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Recognizing our Volunteers

Nothing drives Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph like our volunteers -- the men and women who give up so much of their time to ensuring that the youth in our community receive strong mentoring, leadership and friendship. We couldn't do what we do without these amazing people!

Each month, our school-based team recognizes one Mentor of the Month and each year, BBBSG staff nominate and vote to select a single Volunteer of the Year. Below are some of our highlight stories.

Mentor of the Month

March 2017 - Amanda Osmond
Amanda is a long term In-School Mentor and has an incredible connection with her mentee. Over the past 5 years (and 3 different schools), Amanda and her mentee have forged an incredible bond. They both love seeing each other and plan to continue for the foreseeable future.

Amanda has developed a strong relationship with her mentee, which has led to trust and respect within the match. Her mentee feels comfortable being herself and sharing her thoughts and feelings with Amanda. They enjoy spending time together and having an hour each week to relax and speak freely and listen to music together.

Amanda has made an incredible impact on her mentee's life, just as her mentee has impacted hers. Their strong bond has made Amanda an important support in her mentee’s life, and given her a sister to look up to and trust. Amanda’s mentee commented recently that she genuinely considers Amanda her sister.

Past Mentors of the Month

February - Jasmine Apap
Jasmine has been matched to her mentee for 3 school years now. She has supported him through some very tough times and has been a beacon of hope when things changed drastically in his life.

- Jaden Blackburn
Jaden is a hard working co-op student who has recently completed her placement with BBBSG. She was placed at a local school and went there every afternoon to visit with a total of 8 mentees throughout the week and help in some of their classrooms. Jaden ensured that when she met with each of her mentees individually, she had enough activities planned and prepared to last the full hour she was with them. Her crafts were always well thought out and very resourceful; she turned paper plates into winter snowglobes and made Christmas lights out of her mentees' fingerprints! Some of her mentees didn't prefer crafts so Jaden did some amazing brainstorming to come up with activities that connected to each of her mentee's interests and give them a chance to talk and get to know each other better.In talking with Jaden's mentees.

Volunteer of the Year (2016) - Cassandra Abate

CassandraLauraCassandra Abate has been an in-school mentor with the same student since 2015. She has been an incredible support to her mentee, who is dealing with some very challenging situations. Cassandra has been incredibly reliable and dedicated to her mentee. She helps alleviate some of her mentee’s anxieties by talking about and trying coping techniques. Cassandra’s mentee says she’s easy to talk to, that she’s a great listener, and that Cassandra always has great advice. Her mentee also commented that Cassandra is “just awesome and it’s like she’s my real sister.”

Cassandra and her mentee have enjoyed a variety of interesting activities, including baking muffins, watching movies, playing board games, drawing, playing basketball, and chatting. This year, they both love to go outside and walk around the school while they talk about their lives. Cassandra is there for her mentee when things are going well, but also through the more challenging, darker times. No matter the topic, Cassandra always seems to know what to say to make the situation seem better and/or easier to deal with.

Cassandra has truly become a part of her mentee’s support system. She seamlessly integrated herself into her mentee’s life and has become one of the first people this young lady wants to confide in. When discussing the day and time Cassandra would visit, her mentee commented that she’d like Cassandra to come any time on Mondays because “Mondays are my least favourite day, so it’s something to look forward to.” Seeing Cassandra helps her start the week off on a positive note. Thanks Cassandra for being such an awesome role model and friend. You’re truly making a difference and helping your mentee thrive!

Volunteer of the Year (2015) - Kirsten Johnston

image2Kirsten, a former little sister with us, is now a big sister to Jasmine. Her outgoing personality has been a perfect match for “Jazzy”, who is typically quite reserved, but has really come out of her shell now that she’s matched with her big sister.

Kirsten and Jazzy have shared many many milestones together throughout their match: the opening of Jazzy’s first bank account, getting a library card, encouraging her to upgrade to academic-level high school courses, carving “minion” pumpkins at Halloween, applying for the CIBC YouthVision scholarship, going on numerous match outings (and always taking “selfies” together), participating together in the Big Little Run, and of course, meeting Justin Trudeau in Riverside Park to celebrate Canada Day.

They are an incredible match and Kirsten is the ideal volunteer. Kirsten, an employee at Linamar, was also selected as their loaned representative for the United Way campaign in 2015 where she went around to various workplaces in Guelph to promote BBBSG and the United Way, while sharing her story as both a ‘big’ and a ‘little’ and talking about the impact this agency has had on her entire life. She has been a wonderful ambassador for the agency.

Volunteer of the Year (2014) - David Piitz

Dave Piitz 3In November 2011, Dave moved into the Guelph area, having previously lived in a number of locations for work, school and personal reasons. It wasn’t until he found Guelph, however, that he felt like he really settled in. Moving to Guelph felt like home and provided a community where Dave could be active and give back. Big Brothers Big Sisters was an organization he’s always held in high regard, knowing other volunteers and seeing the amazing things that can happen in the lives of both mentors and the children who benefit from these friendships. It didn’t take long for Dave to make his way down to our local offices to inquire about becoming a mentor.
When it came time to match Dave with a child, one immediately jumped out at him; a young boy who, like Dave, was new to the area and had moved around a lot, struggling to find his place in the community. The two connected right away and spent three years playing sports, games and talking to one another. Dave watched him grow, mature and recently move on to high school.

Unfortunately, Dave’s mentee moved out of the city again, but that didn’t stop Dave’s commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters. He has since been re-matched with another child here in Guelph, whom he looks forward to growing with in the years to come.