25 May 2020
Giving back - acceptance - growing together - fun and friendship - being valued.
These are the words that spring to mind when I reflect on what being a Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) mentor means to me personally.
When my mentee says ‘you can ask me anything’ I know we share a very special bond. It hasn’t always been that way.
Riley* used to be reluctant to talk about herself and her past. I accepted it would take time to build trust if she was going through internal struggles or had been let down before by other people.
I knew to be patient, letting our friendship grow and blossom over time. Our deeper connection comes from regular get togethers over weeks, months and years.
When we first got together it was all about shared adventures and different experiences like horse riding, making beautiful bracelets, baking delicious treats, an introduction to archery, beach walks and attending BBBS events to get acquainted with other mentors and mentees.
Gradually this has shifted. Being together and hanging out has become more important than what we do.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought us closer together with weekly Zoom calls. Now that some restrictions have lifted, we can return to real hugs and more shared adventures.
I find being a BBBS mentor immensely rewarding on so many levels. After almost three years together, we have become firm friends.
We can relax and be ourselves, knowing we are accepted, without judgement. We can open up, reveal our true feelings and have interesting conversations.
Giving back means growing together. Riley has brought youthful exuberance and joy-filled experiences into my life with lots of laughter. We share a love of language and playing with words, among other things. She knows I am her cheerleader and supporter.
Being accepted and appreciated by Riley and her wider family helps me feel valued.
I always feel uplifted after spending time with her and look forward to many more fun times together.
Here's a link if you would like to find out more about becoming a BBBS mentor >>> https://bigbrothersbigsisters.org.nz/
High Fives photo at BBBS archery event by Rachael Brown Photography
Riley* - real name changed for privacy