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Volunteer Spotlight

Each month we will be profiling one our dedicated volunteers! Stay connected to see whose next.


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Meet Bradley!

Making a difference in the community begins with a thought, and that thought becomes something that can make a BIG impact.

Such was the story of Bradley’s dedication to the community. From the very beginning, Bradley wanted to actively serve and devote his time and energy to others.

Bradley was raised in Toronto, Ontario, and he eventually moved to Kitchener in the year 2008, where he worked as a firefighter for over a decade. However, Bradley wasn’t the only member in his family who lived to serve the community; his cousin was a previous volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region, serving as a Big Sister within the program (BBBSWR).

Bradley was inspired; he immediately held interest in following in his cousin’s footsteps! Soon, he was volunteering for Big Bunch, a recreation based group mentoring program.

He found joy, friendship, solidarity, and opportunity to make a difference throughout his volunteering.

“There’s so much comradery among all the mentors…”, he explained, “It’s a great way to get to know people and meet other people in the area.”

Like many others, Bradley wanted to put his free time to good use, and he felt that being a Mentor within Big Brothers Big Sisters was the best way to do so. Mentoring can bring so much value and meaning in everyone’s lives; those who are the mentors, and those who are being mentored. It is a method for guiding, supporting, and befriending people at any given moment.

 “It’s nice to see them eventually become comfortable in a group setting,”, he recalled fondly, “…at the beginning they might be shy, but, by the end of the session that same kid will be telling you which radio station to turn the radio to.”

Nothing could be said more about the joys of having someone open up to you, while you also open up to them, in return.

When asked what he enjoyed most about being a mentor for children, he said:

“It really reminds you of growing up. It’s a great excuse to act like a kid again.”

Aside from giving back to the community, many new volunteers can gain a fresh, new set of skills! These skills can range from: problem-solving, organizational skills, leadership skills, analytical skills, and working as a team.

Bradley’s advice for those interested in volunteering is that even if you don’t know what to expect, you shouldn’t let that hold you back! Give it a shot and explore your options. The commitment varies from program-to-program, so you’re sure to find something that fits into your schedule. 

“It may seem intimidating but once you get there you just kind of figure it out. Brad, the program coordinator, is a ton of help, he emails us before each session and gives us the schedule. He responds to emails quickly and you can ask him anything. You get so many materials; the whole structure is already there for you.”

Bradley’s been a Big Bunch volunteer for over 3 years, he’s currently volunteering in the Tuesday session. You could join Bradley this fall in the Big Bunch program and help make a difference in the lives of local youth. Imagine what they could become because of you.

 

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Meet Alicia!

Alicia began volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters Waterloo Region as part of the Go Girls! Group Program. The program is for pre-adolescent girls and focuses on being active, health nutrition, self-esteem, and what it means to be a girl today. The program is delivered in weekly 90 minutes sessions over the period of 7 weeks.

The Go Girls! program resonated with Alicia as it let her take a look at her younger self, “remembering back to myself at that age and then seeing my sister transition through that age group, it is easy to see how girls can really benefit from having the extra guidance and support.

I think that it is so important that everyone has at least one older individual whom they can look up to, learn lessons from, and talk to. I loved having the chance to maybe be that person for these young women.

Mentoring is incredibly important to girls who are going through changes and need some guidance in their lives. Alicia’s approach to mentoring is, “to be a positive role model in someone’s life. It means to show by example and be willing to talk about sensitive issues in an appropriate and mature way, to give useful advice and also know when to just listen.” 

Volunteering allows for people to get involved and become benefit the community. To Alicia, Being part of a community provides people with a sense of belonging and gives them contacts to people whom they can have good times with, which can help with mental well-being.”

Being a Mentor for the Go Girls! Program has enabled Alicia to develop transferable skills, “some people participate in group settings differently and while a little push to participate can be good, some people are more comfortable observing, listening, or are just not as verbal as others and you need to be able to pick up on all of these cues.” Alicia has been able to utilize her facilitation skills in many other areas in her life.

“My favourite thing about volunteering is that I am able to use my time to make a difference and it is so rewarding when you see that you have contributed to a positive change in someone.”

To anyone who’s interested in being a Volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region, some advice Alicia has is, “it is important that you find a position that you enjoy, so that you are able to fully immerse yourself in the experience. It’s good to start smaller and get a feel for it, then do something bigger.”

 

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Meet Isaiah!


I feel the community is only as strong as its weakest member and if we all make efforts to pull those around us up we can ultimately grow together as a community,stated Isaiah, Wilfrid Laurier student, Youth Drop in Volunteer, local Church Preschool Volunteer, and Game On! Group Mentor.

Isaiah volunteers with Game On! ; a program designed to teach pre-adolescent boys about healthy eating, positive body image, and life skills in seven 90 minute sessions.

Isaiah heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters Waterloo Region through the career centre at Wilfrid Laurier University. When asked why he was interested in becoming a volunteer, Isaiah noted that “at first it was about increasing the experience on my resume, but after the first session with the kids it was all about giving back and being a role model for them.”

To Isaiah, being a Mentor is all about sharing experiences with a Mentee, “Mentoring means sharing your experiences with those who are going through/ are about to go through the same situations as you. Through this process you share where you succeeded and where you failed and try and make the way a little easier for those who come after you.

Volunteerism is an important part of Isaiah’s life. One of his most favorable aspects to it is, “having the kids recognize you as a positive role model. Because it reminds you why you continue to work hard, be a good person and how those values are positively impacting others around you.”

“I feel that after each session my Mentees held stronger values about being good people and living a healthy lifestyle. They seemed to have gained all the tools needed to succeed in these areas and it was amazing to see their growth through the program.”

To Isaiah community involvement is an important initiative to take part in as, “the community of Waterloo Region has blessed so
much over the past 4 years, I feel that it is my responsibility to get involved, be a part and give back to the community.”

And to anyone thinking of volunteering, Isaiah would simply like to say: APPLY APPLY APPLY!!!! … I can assure you the experience is rewarding and you will find meaning in your life while positively impacting the lives of others.”