Meet Matthew – June Mentor of the Month

Read our interview with Matthew, our amazing Mentor of the Month for June–kicking off the summer! He’s an incredible volunteer in our In-School Mentoring program, and his answers will show you why!

Q: Tell me about yourself.

A: Well, where do I start? My name is Matthew, I’m 23 years old, and I’m currently enrolled in college to become a Community Service Worker. Since my first experience working with children in a Waterloo daycare through my grade 12 co-op program, I realized that I love to work children and I was passionate about it; that’s when I made it my goal to pursue a career in this.

Q: How did you find out about BBBSWR?

A: I’ve always been somewhat aware of Big Brothers Big Sisters programs but I really discovered BBBSWR in detail from my personal life coaches that recommended it to me. I’ve always had my own Mentors in that sense, and they knew it would be such a great fit! I guess Mentoring has always been with me! That’s when I placed a phone call and found out how I could become a volunteer with BBBSWR.

Q: What program do you volunteer with here?

A: I’m a Mentor in the In-School Mentoring program, and I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve been volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region for 2 years now, and it really is the highlight of my week.

Q: What moved you to want to volunteer?

A: I’ve always wanted to help people, and that co-op program really showed me the importance of helping children and youth. I realized that I could make a difference to the local kids in my community through my own life coaches who recommended BBBSWR, and I didn’t even have to think twice before getting involved.

Q: What does mentoring mean to you?

A: Mentoring means seeing the positive impact I make on the children’s lives, and understanding how much they look forward to seeing their Big every week through the smile on their faces when I show up! It means I get to make a lasting impact on the community… I get to have fun and hang out with kids during the week, but that translates into the community for a really long time, it’s something they take with them.

Q: Why do you think being a part of the community is important?

A: That’s a tough question! I think that being part of the community is important because people find happiness in their lives through each other and having a sense of ‘togetherness’. Bringing people together is so important, and we’re a part of such a growing community in the Waterloo Region, and I want to contribute to that.

Q: What do you do on an average day with your little/mentee?

A: Typically, when I first get there we chat a little bit. We talk about how they are, then plan together what they would like to do. During activities like board games, soccer, catch, or tag, we talk about what’s going on in their lives and what they’ve been up to. Sometimes my Littles need advice, sometimes they’re in a really great place!

Q: What is your favorite thing about volunteering and why?

A: My favourite thing about volunteering really is seeing that I’m making a positive difference in their lives. It’s seeing the change in their body language and overall tone (like smiles!) from day 1 to the end of the program. Sometimes they’ll open up to you and trust you and you can just tell that’s something they’re not used to doing–it’s a really great feeling allowing kids to be kids! I get to see a real impact that the program has on the kids, through their increased confidence, happiness and smiles, and being able to open up and talk to somebody.

Q: What kind of skills do you think you are gaining while being a volunteer here?

A: I feel like I’m gaining skills in community leadership most importantly, but I’m also better improving my communication skills and relationship-building. I’ve definitely become more of a selfless person and kept the best interest of others in mind as well!

Q: What would you suggest to people who are thinking about volunteering but don’t know what to expect?

A: Honestly, when it comes to volunteering just go for it! It’s such an amazing experience. And there is no greater joy than seeing a positive difference in a kid’s life and seeing how much they grow and learn. Even if it’s a different program, if you have the time, you have nothing to lose–but potentially so much to gain!