Mentors make a difference
DESPITE having two grownup children who have left home, Don Cotter is enjoying being a role model once again.
He is part of the Big Buddy programme, a charity which matches men with fatherless boys.
Mr Cotter has been mentoring Mt Roskill eight-yearold Aiden, the youngest of 11 children, since March and together they do all the things fathers all over Auckland do with their own children – whether it be visiting the museum, swimming at Mt Albert’s wave pool, bike-riding at Mechanics Bay or hanging out at Cornwall Park.
“He’s full of beans. I always tell him to bring his book.”
Mr Cotter says weather permitting this Father’s Day on Sunday he is keen to play some tennis with Aiden and get involved with summer sport.
He says Aiden’s mother does her best for the family. “I take my hat off to her. He and his mum are quite close.”
Mr Cotter, 61, says buddies are encouraged to spend three to four hours a week with a boy and commit for a year.
“They are very ordinary Kiwis whose hearts are in the right place. They tell us two things – to be yourself and to be certain. Certainty is something they need.”
Mr Cotter says he had some free time after selling a business and saw an advertise- ment for the organisation.
“It just pushed the right buttons.”
Mr Cotter had a good relationship with his own father but his grandfather was killed during World War One.
“My father was orphaned as a four-year-old, he had a lucky break at nine years old.”
That lucky break was being admitted to Dilworth School in Epsom, which gave him a good grounding and several male role-models.
“He was strongly influenced,” Mr Cotter says of his father, who later became chairman of the school’s trust board.
Big Buddy chief executive Richard Aston says boys need good male role models to become good men.
“At Big Buddy, we have nothing but admiration for solo mothers who courageously tackle the tough job of raising boys on their own, but they cannot model maleness. And boys learn through modelling.
“What we do is match fatherless boys with wellscreened male mentors who can foster a relationship similar to that of, say, an uncle.”
The organisation provides mentors for more than 140 fatherless boys in Auckland and Wellington.
Big Buddy will launch its first fundraising appeal this Sunday. Donations to can be posted to Big Buddy, PO Box 83-031, Edmonton, Waitakere 0652.
Alternatively you can help the Big Buddy Fatherless Day appeal by going online to www.bigbuddy.org.nz or text DAD to 883 to make a $3 donation.
Happy pair: Don Cotter often watches Aiden’s sports and watches him perform in his kapa haka group.
Role model: Don Cotter says being a male mentor keeps him young.