Cornwall Big Brother Wins National Award
After 18 years of volunteering as a Big Brother, D’arcy Grant has been awarded some national recognition.
The Cornwall resident was the recipient of the Cliff Hall Alumni Award during a convention in Toronto on Thursday, which is given to one outstanding member of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) each year.
“It’s quite an honour,” says Grant. “It (didn’t) really sink in until I read about it, how prestigious it is and what an honour it is.”
Grant was nominated by Amanda Brisson, manager of the local BBBS branch, and selected from among the 235 agencies across the country.
“It’s crazy,” says Patrick Atchison, who has been Grant’s Little Brother for the last nine years. “To think about all of Canada, and my Big Brother won it.”
The two were in Toronto for the awards ceremony this week, only the latest in a series of adventures they’ve had together.
Grant said he heard a guest speaker talk about the agency roughly two decades ago, and his interest was piqued immediately. When his daughter became an adult, he decided it was time to begin investing in other youth people.
“I felt I had something to contribute,” he says. “I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.”
He’s had two opportunities to do so as a Big, in addition to his many years of service on the BBBS board of directors. His first match was Timothy; the two were paired for nine years before the Little graduated from the program.
“I still hear from him,” says Grant.
He took a year off before jumping back into a match with Patrick.
“We’ve got a lot of things done,” Grant says. “He’s made me quite proud.”
He convinced Patrick to speak at a couple of events about his experiences in the program — the first time he was just nine years old.
“I could tell this guy, no matter how you challenged him, he would respond,” says Grant. “He would do it, as long as I was there.”
Patrick says Grant’s influence has allowed him to develop a whole new set of social skills.
“I never thought I’d be able to speak in front of 200 people,” he says.
Though their relationship has changed over the years as Patrick has grown up and become busy with work and other activities, Grant says they still text all the time in addition to regular rounds of golf in summer and Colts hockey games in winter. They also attend nearly every agency fundraiser together, and even co-chair a committee overseeing one of them.
“It’s a way of getting him involved in the organization, other than as a Little Brother,” says Grant. “...He might end up on the board. Or as a Big Brother himself.”
Patrick says he plans on it, someday.
At 17, he has one more year left as a Little, and one more year of high school at Ecole Secondaire La Citadelle.
Grant says he’ll take another break once his match with Patrick ends, but he’ll “always be around the Big Brother office” as a volunteer in some capacity.
And after 18 years as a Big, he has plenty of wisdom to pass along to newcomers.
“If you get a match and think you’re going to change the person — you’re wrong, and you’ll be disappointed,” says Grant. “...You’ll grow and they’ll grow, too.”
At 65 years old, Grant says Patrick may be his last match.
“It’s whether or not I can handle a nine-year-old again,” he says with a laugh, noting Patrick looks out for him almost as much as Grant takes care of his Little.
Patrick even nominated him for a local Big Brother of the year award, which Grant won in 2010 — the only Cornwall volunteer to ever take home the honour twice.
“It’s humbling,” says Grant of the accolades.
“I’m just doing what I thought I should be doing.”
The above article was written by Cheryl Brink of the Standard-Freeholder. You can view more news stories from the Freeholder here: