While some of us are hoping for new tools for the shop or fancy new kitchen implements for Christmas this year, some within the community are just hoping for a buddy to hang out with.
Tara Jordan, meanwhile, is hoping to add a few more names to one of her lists so she can take a few names off a different one.
Jordan is the Campbell River KidStart coordinator, and she says the holiday season is the perfect time of year to put your name down to become a volunteer big buddy for a child in our community.
KidStart has been the only mentoring program in the community since Big Brothers/Big Sisters had to close its doors 13 years ago, and Jordan has been at the helm since the program began. It’s been a frustrating 13 years at times, she says, watching the wait list grow and being unable to match children to mentors quickly enough to make a real dent in it, but it’s also super rewarding when things go right, she says.
“I spoke to a mom of an 11-year-old boy, who is nearing the top of our wait list yesterday, and she said something that really touched my heart,” Jordan says. “She said, ‘my son is was so excited when I told him it’s almost time to get his big buddy. He’s kind of given up on his dad. He’s been waiting his whole life for him to be a dad, and has just realized this year that it’s probably never going to happen. That he’ll probably never get off of the drugs. That he’ll probably always choose the drugs over him. The thing is, he just wants a guy in his life to be there for him, and he’s so stoked that he’s going to get that with KidStart. A guy, who could be grandpa aged, or a younger guy, who will be kind, consistent, take him to do stuff and show him how to do things most guys know how to do. It’s so simple but it’s so perfect. Thank you for doing this for my son.’”
Unfortunately, this mother’s story isn’t unusual.
“That’s pretty much every third kid on my list,” Jordan admits, “and this amazing kiddo is just one of 170 kids on that list who is yearning to have a big buddy in his life. I got to meet him in person last week, and he would win anyone’s heart over. He’s smart, funny, enthusiastic, kind and super engaging, and has been waiting for over two years to get a big buddy.”
It doesn’t take any special skills or training to become a volunteer mentor, Jordan says, and she does her best to try and match kids to mentor who share similar interests or goals.
“I had a kid tell me one time that all he wanted to do was build a fort on the beach,” she says. “And I’m not kidding you, the very next day I met a guy who told me about how when he goes to the beach with his buddies and they’re maybe having some beers and hot dogs around the fire or whatever, he’ll be over there building a fort and they’ll be making fun of him. Those two have been together for four years now. And they build forts.”
It only takes a couple hours per week – or every other week – and can cost as little as zero dollars.
“We actually encourage people not to spend money on their kiddo,” Jordan says. “We want it to be about time, because time is really the most precious gift you can give – or get. It makes people feel valued, and that’s one of the most important things in the world.”
But money can help in a different way, she says.
“You can fully sponsor a kid in KidStart for $100 per month,” she says. “But if we got a wave of people doing, say, $25 per month through the KidStart Champion Campaign, which is like $.83 per day, we could really grow this program and get all of these kids someone to be a really great part of their lives.”
You can find out more about the KidStart Champion Campaign or make a one-time donation online at www.jhsni.bc.ca.
For more information, call Jordan directly at 250-203-3111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org