While not everyone is involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria and Area because of an adverse situation, they are all benefiting in more ways than one.
“It’s really fun because you’re not alone and you have someone to see all the time,” said Daniel Church, 10. “It’s super fun to have a Big Brother … Andy taught me to learn how to ride a bike.”
Daniel’s Big Brother Andy Lee joined the program because he thought it would be fun. “I’m retired and I needed something to do,” he explained, noting he and his wife don’t have any grandkids of their own.
“We spend most of Saturdays together,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful program. Big Brothers provides lots of support, lots of ideas for things to do.”
Daniel’s older sister Halley, 15, joined the program after it was suggested to her. “Now it’s just the best decision I have ever made,” she said.
Her Big Sister Rachel Klopp, 25, joined as a mentor while in her last year of university, looking to gain some volunteer experience. “I had looked at the program since I was 14 and I’d always wanted to be a part of it,” she explained. “I was a student when I started so it was a really nice break to go do something fun instead of just studying. Now it’s just my hobby.”
Klopp and Halley do all sorts of fun things together too, whether it’s spending time at the mall or going the movies.
“Sometimes it’s just us hanging out and chilling like you would with any other friend,” Klopp said. “We’ve gone to a lot of shows.”
She added they even went to the Nutcracker at the end of last year. “We get a lot of fun tickets and opportunities we wouldn’t [normally] thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters.”
But it’s an opportunity not all children get to have as there are roughly 120 kids on the wait list for Greater Victoria.
In 2017, Big Brothers Big Sisters served more than 700 local kids with the help of more than 400 individuals volunteering their time.
In the hopes of helping more local youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria and Area is hosting Bowl for Kids Sake, a fundraising event April 20 to 22 at Langford Lanes.
While space for bowlers is sold out on the Friday, there are still some slots open Saturday and Sunday. Organizers are also still looking for sponsors and auction items.
“We would love the community to know that their contributions truly changes lives,” said Eliza Gibb, Bowl for Kids Sake event co-ordinator. “Many families and children seek our services because they are facing adversities in life including mental health issues, family violence, or poor living conditions. With the community’s support, we are able to accommodate the needs of each child, lessen social stigma by focusing on resiliency, and offer the potential of a long-lasting relationship necessary for change, healthy lifestyles, and future success.”
Daniel and Halley’s mother Amanda noted the program has been nothing but beneficial for her kids.
“They needed positive role models in their lives … they needed that extra support they couldn’t get from home,” she said. “I could not have asked for better matches for my kids. I don’t want to imagine where my kids would have been without them.”
For more information on the event or Big Brothers Big Sisters, go to bbbsvictoria.com.