What does it mean to be a Big?
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
At Big Brothers Big Sisters, our job is to professionally support our current mentoring matches while recruiting new volunteers to match with children on our waiting list. We are always looking for new mentors! So, what exactly does it mean to be a Big? Sure, as a Big that means you’re mentoring your match, but the job involves so much more than that.
In October 2018, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America rolled out a national re-brand to all of its affiliates and along with that came a new message. Today, we focus on one key word: potential. Each and every child has potential. Potential to do good. Potential to achieve success. Potential to change the world. Our mentors stand up and ignite the potential through a one-to-one mentoring relationship. They open children’s eyes to a world full of possibility.
Locally, we require a one-year minimum commitment to become a mentor. However, 81% of matches stay together more than the one-year mark. Children enrolled in our program must be between the ages 8-12. Once a match is made, the child is allowed to stay in our program until they are 18 or graduate high school. Each year, we have a handful of matches that close due to the child aging out of our program and we consider those matches to be the most successful. However, by being a consistent person in that child’s life for a least a year, our mentors make a BIG impact so it’s vital to achieve that minimum requirement.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years old and hold a valid driver’s license. While the average age of our volunteers is 32, we have had some Bigs in their teens and others in their 70s! You’re never too old to make a difference through mentoring.
Children matched in our program change in a variety of ways. We frequently see improved self-confidence, academic performance, and better relationships with both their family and peers. In 2018, 86% of mentors stated they saw improvements in their Little since they started meeting. All of this change is due to the consistent friendship and support that our mentors provide. As a Big, you are there to tell a child “YOU CAN!”
We currently have two primary mentoring programs: site-based and community-based. Site-based matches meet primarily at the child’s school and only at that specific site. This works well for mentors who only want to spend their lunch hour with a child once a week. Our community-based program is aptly named and this is where the match spends time in the community. The time they spend may be at the park, the movies, a restaurant, etc. We also have various community partnerships that offer discounts to our matches when they go somewhere together. Because it’s not about spending money; it’s about spending quality time together.
Established in 1969, we currently serve children in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, Spencer, and Gibson Counties in Southwest Indiana, and Henderson County in Kentucky. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about becoming a mentor, visit our website at mentoringkids.org or call our office at 812-425-6076. We are happy to answer any questions you have!