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Bigs and Littles: Mentoring program works both ways

Cathie, left, and Anna share a unique bond through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester In-School Mentoring Program. The opportunity benefits both youth and adults
Cathie, left, and Anna share a unique bond through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester In-School Mentoring Program. The opportunity benefits both youth and adults - Contributed

BY ANNA RUTHERFORD

TRURO, N.S. —

When you have a special relationship, you know it.
Cathie and Anna have been matched in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester In School Mentoring Program for four years. This school-based program matches an adult with a child in one of our 12 partnering schools in Colchester. We have matches in schools throughout the region and we’re focused on further expanding into our rural communities. 
“I’ve been overseeing this program for 17 years, and it’s been a real joy to see the positive impact the program has on both the mentor and the mentee,” said Mary Samson, mentoring co-ordinator with BBBS. “Cathie and Anna are a perfect example of a match who have both gained so much from the experience.” 
Cathie and Anna meet once a week at Anna’s school, and it’s something they both look forward to. 
“My favourite thing to do with Cathie is read,” said Anna. “I also love to just talk with Cathie. We can talk about anything, the good and the bad.”  
Cathie loves to see Anna’s smiling face when she arrives at her school. The school provides the match with a dedicated space to spend their hour together. BBBS also provides all matches with an activity bin that’s full of games, materials for arts and crafts, and resources made possible through fundraising efforts.
“Anna is such a joy to spend time with,” said Cathie. “Often times we spend our hour catching up and sharing what’s going on in our lives or reading a good book.”
Cathie, who works at the library, first heard about the In School Mentoring Program while facilitating a reading program for Littles in our Community Matching Program. 
“After learning about the volunteer opportunity with the Bigs and Littles program I met with Mary to learn about other ways to support young people in our community and the school-based program was a better fit for me at that time,” said Cathie. “I knew I wanted to get involved in some way.”
The Community Based Mentoring Program and the In School Mentoring Program both focus on matching a child one-on-one with an adult who will help them reach their full potential. Each program provides a unique opportunity for both the child and volunteer. Depending on work commitments and extra curriculars of both the volunteer, the child and their families, one program may be a better fit than the other. 
“For those who work shift work or have flexibility in their daytime schedule our In School Mentoring Program can be a great way to get involved in the community,” said Samson.
Right now, there are more than 20 children throughout Colchester who are waiting to be matched with an in-school mentor. Most of those waiting are boys. Children are referred by a staff member at their school. If parents are interested in having their child participate, we encourage them to reach out to a staff member at their child’s school. Volunteers can inquire on our website at www.bbbscolchester.ca or call 902-895-4562. 
“This has been such a rewarding experience for me,” said Cathie. “As cliché as it sounds you really do get more than you give.”

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