HomeMentoring ProgramsSuccess StoriesWe Need Him as Much as He Needed Us

We Need Him as Much as He Needed Us


We needed this match as much as he needed us in his life. What wonders a couples match did for our family.

When Deb approached me to see if I would be interested in sharing what my personal experience has been like with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, I immediately said yes.

I strongly believe in this organization and all that it stands for.  Our youth are the greatest gift and resource that our community has and that any community has for that matter.  Being part of something that promotes/fosters and allows kids to reach their full potential is something to get pretty excited about.  It certainly got me excited and has continued to do so for the last eleven years.  I knew that I needed to be part of this organization and what a privilege it has been for me to participate.  Little did I know how deeply it would affect my life and that of my family.

So now for me and my family….

It was Harold who was involved with Big Brothers and Sisters long before I jumped in.  He heard about the in-school mentoring program from another colleague and he thought,

‘I could do that and I should do that’…and so it began. 

Harold met up with this young boy Justin and began hanging out with him at school, cooking, playing and just plain having fun.  They talked and shared a lot of experiences together.  Harold would come home and speak about the time he spent with his mentee. 

When Justin finished Grade 8, the in-school mentoring program was over.  Harold had made such a connection with this young man that it did not seem right to have things abruptly end.  We talked about this and were not sure that as a family with two very young children we could be apart from Dad for periods of time.  So in discussion with Deb, a perfect solution was found. 

We continued to spend time with Justin as a family – in a Family Match.  Simply, what we did, Justin did. 

Together the five of us would share dinners, walks, go tobogganing, pick apples, carve pumpkins, bake and cut/decorate several Christmas trees.  Our entire family looked forward to getting together with Justin.  He became the ‘Big Brother’ for our two younger boys.  Justin grew into the role and quickly found a place within our family. Alister and Hamish looked up to Justin and felt he was just another fun addition to our clan.  It was a pretty neat time sharing and being together with Justin. 

He needed us, and the more time we spent together, the more we realized - we needed him.

Miriah with the Matthews

Justin continued to grow up and eventually carved a busy social life for himself.  It became more difficult to coordinate regular meeting times together and eventually the formal match ended.  Harold would still meet up with him to chat every now and then and we would try to always get together in November for his birthday to have a food feast.  It was always fun to see just how much food Justin could eat.

So as time clipped along we seemed to follow our own separate path, but you never know in life when roads will cross.  Recently we met up with Justin and it was amazing how we were all able to simply pick up from where we left off.  It was good conversation with good friends.  The only difference was that this meeting involved a new addition to his family.  Justin introduced us to his beautiful wee daughter and glowed about what life was like being a Dad.  He was doing ok and we were so pleased to see and hear from him.  He was still sharing with us and we were thrilled to still be a part of his life in some way.

Since our time with Justin, Harold and I picked up two separate in-school mentoring matches.  These relationships were also filled with much sharing and fun.  I am now currently working with an adorable young girl once a week at the Ingersoll Public library as a Literacy mentor. 

So, Harold and I have been lucky enough to participate in mentoring on several different levels and though each has been a different experience and focus, they have all had one thing in common.

Each mentoring match has been - Time Well Spent!

I am not sure how to describe the impact mentoring has had on my life or that of my family.  It is almost too big an emotional matzo ball to put into words.  Mentoring is giving of one self – not simply in time but also on a deeper personal and emotional level.  Connections are made and friendships are formed.  It is life changing, as people who were once unknown and strangers become connected and dependent upon one another. 

We are all blessed with the same amount of time.  The real choice in life is to figure out how to spend it.  If time were a monetary commodity, the best bang for our emotional buck would be to invest and share our time with others.  That is what mentoring is all about. 

Investing in our youth.  Sharing with them and watching them grow emotionally and personally. 

A true investor would ask, "What’s the return?"  The answer to this is simple, the return is our future. 

The youth involved in Big Brothers and Sisters are truly our future and the future of our communities.  They will carry on and lead the way when we are no longer able to.  They will make decisions and choices that will impact generations to come.  If that is not a great return or something to invest in, I do not know what is. 

Even Harold would have to admit that it’s more important than investing in Real Estate!

Nancy Matthews (2)

So there you go, Mentoring is important and I know that everyone in this room would agree with this statement. 

In some ways, I feel like I am preaching to the converted here, but I truly believe all of us have work to do and that goes beyond our existed commitments with Big Brother and Sisters. 

In order for these programs to continue and for our investment in our youth to hold true, we need to share our experiences with others. 

We need to talk about mentoring with our families, friends, neighbours and our colleagues.  That is how we heard about mentoring and how we and our family became involved. 

We live in an amazing community and that is not just because of where Ingersoll and Tillsonburg are located or what services are found there, it is simply because of the people who call these towns home.  People make Ingersoll and Tillsonburg and it is these people who will in future make mentoring grow and our youth blossom.

I am sure everyone sitting here tonight is able to mentally right now think of someone they know who would make an awesome mentor.  Our job is to talk, invite, ask and encourage those amazing people we know to get involved in the outstanding programming with Big Brothers and Sisters.

Imagine the ripple effect this could have.  Let’s say there are 100 people here tonight who spoke with 100 other people and so on and so on.  If this were to happen, Deb’s list of ‘kids waiting’ would cease to exist.

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