“I make a difference in someone’s life and, in turn, a difference in my community and, in turn, our future.” Denis’ life experiences have sparked his volunteer career with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region as a Big Brother, to be a good role model for youth.

He began to volunteer as a Big Brother in the One to One program, 19 years ago. The One to One Program matches a Big and Little together, providing young boys and girls with a role model and friend to communicate and share life experiences with. The pair meets for a few hours a month over the course of a year.

Giving back to others through mentoring has become such a key part in Denis’ life, “[mentoring] means that I am developing a special relationship with a boy that will have an impact on his life. It means sharing quality time with someone and teaching them life skills.”

The Mentor to Mentee is an exceptional bond between Big and Little. Denis’ friendship with his little is no different, “my favourite thing about volunteering is being able to help make a boy feel wanted, welcomed and special.  To make him feel safe and to know that he has a friend in me that he can trust.”

“I can see how my mentee has become more comfortable with me over our time together.  He has opened up a bit more and is sharing feelings openly now.”

Actively participating in his community is the way Denis likes to spend his time, “I’d prefer to live where people in the community are interacting with one another in a positive way.  This promotes young people and others to perhaps do the same so that they can feel supported and have a sense of belonging in their community. It promotes a richer environment for us to live in and greater openness with and acceptance of others.”

Denis would like to suggest to those who want to volunteer as a Mentor to “put yourself in the shoes of the Littles on the waiting list who are often waiting years for a Big. You’ll be able to share stories of your life that can leave a lasting impression or stimulate thought. If you can’t commit to a bigger role, become involved in a small way, [with programs with less time commitment]. After volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you’ll want to volunteer in other areas within your community.” – Denis, Big Brother

Changing the course of young lives