There's a shortage of heroes in Montreal's West Island

There's a shortage of heroes in Montreal's West Island

Are you a hero?

If so, Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Island is looking for you — and 59 others just like you.

The organization, which pairs children or teens with adult mentors, says there is a shortage of male mentors in particular.

"It seems to be a crisis across the nation. All of the Big Brothers Big Sisters across Canada have waiting lists, and Big Brothers are the hardest to come by," said Julie Ogilvie, spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Island.

60 boys on waiting list

Children are put on the list once a parent makes a request.

The goal is to pair that child with an adult mentor. The two spend a few hours a week together, either playing sports, playing games or just chatting.

Ogilvie told CBC's Daybreak there are currently 60 boys, referred to as Littles, waiting to be paired with Big Brothers.

Sometimes, they can wait as long as two years.

So Big Brother Mike Argento decided to make a Facebook video to spread the word.

"There wasn't enough awareness about this. We don't talk about what we do much, in the name of humility and we don't like to boast much," he said.

Signed on for a year, stayed for six (and counting)

Argento has been a Big Brother for six years. He was paired with a nine-year-old boy.

"Finding stuff in common with a nine year old, when you're 29 or 30, it's tough. But I love playing sports, so you can just kick a soccer ball or throw around a football all afternoon, and everyone's happy. We would do a lot of that, especially at the beginning."

Argento says he's seen a big change. His Little Brother is now 15 and excelling at school and in sports.

"He's gone through some amazing changes. He's much more disciplined at school, getting his black belt in karate soon, he's on the Honour Roll at Riverdale High School. He's on the right track. He's a good kid."

'You are changing someone's life'

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Island requires their mentors to commit to the program for one year, to offer stability to the child.

But Ogilvie says most Big Brothers take it upon themselves to stay on much longer than that, which is probably why they are harder to recruit.

"It seems that when men are making this decision to get involved, they stay for a very long time and take it quite seriously. But that means it's a more difficult decision to make."

For Argento, it's a fulfilling experience to be someone's hero.

"It's an amazing feeling to know that you are literally changing someone's life. It's their formative years … A lot of them aren't in a good situation whatsoever and they have no example of anyone good in their life that could point them in the right direction. You are changing someone's life and you can see it directly."

Anyone who is interested can check out the organization's website.