Volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington does not currently have enough volunteers to match with local children in need of a mentor.

Looking for a senior volunteering opportunity a few hours a week? Mature adults of all ages including seniors and retirees, can make a difference and help a child succeed, by volunteering as a big brother or big sister.

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Big Brother Big Sisters: In-School Mentoring Program

A True Story…

Joanne has seen Lexxy grow from a child to a young lady. Lexxy was in Grade 2 when she first met Joanne. Now in Grade 8, Lexxy will be heading high-school in September. “She grew up in front of my eyes,” said Joanne.

Over the past six years, Joanne and Lexxy have been matched in the Big Brother Big Sisters Hamilton and Burlington In-School Mentoring Program. They have built a great relationship. Joanne says that it was within that first year that their bond and friendship was established. “We could trust each other,” she said. Since then, Lexxy says that Joanne has helped with “growing up.” She has liked having the opportunity to chat.

From the start, it was a great match. As coincidence would have it, both Joanne and Lexxy share a love for arts and crafts. This has been a theme to their weekly meetings right from the beginning. When Lexxy was in Grade 3, she was a member of her school’s knitting club. This soon became a shared hobby between Lexxy and Joanne. “We used to sit here and knit, or play board games. Sometimes we’d just talk,” says Lexxy.

As weeks, months and years passed, their traditions continued to grow. Leading up to holidays, Lexxy and Joanne would work on occasion-specific crafts, such as handmade items for Lexxy to give to family and friends. Each October, they’ve had a party to celebrate Lexxy’s birthday. At Christmas and Easter, Joanne has brought little treats and Lexxy brings hand-made gifts or treats in exchange. Each June, they’ve had a “farewell party” to commemorate the end of the school year. At this occasion, Joanne has always brought treats to snack on and crafts for Lexxy to enjoy through the summer months.

big brothers, big sisters, volunteers, volunteering, in-school mentoring program, mentors, mentor matches, mentoring a child, being a big brother, being a big sister, mature adults, seniors volunteering opportunities, senior mentorsAs members of the In-School Mentoring Program, Joanne and Lexxy’s friendship stays on school property. They meet for an hour a week on school property during the regular school year. Similar to all of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ school-based programs, matches commence in September and break for the summer at the end of June. This June will be bitter-sweet, as it marks the end of their match, as Lexxy will be heading to high-school in September.

Knowing this was their final year together, Joanne and Lexxy planned their biggest craft project yet. “Instead of doing little projects, let’s do something big that you can keep forever,” Joanne said to Lexxy. In September, they began making a 2-foot by 3-foot rug together using a technique Joanne taught Lexxy called “rug-hooking.”

Both Lexxy and Joanne have been dedicated to their project for the past six months. Lexxy says she likes seeing the progress from start to finish. They have set a goal of completing one row, or 1,000 stitches per week. Typically Lexxy and Joanne complete one-quarter of their week’s quota during their visits, then Joanne takes home the rest for homework.

They chose an autumn pattern to reflect their relationship. “It reminds us both of fall – a new start,” says Lexxy.

Traditionally, each September has been the start of a new year for Joanne being a big sister and and Lexxy as a little sister. Like old friends, they would share stories of their summer adventures and plan activities for the year ahead. This coming fall will be much different, as their match will not renew. Though their friendship is coming to a close, both Lexxy and Joanne will bring many fond memories with them. “We’ve had a great time,” Joanne says.

Joanne plans to attend Lexxy’s Grade 8 Graduation. She says she wouldn’t miss it, and jokingly adds, Lexxy wants her in the front row. Until graduation, weekly sessions will end with the familiar words of Lexxy saying, “See you next Monday,” and Joanne replying, “I’ll be here!”

Joanne has been a volunteer mentor for 18 years at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Throughout her years of volunteer service, she has been an In-School Mentor with several children at various schools.

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In 2015, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington delivered 478 In-School Mentoring matches at local elementary schools. Senior mentors are welcome! For more information about In-School Mentoring, visit CallBigBrothers.com under the Mentoring Programs tab, or call 905-525-3860

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