Don’t Think You Can Be a Role Model? Here Are 4 Things I Learned from Becoming a Volunteer Mentor: an Interview with Alex Hook

Don’t Think You Can Be a Role Model? Here Are 4 Things I Learned from Becoming a Volunteer Mentor: an Interview with Alex Hook

By: Wes Martin
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Being someone’s “role model” sounds a bit daunting, but you might be surprised at how simple (and fun!) it can be. Alex Hook, an Environmental Studies student at SFU, shares his experience as a volunteer mentor and as a former “Little Brother” mentee through Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver.

Alex first met his “Big Brother” Kieran when he was 9 years old. They continue to be good friends today, more than a decade later.

Two years ago, Alex decided to give back by signing up as a Big Buddy volunteer. During the school year, Alex spends 1 hour a week visiting his Little Buddy at a nearby elementary school. Here are 4 things Alex has learned from the experience:

1. It’s Rewarding!

Alex’s enthusiasm for mentoring is infectious. We talked about all of the fun activities Alex had been introduced to by his Big Brother Kieran, like ball games, sailing, and learning to play the guitar. Alex and Kieran share a lot of the same interests, which made it easy to spend time together. I asked Alex what specifically drew him to volunteering as a mentor: It’s so rewarding seeing the positive influence you can have on a kid. Once you experience making someone else happy, you find it is the best feeling in the world.”

2.  It Can Work with your Schedule

Alex proves that even with his busy schedule as a full-time SFU student, he’s still able to make time for his Little Buddy. Alex sets aside one hour a week to visit his Little Buddy at his elementary school to play sports, games, or just to hang out. Big Brothers can arrange for volunteers to be matched with students in an elementary school that is near SFU or near the volunteer’s home – whichever is more convenient.

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3. It Makes a Difference

After hearing the long list of fun activities that Alex and his Big Brother experienced together, I was curious to know which ones were most meaningful to Alex. “Kieran taught me so many things on our outings. We experienced so many activities such as sailing and fishing, but my favourite activity was being in the car with him and just talking. The insightful conversations that we had really shaped me as a person, forming my character and building my manners. Developing those conversational skills I believe has taken me to places in my life I may have never reached before,” says Alex. “Having a Big Brother really changed my entire life. We became best friends.”

As a student, volunteering as a Big Brother/Buddy is a fantastic way to build and develop your leadership skills, lifetime emotional intelligence, and to cultivate a greater sense of connection to your community.

4. It’s About Showing Up

When asked what surprised him about volunteering as a Big Buddy, Alex explained: “I learn something every time that I go and see my Little Buddy. Even if we just play pool or a card game there is a lesson to be learned. One day, he turned and said to me ‘thank you for showing up’, and it really struck me that one of the most important things for mentoring is just showing up.”

Mentorship doesn’t have to be an all-consuming role, and if there is anything we can learn from Alex, it’s that becoming an impactful role model can be easier than it seems and just as beneficial for the mentor as the mentee.

To learn more about becoming a mentor, or to sign-up - click here

About Author

Wes MartinWes Martin is currently the Marketing Officer of Volunteer Engagement with Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver. Big Brothers is always recruiting for volunteers – as of September, there were 811 youth in the BC Lower Mainland looking for a mentor just like you. 

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Posted on November 02, 2017