Column: BBBS Langley fêtes 40-year volunteer

Annual volunteer dinner the perfect place to thank super-Big Brother Rob Ross for four decades of service

1976 was quite a year.

Technology took a giant leap forward as the Apple 1 personal computer was introduced; the CN Tower opened in Toronto, complete with a section of glass floor that’s been delighting and terrifying visitors ever since; Montreal hosted the Summer Olympic Games, and a tiny Romanian gymnast became a household name.

Disco lovers were groovin’ to ABBA and the Bay City Rollers.

And it was the year — though he probably didn’t yet know it — that a single, dedicated volunteer set out to change the lives of at least 13 young men, simply by being there.

On May 11, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley acknowledged Big Brother Rob Ross for his 40 years of service to  the agency.

The BBBS volunteer appreciation dinner is held annually as a way to say thank you to the dozens of Bigs who choose to spend their valuable free time each week hanging out with a child who needs a friend.

This year’s banquet was special, though, because it placed a (well-deserved) focus on Ross, a long-time educator who first signed up as a volunteer Big Brother in 1976.

Can’t you just picture him walking into the office in bell-bottoms and platform shoes, ready to be matched with his first little brother? Well, maybe not.

And who knows what they did on that first outing?

Did they get together on an S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y – NIGHT! and  take in a screening of Rocky? Or perhaps they stayed in and played Atari or Pong.

It really doesn’t matter, because time spent together, hanging out and lending an ear when it’s needed is what the program is and always has been about.

Conservatively speaking, if Ross spent the recommended four hours per week with each of his Little Brothers — that’s not taking into account the fact he was, at times, matched with two Littles at once — he has already dedicated more than 8,300 volunteer hours to the program.

Add in his time on the local, provincial and national boards of directors, and there’s no telling how many more he’s racked up on behalf of the agency.

As a board member, Ross worked for a number of years with now retired administrator Barb Scott, who laughingly  recalled their rocky start during her remarks on Wednesday night.

Ross’ only crime — replacing the teacher whose class her daughter had waited several grades to enter.

But it was Ross’ passion for Big Brothers that inspired Barb to come work for the agency in 1984, s he told the crowd.

One former Little’s mom praised him for be a caring, responsible and reliable man in her son’s life.

He was nothing if not precise, at any rate. If Ross said he’d be by to pick her son up at 5:12, he’d be there at 5:12.

Ross’ current little brother, who at 16 will soon age out of the program, along with six of his 11 previous ‘Littles’ (including one who is now a grandfather) came to the banquet to honour Ross.

As did his wife, two daughters and one granddaughter — the very people who have generously shared him with BBBS Langley for the past 40 years.

To be clear, this was thank you, not goodbye.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is not ready to let him go just yet.  And why would they?

Volunteers like Rob Ross don’t come along every decade.

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