Real Stories

Sharing REAL stories about REAL kids with REAL mentors, who are having a REAL impact for REAL change.

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“I volunteered as an in-school mentor.  There was no doubt I was nervous whether I would have a good relationship with my little and worried about what activities I would do to make the time fun and meaningful.  What I learned was my worries were misplaced.  First off, my teacher contact was there to help me get started and my little had been looking forward to having special time that was just for him.  The teacher gave me something to do in the first day, ideas for activities and the school gave me access to the gym, so all I needed to do was provide the energy and interest in getting to know my little.  What was cool about the in-school mentoring is that I got to do some of the fun things I remembered from my school years like building a volcano out of paper mâché and other fun things my little wanted to do like experiments with dry ice and helium.   I mixed the fun experiments with reading and some homework so finding things to do was never a problem.  I could see how my little was gaining confidence through telling and sharing a few experiments with the class.  The teachers and schools are very supportive and developing a relationship with a little was an opportunity to relive my youth.”

- Robert Markowski, Volunteer Mentor


Being a mentor has brought upon so many positive changes in my life. Mentoring has taken me by a landslide. Being able to not only support someone else but also healing my wounds by doing so has showed me a different perspective on life. It's a simple as playing basketball with my little, throwing around a football, watching a movie or simply having a conversation. Anyone can be a mentor. All it takes is a reply, or someone to lend out a hand if someone needs it. You don't need anything fancy to become a mentor; all you need to do is be present in someone's life. It doesn't have to come at a cost. You will truly find enjoyment and inner peace out of fostering a relationship with a little.


Starting out I was nervous as per usual. I decided to become fully invested in what I was doing. I was there for my little weekly because I wanted to be there weekly, even though the requirement is minimal. We had our ups and quite certainly our downs. Boundaries were pushed and we had our fair share of struggles, as all human connections do. With that aside, we have had so many fun times, shared laughs, and too many unforgettable memories to count. Throughout our time as a match, we’ve celebrated so many milestones. The most recent one being him completing his grade 8 school year on the honour roll! My little was given a certificate to prove it at his school’s award night ceremony recently. Proud moment for his family and I, as his big brother. This is among other things such as him starting out his amateur to professional boxing journey, being Mr. Popular at school and among his peers and building better relationships with the people especially close in his life. I am extremely proud of my little brother and all of his accomplishments he has made throughout our short period of two years together. We are no longer matched through this program as there is a lack of a need for it now, but we will always be friends. I will always be his big brother. I am excited to see what else my little will accomplish throughout the rest of his life!”

- Henry Grover, Volunteer Mentor

I was in the middle of a huge deadline at work; the time pressure was intense and my team needed me constantly. Overwhelmed, I picked up the phone, prepared to cancel my mentor meeting for that afternoon.

As my finger moved towards the first number, someone in the office coughed. It took me back to last week, when my mentee and I ran mini races to see who was faster. On the fifth race I bent over, exhausted and coughed. My little placed his hand on my back and said, “You’ve got more jets than I thought.” I broke into a huge smile. Sweat had never felt so good, and I remember coming back to work energized and more productive. Needless to say, I decided to still meet up with my little that day (and had a blast).

My mentoring time is always a morale boost – for me.

- Arif, Volunteer Mentor

*Names may have changed for privacy purposes

Like lots of people these days, I struggle with feeling overwhelmed, negative thoughts and the pressures of day-to-day life.

But these disappear when I give back. Little things, like learning how to skip rope, tie a slip knot, or bake a pound cake with my mentee is freeing. Leaning into the unknown with my little is comfortable and easy as we discover things together; she reminds me that the journey matters more than the end goal.

Mentoring has taught me that I am more than my own set of problems- I am a difference maker.

- Sam, Volunteer Mentor

*Names may have changed for privacy purposes

I’ve always detested food shopping. Making a list, navigating grocery aisles that are too tight, and always forgetting the one thing we needed most. It was always a chore.

A summer picnic changed everything. My little had heard about the Wimbledon tennis tradition of strawberries and cream and desperately wanted to try it. I decided to make an event of it and together we shopped for the freshest berries, just the right cream and the perfect biscuit accompaniment. It was wonderful.

As we sat together on a blanket stretched across the grass in our local park, we dipped our juicy red strawberries into homemade whipped cream. Seeing her eyes light up on the first bite, feeling the sun on my face, hearing the babble of the river not far from us, was incredible. That day, having a last-minute picnic with my little, I was reminded that food is more than just a chore, it’s a means to deep connection.

- Sarah, Volunteer Mentor

*Names may have changed for privacy purposes

“Over the last 2 years, mentoring has taught me to just be myself and focus on the things that inspire me to do better. The thing that’s great about mentoring is that you may or may not have the same interests, which pushes you to try new things. When I met my mentor, we had almost nothing in common, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good match. A good match doesn’t mean being the same or liking the same things. It’s about meeting new people and trying new things, new experiences, and learning from each other. Having a mentor has helped me understand that it’s okay to have fun and I don’t always need to be perfect at everything, but to try to have fun. Your mentor can help you with friend life, schoolwork, and personal issues that you may not want to talk to someone else about. Having a mentor like mine is one of the best things that I’ve gotten to experience.”

- Stella Idenouye, Mentee

“I truly believe ‘it takes a village’ and I’ve been fortunate that my children have had a range of diverse, positive influences over the years. One of these is through their involvement in the All in for Youth mentorship program and I couldn’t be happier with the growth my daughter has experienced.  

