Monday, April 11, 2005

My Aim is True

I come from extremely modest circumstances.
I’m the child of a single, immigrant mother and grew up in Parkdale, considered dodgy if nothing else, nicknamed “Crackdale” because of its reputation.
The fact that I have come as far as I have makes me feel blessed.
I had all the needed components to fall, but lucky me.

That’s how I feel sometimes.
“Lucky me”

Once The Mister and I established ourselves in a home, and my stepchildren were old enough that they didn’t need to be monitored all of the time, I decided that because I was blessed, I should “give back” in some way.
I wanted to volunteer.
I searched for somewhere that I could help.
I eventually settled on Big Sisters of Canada.
It was surprising to me to find out that Big Sisters is not about young girls with no mothers…it’s about young girls in varying circumstances who need support in some way.

Young girls at risk.
Girls whose parents might be mentally or physically challenged.
Single moms who don’t have time or energy to go to the mall, or bake cookies with their daughters…much like my mother was.
I found that I as a young girl was the perfect candidate for Big Sisters, but back then, who knew about such things?

When I applied to Big Sisters, I was surprised to find that the screening of volunteers took almost 6 months.
I went to workshops, and orientations.
My caseworker Jean, came to my house and interviewed me for 3 hours.
She interviewed The Mister.
The Mister and my stepsons had to have police checks done (as did I).
During my interview, Jean implored that if I decide to make a commitment to a young girl that I follow through for at least 18 months, and if I wasn’t willing…to please pull out now and not disappoint and abandon whoever I was matched with.

Jean, I came to find out over the years is a wonderful woman with a big, fat, huge heart.

Then, the matching began…I went to meet and greets, and met many young girls waiting to meet one that I “clicked” with.
It was another few months before I met Tiffany, who taught me more than I could ever have her.
Tiffany became a friend, and a part of my life…not a “volunteer effort”.
A beautiful young girl, with an admirable resilience, and bubbly personality despite the personal doubts and circumstances.
One of the things that surprised me though, was the attitude of some family members.
It was assumed that I was using my spare time for “strangers” rather than spending every spare moment I had with my mother.
It was assumed by some that I was “longing for my own child” and that was why I was doing it.
I couldn't possibly be doing something altruistically.

The truth is that my aim was true.
I felt that I had finally stopped struggling with myself and was in a position to “give back to the community”, to “do some good”.

In the end, I gained more from my experience with Big Sisters than I gave.

Funny that.