Mission resident Frank Soeten was posthumously honoured with a volunteer award at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley’s annual general meeting, held April 22, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the community of Mission.
Soeten was matched with his Little Brother Hunter in December 2012, not long after the young boy said to his mother: “All I want for Christmas is a Big Brother.”
Soeten didn’t come with giftwrap and bows, but he was definitely Hunter’s favourite gift that Christmas. He taught Hunter how to use tools and build a doghouse, reminded him to use his manners and encouraged him to step outside his comfort zone.
He passed along his quiet wisdom over regular breakfast outings and truly changed a young life over the course of two years by being a consistent and caring male role model.
Soeten passed away suddenly at the end of January, but his legacy will live on in the child he mentored.
Last week, friends of Soeten organized a memorial motorcycle ride, raising over $800 to support Big Brothers/Big Sisters programming in Mission. Mentoring coordinator Cassie Silva hopes that Mission residents will be touched by Soeten’s story, and will consider volunteering in his memory.
“Our waitlist of Mission boys is pretty much maxed out, because we have a significant shortage of male volunteers,” she said. “Some of these boys have been waiting years for a Big Brother. They just want someone to do ‘guy stuff’ with, like toss a ball around or go fishing. We have a variety of volunteer opportunities available for both men and women, ranging from just once a month to once a week, so I would encourage everyone to at least look into it and see how being a mentor could fit into their schedule if they want to a make a difference in our community.”
Hunter’s mom Kelly said she has “watched my boy transition from a shy, timid, non-trusting angry child into a fine young man. Frank quickly became my co-pilot, helping me mold him, teaching my son to be the man of the house, how to treat women, how to respect and love his sisters, how to control his anger and how to be a better person. How to dream big, work hard, stay focused and see the good in everyone.”
She’s proud of the man her son has come to be.
“Frank has taught him loyalty, compassion, empathy, courage, to face his fears and finally to let go. I have no regrets for signing my son up for a mentor because what Frank taught my son cannot be bought, planned or scheduled, it was a bond that was truly felt by both of their hearts. I believe Frank will continue to push Hunter to soar to great levels, he will guide him on the right path always and forever.”
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley visit www.mentoringworks.ca or call 604-820-3337.