TRENTON – Devin Wood, 21, began volunteering as a requirement for his police foundations course at Loyalist College, but it quickly began to mean so much more to him.
After getting a job at Bayfield Treatment Centres and working with the children there, he began looking for more opportunities to work with kids in other capacities.
"I could see children in need," said Wood. "And I wanted to do something to help them."
He began volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties in 2015 after hearing about the opportunity from Kylie Caulm, the program's mentoring coordinator.
As a Big Brother, Woods responsibilities were to pick up his "little brother" (the child he has been assigned to) once a week and spend an hour with him, although Wood says they often spend upwards of three hours talking on their visits.
"He just tells me about his life, his school, the troubles he’s having," said Wood. "You’re just that male role model in his life. He doesn't have his father around so I really have to be that male role model for him."
And Wood has seen his "little brother" make huge steps in the mere year and a half that they have been spending time together, something that he does not take lightly.
"He started off on quite a few medications and now he’s down to close to none. In the classroom he’s changed. It feels good seeing his improvements."
While Wood had already done more than most do to help someone else, he still was not satisfied.
So he took things even further: taking in two children from Bayfield to live with him in his home.
"I've seen his (his "little brother") progression and I’ve seen those kids at Bayfield that need that second chance in the community. So I now have two kids living with me. They’re both 12."
And Wood says that without starting with Big Brothers he would have never ended up in the situation he finds himself in.
"It pretty much started with Big Brothers; seeing what I could do. Because I could see the impact I made on his life. It started with one youth at work and I said I’m going to try and give him a second chance."
Seeing the changes he had helped begin with the first child, he said a second child was a no brainer.
"His behaviours weren't the greatest but he deserved a second chance. So I gave it to him and he’s been doing great. And since then I took another child in, so I have two now."
And in the short time that he has had those two children he has already seen a noticeable change in their lives, physically and mentally.
"The one youth, he was a little bit overweight, his behaviours weren’t great. I started taking him to the YMCA four months ago. He’s lost a bunch of weight, he’s healthier, he’s taking his aggression out on working out. It's changed his life. Now he wants to become a body builder. The other one wants to start working out now too. When they look forward to something its easy for them to stay on the right path."
At an age where most people are more worried about holding their own life together, Wood continues to go above and beyond to help others. On top of fostering the two children and having a "little brother", Wood volunteers at the YMCA every week as well as numerous other volunteer opportunities.
And he says it all just comes down seeing those kids smile and seeing the changes in their lives.
"I look forward to it because those kids looks forward to it. You see some of the staff putting smiles on those kids faces, and sometimes at home the only thing those kids look forward to is seeing you. I've changed their lives and they've changed mine."
And Wood has one piece of advice for those looking to do the same.
"If you want to change someones life just do it now."