* Some names have been re-attributed for this story *
Many times, the highlights and successes of matches are shared, with only minor focus on the undertones of challenge and struggle. In this story, there is more struggle than highlights, but sometimes it’s about continuing to take another step on this journey called life. A journey where it is clear that it really does take a village to raise a child.
For this family, the concept of ‘it takes a village’ stands true. Tina and her three kids moved to the Niagara Region over a year ago due to changes within the family, specifically with Tina breaking up with her kids’ father and some ongoing custody challenges. What brought them to BBBS was that the kids were hurting from the lack of effort that their father was investing in them and that their mom was starting to have health issues of her own.
Over the course of 2017, I have been able to match two of the three kids. These girls absolutely love their matches. Tina also worked on signing the kids up for a camp within their neighbourhood as well as programs in a church that they began to call home. Tina was always on the lookout for ways that her kids could become involved and connected with others in their community.
When I talk with Tina and the girls about their matches, they are always excited to do so. Not only do they love what they do together, but the kind of person that their mentors are. One of the girls recently reflected on how “bright” her Big Sister’s personality is and that “when I tell her about things that bring me down, she does something that boosts my energy and brings out my good personality again.”
It wasn’t until recently that I learned the extent of Tina’s health issues. I learned that she has been battling cancer as well as a brain condition that really takes a toll on how she can engage day to day. Tina admitted that there are hard days where she is discouraged and tired, but expressed how grateful she is for their church family as well as BBBS. She said that she is happy that two of her girls have Big Sisters as it is good for them to have someone to them self that they can trust, confide in, and have fun with.
Tina doesn’t know what the future will look like, but knows that she has a community that is supporting them.