Sister’s Life Changed by Big Sister

Full credit for this story goes to Craig Sebert and Niagara News, circa 2006.

Aurora Anderson-Short says she loves her big sister, and they are not even related.

Since she was six, Anderson-Short, now 13, has had an adult mentor from Big Brothers Big Sisters. For the past two years, Bev Newton has been her Big Sister.

“I love having her as my Big Sister,” said Anderson-Short.

“We have so much fun together.”

Anderson-Short says she isn’t the only one in her family with a mentor from Big Brothers Big Sisters. “My two brothers have mentors of their own,” she said.

“We are a family of little brothers and sisters.”

Newton, a hotel manager in Niagara Falls says she became a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters about 10 years ago on the advice of a friend.

“It is a wonderful organization,” she said

“There is a real need for volunteers to do this sort of thing.”

The two got paired together based on their hobbies and personalities. As far as the two are concerned, it was a perfect match.

“We go great together,” said Newton.

“She is a very caring and considerate person who I am happy to be with.”

Newton says they spend about four hours together once a week.

“We do so much together,” she said.

“We love doing a variety of things.”

Anderson-Short says they paint, do crafts, go bowling, go to baseball games, sop, watch movies, eat chinese food and hang around.

“There is never a dull moment with us,” she laughed.

Her favourite part about having a mentor is being able to forget about everything and just be able to relax.

Newton says she is very proud of her little sister, and is pleased to see her mature over the two years they have been together.

“She is such a good spirited person and she likes to do things that don’t cost a lot of money,” she said.

Both agree the only bad part about their situation is when their schedules don’t work and they can’t meet.

Anderson-Short says she will definitely become a Big Sister when she gets older, and will still keep in touch with Newton.

For children and youth who haven’t gotten a mentor yet, Anderson-Short says you will have quite an experience ahead of you.

“You are going to have the best time of your life,” she said.

“Your life will change.”

Back to 80in80

A Match Made in Thorold

Original story by Becky Day and all credit goes to Thorold and Niagara News, circa September, 2009.

Ryan Day met Jacob in October 2007. Growing up, Ryan always had a positive male role model to look up to and he knew he would want to help young people some day.

“I wanted to do something to give back.” Day said. “Being a Big Brothers has given me a real look at the impact a positive male role model can have on a young boy. I can visibly see how excited Jacob is when I arrive to pick him up, and that alone makes it worthwhile.”

Day first began with the St. Catharines, Thorold & District agency when he was a student at Brock University and living in Thorold. While most most kids only focus on studies and socializing, he also became a Big Brother.

A full time student that works and volunteers a few nights a week for his church, Day has made time to spend with his Little Brother, Jacob.

“It takes a little effort to make a huge impact.” Day said.

“I’m very busy but it is one more thing I work into my schedule. I make it a priority.”

Both a little nervous for their first meeting, the pair now spend at least an hour a week together skating, going to movies, playing baseball, riding bikes and tobogganing.

“I like playing” said Jacob on why he likes spending time with Ryan. “You get to do more stuff.”

“He’s a fun kid to hang out with.” said Day. “It’s very rewarding to hang out with someone that needs it. It’s not a big time commitment and much of what we do is free.”

“They might not have anyone close to play with and someone to talk to.” said Jacob on why more people should consider Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“There is plenty of opportunity for anyone who wants to get involved in mentoring a child and making a difference in their lives to do so.” said David Hutt, Big Brother caseworker. “There is a need for volunteers like Ryan who can make the commitment to make a life-lasting impression on a child.”

“We also know that there are more children out there that could really use a mentor and we hope that getting the word out regarding some of the positive impacts our programs are having will inspire not only potential volunteers, but also parents or guardians of potential ‘Littles’ to make that call.”

Back to 80 in 80!

Something Something Productions’ Theatre Camp

One of the most important things we can do for children on the wait-list for a mentor is make them still feel like they’re part of the program – that they’re not alone. The time between joining our program and being matched with a mentor is called the “wait-list” and it can be a very difficult and stressful time for families.

