For the 10 Mission boys on the wait list with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley, a Big Brother for Christmas is a heartfelt wish that most parents can’t fulfill.
Eleven-year-old Luca has been waiting for more than three years.
“A Big Brother would be amazing because for once I would have a male role model in my life. It would be great because we could go fishing and build stuff. My mom isn’t great at that stuff,” said Luca.
Finding a Big Brother for Luca has proven challenging.
“We have five men who just applied to be Big Brothers in Maple Ridge, and we have an Abbotsford man driving over the bridge to mentor a Mission boy,” explained mentoring coordinator Cassie Silva.
She knows the potentially long commute to work can make it challenging for Mission residents to find time to volunteer, but she knows there are men out there reading this who do have the time, but just don’t realize the growing need.
“My kids have been on the waiting list for a long time for a Big Brother,” said Luca’s Mom Kylie. “Their dad has been out of their lives for the last six years, and it’s been very hard on them. Boys need to have a man to talk to and that’s one gap that I just can’t fill for them myself.
“It will be so good for them to have someone to spend time just with them. Being a single parent means that life is busy. Finding enough time for each of my four kids to have the one-on-one time they need is impossible.
“They just need someone to hang out with them and be there for them. It takes a village, right? I know everyone is busy, and it’s hard to find time to volunteer to be a Big Brother, but the difference it makes to the kids is incredible. Just a small amount of time means so much to them.”
In 2016, just two Mission men stepped forward as in-school mentors, visiting the students they were paired with at their school once a week for just one hour during school hours. And only two men applied to be new community-based Big Brothers this year after reading an article in the Mission Record last December. The community-based program is the biggest commitment, where a volunteer spends time with his Little Brother once a week for one year.
In comparison, five community-based Mission Big Sisters have been screened and matched with Mission girls since September. Silva acknowledges that cross-gender matching is possible, but that most boys join the program seeking a male role model.
The good news is that once matches are made, they are often long-lasting. The program asks for a one-year commitment, but the average length of a match is 2.5 years and many last until “match graduation” when a Little turns 18.
There are currently 43 Mission children being mentored through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley, but Silva has a big dream for 2017. Ideally it would be a mentor for every child in need, but realistically, Silva hopes to find “Bigs” for the “Littles” who have been waiting more than a year.
“No child should have to wait that long for a positive role model.”
For more information, mentoringworks.ca or contact Silva at 604-820-3337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.