Andy Lee: Big Brothers Big Sisters


I have been a volunteer mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria Capital Region for the past eight years. Through spending time together each week, myself and my young mentee have built a consistent, caring and supportive friendship.

After I retired, I felt lucky to have some extra time. I decided to use a bit of time for a good purpose. My father died when I was barely 16, and I thought I might help a boy whose father wasn’t around.

When I started volunteering with the In-School Mentoring program, I was matched with a Grade 3 student who needed a positive male role model in his life.

When I applied, the mentoring coordinator asked me several questions about what kind of child I might relate to—and I think she made an excellent match.

We spent an hour together at school each week—reading books, playing board games, shooting baskets and just spending quality time with each other.

Now almost a decade later, the two of us still spend time together almost every Saturday.

We have since moved over to the Community Mentoring program, where mentoring matches visit in the community rather than at school. Mentees can formally participate in the program until they turn 18, and many matches continue into a lifelong connection.

It’s been gratifying to watch my mentee grow and become a fine teenager. He is open and honest, he is friendly and thoughtful and he has a sunny disposition.

In short, he’s a really nice kid—I regularly tell him that I’m impressed.

Between fun activities like hikes, sports games and movies, we also do homework together and have recently talked about possible careers.

Through mentoring, I’ve learned that kids are like sponges. They soak up information, they soak up attitudes and they will strive to meet reasonable expectations that are set for them.

Every adult has something valuable to offer a child—skills, knowledge and attitudes that children can learn from. Sometimes it’s just your presence that tells a kid, “Hey, you’re worth spending time with.”

If you have the time—just a few hours each week—I encourage you to give mentoring a try.

You never know who a young person could become because of you.

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