Wednesday, 29 July 2015

My Mentor Is....

We asked some of our Littles to finish this is what they wrote! 

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Meet a Board Member: Chairman Bill Swan

 Bill Swan

When I sat down to interview the Chair of our Board of Directors, I'll be honest with you, I learned far more about him than I anticipated! The things I knew about Bill before I sat down with him were basic: he was a generous, easy-going retiree who lives in Port Perry with his English wife Rosemary. However, after our chat, I learned that Bill is a well-traveled, experienced businessman who's headed multiple non-profit endeavours in multiple countries.

Bill's professional background includes many years of successful leadership experience as VP of Sales and Marketing then President and CEO, from start-up companies to multinational organizations in the IT, Financial Services and Audio Visual industries.  He has lived Canada, the US, and England and conducted business in over 16 countries throughout his career. 

In the midst of his careers, Bill explained that he first started working with children/youth charities when he and two other local gentlemen started the East Sussex Motor Project in the south of England. The organization helped young offenders in trouble with the law through building and racing stock cars-- a positive outlet in which they could focus their attention, while being mentored by the volunteers involved. 

In 2007, after first living in Indianapolis, Indiana, then 17 years in South East England, Bill and Rosemary moved back to Canada and landed in Port Perry where Bill officially retired. Instead of slowing down, Bill joined several local organizations, and utilized his skills to help charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham, the Port Perry United Church, and the 1st Port Perry Scouts. 

Bill also started up and Chaired the Port Perry House Tour, which is going into its 7th year, and has raised over $60,000 for the YWCA, Joanne's House, Community Care Durham Scugog, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham. Bill is also VP of the choir at the church. 

When I asked Bill why he joined our Board of Directors in 2007, he said when he moved to Port Perry he was looking in the community for local organizations he could help out with, and Big Brothers Big Sisters just happened to be looking for people to join our Board. It was a win-win! After a few years as a Director, Bill was asked to be Vice Chair, and has held the position of Board Chair since 2013.

When he's not busy with local charities or the church, Bill and Rose like to golf, sing in Port Perry United Church choir, go to the movies, travel and spend time with their 3 children and 2 grandchildren.  

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2.  

Monday, 20 July 2015

Guest Blogger: Big Sister Lauren Walker

Written by Lauren Walker

What does it take to be a Big Sister?
Nothing special.

What kind of person can be a Big Sister?

What skills do you need to be a Big Sister?
Nothing in particular.

Will one day a week really make a difference?

    These are the questions I asked myself before I became an in-school mentor back in 2012. The lesson I learned was that you never know until you try. I always thought you needed to have some special quality in order to make a difference. Turns out all the skills you really need, you already possess.
                That’s the thing about spending time with a child. You’ll soon learn they are very accepting and only expect you to be yourself. You don’t need to wear fancy clothes or have a high paying job to share what you know. You don’t need to be any particular age to share your experiences. For me it’s as simple as taking the time out of your day to make a positive change. Every child needs a friend to talk to and to have someone listen. It’s really just as simple as that.
                Just imagine when you were a kid. How awesome would it have been to have someone like that in your life? We’ve all struggled. There were times we could have used a friend to help us. Being a child today is a lot harder than we realize. The world is ever changing and the one thing that can be a constant for these kids is you. The time you spend together is the one thing they look forward to because they just get to be themselves too.
                I wish I had become a Big Sister a long time ago. I waited and hesitated because I didn’t really think I could do it. I believe that change really does start with one person. It could start with you making that choice to do something like this. You really do have the power to change and impact someone’s life. Don’t hesitate. Just imagine that one day a week you spend will contribute to building a child’s self confidence. When they grow up they will look back and remember that you, a perfect stranger, cared enough to make time for them. They will remember that you believed in them. It takes one person to set a child on the right course in life.
                Everyone has the power to be a role model. It’s a ripple effect. When you make a positive difference in a child’s life, you will inspire them to do the same for others. It’s one small way of making the world a better place. It all starts with you.

Lauren Walker
Big Sister Since 2012 

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2.  

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Meet a Match: Mike & Jack

 Mike & Jack

Although on paper the two don’t have much in common, and there’s a significant age gap between the two Brothers, nothing has gotten in the way of Mike and Jack’s steadily growing bond over the past 6 months. Since Mike lives in Port Perry and Jack lives in Beaverton, Mike spends over 1.5 hours each week just going to pick Jack up and bringing him back home—a true testament to how Mike feels about Jack.

Mike says that since there’s not much to do in Beaverton, he often picks Jack up and brings him back to Port Perry, sometimes with his bike so they can ride around the side roads. Or they’ll walk Mike’s dogs, watch a movie with Mike’s family, or play at the park. Mike has also introduced Jack to many firsts over these last 6 months, including an Oshawa Generals game, a Blue Jays game, the Ontario Science Centre and the Toronto Zoo. “Jack loves the zoo,” says Mike. “His mom said he would probably go to the zoo every day if he could.”

 Though Jack has been exposed to a variety of new and different activities lately, Mike says he knows that Jack’s favourite is when they go bowling together. “His smile is from ear to ear the whole time and he gets really excited if he gets a strike or a spare.” When I ask Mike what his favourite activity is, he says, “Watching Jack bowl. He’s just so happy.” 

Over the past months, Mike’s noticed that Jack has warmed up to him a lot more than in the beginning. “He’s a lot happier when he’s with me now. He used to miss his mom soon after we left, but now he doesn’t.” Mike also adds that Jack loves to joke around with him, and he’s not nearly as nervous as he used to be. Although Mike doesn’t think that he himself has changed much since they’ve been matched, he admits acknowledges that he really looks forward to seeing Jack and spending time with him.

Jack has really taken to Mike’s family, too. Mike says that whenever Jack gets into his truck, the first thing he does is look in the backseats to see if any of Mike’s kids have come along for the ride. “He’s part of the family.” Mike and his family recently celebrated Jack’s birthday with a surprise party, complete with cake and gifts! 

Mike says that since they’ve met, he’s learned a lot about Jack and that he hopes with every visit he will learn even more!

If you're interested in learning more information about our mentoring programs, please call Cheryl Holmes at 905-985-3733 ext 2 or visit our website here.