Donna-Marie and Kelsey – Traditional Big Sister and Little Sister Story
Donna-Marie – When I first signed up to volunteer as a Big Sister mentor back in January, 2008 I never imagined where the journey would take me. I went through the interviewing process and by April was matched with the little girl who would end up having a huge impact on my life. After our first meet-and-greet together with her mom and our caseworker we planned our first ‘outing’ at my house. We kept it close to home just in case things didn’t work out well and she wanted to get back home quickly. Turns out Kelsey was in no hurry to leave that night. Little did I know then that twelve years later we’d still be together.
Kelsey – When my mom first signed me up to participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters, big-little match it was the most nerve-racking thing I had ever experienced. Getting matched up with a complete stranger? No thank you. I had the completely wrong mindset going into the meeting. Upon first meeting Donna-Marie I can remember whispering into my mom’s ear and saying “Mommy, I don’t want a big sister anymore, she looks like a boy”. I had a predisposition of judging someone before I even knew them. My mom told me to to give Donna-Marie a shot, so I did. The visits I had with Donna-Marie were always lots of fun! At the beginning I was nervous to go and hangout with her because she initially was a complete stranger…little did I know that stranger would eventually turn into my best friend whom I have formed a friendship with that will last a lifetime. Once I pulled myself out of the prejudice mindset, I was able to realize how amazing Donna-Marie really was. There have been countless times that we were having so much fun together that I would try and stall going home. Through our visits, Donna-Marie has always pushed me to express and explore my creativity. I am so very happy that I was able to overcome my nervousness to develop a forever friendship.
Donna-Marie – Since that first day, when a little six-year old whirlwind of energy swirled through my home, my life has never been the same as we have travelled through her early years, her tweens, and her teenage years.
Kelsey –From the first day I met Donna-Marie, my life has been forever impacted in the best way possible.
Donna-Marie – Together we have tried so many new experiences together – milking a goat as part of a fudge-making workshop, learning healthy recipes through a community food program, volunteering at events together, experimenting with numerous crafting projects, sharing a passion for photography, and many other fun activities. Through BBBSLC we were given the opportunity to attend local hockey games, Senators games in Ottawa, and numerous events including laser tag, community birthday parties, and Christmas parties.
Kelsey – As a match Donna-Marie and I have had the opportunity to experience many things together, though my favourite being the times when we would go out to the park, do photography and simply just talk about what was on our mind. It was times like that that I valued the most; nothing felt forced, there was no judgement, it was simply two individuals spending time together doing something that they both love.
Donna-Marie – While we’ve had a lot of fun over the years, we‘ve also faced different challenges as well. The lowest point was probably when I discovered Kelsey was contemplating ending the match. She was in her tweens and I was finding it a tough time to plan interesting activities together; she was too old for little kid games but not old enough yet for a lot of other activities. For me, the most important thing at that time had been to maintain a sense of consistency, so we were always meeting weekly even when we didn’t always have a specific plan for our outings. We worked through it though and we both came out the other side stronger for it.
Kelsey – With all amazing times comes the hard times. During our match there were a few times that I thought about calling it quits simply because I had hit that awkward age where I was too old for some activities, but not old enough for others. Visits became boring. Throughout these times Donna-Marie and I had, in my opinion, grown. Often times I would suggest an activity rather than just leaving it always up to her to come up with something. We each voiced our opinions and pushed one another out of our comfort zone. I believe if we hadn’t experienced such a low patch we never would have grown nor became as strong as we are today.
Donna-Marie – We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. When we were first matched, we both lived in the same town, then her family moved to a nearby community, then she moved even further away with other family before returning back to the nearby community. Our match was in jeopardy with the longer distance move but we worked it out to allow us to stay together. It took a little more effort to coordinate plans but again we persevered and found new ways to spend time together and fill in the times when we couldn’t always meet.
Kelsey – The challenges we faced as a match were definitely difficult, especially when I moved towns and wasn’t allowed to see Donna-Marie very often. I felt that this was one of the all-time lows in our relationship, our match was simply in jeopardy. Donna-Marie took this challenge of distance like a champ. I can remember a few times when we would go back to our original town and on the drive there I would be thinking in my head “Holy this is a long drive, how does she do this? Why does she do this?” No matter what, any chance Donna-Marie had to see me she would. She was so dedicated to keeping our match alive which had truly inspired me and taught me a valuable life lesson; “If someone truly cares about you, they will always make time for you no matter how busy they may be”.
Donna-Marie – Throughout the duration of our match, the supportive team at Big Brothers Big Sisters has been there to help us navigate our way through any issues we encountered. We’ve seen faces come and go over the years but we’ve always had supportive match monitors to guide us along. They helped us through our lowest patch, and were always there to offer advice about any concerns I had or difficulties that may have cropped up.
Kelsey – Throughout the duration of our match, the team at Big Brothers Big Sisters through match monitoring has been there to celebrate our highs and support us through our lows. In our time together, we have gotten to know many individuals who have come and gone but always seemed to leave an impact on our relationship in regards to the advice they would offer. Each match monitor has offered something different to our match that has further improved us as a whole.
Donna-Marie – It’s bittersweet to realize that we are coming to the close of our match. I know as the Big Sister, I’m the one in the mentoring role but in facing all the things we have together, she has taught me so much more about myself than I would ever have realized alone. One important thing we did together was to push each other out of our comfort zones which helped us both learn how much more we were capable of doing.
Kelsey – It honestly saddens me to think that our match is coming to an end. It is still so surreal to me that Donna-Marie came into my life approximately twelve years ago, has stuck by me to see, support, and care about me though everything. No matter how wacky I looked, how crazy I was, or how emotional I got Donna-Marie witnessed me grow up and develop myself from such a young age. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if it wasn’t for Donna-Marie.
Donna-Marie – Now Kelsey is about to head off to university and embark on her adult journey. While I can still see that little six-year old whirlwind in my mind, before me stands a strong, resilient young woman ready to face her next challenge in life with the same perseverance that has brought her this far already. Our match may have to end now but our friendship never will.
Kelsey – I cannot even begin to put into perspective how much this match has changed my life. I never thought that one individual could impact my life forever. I owe it all to Donna-Marie and the staff members at Big Brothers Big Sisters for everything they have done. Although our match will soon come to an end, I am certain that we have created a friendship that will last forever.