When we talk about how mentoring changes lives, we place the majority of our focus on the children and youth being mentored — which is incredibly important. Mentoring has the power to change a child’s path in life, setting them up for future success. A positive role model leads by example, and demonstrates to a child the importance of giving back, pursuing education, and making good life choices.
What sometimes gets missed in the conversation about changing lives through mentoring is the life of the person who steps up to become a volunteer mentor. Helping to selflessly change someone else’s life for the better also has a significant positive impact on the mentor’s life, exemplifying how Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) programs are win-win for both people involved.
Former Big Sister Amanda says, “I think I was most surprised by how rewarding I found the experience. Each day I spent with my Little Sister Sayumi, I learned more and more about myself and about life in general. I often think my Little Sister taught me so much more than I taught her over the last 10 years. I’m sure I will continue to learn from her over the coming years. Being friends with Sayumi has brought me so much joy and I am so proud of her!”
She says, “Sayumi was always mature, even when we first met when she was 11 years old! But watching my Little Sister grow into a smart, beautiful young woman with a wise head on her shoulders has been amazing. I now get to witness my Little achieve her life goals and follow her dreams which is awesome.”
Amanda is an only child, and had considered becoming a Big Sister for many years. She knew she wanted to contribute to an organization in meaningful way and felt strongly that BBBST would be the perfect fit for her. “When I tell people about my time as a Big Sister I speak with immense joy. I found it an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience. Having Sayumi’s family accept me right away as if I was family also made our time together very special. It meant a lot to me at the beginning to have her mother welcome me and support me right from the start.”
A favourite time for Amanda was celebrating her Little Sister’s 19th birthday. “I think it’s special to me because it proves how valuable the BBBST program is. Even though our official ‘friendship’ through the organization was over when Sayumi turned 18, celebrating her 19th birthday was a true testament to what has become our lifelong friendship.”
“I love that Sayumi and I now have this bond for life — November 2014 was our 10 year match anniversary!”
Amanda and Sayumi’s story shows how lives can change when you ... start something.