Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester Embraces School Mentoring Success Story

For over 40 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester has been enabling life-changing mentoring relationships to ignite the potential of young people in the Colchester and East Hants communities.

Here is a story of how the mentor-mentee relationship can be mutually beneficial.

Judy Grant’s motivations for volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester were simple: after retirement, she had free time and had heard good things about the mentorship program at school.

“I was inspired by my brother-in-law, who has been volunteering in schools since retiring as a math teacher years ago,” says Judy. “His stories of making lasting connections with children were truly inspiring.”

The BBBS Colchester School Mentoring Program began in 1997 and has since expanded to nine schools across Colchester, with the aim of expanding to East Hants. This program pairs an adult volunteer with a child, who spend one hour a week together at the child’s school, during school hours, for the duration of the school year.

The in-school mentoring program matches volunteer and child based on common interests, personality traits and location. The program is not academic. The child and the mentor are simply spending time together doing things they enjoy.

Judy and her school mentee, Dax, celebrate their one-year “matchiversary” on March 31.

Shortly after Judy and Dax were paired, COVID-19 restrictions prevented Judy from visiting Dax at school. But that didn’t stop them from getting to know each other.

BBBS Colchester Mentoring Coordinator Mary Samson suggested they write to each other. Mary would receive Dax and Judy’s emails and share them with the couple – something Dax looked forward to every week.

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Anna Rutherford – SaltWire Network

“I told Judy about my plants that I planted with my mom,” Dax says. “Then Judy sent me pictures of a snow snail she made when I couldn’t see her this year.

“I like to text Judy when I can’t see her. I love her so much.”

“We planted seeds, read books, picked up litter around the school and built tiny houses in the school yard for the salamanders,” adds Judy. “We almost always go outside, to hang out and observe the natural world around the schoolyard. We don’t always do the things I planned, but Dax and I work together to decide how we’re going to spend the time.

Dax’s mother, Megan, shared that being part of the school mentorship program has been great for her son. He can’t wait to see Judy and their time together is always positive.

“Dax gets super excited on the days he knows Judy is supposed to come,” Megan says. “He loves coming home and telling me about everything they did together or the fresh snacks she brought.”

Judy described Dax as someone who is easy to like.

“He’s energetic, friendly and kind,” says Judy. “He likes to go out, like me, and is curious about the world around him. His greatest strength is the way he interacts with others. He is very demonstrative and listens to his friends.

There are currently over 80 children waiting to be matched across Colchester and East Hants who would benefit from a positive role model in their lives. For just one hour a week, with the support of BBBS and school staff, you can make a difference in a child’s life.

Judy would recommend this volunteer opportunity to anyone with time to spare.

“It only takes an hour a week with a little prep time and can make a difference in a child’s life,” she says. “The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is very supportive and ensures all communication with the family and the school. They make it easy to enjoy.

Anna Rutherford is the Marketing and Partnerships Coordinator with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester.

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