We believe in the value and values of mentoring.”


   For 25 years and counting; A Squamish volunteer builds big friendships and gives back to her community

                        Karen MacDonald (Karen) 2

When Karen applied to be a volunteer in 1991, she did not realize how enthusiastic she would become for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and how invested she would be with the organization for the next 25 years to come. Karen applied to be a Big Sister to give back to her community and was matched with a Little Sister for five years. It has been nearly 15 years since their friendship in the program came to a close, but they still remain in touch to this day.

After taking time away to raise her family of six, Karen returned in 2004 to volunteer as a Big Buddy in the In-School Mentoring Program. The In-School Mentoring Program matches adult men and women one-to-one with elementary school aged boys and girls and they hang out for one hour a week doing fun-based activities. Since 2004, Karen has mentored three different children in the program. Today, she is matched with a 12 year old girl named Tessa. Karen beams about how rewarding it has been to watch Tessa grow up over the last 6 years and become more secure and self-confident. Tessa has nothing but a huge smile and a sparkle in her eye every time Karen shows up to see her.

“I believe the most important aspect of Tessa and my match is consistency, continuity, and a pure and simple, long lasting friendship. We have a great friendship built over the past six years on trust, mutual respect and the blooming of a true relationship,” says Karen.

One of Karen’s favourite moments with Tessa was when they attempted to make a piñata for the first time. Unfortunately, the project did not go as planned because the paper mâché made a huge mess and the whole thing caved in. However, Karen recalls that it was all worth it in the end because they had so much fun bonding together. Tessa enjoys bringing in the crafts and activities that they do each week to share with her classmates, which boosts her self-confidence. It is in these moments where Tessa can show just how proud she is to have a Big Buddy.

Tiara (Tessa)

Over their six year friendship, Karen and Tessa have grown very comfortable talking to each other which has helped Tessa get through some traumatic times. Unfortunately, due to changes in her family life, Tessa was forced to change schools in grade four for a year. Luckily, Karen was there for Tessa to talk to and be an ear to listen to in order to get through that difficult transition.

“I hope I can continue to help Tessa grow into a strong, individual young woman with a good set of values that will help her cope with her future and any struggles she may have,” says Karen.

One of the more remarkable things to come out of Karen’s experience and dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters is the impact it has had on her own family. The value of mentoring and giving back has made a positive impression on her children. While all of her sons have participated in numerous community events and programs over the years, one specifically followed in her footsteps and became a Teen Mentor himself in the Teen Mentoring Program.

Karen hopes that her story will inspire other individuals in the Squamish community to get involved in the organization. She believes being a mentor is a simple and rewarding experience. Sometimes all a child just needs is a friend and someone to be there for them on a consistent basis. “The mentoring programs are ideal for people that don't have a lot of time, just a couple hours a week and a strong desire to give back and help out children in need in any way they can, “ says Karen. “It gives you an opportunity to take a break from your busy routine to have fun and be a kid again.”

**If this story has inspired you to become a mentor, please visit http://www.beamentorseatosky.com/ to apply or for more information. For the safety of the children in the In-School Mentoring Program, their names are changed to protect their identities.



A Call for Big Brothers in the Sea to Sky Corridor. 


 Paul and Jaden pic for article

The Sea-to-Sky Corridor is in need of Big Brothers to be mentors to boys. Currently there are only two children that have Big Brothers in the Sea to Sky Corridor, and while demand for the program continues to rise, there aren’t enough volunteers for it. Being a Big Brother allows men to be role models in their communities and have a lot of fun by spending just a few hours each week with a child in need.

Paul and Jaden were introduced by Big Brothers Big Sisters Sea-to-Sky Corridor two years ago and enjoy getting fresh air and burning off energy together in the outdoors as much as possible. They are one of the two matches in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Jaden, who is hoping to become a professional soccer player, has found a great listener and fellow nature-lover in Paul, his Big Brother. Just some of the activities they have done together include rock climbing, kite flying, dog walking and fishing but they always manage to find time for a little soccer too to make sure Jaden can continue improving his skills for his elementary school team. On those rainy days when they have to stay indoors, the dynamic duo improve their chess skills while sipping hot chocolate at their local coffee shop.

