Giving back to their community is a priority for Julie Banting and her partner Shane Thompson. After moving to Kingston several years ago, they joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) couples program to share their energy and passion for sports and support a local family.
“We are both active, busy people who grew up in supportive families. We really wanted to make a difference in a child’s life,” says Ms Banting, the manager of the undergraduate program at the Business Career Centre.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters did an excellent job matching us with a young person who had similar interests and personality,” says Mr. Thompson, an employee of UPS.
The adult mentors meet once a week with Chris. They plan activities or trips that often involve sports, a passion all three share. This year, for example, they tried stand-up paddle surfing for the first time.
Ms Banting and Mr. Thompson believe the most important thing is that they provide Chris with guidance and support regardless of the activity they choose.
“We work closely with Chris’ mom to ensure that we are reinforcing positive behaviour,” says Ms Banting.
While Chris benefits from the mentorship, the volunteers get a lot out of volunteering.
“I enjoy that we have a positive impact on Chris’ life, teach him new things, have fun and connect with a family in the community,” says Mr. Thompson.
Volunteers must make a one-year commitment to the young people they are mentoring. It’s not an onerous requirement, and Ms Banting often encourages Commerce students to get involved with the program.
The local Big Brothers Big Sisters receives 40 per cent of its operating budget from the United Way serving Kingston, Fronteanc, Lennox and Addington. Not only do many Queen’s faculty, staff, students and retirees volunteer with United Way-funded agencies, they also donate to the university’s United Way campaign. Their generosity gives Queen’s the single largest workplace campaign in the city.
As of October 27, the Queen’s community had raised 77 per cent of the university’s $315,000 fundraising goal.
To promote the Queen’s United Way campaign, the Alma Mater Society will host a barbeque on November 2 from 11:30 am until 2:30 pm in front of the John Deutsch University Centre. Proceeds from the event will go to the United Way.