?
My mother laughed, and explained that the agency didn’t offer brothers, per se, but extra adults – men or women – to be involved in kids’ lives. It was just the two of us, my mum and I, and she had thought maybe I’d benefit from the extra care and attention an additional adult friend and mentor might bring into my life.
She mentioned that sometimes Big Brothers took you places, like to the movies, and I was immediately and thoroughly sold on the idea.
Then she said they’d mentioned there was quite a waiting list…and my fantasies of hot buttered popcorn spilled and scattered all over the floor.
I never got that friend and mentor, as a kid. Big Brothers – which would change its name to Big Brothers Big Sisters only a year or two later, thus preventing further confusion on the part of boy-phobic little girls like me – had enough children in need that my name never made it to the top of the list. But when I was old enough to consider being a friend and mentor myself, I remembered the conversation with my mother and my own momentary excitement, and I signed on as a Big during my college years in New Brunswick. Now, I serve as a Director and Secretary of the Board for BBBSPEI.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has brought me many memorable experiences. Twenty years ago, I learned to play pool with Vicki, my Little. Last year, at Bowl For Kids’ Sake, I taught my own six-year-old, Oscar, how to be a helpful volunteer: we spent an afternoon pouring and serving fountain pop and snacks, and he can’t wait to go back again this March.
While I’ve invested all this time with eight-year-old me in mind, it’s been adult me who has benefited, immeasurably. Big Brothers Big Sisters has indeed brought rich relationships, mentorship, and great memories into my life, as my mom had hoped: I just had to wait a few extra years to make it all happen.
Happy 100th, BBBS! Thanks for everything you do, and help us all do, together.