- How did you become involved with Big Brothers? How long have you been involved?
- It’s something I wanted to get involved with for some time, so once I gained Canadian Permanent Residency* and my work situation got to a suitable stage, I finally applied. I had volunteered with other charities and organizations in the past, but I saw Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver as an opportunity to make a more direct impact over a longer period of time. As of February 2019, my Little Brother and I have been matched for 2 years.
*You don’t need to be a Canadian permanent resident to apply, we only ask for applicants to be within the Greater Vancouver area for 6 months prior to applying.
- What inspires you to volunteer with Big Brothers?
- Initially, I wanted to be able to have a positive impact on someone who might be in a tough situation. Now that I’ve been involved for a couple of years I understand that many of the kids in the program don’t necessarily have a tough situation but they are just missing some friendly mentorship. I continue to volunteer because my Little Brother and I have an awesome time whenever we hang out and we get to learn a lot from each other. I know it also means a lot to his family that he has the support of myself and the Big Brothers organization.
- Who is/has been your greatest mentor?
- I’m really lucky to have a great relationship with my dad and even since moving to Canada we are still very close. He was always very supportive and encouraging when I was younger and made sure I made the best of the opportunities in front of me. He’s consistently dedicated a lot of time to people and causes outside of his work and I think that’s inspired my work ethic as an adult. I also often see my friends and colleagues as a mentor’s as there is always so much we can learn from each other.
- Can you imagine what it would be like to have not had that mentor(s) in your life?
- That’s incredibly difficult to imagine. My entire family has always been very close and supportive of each other and naturally, my dad plays a huge role in that. I can only imagine that I might be a very different person now.
- What would you say to someone who is ‘on the fence’ about volunteering?
- While I would caution that it’s a big commitment and a really important undertaking – I couldn’t recommend the experience more highly. It’s a challenge that has so many amazing benefits and allows you to enjoy a bunch of different experiences. Over time it’s also incredibly rewarding to be able to intensively offer guidance and mentorship. The staff at Big Brothers are also fantastically supportive and make sure you have all the help you need to be a great big brother.
Does this sound like something up your alley? Learn more here: https://www.bigbrothersvancouver.com/get-involved/volunteer/big-brother/
- In some areas of the Lower Mainland, children can wait up to two years to be matched with a Big Brother. How does knowing that make you feel?
- I think that while it is very easy to be frustrated with the shortage of volunteers, I’m also very aware that my situation of being away from my family easily allows me the time to dedicate to being a Big Brother. That is obviously not the case for many men who might otherwise be eligible. However, my awareness of the long waits and frequency with which kids age out of the program is a strong motivator for me to get involved with more public speaking engagements and other Big Brother events.
- How has your life changed since being involved with Big Brothers?
- It’s been a tremendously enjoyable experience that has offered me the chance to enjoy so many amazing activities with my Little Brother. After a busy week in the office it’s actually really great to know that I have a fun activity coming up at the weekend so there’s definitely a psychological benefit. I also believe that between the responsibility of being a Big Brother and the public speaking work I have done for the organization my confidence has really continued to improve. It’s also really cool to be able to get a glimpse of life as a 10 year old is like at this point in time – very different to 20 years ago!
If you’ve been inspired by anything that Iain has mentioned throughout his interview, consider becoming a Big Brother yourself – you can do it in just 2-4 hours, once a week. Even if you’re not in a place to be able to commit that time, spread the word and refer a friend and tell them they’d be a great mentor or role model to a young person in the Lower Mainland; it’s a huge compliment.