This is why Something Something Productions, a local theatre production company based out of Niagara-on-the-Lake, decided to step-up and start a theatre camp for children on the wait-list.

“One day I was just thinking how Niagara could benefit with a theatre program that is free for children to gain self-esteem, theatre skills, build relationships, and feel like they are a part of something special with the cost of zero dollars.” said co-founder Rob Burke.

“I am good friends with Adam Maiolo and he chose BBBS for the Zelda Marathon. I felt like BBBS would be a great organization to create something special like a theatre program as well. I approached Dina Mavridis about the idea and she fell in love with it. We both came together and created the program. We also had the help of others like Stacie Primeau to make it happen.”

“We rehearsed once a week on Saturday’s from 10am to 1pm. Second year we did it on Sunday’s. We would do drama games that would allow the children to have the opportunity to build social skills, theatre skills, and to be creative without any judgement of others. Each year we put together a showcase that had songs, skits, and presentations of the games that the children worked on. One year we did it around the Holiday’s so we sang traditional Christmas songs, skits, and games as well. Each year we had about 12-15 children each year. The program ran for two years. We were able to perform out of a church on stage in Port Dalhousie. We could not believe the talent that the children had each year. We observed children who were shy from the beginning and became very outgoing.”

“The changes were so significant and huge from beginning to end. The confidence in the children grew as the weeks went by. The children were able to let themselves go and become characters. We had children who were shy when they first came in and when it came to the showcase performance, they were ready and showed their families how important the program is to them. Parents would come to us and explain how their children are so excited to each week. Each year the children bonded together and it helped their social skills and self-esteem. At times we had children who did not want to perform on stage in the showcase so Dina taught them about stage managing, props, and costumes. Some of the children wanted to be a stage manager and stage hands. Everyone was included no matter what. At the end of each year, we could see the changes in the children and how much it meant to them to be somewhere where they felt safe, a place where they belong, and a place where they could perform for their family members.”

To learn more about Something Something Productions visit

Back to 80in80!

Meet the faces of the wait-list.

When we talk about the wait-list, it’s often thought about as an abstract concept. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but the hard truth is that behind every number is a real child who is desperately in need of a mentor in their lives. As part of our Tim Hortons Bowl for Kids Sake campaign, we wanted to introduce you to a few of the children and youth who are currently on our wait-list, and what their dreams and interests are. Your dedication and commitment to helping us hit our $80,000 Bowl for Kids Sake goal will help us take kids like Eva, Justin, David, Hunter, Haileigh, Isaiah, Alina and Kieran off the wait-list and match them with a mentor who could change their lives forever.

Hover your mouse over their face to learn a bit more about each of them!

Register your team today at to help #EndTheWait

Joe Carlomusto and The Golf Classic

Joe Carlomusto has been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Catharines, Thorold & District for over 25 years.

“My good friend, Roger Segalin, who was on the board at the time got me involved and introduced me to Peter Saracino, who was CEO at the time.”

It didn’t take long for Joe to make an immediate impact.

“I served as President of the board from 1993-1998. Some of my fondest memories are being a Big to several boys whom I felt I helped mold into very nice young men. I was able to help them interact with my 2 sons and felt it was beneficial for all involved. I learned more about what the agency did and it helped to become a better board member, as well as understand what the Bigs and Littles were going through and how much our service was needed.”

One of Joe’s earliest accomplishments was the Capital Campaign that allowed our agency to move into our current building.

“Initiating and helping with our Capital Campaign to move our location from King St to Niagara street is a fond memory as well as a very gratifying one. It was a proud moment for everyone involved.”

By far, Joe’s biggest impact and living legacy for our agency is the annual Charity Golf Classic, which just celebrated its 25th year.

