BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Mentor relationships are incredibly important for both adults and children, and through agencies such as Big Brothers Big Sisters Lacombe, the true value of these relationships can be seen each day.
Recently, two local mentors, Gord Littel and Katie Camp, were recognized for their outstanding efforts as mentors and were named Big Brother of the Year and Big Sister of the Year. They were recognized, along with several other community members, during the annual Great Big Christmas Dinner gala, held in honour of the BBBS Lacombe and Blackfalds community.
Camp is matched with young Monique Hindman, 8, and the two have been spending time together for a couple of years.
“I wanted to volunteer but also wanted to be involved with kids. The idea of mentorship is very important to me. I think a lot of us have mentors growing up, even though we might not call it that. Those relationships are very important to kids, and it’s important for them to have a consistent relationship with an adult in their lives,” Camp said.
She added that it’s very special to her to have been named Big Sister of the Year and that she feels she gets just as much, if not more, out of the time she spends with Monique.
“When I was thinking about this, someone reminded me it’s the same time commitment I devote to Grey’s Anatomy. When it’s put in that context, you are reminded of how much better this program is than for example, spending an hour in front of the TV,” Camp said. “I come home in a better mood and I’m able to be passionate and thankful for other things in my life.”
Littel had wanted to be a Big Brother for a number of years and finally took the leap approximately a year and a half ago, when he was paired with 17-year-old Lucas Cameron.
Both come from households filled with women, so they both agreed it’s nice to have another guy around to hang out with, watch action movies and spend time outdoors with as well.
“It’s really nice to be able to have that ‘guy time’, where we just hang out and relax. It’s been great getting to know each other. I’ve wanted to be a Big Brother for years now and I’m glad I came around to doing it,” Littel said.
He added he was quite surprised to have been named Big Brother of the Year, as he’s been participating in the program for a relatively short time. Littel said he’s incredibly thankful for the time he spends with Cameron.
Cameron is thankful as well for his time spent with Littel.
“I’ve been in the program for about seven or eight years now. I’ve learned that it’s nice to learn new things and new skills and get to know new people. It helps being able to talk with new people and your mentor,” Cameron said.
“It’s a really good time and I consider Gord my friend, not my Big Brother. It’s nice to just have a day of the week to go and hang out with someone like that.”
Cameron added that Littel is a positive influence in his life and he’s thankful to have someone to spend time with and gain experience from.
Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations only ask an hour of time from each of their volunteers, but often the mentors step up above and beyond the necessary requirements.
Relationships and bonds are formed over time, with effort from the Big and Little teams, that make the program a success. Applicants are screened, interviewed and eventually matched with their ‘little’ and from these opportunities, families and friendships grow with each passing hour spent together.
BBBS Lacombe Executive Director Crystal Zens said all of the volunteers, as well as the families, are extremely appreciated in the organization and she is pleased to be able to host them all under one roof during the annual appreciation galas.
“This is the only night of the year where all of our volunteers, families, littles, et cetera are all under one roof together. We’re here to honour some very special mentors and supporters for their contributions made over the year,” Zens said.
“Gord is an incredibly committed volunteer and has done a great job mentoring with Lucas. He’s taught him life skills and has helped him in Lucas’ growth from a boy to a young man. Lucas has shown so much growth and awesomeness and is hard-working and dedicated, and Gord had a big impact in that growth.
“Katie has been matched with Monique for quite a few years, and she is also incredibly committed. She has such creativity and energy to give to that family. That’s such a great match. Katie is such a good support for Monique’s mom, and to our organization as a whole. She and her husband came up with an initiative on their own to raise money ($1,000) for our house and it was very meaningful.”
Zens said she truly sees the heart in both Littel and Camp and that they both are tremendously important for the role they play not only in the lives of their ‘littles’, but also in the organization as a whole.