This blog post is written by Julia-Anne Morris, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Programs Manager
What do you think of when you hear the word volunteer? Do you think of making a difference? Developing your own skills? Being happier? According to researcher Allen Klein, “research has shown that people who volunteer live longer.” So, while you are setting your goals, plans, or resolutions for 2014, why not think about your health and how volunteering can support a long and happy life?
At Volunteer Victoria, we have many wonderful non-profit member agencies that have an incredibly wide and diverse pool of volunteer opportunities just waiting for someone like you to find one that suits your needs, goals, and interests. One agency in particular is hoping that you can be the difference in a child’s life, and improve your own life at the same time.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Victoria (BBBSV) is an agency “that has been providing support to local families and helping children in our area reach their full potential for nearly 40 years. Our programs are preventative in nature and rely on the simple principle that each time we pair a child with a mentor, we start something incredible – a life-changing relationship built on friendship, trust and empowerment.” You might have heard of BBBSV, but did you know that they have an In School Mentoring program? I personally didn’t until I started my third year practicum with them. Instantly, I knew that this program was one of the best for a broad spectrum of people wanting to volunteer.
The In School program is a great option for the beginner or experienced volunteer. The volunteer, Big, and elementary school student, Little, spend one hour each week together during the school year. Bigs and Littles spend time on school grounds doing an endless number of fun activities including arts and crafts, reading, sports, baking, games, puzzles, and just chatting. The Littles are referred by their school to the program, ensuring that those kindergartners to grade six students who can truly benefit from the program aren’t missed.
The positive feedback and success stories from both Bigs and Littles who have participated in the In School Mentoring program is endless. One grade three student was matched with a Big Sister after her mother passed away. They met weekly during her elementary years, and then became a community match when she graduated to her next school. Today, the Little is in her 20’s and is still in touch with her Big! The Little says that her Big supported her through school, foster care, university applications and scholarships, and many other aspects of growing up. She told our colleagues at BBBSV that, “My Big Sister has known me longer than any other adults in my life –she truly is like family to me.”
So whether you believe in resolutions or not, now is a great time to jump on the wagon of re-assessing what keeps you healthy, and how you can Start Something Big by volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters.