Chike Agbasi had volunteered to be a Big Brother and was eagerly waiting to hear who he would be matched up with. When the call came that his partner would be Little Dalton, Agbasi was stunned.
The Nigerian immigrant is the personal assistant to Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty. To be working for the first Minister of the Crown in the province and mentoring a young person who has the same first name is a coincidence he relishes.
“I just could not believe I was hearing right,” Agbasi recalls of the day he received the phone call. “I thought it was a joke and I asked about four times what his name is.”
Agbasi and Grade Six student, Dalton Galloway, were recipients of Big Brother & Little Brother of the Year Awards at the organization’s 42nd annual Big Night Out Gala last week.
He has been a Big Brother to Galloway for the past two years.
“I had a lot of mentors in my life and I wanted to do the same for a young person,” said Agbasi who came to Canada almost 26 years ago. “I don’t do it for the recognition even though it’s humbling to be honoured. I do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
In addition to playing sports and visiting amusement parks together, Agbasi helps Galloway with his homework and he has taken him to tour Queen’s Park and meet with McGuinty.
“It’s all about letting him know that he can achieve anything he wants to,” said Agbasi who was raised in British Columbia before relocating to Toronto five years ago to study political science at the University of Guelph. “Having a role model to guide you along and point you in the right direction is something that Dalton is really appreciating and I could see it. He’s in a position where he’s learning how to choose his friends wisely and also excel in school. At the end of the day, he will have a better quality of life. This has been a great match.”
Galloway, who celebrates his 12th birthday on June 27, says he enjoys Agbasi’s company.
“He helps me with math and language assignments and he’s just fun to be around,” said the Essex Junior & Senior Public School student.
Verna Dunn said Agbasi is a perfect role model for her only child.
“Dalton’s dad is not around as often as he should be, so Chike has been ideal for my son,” said the single mother. “He’s that father figure that Dalton needs and my boy has really benefitted from the relationship.”
Agbasi, who is also a certified personal trainer and former soccer player, worked as a policy research assistant in the Office of the Premier before being elevated to personal assistant in January 2008.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) is Canada’s leading child and youth mentoring charity that facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower young people to reach their potential.
“For 99 years, the BBBST movement in Toronto has helped improve the lives of children and youth from all walks of life,” said the organization’s president, Cathy Denyer. “The most important investment we as individuals can make is to help our children realize and share their full potential.”
This year’s gala theme was “Think Big: The Sky’s the Limit.”
By RON FANFAIR