“Starting our golf tournament 26 years ago is also another fond memory going from earning $3,000 in our first year to now earning $50,000 for our programs and agency. Peter Saracino, Bob Miller and myself were the 3 people who spearheaded our first tournament over 26 years ago. We have a great committee and each year we have expanded our contributors. People understand the need for our programs and we’re no longer an agency who only does one-on-one matches. All of our programming has expanded and the need for more fundraising is critical in the evolution of our agency at this time. It is critical to the continued growth and servicing of our youth and all the boys & girls on our waiting list.”

As it turns out, helping Big Brothers Big Sisters runs in the family.

“My son Joe Jr has been on the (Golf) committee for several years and is a big help to me and all of the contacts we have and we continue to expand our reach. Eric, my younger son, has played in the tournament for many years and continues to make & donate the signs for the golf course sponsor, as well as other special signage.” Says Joe.

“When they were younger, they remember to 2 littles I had, being a Big Brother and they were very supportive and welcoming when I brought them into our home and they also came on some of the outings we had planned together.” Continued Joe.

Back to 80in80!

Little Sisters with Big Dreams

Tricia and Jennifer have had the chance to live one of life’s rarest and treasured experiences – growing up as twin sisters together. Their lives have shared many parallels, not the least of which was getting to go through the Big Sisters program together.

“There were always fun things to do.  When we were matched, we always had someone we could count on to be there for us, someone to talk to and understand us. Being twins it was difficult always being compared and doing the same things.” Said the sisters.


Tricia and Jennifer Howard with the Big Sisters.

“Our time with our big sister was special because it was our time to be apart, to have someone that was only focused on me, my special time away from my sister. When we got to go together, with my Big Sister and my twin it was like a special outing and a celebration. We absolutely loved being together, but we also loved bragging about the different things we did that were special.” Added Tricia.

Tricia and Jennifer were also both recipients of the Brock University Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara award, which had a huge impact on their lives and careers.

“It was instrumental in us achieving our goals, without it we would never have been able to achieve this goal both financially and emotionally. It gave us the ability to be able to enjoy the experience (University) without added stress of never being able to meet financial obligations. As well as the feeling of encouragement from community support. We always had someone that truly believed that we could do it which inspired us to make sure that we lived up to the vision they saw in us!”

If you grow up together, become Little Sisters together, win awards together, and go to post-secondary school together – what’s next? Working together of course!

“We are both very excited to report we both have successfully been employed with full time contract teaching jobs through the Halton Catholic School Board!”

How did their time in the Big Sisters program influence their career path?

“We love to help under privileged children and feel a special connection to those in need and feel that stems from our history, we are so thankful for the support and encouragement from Big Brothers Big Sisters through so many obstacles throughout our growing up. No matter what, we could always count on their support. They helped us to be resilient even when we faced such difficult times in our lives. They gave us a good role model; someone to look up to…someone that came from a more privileged background than we had- more money, better clothes, a strong and happy marriage. Our Big Sisters gave us hope that there were people out there that lived happy without struggle and that could be us one day. They helped give us the tools we needed to be successful, to help others, to be patient and to be kind.”


Tricia and Jennifer Howard with Big Sister, Karen.

To this day, Tricia and Jennifer are still very close with one of their Big Sisters, Karen.

“We are still very close, her kids are my nephews and we hangout all the time just like family.” Said the sisters.

Back to 80 in 80!

Alec and The Zelda Marathon

Alec Jones was just your average teenager, dealing with what most teenagers deal with: school, homework and a part-time job. The last thing he expected was a cancer diagnosis, but it inspired him to do something positive. Alec held his own Zelda video game marathon to raise funds for charity.

“The first Zelda marathon I did on my own was inspired by my journey through chemo. During the process of battling cancer, I was privileged enough to have video games to keep my mind off the illness. I was young enough at the time to attend Sick Kids, yet old enough to choose not to go. I decided not to go to Sick Kids as it would not give me the ability to continue my studies at Brock during treatment.” said Alec.


Alec during his solo Zelda Marathon at Pet Valu.

The comforts of home during treatment was something that was not lost on Alec, and he knew that many other children were not as fortunate to have those same opportunities.

