This post is written by request- and I hope it inspires the requester (and others!) to seriously consider donating their time to Big Brothers Big Sisters. 🙂
First of all, for those of you who don’t know, I have been a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters for almost 2.5 years now. I have been matched with my little, T, for all this time. She’s 11 years old and beats me at bowling every single time.
I became interested in becoming a Big Sister pretty simply- I had extra time on my hands and wanted to give. I’m sure many of you can say the same thing, so I’m here to explain a little bit about the process and my experience with the organization over the past couple years.
First I applied for some information on their website, bbbs.org, and was put in touch with my local chapter (shout out to BBBSCCI!). I spoke with a representative about the responsibilities and expectations, and was happy to learn that they were manageable. The agency requires at least one year of commitment. In your first year, you should plan to hang out with your Little at least twice a month for at least a couple hours. This first year is critical in the relationship building stage. After your first anniversary, the expectation drops to once a month for a couple hours.
Also during the first year you have monthly check-ins with your Match Support Specialist. These calls typically last 15-30 minutes and are used to touch base about how your match is progressing, make sure both the Big, Little, and Little’s family are all in good communication, and to provide support in whatever way you might need. After a year you speak once every three months.
Extra bonus: my Match Support specialist became one of my good friends and was a bridesmaid in my wedding! When we started becoming close (in part we have our boyfriends to thank for that as they’ve been friends forever) I switched the person I go to for Match Support as to prevent any conflict of interest, just in case!
Other expectations included having a driver’s license and not drinking or doing drugs in front of your Little, but your main responsibility is to serve as a positive role model and have fun experiences together. All of these seemed manageable so I decided to go in for the next step, the in-person interview.
The entire staff was welcoming and I was led to a conference room where I had a one-on-one interview with a Match Coordinator. Her responsibility was to identify me as a good role model and to match me with someone whose personality and interests matched mine, as to maximize the experience for both of us. I must say, she did a great job! The interview questions started out pretty standard, but also included family history questions, questions about my level of comfort in certain situations and with different populations, whether anything would change in the coming year, etc. All of the questions were meant to find a good match within the program. I was advised that it could take weeks to find me a match, so all I could do was wait.
Not a lot of time passed before Lisa, the Match Coordinator, called me with good news! She had met a potential Little that seemed like she would be a good match for me. So we set up a time for me to meet T and her family. I met Lisa in a parking lot and followed her to T’s house, where we sat around the dining room table, getting to know each other, exchanging contact information and discussing expectations. Towards the end of the meeting T and I had an opportunity to take a walk for some one-on-one time and we planned our first outing.
And the rest is history!
There was certainly a getting-to-know-you stage, but we’ve moved passed the awkwardness of the first couple meetings and now we don’t stop gabbing when we’re together. We have a ton of fun- in fact, my husband noticed how much fun we were having, and he also signed up to be a Big! Once, he and I took both our Littles to Boston for a Red Sox game and we had a blast.
I can’t say enough good things about Big Brothers Big Sisters. T has become part of my family and I’m so lucky we got matched. I wouldn’t change a thing.
If you’re considering volunteering with BBBS and/or have any questions, please feel free to ask! It’s such a wonderful experience and I would encourage anyone curious about it to seriously consider it.