Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa

Honourable senators, this week we will have a chance to make a difference in a young person’s life by contributing to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa Buddy Up campaign. The formula for Big Brothers and Big Sisters is simple; it matches a “Little,” a young person from 6 to 16, with a “Big,” an adult who becomes a friend and mentor to this child.

In 2008, more than 1,000 children in Ottawa spent time and developed friendships with their volunteer mentors. Their friendships have been proven to help kids at risk avoid drugs and alcohol, succeed at school, feel better about themselves and get along better with other kids.

The Buddy Up fundraising campaign has a goal of raising $45,000 so that some of the 160 “Littles” on the waiting list can find a “Big.” They need 450 donors to give $100.

Honourable senators, when children have a “Big” in their lives, they have someone who will listen; someone who will respect them; someone who will ask, “What do you think?”; someone who will say, “Yes, you can,” and “I can help you.” This is the same all across the country with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I have been a big brother and I can tell you that “Bigs” get as much out of the relationship as “Littles.” I had great times with my little brother, a street youth from Saint-Henri in Montreal, in the early 1970s. I am sure he is doing big things now.

We all know that strong and healthy communities start with strong and healthy kids who are engaged in their families, schools and neighbourhoods. You can help make this happen by contributing today. I encourage all honourable senators to do their part by going online at www.buddyup.ca.

Incidentally, “Buddy Up” comes from the Chief of Police in Ottawa who is from Cape Breton originally. In Cape Breton, everyone is a “buddy.” That is where the idea came from, so “Buddy Up,” as they say.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa is a great organization that serves everyone, big and small, and contributes to a better city for all of us. Honourable senators, you can do the same thing, of course, in your own cities and constituencies.