“After I was cured, I got to thinking about all the kids at Sick Kids that may not have the same distractions as I was lucky enough to have. It was then I decided to hold a fundraiser to get the children new and updated video games. The marathon went on for 7 straight days, with an hour or two in-between for me to shower and get a few minutes of rest. It was held at my work (pet valu) and I stayed there around the clock, other than cleaning up.” said Alec.

"After I was cured, I got to thinking about all the kids at Sick Kids that may not have the same distractions as I was lucky enough to have. "

A video game marathon is an event which runs around the clock, 24/7 until a set list of games has been completed. Typically, the event is broadcast online so that anyone can tune in and donate. Here’s the thing – marathons are usually a team effort. Alec decided to do this one solo.

” It was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. The first few days seemed to go by very easily but when I was coming upon the third day, I could feel my body was not running at full capacity. I took my bathroom and stretch breaks during the cut scenes which became more frequent as I got further into the franchise. I had to keep moving around not only to stay awake but also to stop my body from cramping up. I was also lucky enough to have a coffee shop near by and friends and family willing to bring me drinks and food.” said Alec.

Like all things, a life-changing event can often change a person’s perspective on things. The importance of the Zelda franchise to Alec was no exception.

“I have always been a Zelda fan for as long as I can remember but I have to say it was all timing. When I got sick, the Nintendo 3DS had just come out and I got Ocarina of Time 3D for the system. I played it while I was getting chemo and at home to pass the time. This game already had a nostalgic feeling for me but now it had a deeper meaning. I felt like it would also be a great series to do a marathon for because it was an eye-catching series that many people could relate with even if they were not a gamer.” said Alec.

Since 2009 a group called Penguins Marathons have been running an annual holiday Zelda Marathon in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Catharines, Thorold & District. They have raised over $80,000 through these video game marathon since they began. Alec would soon become the newest ‘Penguin’.

" I was super excited to hear that there was a group of people who were doing good with video games."

“I was introduced by a friend of mine who had been a long-time viewer of the Zelda BBBS marathons. I was super excited to hear that there was a group of people who were doing good with video games. I watched some of the Youtube videos that they had up, and I knew right away that these people were great.” said Alec.


Alec at The Zelda Marathon in support of BBBS, with fellow 'Penguins' Rayna and Millie

“After I had watched a few videos and realized that this group was something I wanted to be a part of I decided to contact them. I contacted Adam who organizes the marathons and I game him my marathon history and asked if I would be able to be involved in some way or another. It wasn’t long before the next marathon came along, and I was invited to come join in.” continued Alec.

And how has that experience turned out for Alec?

"Honestly it has been one of the best experiences I have had. I was nervous going into a group that had been together for so long, but they welcomed me with open arms."

Every treated me as if I had been there since day one and made my first marathon so much fun that I asked if I could continue with the work they do. I have made some great friends that are now apart of my life and I could have asked for a better gaming family. Every year I am excited to see the next marathon schedule and reunite with my gaming family for a really good cause.” said Alec.

The Zelda Marathon 9 takes place on Friday, December 15th at 7 PM EST and can be viewed live at

Back to 80 in 80!

Daniel and Jeremy

All credit and excerpts from this story go to Cathy Pelletier and Niagara This Week. Article published Friday, January 28th, 2005.

When 10-year old Daniel Sutherland of Thorold met Jeremy Smalley, it was a Big day for both of them.

“The only boy in the family.” according to his single mother, Nancy, and an only child. Daniel says he was lonely before meeting his Big Brother. “After my father passed away, I felt Daniel needed a good male role model,” says Nancy. “I knew (Big Brothers Big Sisters) had a good reputation.”

Jeremy finds it rewarding watching Daniel grow up: being his “father figure.”

“We have taken to each other greatly,” says Jeremy. “It can be as simple as taking the dog for a walk. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive.”

"Working in a juvenile detention centre, I see a lot of kids who don't necessarily have positive role models and I see the bad choices they make. I really wanted to influence someone who's at that critical stage."

