Tilani Engelbrecht said that when considering volunteer options in her new community there really wasn’t much of a choice.
“When I heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters and the opportunities they offer I grabbed it,” she said.
“Children just energize me, and it’s quite a privilege when parents share their children with others who may not have children in their lives.”
A pediatric occupational therapist at the Child Development Centre, she also said she was very impressed with the way Big Brothers Big Sisters handled the whole signing up process, from the screening and orientation to the ongoing support and follow up.
“They were so warm, inviting, helpful and encouraging, as well as detailed, clear and professional,” she said.
“The parents know that their kids are in very good hands.”
Her ‘little sister’ Amaya just turned seven years old.
“She is a fun bundle of energy,” Engelbrecht said. “I thought I needed to make a plan for when we got together, but I’ve learned to just go with the flow,” she explained. “Sometimes she wants to do things like build a fort or make a boat at the lake made of plants and branches, and sometimes she just wants to play hide and seek.
“I’ve learned to just embrace life with her and be spontaneous. It’s not just about the end project – it’s about the fun and the adventure along the way.”
She said that she spends a couple of hours with Amaya every week.
“I wanted to provide stability; I set an exact time on a fixed day so that she’d know exactly when and where she always sees me,” she continued. “Once we’re together we just make things up as we go along.”
Being paired with Amaya has benefits for them both, according to Engelbrecht.
“She seems to love having fun with me and love having someone ‘tuned in’ to her,” she explained.
“Through JumpStart we’re going to do gymnastics starting in January.”
Engelbrecht has three brothers herself and says she loves being a big sister to Amaya.
“The biggest gift for me is that Amaya doesn’t hold anything back – she gives everything she has and offers it unconditionally,” she noted. “When I meet her there we just have fun: it’s magic.”
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, including the in-school mentoring and couples for kids programs, phone 250-398-8391 or visit www.bbswlake.com.