Even with the excitement of summer on the horizon, it was tough for her to say goodbye as the school year wrapped up last June. She was over the moon this fall when she learned that she would again be matched with her mentor from the previous year. During the time they’ve known each other, my daughter has gained insight into the importance of kindness, commitment, and the value of giving back to her community in ways that I feel are far more effective than listening to her mother preach about them. Her own leadership skills are emerging, and I credit her mentor for sparking that in her. As their bond has grown deeper so has my daughter’s confidence, dedication to learning, and compassion for others. It has been a joy to observe the power being a mentee has had on her. The development I have witnessed is far beyond any expectation I had going into this.  

I am extremely grateful for the time and dedication her mentor has invested into making a difference, and for the lasting impact it will have on my daughter.” 

- Holly MacQuarrie, Mother of Mentee Stella Idenouye

"Wednesdays were when my Big Sister, Germaine visited me at school. I did not think there was much significance in reading other than flipping through pages of National Geographic to stare at animals-or food. In fact, for a really long time, I thought my favourite children's book author was named 'Robert Munch' as I spelled it without the 's' for years. Having Germaine as my Big Sister changed my perspective. I remember going to the school library and looking for books after hearing about Germaine’s travels back and the places she visited with the hope of seeing them in person one day. Whether it is the three hundred books from Germaine that I accumulated in my room over the years, souvenirs, or the concept of board games. There are numerous things in my life that I hold onto so dearly now. Many of these things relate to my Big Sister, Germaine."

- Kathy Diep, Former Littler Sister

"Carol and Carlos have been matched for 8 wonderful years. While it’s not common for a Big Sister to be matched with a Little Brother, it is the only way Carol and Carlos would have it. As the two have been matched for such a long time, it is natural that they would sit and reminisce when asked about favorite times together–and yet the first time they met and drew evil monsters stands out as a top runner. As we sat on the couches of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Riverdale office chatting, the emotions of the match emerged as Carlos expressed how much Carol being in his life has helped him; “I actually feel like she is family.”

- Carol and Carlos

“My son being part of BGCBigs has helped him a lot. It’s built confidence in him. He’s learned so much and now he can stand on his own without hesitating that he can also be like the other kids. The biggest change I’ve seen in him over the years is in his maturity and insight. He used to focus on learning the English language, and now he’s focused on learning the meaning of life, and on living it.”

- Mother of a child in the program

“Eight months ago, I began my mentoring journey with my mentee. When I met her, I was excited because we had so much in common including making art projects, makeup, playing with animals, eating sweets, and spending time outside in the sun. We never seem to run out of new adventures when we spend time together and we always have something to look forward to. Being a mentor brings me fulfillment, laughter, and joy.

I always look forward to spending time together and it feels like getting to be a kid again. Spending time with my mentee is a great reminder to not take life too seriously, to enjoy the little things and to have fun!

- Teagan Roesler, Volunteer Mentor

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a mentor with BGCBigs is building on and improving my communication skills. When working with my mentee, we practice our goal setting, mindful expression, and active listening. My mentee has taught me how to attune my interactions with different people from all walks of life by listening to their needs and simply being there for them. These insights have already made such an important impact on my personal and progressional growth. I am grateful to get to learn beside my mentee!

- Emily Downey, Volunteer Mentor

The thing I enjoy most about being a Big Brother is seeing his huge smile when we first get together. I also enjoy the time we get to read together and play games.

I benefit from the meetings by getting a good laugh each week. His energy also gives me a good boost.

- Joel Milne-Epp, Volunteer Mentor

As a volunteer with BGCBigs, the most rewarding aspect for me is the opportunity to make a positive impact on a young person's life. Engaging in fun and educational activities with my mentee brings me immense joy, knowing that I'm contributing to their personal growth and development. Additionally, being able to promote safety, social skills, and a healthy lifestyle allows me to lead by example, fostering a supportive environment for my mentee to thrive in. Overall, the sense of fulfillment derived from being a BGCBigs volunteer is invaluable, enriching both my life and theirs as we navigate and grow together through shared experiences and meaningful connections.

- Bilal Khan, Volunteer Mentor

I enjoy being a BGCBigs volunteer because I am positively impacting my mentee after the three years we have been together. I enjoy learning new perspectives from my mentee as we are 10 years apart. Over the past three years, my mentee and I have done various activities around Edmonton and have had so many new experiences such as trying out sled hockey, going to the cat cafe, Petland, Oil Kings games, seeing A Christmas Carol etc. Another great thing is that BGCBigs sometimes gives out tickets for matches such as Oil Kings and A Christmas Carol which takes our outings to a whole new level!

By being a volunteer, I get a lot of personal fulfillment as I know that I can make a positive impact on my mentee. It provides me with a sense of purpose as I know that I am making a difference in someone else’s life. Over the past three years, I have recognized my personal growth as I have learned new things, expanded my horizons, and gained a greater understanding of myself through volunteering.

- Hailey Mutsemaker, Volunteer Mentor

I have been a Big Sister for three years now, and while each year flies by even faster, it is amazing to see my mentee grow and learn! Becoming a mentor is a unique relationship where you learn interesting things from each other and explore places out of your comfort zone that you'd never experience otherwise. I knew this could only be a great initiative to take part in. She and I are fixated on trying new food and going to new places, whether going to Fort Edmonton Park for the day or trying a cool breakfast spot in the area.

I am still surprised at how much I have grown within this match, and I am excited to see where our match will go in the future. I highly recommend this program to anyone! As a university student, hanging out with my mentee and finding time to do something fun and relaxing ultimately allows me to give back to the community and do my part. Becoming a Big Sister has definitely made me a better person."

- Suhana Samshood, Volunteer Mentor