What Does the Big Brother Big Sister Program Do?

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At some point in life or other, everyone can trace a piece of who they are to a special relationship they had. This could be with a sibling, a parent, a friend, a professor, or any other person who has been a mentor. The non-profit organization Big Brother Big Sister gives kids in need an opportunity to create this type of relationship with a volunteer. If you’re here because you’re asking, “What does the Big Brother Big Sister program do?” then you’ve arrived at the right place!


You may be interested in becoming a volunteer or referring a child in need. The organization is well-respected worldwide. Children from all over benefit from the services provided by volunteers (potentially like you)!



Big Brother Big Sister Big and Little rock climbing

Source: flickr



What is the Big Brother Big Sister Program?

The Big Brother Big Sister program is the world’s largest mentorship network. The organization pairs adult volunteers, or Bigs, with children, known as Littles, around the world. It provides valuable relationships for youth who needs it most.



What Does the Big Brother Big Sister Program Do?

The mentorship program works with a serious matching process to pair volunteers with youth to create everlasting relationships. First, the Big Brother Big Sister Program finds youth in need. This may mean that they come from single parent homes, have grown up in poverty, have an incarcerated parent, etc. Then, according to location, preferences, and personalities, a volunteering Big is placed with a Little.


From the beginning and throughout the entire mentorship program, a BBBS staff member and Match Support Specialist oversees the relationship and is in contact monthly with the Little’s guardian. This is to ensure that both parties are satisfied and safe throughout.



How Much Time is Required?

There is no exact amount of time you have to spend with your Little. However, volunteers are expected to commit to volunteering for at least a year with their Little. They can meet either one or twice a month or once a week for 3-5 hours at a time.


Depending on their personal relationship and each participant’s schedule, the Big and Little can decide how often they will meet.



What Kind of Activities Do Bigs and Littles Do?

The program is meant to be fun for everyone involved. That’s why there’s freedom in choosing what you get to do together.


The activities that Bigs and Littles take part in together is up to their discretion. It should obviously be based on what they like to do. The activities are meant to be free or low-cost. More importantly, the best activities include opportunities for the Big to mentor and teach their Little life skills.


For example, maybe you’ll want to go to a sporting event, movie or even the park. Sometimes, the organization will even organize an event for Bigs and Littles.


If you want to feel inspired, here are a few ideas for what you could do with your Little:


  • Play chess, cards or board games
  • Build Lego
  • Make your own cards
  • Write a story or poem
  • Learn about current events by reading news online or newspapers
  • Cook or bake
  • Go to a museum
  • Go fishing
  • Go on a hike
  • Play catch
  • Go to the zoo
  • Have a good conversation over snacks
  • Go to a fair
  • Spend time at the beach


For more activity ideas, check out this extensive list of ideas.



How Much Money is Required?

It’s more about time than money when it comes to volunteering at Big Brother Big Sister. There’s no money required.


As mentioned, BBBS will organize free events for Bigs and Littles to take part in. If you feel as though you want to spend some money on your Little, it’s an option, but it’s by no means required.



Can Anyone Volunteer?

Because the program involves children, it is highly regulated when bringing in new volunteers. Not everyone can become a volunteer as there is a strict application and assessment process for safety reasons.


After the application process, the agency may approve or deny the request to become a volunteer.



How Do I Get Matched?

Matches are based on compatibility, and, of course, location. The agency will take time to consider your values, interests, background, and preferences.


Then, BBBS will work to match you with a child that will benefit most from your mentorship.



What Kind of Training is Provided?

An initial training session teaches Bigs about the “dos and don’ts” of the job. In addition, every match has an assigned case worker to serve as a resource throughout the relationship. The case worker can also give suggestions on planning itineraries for when you meet with your Little.


BBBS takes pride in building successful mentorship relationships, so they are actively involved throughout it all. As a volunteer, there’s nothing to be nervous about because you can always ask questions and get support.



How are Children Referred?

Children come to the program in a variety of ways. For example, parents, teachers, and outside counselors can all refer children to become a Little.



Big Brother Big Sister sporting event
Source: Wikipedia Commons



What Does it Take to Become a Successful Mentor?

There’s no one right way to be a good mentor. Everyone has their own style when communicating with and leading children.


However, some of the best mentors possess the following qualities:


  • Like spending time with kids
  • Enjoy listening
  • Are responsible for their own and others’ safety
  • Have strong problem-solving skills
  • Have great communication skills
  • Want to give back to their community and help others



Effects and Accountability of this Program

Various studies have been conducted to gauge the positive effects of the program. They’ve found that being a part of the program decreases a child’s likelihood of partaking in drug and alcohol use. The program also decreases the chance that children will act violently or skip school.


As such, the program has achieved major success internationally. It was named one of the top ten charities by Forbes and is rated A+ by the American Institute of Philanthropy.



How Did the Program Start?

It all began over a century ago. BBBS started because of a court clerk in New York named Ernest K. Coulter. After seeing so many young boys come through the courtroom, he set out to find volunteers to help guide the youth in the right direction.


From the organization’s inception in 1904, the program was originally called the Big Brothers Movement. Other programs around the country were growing to support young boys and girls at the same time. By 1977, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America was formed.



The Wrap Up

The Big Brother Big Sister program changes lives for the better. Youth around America benefit greatly from the mentorship and bond they create with their volunteer Bigs. At the same time, volunteers have a great way to give back to their community that is enjoyable for everyone involved.


There are many different types of charities and causes to care about. BBBS is just one of them, but it’s admirable, effective, and carefully maintained. With international chapters, people in countries around the world can get involved!