Shannon & Caitlin

 

Laughter filled the Big Brothers Big Sisters of London & Area agency when this match came to visit. 

Not only was it a chance to see how the agency has evolved, but it was also a time to reflect on their relationship and the impact it's had on both of their lives.

Sixteen years ago, Shannon Schuyler, then 27, met her bright-eyed Little Sister, Caitlin Reid, then 11, at Big Sisters' House. 

Reid said it was her father who signed her up for theBig Sister program because her mother suffered from mental health issues.

"My dad thought it would be beneficial for me to have [a] positive female role model without the same difficulties and challenges," said Reid, 26.

She found that positive female role model in Schuyler.

Schuyler, 42, and Reid were then and still are each other's yin and yang.

"Shannon is probably the exact opposite from me in a lot of ways," said Reid. "I would say she has a sense of adventure, where as I am maybe more grounded."

When describing how they fit like a puzzle, Reid turned to Schuyler and said: "I think in some way I ground you and I think you make me lighten up and not take life so seriously."

It was Schuyler's emotion-driven personality that helped Reid overcome the loss of her mom, who passed in 1997.

"She [helped] me deal with it...It was an unconditional sense of support and love that I could always count on," said Reid.

Schuyler said she knew that Reid would prevail. 

"I knew you'd get through it because you were such a strong girl," Schuyler said to Reid.

Schuyler also described Reid as a determined and responsible individual.

"She's always known what she wanted to do in life and she definitely pursued her dreams," said Schuyler. "It's pretty amazing. She was 11 and she was like 'I am going to be a lawyer!'...She never, ever, waivered from that. It's pretty amazing to see her actually follow that dream."

Currently an articling student at McKenzie Lake Lawyers, Reid is just three months away from achieving her dream of becoming a lawyer.

Reid told me that she may not have made it if it wasn't for Schuyler. The University of Western Ontario undergrad and law school grad said that Schuyler gave her the foundation to believe and achieve her dreams.

"[Shannon] provided me stability, security and all of the things that helped me feel secure enough to pursue goals that I had set for myself," said Reid.

Reid talked about how without Schuyler, she would have been relentlessly seeking the security and stability that comes from having a solid foundation of trust and support. 

 "I would have been constantly looking for foundation," said Reid.

Schuyler was the ear and shoulder Reid needed. She was also the encouragement that gave Reid the self-esteem and confidence to fulfill her dream and follow her passion.

Not only is Reid flourishing professionally, she is about to walk down the aisle.

"The wedding day is not here yet, but that will be my favourite [memory]," said Schuyler. 

And, she will have a box of tissues nice and close during Reid's big day. Schuyler cannot wait to be there during this next phase in Reid's life.

"I don't have children. She's like my daughter in every sense of the word," said Schuyler. "I couldn't imagine her not being in my life."

So, what's Reid's favourite memory?

"I think it was more the feeling that [Schuyler] created that is my best memory," said Reid.

She described that feeling as the warm fuzzy feeling you get when reading a Christmas card.

It was that feeling Schuyler provided that helped Reid realize how important it was to keep Schuyler in her life beyond their Big Sister match.

"I recognized how special and beneficial [our relationship] was to me," said Reid. "I think the unconditional, unwavering support and the sense of safety is probably how it impacted me the most."

Reid hopes one day that she will be the Big Sister that another young girl in the community needs.

Match Update:

Caitlin was called to the bar on June 20th, 2012. She is now practicing family law at Barr Family Law! A BIG congratulations to Caitlin on achieving her dream!

Caitlins call to the bar 003 - resized

Right to left: Caitin Reid and Shannon Schuyler celebrating Caitlin's call to the bar on June 20, 2012.

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