Growing up in Chestermere with her mother, Kate was a typical carefree student in elementary school. When Kate was only nine years old, her mother passed away unexpectedly. Without anyone to call mom or dad, Kate moved to be with her aunt Shannon in Calgary and began to build a new life.

That new life brought with it many challenges such as moving, changing schools, and trying to make new friends. Shannon looked for ways to support Kate through the changes and in dealing with the sudden loss of her mother. Shannon realized that as she was already a single mother of two kids and was working full-time, she had little one-on-one time to spend with Kate. Shannon wanted to be able to give Kate the support she needed to be able to heal and grow.

“I wanted her to have a role model in her life. I was not able to be there for her as much as I wanted to be, so I looked into Big Brothers Big Sisters.” said Shannon.

Kate was matched with her mentor Maddie. In the beginning of their friendship Kate was happy to have someone to spend time with, but was still reserved in being able to communicate with Maddie. Three years have passed since the pair have been matched and Kate is now in junior high. Through the growth of their relationship and time spent together Kate feels that now she is able to open up to Maddie about anything.

“My favourite thing is when we lose track of time just talking.” Maddie says.

Through the support Kate has received from her bond with Maddie, Kate is growing to be more confident and is inspired to make friends wherever she goes. Kate remarks that she doesn’t feel alone anymore because she knows she can rely on Maddie to be there for her.

Maddie says, “It’s incredible to see how much she has changed – She used to never want to smile, and now she is so confident with the widest grin.”

Though Maddie’s friendship can never come close to taking away the pain of Kate’s loss, the pair have made a positive contribution to each other’s lives and the memories they have made together will carry with them beyond Big Brothers Big Sisters.