Mentoring a Child Can Have Lifelong Benefits: Big Brothers Big Sisters

September is Big Brothers Big Sisters Month across Canada and Big Brothers Big Sisters North and West Niagara will be hosting a Flag Raising Ceremony to kick off the month and raise awareness.

The flag raising will take place September 1 at noon at the Niagara Region Headquarters, 1815 Sir Isaac Brock Way in Thorold.

The agency will be offering free and inclusive programs and activities throughout the month for people to participate and learn more about how to get involved.

“We try to raise awareness of our programs and services,” said Erin Greybiel, CEO and General Manager of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara West and North.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we have a significant need for volunteers to support vulnerable young people in our community.

She said activities are planned throughout the month to not only raise awareness of the need for volunteers or “big ones,” but also to highlight the need for children or “little ones” who would benefit from the mentorship program.

Greybiel stresses the importance of getting involved with children who need a little extra help in their lives.

The importance of the mentorship program lasts a lifetime, Greybiel said, including children with both parents at home.

“Even with kids who have two parents or role models, other caring adults don’t hurt, they help,” she said.

“Children and youth in our program do not need to be from single parent families, some are, but others are children who have busy homes or who simply have challenges to overcome and who would benefit from another caring adult.

Greybiel said having as much support as possible throughout the formative years is important to becoming the best possible person in life, which is what these mentorships help achieve.

“We know that when it comes to healthy child development, the more positive and nurturing relationships young people have, the more successful they will be when they grow up,” she said.

“There are a range of children and young people involved in our programs who benefit from a caring adult relationship in their lives.”

When it comes to getting the best match for young and old, around common interests, staff take a lot of time to make sure it’s a good fit, she said.

“We really try to match young people with volunteer mentors who have a common interest,” she said, “it could be baseball, it could be hiking, it could be anything.”

She said the positive return on time invested for both child and mentor is life changing as it is something that can last a lifetime and impact far more people than those involved in the relationship.

“We see the impact on the child directly involved with the mentor, we see the impact on the family, as it helps the child, which in turn helps the whole family unit, and we see the incredible return for the volunteer,” Greybiel said.

She said they have seen the relationships between big and small blossom into a lifelong bond where the big is invited to the wedding of the little one when they grow up.

“There are so many experiences children can go through that a caring mentor can help them through and help them grow and blossom into the potential they have as people,” Greybiel said.

Other activities throughout the month include:

• Sept. 10 Big game and small game at the Niagara Rowing School (invitation through the agency).

• The Mom Market Collective Inc. Niagara at Jackson-Triggs Winery on Sat. Sept. 17, donations in lieu of registration fees will be accepted for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara agencies.

• Third party fundraiser organized by Dragon’s Eye Consulting (BBBS NWN).

• West Lincoln Flag Raising, September 1 at 10:00 a.m.

• Lincoln City Flag Raising, Friday, September 23 at 10 a.m.

• Port Colborne HarvestFest on Saturday September 24 (BBBS SCN)

• Safari Niagara Customer Appreciation Days on Saturday, September 24 (BBBS SCN)

• Niagara on the Lake Flag Raising, Mon. Sept. 26 at 10 a.m.

Looking to volunteer or get involved, go to:

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