What is your background and how were you nominated for SISTER2sister?
My introduction to SISTER2Sister came via a chance reunion with an ex colleague who mentioned that she had participated in the program and found it extremely rewarding. I was looking for a worthy cause to dedicate some time to as I had a rather challenging time as a teen myself. The program piqued my interest. I had migrated to Australia from Europe at 10 years of age and as a young teen was desperate to fit in and become an ‘Aussie’. My parents objectives however were totally opposite and they were just as desperate to keep me cocooned and protected by a traditional upbringing. I rebelled against their very strict parenting style and was desperate to gain independence.
The choices I made at the time proved to provide anything but what I was after. I married and had a child while still in my teens and although I gained solid employment from the outset and have forged a successful banking career since, it has not been an easy journey. It occurred to me that the experiences I’ve had along the way may benefit other girls in similar situations so I looked into the program and attended an information evening, which I must confess was rather daunting. I wasn’t at all confident that I did in fact have the skills needed to deal with the challenges that may be thrown at me by the Little Sisters. I realised that their experiences are typically far more dramatic than mine ever were, but the wonderful support team at SISTER2sister gave me the confidence to proceed.
What was your greatest experience being a Big Sister mentor?
I had loads of really great experiences with Lyndsey. Its hard to pick just one. I guess seeing her perform on stage was always a highlight and seeing her confidence grow as she progressed through the program. She has a way of lighting up a room and making things fun.
What impact did your Little Sister have on your life? Are you still in contact with your Little Sister?
My Little Sister has firmly planted her cheeky little soul deep within my heart and yes I am still very much in contact with her. Her resilience and positive attitude has brought so much joy and laughter into my life. She has taught me the value of just listening. People don’t typically need us to fix things for them, they just need an understanding ear to allow them to vocalise their thoughts. They usually come up with solutions or options themselves. This was one of the most amazing things to watch, as my little sister discovered her ‘light bulb’ moments.
Why should someone become a Big Sister mentor?
It is an indescribably rewarding experience to go through. It is a BIG commitment and there will be sleepless nights no doubt and times where you feel totally out of your depth, but once their tears dry and you watch them shake themselves off and pick themselves up to fight another battle, you feel so incredibly proud of them and immensely humbled by their strength. It teaches you the value of compassion and understanding. It broadens influencing skills and your understanding of human behaviour. Skills you need in personal and professional life. It is definitely not a one sided agreement, Big Sisters often get just as much, if not more, than the Little Sisters from participating in the program.
Why should people support SISTER2sister?
The SISTER2Sister program is exceptional in that it attempts to stem the self destructive behaviour of young girls before they get into too much trouble. It’s done on a one-to-one basis so has the potential for huge impact on each girl. To say the program is ‘Life Changing’ is a big statement to make but anyone that has seen the Little Sisters make their graduating speech at the end of the year, will understand the difference this program makes to their lives.
The program gives the girls and the big sisters access to skilled professionals to ensure the right approach is taken for each scenario. It teaches girls skills that most of us take for granted, it also enables the girls to feel like a valued member of society, and people who feel valued also add value to others. It is a program well worth supporting.