“It’s great to hear how we affect their lives.” says CEO, Dale Davis. “We have an army of volunteers who are the backbone of this agency.”

Jeremy, who sometimes accompanies Daniel on school trips, says Daniel often asks “What’s going to happen to me when I turn 16? Are you going to say goodbye?”.

“Daniel’s great. It’s a lifetime experience. I don’t plan on ending it.” says Jeremy.

Back to 80 in 80!

Phoenix: A Crown for Confidence

As part of our 80 in 80 campaign, we spoke to Phoenix Norris, and her mother, Julia. Phoenix has been a “Little” with our agency for over half of her life, and she has recently begun to branch out into public speaking. A topic that is close to Phoenix’s heart is instilling confidence in young women, which she had the privilege to do at the Women Economic Forum in New Delhi, India in May 2017. We spoke to Phoenix and Julia to find out how that opportunity first came about, and what has inspired Phoenix along the way.

To view Phoenix’s full speech, visit:…

Back to 80 in 80!

Aly and William

“The Big Brother Program is remarkable!”

A Big was sought for my son Aly as he did not have regular, consistent involvement with his dad. Aly does have two older brothers both embarking on careers and marriages. Aly was very close to the second eldest and felt abandoned when he left home. To add to that, we had to move too (Aly was three at the time). Aly did not speak until he was past three years old and experiences behaviour problems. Aly did not initiate any conversations and when he was spoken to; he spoke in a soft voice, never made eye contact, or used one or two word responses. Aly was in the care of a psychiatrist until recently to try to resolve some of these issues. In January of this year, the doctor noticed a great change in Aly, so-much-so that he no longer wants to see him. He asked what had attributed so significantly to this change. We acknowledged Aly’s involvement in the Big Brother program and he whole-heartedly agreed.

Aly’s marks have climbed, and he looks forward to showing William his achievements and his grades. Aly now initiates conversations. William always encourages Aly.

I have found that I now have time to myself to do something or absolutely nothing.

What I have noticed of late, the pride and confidence that Aly exhibits in all aspects of his life. The most significant milestone is that I no longer have to field questions about his father’s lack of concern or care for him (William has never disappointed Aly).

Aly is a very caring and compassionate little boy, and we couldn’t have asked for a better match in William. This was initiated with the caseworker while Aly was on the waiting list.  The caseworker spends time with the Littles and this allows him to have insight into their character and personality which matches such as Aly and William’s so successfully!

Yours Truly,


Back to 80 in 80!

Darcy and Rebecca: ‘Big and Little’ Sisters blossom into true friends

All credit and excerpts for this story goes to Don Fraser and The St. Catharines Standard.

Darcy Ewanchuk first met her Little Sister Rebecca in 1999, when Rebecca was a shy nine-year old girl. Rebecca had just been matched with Darcy by our agency.

It didn’t take long for the two to relax and click – “Big and Little” would check out local attractions, go shopping and walk Darcy’s dogs. Over the years, Darcy watched Rebecca’s confidence blossom.

"She has turned into a wonderful young woman. She has received and achievement award from the Optimist Club and also got a citizenship award at school"

Darcy has been a Big Sister for nearly 20 years at our agency and has been a Big Sister to many girls who have gone through our programs.

"I do think I had a positive influence on them. I also tried to impress on all the girls how important it is to give back to the community. When the matches have ended, they become part of my family. They go on, do their thing and we catch up every couple of months and on special occasions." - Darcy
"Darcy is a really good Big Sister. When we were matched, I was happy because I had someone else to talk to. It's a really good program." - Rebecca
"Darcy is a really good Big Sister. When we were matched, I was happy because I had someone else to talk to. It's a really good program." - Rebecca

Rebecca’s mother, Barbara, has only the highest of praise for Darcy.

"From the first time I met Darcy, there was something about her. I couldn't have asked for a better person." - Rebecca's mother, Barbara

Back to 80 in 80!