Mentoring has a hugely positive impact on a person’s life, which is why Big Brothers Big Sisters strives to provide a number of programs to best accommodate the busy schedules of their volunteers. Their most well-known Community program matches a volunteer with a Little Brother or Sister, between the ages of 7 – 14. Together, the matches spend 2 – 4 hours each week together doing fun activities like hiking, completing puzzles or crafting.

Paul, who is a busy professional photographer, greatly appreciates the time he and Jaden spend together, particularly as it enables him to have a lot of fun outdoors. As their friendship has grown, Paul has seen Jaden continue to become a polite and considerate young man, and each time they see each other he is amazed by how tall his Little Brother is getting! Not only is Jaden having a lot of fun but Paul also benefits from the friendship that he and Jaden continue to build, and the unique experiences that come from being a Big Brother.

There is no time like the present to get involved with the organization. Clearly from Paul and Jaden’s experience, the possibilities for their adventures are endless and both are benefiting immensely from their friendship. With training and support given to all volunteer Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the main qualification is a willingness to give back to the community through developing a friendship with a young person.

Studies have shown that children in the organization’s programs are likely to have better attendance in school, higher self-esteem, and are more able to confidently communicate with those around them. Volunteers in the program enjoy the flexible nature of the program, have fun and feel good about giving back to their community.

If Paul and Jaden’s story has inspired you to learn more about becoming a Big Brother, visit their website at beamentorseatosky.com or e-mail karen.macgillivray@bigbrothersbigsisters.ca. Start something incredible today by becoming a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters Sea-to-Sky Corridor.


A Long Lasting Friendship


 ISM photo

I learned about the mentorship program when Big Brothers, Big Sisters presented at our Rotary Club meeting a little over 6 years ago. I was definitely interested. I was introduced to Josh in the spring of 2008 (I believe) and we’ve just celebrated Five Years of friendship.

We met and clicked immediately. He was 6 years old at the time and in grade one. He’s about to graduate from grade 7. We started our meetings (and still do) with a short chat about what’s happened since our last meeting, and what we’re going to do that day. We’ve enjoyed lots of time playing soccer. Josh is exceptional and is a star on the local team. Last year one of his goals was to teach a much younger student a “cool soccer move”. He taught a keen admirer in grade one a new trick. We play lots of ball hockey and have gone from when I’d have to take it easy on him to now where he dribbles past me and outscores me each time. He’s competitive but fair. Rough in a joking way and we assess each other penalties for bad sportsmanship... which is usually faked anyway! We play card games too, such as fish or snap. He beats me now quite often. We’ve also baked cookies for his class, and made pizza. Tomorrow we’ll be carving two pumpkins for Halloween. We'll take a picture of them, and ourselves to laugh at later. How could someone not stay extremely motivated when there’s such care, kindness and laughter in being together as friends.

When I arrived at his classroom door Josh usually bolts out of his seat, sometimes forgetting to ask his teacher permission to be excused. I’m equally excited to see him each week. When I’m away on vacation he double checks on my return date, and most touching is at the end of each school year when he asks if I’ll be his mentor again next year. I always say yes with enthusiasm and a “high five”.  This year when asked what his number one goal was, Josh said: “To spend as much time together as we can”. We have even learned some Spanish during our meetings because it’s the language of soccer! By the way Josh found and downloaded the APP on my iPhone.

We'll be finishing our mentorship arrangement at the end of this school year, and I look forward to starting with a new student next September.  It's a personal joy to be part of this awesome program.

Thank you for making the Mentorship Program possible!

By: Patrick (Big Buddy Mentor)


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