It’s National Volunteer Week and we’re celebrating the 13 million volunteers who contribute to the well-being of communities across Canada! This year, we’re sharing a couple of stories from volunteers in action. We reached out to Big Sisters of Lower Mainland BC and spoke to Zahra, one of their amazing volunteer mentors. Check out our conversation below.
Happy National Volunteer Week! Can you describe your experience being a volunteer mentor with Big Sisters of Lower Mainland BC?
My experience is personally satisfying in so many ways. I am able to spend time with my little sister (one-to-one) and be a positive role model in her life. Also, I have learned more about myself, both strengths and weaknesses. I have so much fun spending time with my little sister – she’s exactly half my age!
When you help others, you feel so good and learn about yourself too
Do you need special skills or experience to qualify for this role?
Big Sisters look for mentors who are kind, compassionate and able to dedicate time. In addition, they look for people who are reliable and committed; someone who wants to make a difference in a young person’s life.
How did you find out about Big Sisters and their volunteer opportunities?
I called Big Sisters to find out what the process was. I then went online and filled out an application after I finished University. I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of when I was in high school or even my first few years of University but didn’t have the time to commit 2-4 hours/week until after I graduated.
What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far as a volunteer with Big Sisters?
I met Shabnam when she was ten years old and she’s now turning sixteen in September this year. I’ve really enjoyed seeing her change over the years. She’s gained so much confidence, maturity and spark during the time we’ve spent together. Additionally, she is ambitious about her career and personal goals. I am constantly inspired by her zest for life and determination to succeed. I feel comfortable talking to my little sister about my challenges and value her opinion and advice she gives me.
What were you expecting when you signed up to volunteer? Was there anything that surprised you?
I was expecting exactly what I’m doing now, which is the ability to connect and support my little sister in any way I can. Over the years we have developed a strong relationship of friendship, trust and fun!
What advice would you give others who are considering becoming a volunteer mentor?
Go for it! When you help others, you feel so good and learn about yourself too. It’s a small commitment when you think about how much time you spend with your friends/family on the weekend or during a given month. My little sister and I meet every other weekend for 2-3 hours. That’s only 4-6 hours per month. You get to spend time with someone (your mentee) that appreciates you and wants to do fun things together! It’s just amazing!
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