For National Volunteer Week, we’re showing off our volunteers who are making a BIG impact in our communities and we have one special volunteer to show our appreciation for.
Sarah is one of the most exceptional Mentors to have come out of our Teen Mentoring Program. So much so that she is our agency’s sole recipient of the 2022 Ted Rogers Scholarship, a $10,000 grant for post-secondary education awarded for exceptional volunteerism.
It was only by chance at an in-school volunteer fair, which she happened to be walking by, that Sarah learned about the Teen Mentoring Program. After seeing what it was all about, she and a friend decided to give it a shot.
“It was something I’ve never done before, but I wanted to give it try,” Sarah remembered. “I think having another person to do it with really helped catapult me into this volunteering situation.”
So, it was at 14-years-old when she began her volunteer journey and she’s never looked back since.
By the end of her high school career, she had mentored four elementary school children, three boys and one girl, one child per a year.
“In terms of the experience, it’s really awesome!”
“I think there’s something about just spending time with an elementary school student and doing something that’s non-academic. Talking about their day, seeing how they process the world and the things that they do that is just, so, awesome is the best way to put it.”
Making an Impact
For one-hour each week, Sarah always looked forward to the next meeting with her Little Buddy even when she had a packed schedule.
“Sometimes I would be really tired after school. But then, after coming to Big Brothers, I noticed that my mood would feel better afterwards even though I was like running around and doing a bunch of activities as well. Just doing something different and knowing that you’re building a connection with your Little Buddy gives me so much energy.”
It was that rejuvenating positive feeling that kept her coming back to mentor another child each year.
“That’s why I continued volunteering for so long. It’s because I enjoyed it so much. Also the people in general like Cindy, my Mentoring Coordinator, and all the other mentors as well. Everyone was just really supportive and kind and just like optimistic about making the world a better place.”
She loved spending time with her Little Buddies. Having to see the world from a different perspective, a young child’s perspective, kept her mind open to the wider world. Having to be responsible for a younger person also lead to a lot of growth and self-understanding.
But for Sarah, it was seeing the learning and development of her Little Buddies that made the time worth it.
Like the moment one of her Littles first showed empathy for others when playing a “catch-like game” they had invented together.
“He turned to me and was like: ‘I’ve been catching the car multiple times. How about you go catch it,’” she recollected with a soft smile. It was the moment her Little Buddy first learned to share and think about how to include others in activities.
Now 18 and attending university, Sarah has no plans to stop volunteering and is already involved in on-campus organizations.
Once settled into her new university life though, Sarah hopes to get back into mentoring and become a Big once again.
Reflecting on her experience in the Teen Mentoring Program, Sarah has only fond memories.
“For the volunteers, not only were we getting trained really well for how to be a good Big Buddy, but we also have workshops on like scholarships or interviews and that kind of stuff. So it isn’t it isn’t just volunteering with their Little.”
“Sometimes I look back and I realize it was one hour a week, but I feel like it’s impacted my life so much. So it’s not a big commitment, but I think what you get out of it is so much and I would definitely recommend everyone to give it a try and see the difference that you can make in your community.”
Want to volunteer or know someone who could make an impact? Then check our volunteer inquiry page to learn more about our programs and opportunities.
Ready to apply now? Great! All you have to do is head to our Volunteer Application page.