Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester: Celebrating In School Mentoring
Over the past year many things have changed but one thing has remained the same – our dedicated mentors continued to show up for young people. This week we are highlighting the match between Paula and Jaiden. Paula has been volunteering as an in-school mentor to her mentee Jaiden since 2017. It is easy to tell when talking with Paula how passionate she is about being a mentor. She stated, “I like the fact that my role is to lead by example in building a trusting, loyal friendship. Also, to be a good listener and provide a good distraction for an hour each week.”
Paula describes Jaiden as good natured, very creative, adaptable, and someone who loves her family. She went on to say, “it has been very nice to develop a friendship with Jaiden and to watch her mature over the years. I enjoy coming into the school each week to hang out with Jaiden for an hour doing something that provides enjoyment and distraction for both of us.”
Jaiden said that her mentor Paula is “nice, kind, and sweet.” She likes that they have similar interests. They both enjoy being outdoors, walking Paula’s dog, and playing their favourite game Guess Who.
This past year has been the first where they had the challenge of not being able to see each other in person. Last March in-person visits had to be paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This did not stop Paula and Jaiden’s friendship. Paula said, “when we were unable to see each other in person, we kept in touch initially through letters and then by weekly Zoom visits arranged through BBBS and the school. Our best Zoom visits took place when we played games of Guess Who.”
Being able to stay connected during a time that was very isolating was extremely important. “It was important to me to stay in touch with Jaiden by any means available to us. I feel that it cemented our friendship and made our eventual return to in-person visits so much easier than if we had not been in touch at all for a year.”
After a long year of not being able to see each other, this month they were finally reunited! “I can tell you that it is absolutely wonderful to finally be meeting in person again” Paula said. Jaiden said she was a bit nervous seeing Paula again as a whole year had gone by, but she is extremely excited to do some ‘normal’ things again like seeing Paula and walking her dog around the school grounds together.
Being reunited after the year of separation is one of Paula’s favourite memories of her match with Jaiden. “We were so happy to see each other. We were able to pick up right where we left off. We went outside on a beautiful day, she met my new dog, walked around and blabbed our heads off.”
Our mentoring programs provide youth with a role model and a friend to talk to and share experiences together, while supporting their healthy development. While there are opportunities to mentor a young person in community and in schools, the in-school program works well for Paula’s lifestyle and schedule. Paula had some words of advice for those thinking of signing up to be a mentor, “if someone is interested in spending time with a school aged child and developing a long-term friendship with them, I recommend the BBBS In School Mentor program. The process of becoming a mentor is thorough and the matches are well suited. BBBS is fantastic in staying in touch with the volunteers and extraordinarily supportive in helping with the match by providing materials to use during visits, Zoom tutorials, communication between mentee, family, and school. As a volunteer I have always felt well supported in my match and valued for what I am doing.”
We have many children on our waitlist who are looking for a mentor just like Paula. To learn more about how to become a mentor with BBBS visit our website bbbscolchester.ca to fill out an inquiry form or give us a call at 902-895-4562.