Cori had never given volunteering much thought.
But a conversation with a friend at her church seven years ago changed her mind.
The friend had been involved with Big Brothers and was explaining how positive the experience had been. That’s when Cori, an elementary school teacher, decided to look into becoming a Big Sister.
After doing some initial fact-finding on the Internet, she filled out the required forms and mailed them in.
A nearly two-hour phone interview followed, to discuss the program, age ranges and expectations. Eventually she was given confirmation that she would be matched up with a little sister once a connection could be made.
After nearly a year of waiting, Cori had almost given up hope.
“I thought maybe this isn’t meant to be,” she said. “I actually thought ‘is this going to happen?’ ”
At the same time, a young girl named Tianna was waiting as well. The nine-year-old was living with her mother and older sister in South Surrey.
Tianna’s mother Tamara was feeling overwhelmed. Working and raising two daughters alone, she heard from a friend who was involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters that Tianna might benefit from the program.
“Tianna was very strong-willed and would often do the opposite of what she was told,” said Tamara. “I called her tenacious. When she puts her mind to something she gets it.”
Tamara was hoping to find someone who could be encouraging; someone Tianna could talk to and spend quality time with.
Although a match took nearly a year, looking back now, the “sisters” realize the bond they have was well worth the wait.
“We found the perfect (match) and the best one for Tianna,” said Tamara.
Cori and Tianna spend a minimum of two to three hours a week together, either going to plays, sporting events, sailing or events arranged by Big Sisters – even weekly Zumba classes.
Some weeks they spend more time together than others, depending on the scheduled events and prior commitments, but the friendship between the two has grown stronger over time.
“I was nervous at first, but it was easy to get close to her,” said Tianna. “She motivates me to do better in school and she doesn’t judge. She’s a good listener and mentor.”
Over the last six years, Cori and Tianna have grown so close, Cori has attended school graduation parties and family events.
“Cori is everything I could have asked for,” said Tamara. “She’s not there for my daughter because she has to, or gets paid to. It’s because she wants to.”
For anyone wondering whether they want to get involved with Big Sisters, Cori suggests “just do it.”
As for Tianna, the experience has helped her grow as well.
“I know she cares about me,” she said. “And because of Cori, I want to be a teacher too.”
To learn more about how to become a Big Sister, go to www.bigsisters.bc.ca
(Due to Big Sisters policy, only first names were used in this article).