Big Brother, Big Sister Month: How We Help

United Way Waterloo Region Communities partners with Big Brothers, Big Sisters to provide experiences to children and youth which help them on their way to adulthood.  Supporting youth allows them to build self esteem, and social skills which enhance their learning. 

Meet Bradley!

Making a difference in the community begins with a thought, and that thought becomes something that can make a BIG impact.

Such was the story of Bradley’s dedication to the community. From the very beginning, Bradley wanted to actively serve and devote his time and energy to others.

Bradley was raised in Toronto, Ontario, and he eventually moved to Kitchener in the year 2008, where he worked as a firefighter for over a decade. However, Bradley wasn’t the only member in his family who lived to serve the community; his cousin was a previous volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region, serving as a Big Sister within the program (BBBSWR).

Bradley was inspired; he immediately held interest in following in his cousin’s footsteps! Soon, he was volunteering for Big Bunch, a recreation based group mentoring program.

He found joy, friendship, solidarity, and opportunity to make a difference throughout his volunteering.

“There’s so much camaraderie  among all the mentors…”, he explained, “It’s a great way to get to know people and meet other people in the area.”

Like many others, Bradley wanted to put his free time to good use, and he felt that being a Mentor within Big Brothers Big Sisters was the best way to do so. Mentoring can bring so much value and meaning in everyone’s lives; those who are the mentors, and those who are being mentored. It is a method for guiding, supporting, and befriending people at any given moment.

“It’s nice to see them eventually become comfortable in a group setting,”, he recalled fondly, “…at the beginning they might be shy, but, by the end of the session that same kid will be telling you which radio station to turn the radio to.”

Nothing could be said more about the joys of having someone open up to you, while you also open up to them, in return.

When asked what he enjoyed most about being a mentor for children, he said:

“It really reminds you of growing up. It’s a great excuse to act like a kid again.”

Aside from giving back to the community, many new volunteers can gain a fresh, new set of skills! These skills can range from: problem-solving, organizational skills, leadership skills, analytical skills, and working as a team.

Bradley’s advice for those interested in volunteering is that even if you don’t know what to expect, you shouldn’t let that hold you back! Give it a shot and explore your options. The commitment varies from program-to-program, so you’re sure to find something that fits into your schedule.

“It may seem intimidating but once you get there you just kind of figure it out. Brad, the program coordinator, is a ton of help, he emails us before each session and gives us the schedule. He responds to emails quickly and you can ask him anything. You get so many materials; the whole structure is already there for you.”

Bradley’s been a Big Bunch volunteer for over 3 years, he’s currently volunteering in the Tuesday session. You could join Bradley in the Big Bunch program and help make a difference in the lives of local youth. Imagine what they could become because of you.