International Women’s Day 2023

When we think of someone who is selfless, passionate and dedicated to improving the lives of youth in Toronto, Andra Takacs immediately comes to our mind. Andra has a been an influential figure in the history of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto and a key supporter for the Big Sisters program.

On this International Women’s Day, we would like to recognize Andra for her tireless work in support of our organization. Andra has put in countless personal hours and devoted much of her life to making Big Sisters of Toronto possible. She was the first President of Big Sisters of Toronto and filled numerous roles in the organization’s development stages. She has also been a Big Sister for over 38 years!

Andra has been an incredible champion of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto for over three decades. In 2022, Andra was the recipient of the Builder of the Year award, presented at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto’s annual gala, Big Night Out: BNO 2022: Builder of the Year – Andra Takacs – YouTube

We recently spoke with Andra about her journey with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto. Read on to learn more about Andra, her passions, and what drives her to support BBBST:

What inspired you to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto?

In the 80’s, I realized that there wasn’t a Big Sister program in Toronto, which led me to create the first Big Sister program here in Toronto. After I set up the agency, I had a match through the Children’s Aid Society, which was eventually transferred to Big Sisters of Toronto.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a part of the BBBST community?

It has been rewarding to witness the evolution of the programming and how much the mentorship programs have expanded to meet the needs of children and youth in Toronto.

 Why do you feel it’s important to invest in the Little Sisters cohort and the scholarship program?

I believe that children are our future. All the research in child development indicates that children need supportive adults in their life, and this is why mentorship is so important.

Additionally, families and youth have so many more opportunities through the agency, such as scholarships, summer camp, cultural outings, and more.

Scholarships are important because education is another opportunity to strengthen the resiliency and opportunity of youth. I helped to establish the scholarship because I heard so much from the Toronto District School Board and post-secondary schools that families facing financial barriers to post-secondary can often discourage their children from aspiring to post-secondary education due to its high cost.

What would you like people to know about being a mentor?

Mentoring with a young person is a really joyful experience. For one, as you get older, you may stop doing things you did when you were younger. It keeps you young! It keeps you more in touch with youth culture, while bringing so much fun into your life

I tried things with my Little Sister that I would have never tried on my own. For example, my first Little Sister, Kurainna loved basketball and challenged me to try the sport. Mentoring can stretch people beyond their comfort zone in many ways.

 Have there been any surprising aspects you’ve learned by being a Big Sister?

On the few occasions where I was stumped by a situation, I found it very comforting to have a case worker with whom I could connect to provide me with guidance and support

Thank you Andra, for your relentless passion and dedication to improving the lives of youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto! 

#InternationalWomensDay #IWD2023