Forever Friendships

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto Celebrate National Volunteer Week

(Toronto, April 23rd 2008) – For decades Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) has been making a difference in the lives of children and youth through their mentoring programs. It only takes a few hours each week to share a little magic with a child and BBBST volunteers (Bigs) know how to make the most out of those special moments. As we approach National Volunteer Week (April 27th – May 3rd), BBBST celebrates our many volunteers and all of the magic that they bring to Toronto’s children and youth!

“Thank you to our volunteers for making a difference in the lives of our children – one hour, one day at a time.  We couldn’t offer any programs without our volunteers. They are the backbone of our agency. Without them there would be no “us,” says Cathy Denyer, President of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto.

Research has shown the positive and lasting difference it makes in a child’s life when they are matched with a Big. The power and impact of these relationships affect so many aspects of a child’s life: Improved grades, better personal relationships, improved self-image and confidence and they are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs. Just imagine the impact of a 30 year friendship!

“He opened my eyes to the world,” says former Little Brother Craig Christie, who in 1979 was matched with Big Brother Bob Johnson that has lasted close to 3 decades. Their friendship began soon after Craig’s mother saw an ad for the Big Brothers. Back then Big Brothers’ slogan was, “Help a boy find his way.” With working a lot and being a single parent, Craig’s mother wanted to make sure that her children had positive influences.

Big Brother Bob and Little Brother Craig’s first outing was at the Metro Toronto Zoo where they were chased by Canada geese! Looking back to a 1981 interview with Bob he says, “I think the male influence on a young boy is important. It’s good to have someone to take you on things like fishing trips. I’m sure these are things he’s going to think back on when he’s older.” Today, Craig indeed has fond memories of his adventures with Bob. They enjoyed sailing and distance running together. “He was always interested and involved in everything I did. He came to Little League baseball, high school football and was involved in my schooling. It showed he genuinely cared about me,” says Craig.

Hanging out together really made a difference. Since Craig didn’t have a male role model, Bob made a great impact on Little Brother Craig’s life.  Bob taught Craig about the value of having an education, how to be a leader, to work hard and Craig has lived by his words ever since. Bob even helped Craig get his first job. “I learned the importance of punctuality, as I had to be at work at 6:30 in the morning,” says Craig. 

To this day they continue to enrich each other’s lives and still talk see each other as often as they can. “Bob genuinely cared about me in all aspects of my life and that was important; it wasn’t just simply fulfilling his obligation of spending so many hours a week with me,” says Craig. A friendship that is now a family, Craig’s children call Bob and his wife grandma and grandpa. The story of Craig and Bob reminds us how important a friend can be for a child in need. Theirs is truly a friendship that will last a lifetime!

Right now Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto needs more volunteers over the age of 18 who can be that person to talk to, to hang out with and just be a friend. BBBST serves approximately 1150 children and youth under the age of 18 in the Toronto area. With over 300 Littles (mostly boys) waiting to be matched with a mentor volunteer in the Scarborough, Rexdale and Jane and Finch areas, BBBST needs your help. Just a few hours a week can turn a child’s life around!

If you would like to be a Big Brother or know someone in the community who would make a great friend let us know! For more information on how you can get involved visit us at http://www.bbbst.com/ or call (416) 925-8981 and ask for Brooke Brown.

About Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto: Big Brothers and Big Sisters is widely regarded as Canada’s best known and most successful mentoring organization. Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) is committed to improving the lives of Toronto’s children & youth by delivering the highest quality volunteer based mentoring programs. BBBST believes the healthy development of every child is enhanced by positive, nurturing, mentoring relationships. Established in 1913, BBBST helps children between the ages of six and 18 years of age become caring adults by matching children with a mentor who provides friendship and positive support. Our focus is to be preventative by reaching children at a pivotal point in their lives when the impact of a mentor can change the course of their future. Our vision at BBBST is every child who needs a mentor has a mentor. For more information visit http://www.bbbst.com/.