On Saturday night I was honoured to be the emcee for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre Wellington Big Night Out Gala.
This event filled my heart with gratitude for the community I call home. It restored my faith in people. Kindness exists. And there is much hope for the future of youth here.
It’s something exciting to witness the generosity of people from the vantage point of the stage, looking out over a crowd of people willing to support and invest in an organization that is dear to my heart. I know first-hand what Big Brothers Big Sisters can do, not only for the children who become “Littles,” but also the volunteers who, when matched with them, become “Bigs.”
Valentine’s Day marked my 26th Big Sister anniversary with my Little Sister, Morgan. Of course, with both of us being moms and working full-time, we forgot until Feb. 15. But the point is, we remembered the next day because, in our way, we will always be sisters at heart.
I cannot speak for every Big-Little bond, but in our pairing, Morgan and I became family. In a sense, we grew up together. I was a university student trying to sort out my future and she was an adorable five-year-old who just needed a buddy, another person in her corner.
I remember the first time I met Morgan. She hid behind the couch for a while, too afraid to say hello. That didn’t last long. We became fast friends. There wasn’t a single playground in our town that we missed or a cartoon movie we didn’t see. I spent countless hours colouring, playing Barbies and making crafts with her. I kept purple sunglasses in the console of my car that only Morgan was allowed to wear. We loved singing together on car trips. I do not miss the Spice Girls, but I do miss my little sister.
Morgan changed my life in ways she will never even know. I can only hope I did the same for her. I am sincere when I say being a Big Sister remains one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.
Morgan is now raising two beautiful children in Nova Scotia and, as a single parent, she prioritizes her family while managing a full-time career. This spring she starts college to pursue her dream to become a nurse. I was thrilled to be one of the first people she told about this achievement. I’m so proud of her. She’s battled through some big life challenges, and while it has shaped her, it hasn’t changed her essence. Morgan is resilient. She is strong. And in her core, she is still the beautiful soul I met 26 years ago. And lucky for me, sometimes she still needs her Big Sister.
Children need to know their place in this world matters. They need to be acknowledged and feel valued. Being a Big Sister taught me that you can give a child this foundation if you give them something as simple as your time – listen, engage, be present. It costs nothing. But the rewards are priceless. And one day, they grow up and stand firm in their place in this world on a foundation that, in some way, you helped build.
That is the power of Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s an honour to support the Centre Wellington chapter in all it does. But the real honour is continuing to be Morgan’s Big Sister.