By Rhonda Massad
West Island Big Brothers and Big Sisters kicked off their annual fund raising campaign with a Valentine’s Day breakfast at Jack Astors, Sources Road, Feb. 14.
Tzyka Josiah, her mother Jeanine Inniss and brother James Inniss-Carr were on hand to celebrate the event. Tzyka has been matched with her big sister Joanne, who is 23-years-old, for more than two years.
“I see my big sister every two weeks and we play board games, watch movies and sometimes go shopping,” Josiah told The Suburban.
Her brother James has been on the waiting list for a match for two years now. BBBS executive director Francesca Corso said that she is concerned about the time that it takes to find a young boy a match.
“One of the biggest challenges that we face right now is the shortage of male volunteers. Many “little” hopeful boys, like Tzya’s brother James, are on a waiting list for up to two years for a match. There are 35 boys on a waiting list at this time,” Corso said.
The “big” becomes a role model who supports the child but is also a constant reliable friend.
“Matches are made with interests in mind, so the big and the little often have a chance to do an activity that they enjoy,” she explained. “We will match an athletic person with another athletic person to give them common ground. Often the big finds it rewarding as well as fulfilling, because they take the time out of a busy schedule to do what they enjoy while at the same time helping someone out. It’s win-win” Corso said.
The minimum age to become a big brother or sister is 18, and a screening process is required in addition to a training program. Matches are chosen based on location, interests and schedule.
BBBS asks for a one-year commitment but more often the relationships last for a lifetime.
“[CHOM-FM morning show host] Terry DiMonte is an exemplary big brother who is still in touch with his little.” Corso explained. “Our financial campaign ambassador Jeffrey Magid was matched with his little brother Razz over 25 years ago. Magid was Razz’s best man when he married last September.”
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