For 40 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria has been helping in communities from Sooke to Salt Spring Island. Because of this support, thousands of children and adults can name a person in their life who made a positive and lasting difference. And that includes 12-year-old Julien, who’s had a big brother for two years now.
Deepak Jaswal, Julien’s big brother, approached the non-profit agency in 2015.
“I thought it would be a really good opportunity for me to really make a big difference in a child’s life,” says Deepak.
“As a ‘big,’ your role is to really build a strong relationship with a child so they can really reach their full potential, and I thought this was something I could do to help a child within my community.”
Deepak and Julien hit it off right away.
“I’m always outside,” says Julien, “Like, 15 minutes early, waiting for him.”
“We do a lot of different things,” says Deepak. “We like to play different sports: soccer, basketball, hockey. We also play a lot of different board games, chess, and Scrabble.”
Jesse Peel is a mentoring coordinator with BBBS of Victoria.
“Research shows that children who have a mentor tend to do better in school, tend to have more self-confidence” says Peel.
His role is to support big and little matches, which entails “doing lots of checking in, making sure things are going well with our matches, making sure that the volunteers have everything that they need.”
It costs the agency $1,500 a year to find and support a match, but the impact on that child is huge.
“Every dollar that’s invested in Big Brothers and Big Sisters, you get an $18 to $23 return on it in our community, because we’re just making sure that kids are getting the assets they need to support their growth and their development,” Cindy Tomnuk, manager of development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria said.
Tomnuk says there are many ways the public can help support those children.
“You can be a volunteer, you can be a donor, you can donate your clothes, or you can just call our agency to ask how you can help us,” Tomnuk said.
“I would highly recommend this program to anyone who’s interested in bonding with kids” adds Deepak Jaswal.