THUNDER BAY - For 10-year-old Kinsley Barrett and 12-year-old Abby Burshat, having that big brother or sister to lean on and spend time with has made a world of difference.
“It’s meant a lot to me,” Abby said. “I used to be very not confident about myself but now I have a lot of self-confidence and I’ve been getting more friends because I’ve been more confident.”
“It means a lot,” Kinsley added. “It’s been really nice to hang out with all the people at Big Brother Big Sister. They are so kind and they always listen to what you have to say.”
September marks Big Brother Big Sister month and on Wednesday, the flag of the organization was raised outside city hall with the new logo and branding on display.
Gladys Berringer, executive director with Our Kids Count, which took over the organization in Thunder Bay after it was going to disband two years ago, said the new logo highlights the three fundamental aspects of the program.
“The new logo is a whole new style that has three lines,” she said. “The three lines represent the three components of what makes the whole thing work. There is the family of course that is the first priority, the organization, and then the mentor. The three things come together to make the relationship work and ignite the potential of young children.”
Big Brother Big Sister has been helping youth gain confidence for the past 106 years by pairing them with volunteers from the community.
“They provide opportunities for them to learn and grow and for somebody to talk to,” Berringer said. “As we heard today, one of the littles said she has built her self-confidence and it’s given her opportunities that she might not have had before.”
“It really puts somebody in their court. It gives them somebody else they can look up to, that they can talk to.”
There are currently 58 children in Thunder Bay waiting to find their next Big Brother or Big Sister and Berringer said there is a desperate need for volunteers.
“The whole idea is to ignite some interest and get people willing to step up and willing to offer some of their time to not only change their life, but change the life of a child as well,” she said.
Lana Brennen said her life has changed significantly after she became a volunteer and met 11-year-old Marcia Maki.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” she said. “I benefit just as much as she does. We have so much fun out in the community. The benefits have been endless for us.”
“We have so much fun together. We do everything together, from pottery to taking my dog for a walk. I often feel she’s the one volunteering her time to hang out with me.”
For more information or to volunteer visit the Big Brother Big Sister website.