Cheryl and Tessa

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Best Friends, 49 Year Age Difference


April 2014 - Although a 49 year age difference exists between Big Sister Cheryl and Little Sister Tessa, they are the best of friends. “We’re such good friends even though the age difference is there,” says Cheryl.

Cheryl and Tessa, both Burlington natives, have been matched for five years. Within this time, both agree that they have become like family.

Cheryl began to volunteer as an In-School Mentor in 2008. At the time, Cheryl and Tessa spent one hour a week together, on school property, during school hours.

“The teachers and principals noticed a difference within two months – Tessa wanted to come to school, was more outgoing and confident, and she learned to use her words,” explained Cheryl.

When the end of the school year arrived, it was time for Cheryl and Tessa to break from their In-School Mentoring match until September. At this point, the duo realized that they wanted to see more of each other. Before September rolled around, Cheryl and Tessa were matched in our Traditional Match Program as a Big and Little Sister.

A lot has changed over the past five years Cheryl and Tessa have been matched. “I’ve seen her from this little girl to now – it’s a wonderful thing,” says Cheryl. Aside from physical growth, Tessa has had a lot of personal growth over the past years.

Now 13-years-old, Tessa admits that Cheryl has helped her become the person she is today. “I’ve been more confident in myself. I was shy before. Now, I come out and am able to talk to people,” Tessa says, adding, “I came out of my shell.”

Tessa credits her Big Sister for many things she’s learned. “There’s so much that she’s taught me,” Tessa says. Cheryl has instilled many positive lessons, such as teaching her manners, how to be assertive and speak up, and to be a good listener.

One of Cheryl’s favourite mottos – “Say what you mean; mean what you say; and don’t be mean when you say it.” Through Cheryl’s encouragement, Tessa’s communication skills have developed. “She has taught me to speak up,” says Tessa.

The benefits of this mentoring relationship have been mutually rewarding. “I’m so fortunate to have Tessa … she’s allowed me to be me,” says Big Sister Cheryl.

The duo hangs out at least once a week. “I look forward to seeing her every week. I look forward to all the stories she has to tell. She makes me laugh … I totally enjoy our days,” says Cheryl.

Countless activities and adventures have been shared between Cheryl and Tessa, including a trip to Cheryl’s cottage last year, frequent use of Cheryl’s pool during summer months, playing board games, dominos and billiards to name a few. Recently, Cheryl taught Tessa how to make flower arrangements, and this has become a new hobby the duo share together.

Among all their past times, Cheryl and Tessa most enjoy simple activities, like talking and cooking together.

Over the past 5 years, Cheryl and Tessa have created bond that will last a lifetime. They plan to always be in touch. “We talk a lot about her wedding, graduation, future … it’s unheard of that we would lose touch,” says Cheryl.

Tessa’s last report card proved to be her best one yet. “I’m a big fan of hers,” said Cheryl, adding, “I think she has a very bright future ahead of her.” When Tessa is older, she aspires to practice cosmetology. Until then, Tessa joked, and says she will continue to practice on Cheryl.   

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