Connecting with a community agency could be the difference between youth achieving their full potential versus navigating a lifetime of adversity, alone. Big Brothers Big Sisters across Canada serves as a lifeline, pairing children and youth with trained, caring adult volunteers, through mentorship.
When Karine Pomilia Gauthier’s family moved to Cornwall, her mother enrolled her in a local Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) core mentoring program to have a beneficial influence from outside the family. At the time, they were living in an abusive household.
That single decision has shaped her life tremendously. It was then that she was matched with Pamela, her Big sister. Thanks to Pamela, and the program, Karine learned much about herself and changed a lot. Though she graduated from the formal program, their relationship continues.
The long-term consistency of their 8-year supportive relationship helped shape Karine to become the strong, confident woman she is today. In contrast, she often thinks of peers who did not have the catalyst of a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor to ignite that same confidence. Karine credits Big Brothers Big Sisters with playing an immense role in her life professionally, academically, and personally.
Karine went on to be a founding member of the BBBSC National Youth Mentoring Advisory Council, a consortium of youth who provide leadership and representation on youth issues. She testified before the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector in 2019, sharing her own experience and expertise. Her advocacy and passion for mentoring led her to join the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Board in 2020.
“Each of these experiences has given me a new lens through which to view the value of this organization. Our board is dedicated to seeing diversity at every level of the network and learning from these different perspectives. That’s the only way we can truly represent and benefit the youth we serve,” says Karine. “The Big Brothers Big Sisters community – volunteers, agencies and partners – fosters individual relationships from which we all benefit,” she adds.
“Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, in any capacity, is an opportunity for you to become the person you needed growing up,” Karine proclaims.
Connect at bigbrothersbigsisters.ca to ignite the potential in children like Karine.