Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Study Buddy Mentors needed for Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland

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Big Sister Anna (right) attended Little Sister Olimpia’s high school graduation. The two were matched for four years and Olimpia credits her Big Sister for helping her attend post-secondary education. Photo courtesy of Big Sisters BCLM.

Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland (Big Sisters BCLM) is in need of Study Buddy volunteers throughout the Lower Mainland, especially in Burnaby and the Tri-Cities.

The Study Buddy program is a weekly one-to-one mentoring relationship that focuses on school work. Little Sisters in this program not only improve their academics but also report a higher level of self-esteem. Take for instance, Study Buddy Anna and Little Sister Olimpia, who were matched when Olimpia was in Grade 9 and was, as she describes it, a “rebellious teenager.”

“I dropped bombs on Anna, testing her to see if she would stick around,” said Olimpia about their first year as a match. Anna stayed by her side.

“At the end of the day, Olimpia had self-perceptions that weren’t true,” said Anna. “Olimpia’s teachers and some of the other adults in her life were not supportive, viewing Olimpia as a problem kid on her way to dropping out of high school. But as I got to know her, she began to see otherwise.”

Now, Olimpia is in her first year at Langara College and is hoping to complete her degree in psychology or social work at the University of British Columbia.

“Without Anna’s influence in my life, I probably wouldn’t be going to college,” said Olimpia.

A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group supports Olimpia’s statement, showing that adults who had a mentor as a child are more likely to volunteer, donate, complete post-secondary education and feel confident.

“Mentoring has a powerful impact,” said Brenda Gershkovitch, executive director of Big Sisters BCLM. “Research shows that students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class. Plus, girls with a mentor are four times less likely than their peers to bully, fight, lie or lose their temper.”

In 2016, Big Sisters BCLM matched 775 girls in the Lower Mainland. There are currently 141 girls ready to be matched.

“We expect the number of Little Sister referrals to grow once school starts up in September,” said Gershkovitch. “Get your application in now, so we can give these girls positive mentors when they need it most.”

For more information on how to become a Study Buddy volunteer, visit

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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