At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Giving Returns More Than Expected

My name is Jennifer and I was lucky enough to join the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Live Different trip to the Dominican Republic where we built a home and a Kids Club. It was truly a life changing experience and one I would recommend everyone do at least once in their life.

There were 22 individuals from across Canada (staff, volunteers and Littles) and we truly embraced the values and true spirit of mentoring on this trip. I have never been more proud to work for Big Brothers Big Sisters. One of the Littles in our group stated "Big Brothers Big Sisters has had a huge impact on my life; and I wanted to come on this trip to give back and make a difference in someone else’s life". Little did we know what an amazing difference the people we met would have on our lives.

The community we worked in was amazing. They live in very poor conditions and they don’t have much but what they do have is an amazing spirit, a sense of community and a sense of genuine happiness and what is really important in life. I believe they taught us more then we taught them. They were so welcoming, caring, gracious and just so appreciative of us being there and giving of our time. They came out in droves and worked alongside us and despite the language barrier amazing connections were made.

Your heart swells while being there as you are touched by what you see, the people you meet and the drastic difference in lifestyles. You truly get a sense of what is important in life and what truly matters. They live in a community where they have 6 hours of electricity a day, no running water and the majority have no indoor washrooms, fridges or stoves. What they do have is an incredible view on life, community and taking care of one another. They are appreciative of what they have and their lives and family. It was truly an eye opening experience and one that will stay with me forever.

I have been forever changed by this experience and I don’t see life through the same set of eyes I did before I went. I am more humbled, grateful, more appreciative and just forever changed. I am truly grateful to Big Brothers Big Sisters, West Jet and Live Different for this opportunity of a lifetime!

Jennifer Dalziel
One to One Caseworker
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel

We would love to hear how your family has chosen to give back to your community. It may even inspire others to do the same. While you are at it, why not share with us your #GreatestGift of the Holiday Season? What was your favourite holiday moment? What is your family’s greatest Holiday tradition? Tweet us pics, stories, videos of your #GreatestGift to @BBBSC or post them to our facebook page. It can be something simple. Just don’t make it about “stuff”.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What's the Greatest Gift? Friendship!

I have been lucky enough to know Omer Jerry Foisy for over forty years, and for that I would like to thank the Big Brothers organization.

Jerry and I have had many adventures over the years that I would not have experienced without him in my life. Over time, our families have intertwined to the point where my mother always considered Jerry her fifth child and his family was our family. We have shared births, deaths, first communions, graduations, marriages, and milestone anniversaries, among many other events in both of our lives. I have such respect and admiration for Jerry that I chose him to be the godfather of my son, Steve.

From the beginning, Jerry has always shown me the importance of faith, friendship, and family and the value of volunteering, all of which are very important to me today.

If I had not met Jerry Foisy, I don’t know how my life would be different, but I know it is better as a result of him always being there for me. We can go long periods of time without talking or seeing one another, but when we get together, it’s like we have never been apart.

I didn’t have a choice when Jerry showed up on our doorstep in 1969, but I know there was no better Big Brother for me.

Although I have never said it out loud, Jerry, I want to say I love you, and I thank you for being such a positive influence in my life.

by Jim Clendenning

Monday, December 1, 2014

All I want for Christmas is…SOCKS!

Seriously, I really like socks. I will wear a nice pair of socks until all the elastic is gone or until my toes start sticking out the end. Last year, my kids got me a few of the coolest pairs of socks for Christmas. This year, I’m hoping for more of the same. Nothing else under the tree for me, please. #Greatestgift

Everyone loves giving and getting gifts over the Holidays. Opening presents makes us feel special and reminds us of the excitement of being a kid. And who doesn’t love spoiling their kids with loads of presents? It is only once a year after all, if you exclude Birthdays, Graduations, Easter, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Canada Day, and all the random gift occasions in-between.

You don’t need to be reminded that gift giving, especially around the Holidays, is out of control. I’m not suggesting that we all stop giving gifts, but here is something to think about...

Countless numbers of kids we mentor across Canada will get next to nothing this Holiday season. They will go to school in January and feel alienated from their friends who will all be talking about their gift haul. You know these kids; they live in your communities. To be honest, gifts (or lack of) are the least of the worries these kids will face. They are being exposed to things no child should have to see. They are at risk of being ignored or forgotten. They are at risk of taking a negative path in life. They are good kids who deserve to have the opportunity to succeed.

Here is where the socks come in. For the past couple of years, our family has tried to put less emphasis on presents, while trying to encourage a conversation around meaningful things we can do for others. My two boys are three and six, and for them, there is no such thing as “too many presents”. They are at a naturally egocentric age, but it is also a great age to talk about kindness and compassion for others and to involve them in family decisions.

If your family hasn’t had a conversation around doing something meaningful for others this Holiday season, I hope you will consider it. Consider putting a little less money into the presents this year and instead discuss, as a family, where some of that extra money might go. The average Canadian holiday budget is just about $1,000 per person. The median charitable giving per person, on the other hand, was around $270 in 20121, and that was for the whole year! It doesn’t even have to be money. You can donate clothes or household items; you can get the kids to go through and pick out some of their old toys to donate; or donate time. By starting a new holiday tradition you can show your children (rather than tell them) that the Holidays are not just about presents.

Tell us about it. We would love to hear how your family has chosen to give back to your community. It may even inspire others to do the same. While you are at it, why not share with us your #GreatestGift of the Holiday Season? What was your favourite holiday moment? What is your family’s greatest Holiday tradition? Tweet us pics, stories, videos of your #GreatestGift to @BBBSC or post them to our facebook page. It can be something simple. Just don’t make it about “stuff”.

Finally, if your family does decide to donate, this is why we believe an investment in Big Brothers Big Sisters is the Greatest Gift you will make all year...

Big Brothers Big Sisters is equipping children in your community with the tools they need to overcome the challenges they will face. In doing so, we are helping young people reach their full potential. Our paid, professional caseworkers, across the country, are supporting important relationships between at-risk young people and volunteer mentors each and every day. Our mentors are not superheroes. They show up and they listen, and, in many cases, this alone can make all the difference in the world to a child who needs extra guidance and support. Donate.

Garner Beckett
Director, Development
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

1Statistics Canada - Charitable Donors