Written by Mallory Smith
Making the choice to switch from the In-School Mentoring (ISM) Program to the Traditional Big/Little program was presented to me at a time in my life where I felt as though I had no direction. I was a struggling graduate (like most are these days) and I was moving from quaint Port Perry into the budding metropolis of Toronto to live with my boyfriend. I was flat out terrified. I remember my Mentoring Coordinator calling me and saying that I couldn't continue with ISM if I lived so far away, so I had to decide if I want to become a full-time Big Sister to Alora.
Having been a big sister to three other awesome siblings since the tender age of 2.5 years old, I knew what this meant. I knew it meant a life commitment. You don't just tell a sweet 11-year-old girl that you'll be her Big Sister and then bail on her 6 months later. If you say it, you have to mean it and it you have to mean it for life.
I'm sure that some people would say I did a beautiful thing by becoming Alora's big sister. I took time out of my life to give something to her that she was lacking... but that's not really the way I look at it. At a time in my life, where I had no direction, I was given the choice to become a major influence on someone and in turn, being that influence, helped me on my own path in life. I know I've made an impact on Alora, but by being impactful, she in turn has made an impact on my own life.
I am at the age where I remember 16 years old as if it were yesterday but have 13 more years of wisdom behind me. I'm pregnant with my first child and as those mothering instincts kick in they mesh together with the remembrances of being a vivacious 16-year-old girl and I'm able to provide Alora with a perspective on the traumas, turmoil and adventures of the day-to-day life of being 16 without sounding 100% like her or sounding 100% like her parents.
We are unique in that we do not spend much time together. Distance, schedules and Alora's lack of mobility from Port Perry to Toronto (she will get her license this year though!) have stood in our way for some time, but it doesn't seem to make a large impact on how we move forward with our relationship. We have both played large roles in each other's lives since we were first matched. I went to Alora's grade 8-graduation and saw her win an award. Alora was a bridesmaid in my wedding and helped to plan the bridal shower. Alora will be an aunt to my new baby and I'll help her fill out applications and prepare for university/college. She reminds me to be young and I remind her that growing up, while hard, is totally worth it in the end!
Being a Big is not just about what you can give to your Little; it’s also about what your Little can give to you.
If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2.