When you give back as a volunteer, sometimes you receive things in return that you don’t expect.
For Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) mentors Gabby Lidder and Subaj Rakkar, their experience gave them a new perspective – and empowerment.
“It’s fun, it’s rewarding. It’s a break from the regular,” Lidder, 20, said. “You get to do different things that you won’t do at home – like crafts. Here’s a perfect excuse to do that.”
Like many BBBS volunteers, Lidder and Rakkar are currently enrolled at University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). They also both work part-time retail jobs, but they have carved out some time each week to meet with their little “siblings.”
Sixty-nine per cent of Abbotsford school-based mentorship volunteers are UFV students, BBBS coordinators say.
UFV has partnered with BBBS to include volunteer mentor hours in their co-curricular record program, which recognizes students’ out-of-classroom leadership and volunteer roles.
Rakkar, 19, has been a community mentor to his little brother David since this past spring.
“I decided I wanted to give back to the community, and be a good role model and put myself out there, and to [get experience] for my future career.”
Rakkar, who has his sights set on police work, said he didn’t expect much from being a mentor at first; he simply wanted to be a good role model.
They’d go to the park, play basketball, or go to Castle Fun Park. But as Rakkar spent time with David, he found mentoring to be something special.
“I started to develop a bond. I could see a difference in him and myself at the same time … We’d just laugh at like the littlest things. But it’s those little things that make that moment so great.”
Rakkar said that David, 13, reminds him of himself at that age.
“I see myself. And I was kind of lost when I was young, and confused, and when you’re going through puberty and stuff you just don’t know what’s going on.”
Lidder has been working with BBBS since high school. She began in the teen mentoring program, and continues to mentor in-school.
“At first it was just volunteer hours. And then I just kind of stuck with it … Honestly, it keeps getting better. You just get closer each time you see them. And it’s really comfortable.”
Lidder, who wants to become an elementary school teacher, said that working with her little sister, Olivia, offers a glimpse into what’s important for a Grade 7 girl.
“It’s a new perspective. And it’s nice to have someone who looks up to you, to be able to help someone like that – it’s nice to be able to be there for someone.”
Visit mentoringworks.ca for more information about BBBS or about becoming a mentor, or call 604-852-3331.