IS MENTORING FOR YOU?
All children and youth need someone to look up to. More than this, they require someone to provide guidance and advice, to give attention and praise – not to mention someone to have fun with! Children and youth can get this support from parents or caregivers, siblings, teachers, coaches – and also from volunteer Mentors! The children and youth who come to Big Brothers Big Sisters seek an adult role model to talk to, learn from, and share experiences with. There may be dozens, if not hundreds of children and youth in your community right now who would like to welcome a caring role model into their lives. Could you provide this kind of support to a child or youth?
Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters is fun, easy, and benefits both the Mentors and the child or youth they are matched with! But there are also important requirements and responsibilities that come along with Mentoring, so it is not for everyone. The purpose of this orientation is to provide you with the information you need to determine whether Mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters is something that is right for you. The orientation also provides guidance on how to proceed if you decide that Mentoring with us is something that you would like to pursue.
WHAT IS MENTORING ALL ABOUT?
First and foremost, mentoring is about being a friend to a child or youth. For more information you can go through our online orientation.
How do mentors make a difference in the lives of children and youth?
Mentors make a difference in so many different ways! See our testimonials from Little Brothers, Little Sisters and their parents.
ABOUT VOLUNTEERING WITH BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS
WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES DO MENTORS AND MENTEES DO TOGETHER?
We encourage Bigs and Littles to choose activities they both enjoy. Caseworkers do their best to match mentors with a Little Brother or Little Sister who has interests similar to theirs. Many agencies organize group activities for matches, and are sometimes given tickets to movies, sporting events, and cultural events which they offer to their matches.
DOES BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS ONLY OFFER ONE-TO-ONE MENTORING OR ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE?
Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies offer a wide variety of mentoring opportunities, and the programs offered vary from agency to agency. See Mentoring Programs for all the programs our agency provides.
DOES MENTORING WITH BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS COST A LOT OF MONEY?
It doesn’t have to. Big Brothers Big Sisters encourages no-cost and low-cost activities.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I NEED SUPPORT WITH AN ISSUE IN MY MATCH?
You will be assigned a caseworker, a trained professional who is there to support you in your match with your Little Brother or Little Sister. You will be required to have regular contact with your caseworker, and we also encourage you to contact your Caseworker at any time to discuss how the match is going, what activities you are enjoying together, and any issues that you may be having.
ARE MENTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY OF THEIR LITTLE BROTHER OR LITTLE SISTER DURING OUTINGS?
Yes. See our online orientation for more information.
ARE MENTORS EXPECTED TO HELP OUT WITH THE CHILD OR YOUTH'S PERSONAL ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS BRINGING THEM TO APPOINTMENTS, HELPING THEM WITH HOMEWORK, ETC?
No. Mentors may decide to help out with these types of activities every now and then, but this is not a requirement. An exception would be Big Brother Big Sister mentoring programs that focus on assisting the Little Sister or Little Brother with their homework and studies.
ABOUT THE PROCESS FOR BECOMING A VOLUNTEER
HOW DO I GET STARTED TOWARD BECOMING A BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS VOLUNTEER?
Check out the page Become a Big for an overview of the steps involved.
DO YOU ACCEPT EVERYONE WHO APPLIES TO BE A VOLUNTEER?
No. As prospective mentors go through the application and assessment process, the agency may determine that a mentoring role is not right for them. Prospective mentors themselves may also decide the time is not right to take on this role.
WHAT STEPS DO AGENCIES TAKE TO ENSURE THAT INAPPROPRIATE PEOPLE ARE NOT ACCEPTED AS VOLUNTEERS?
Several steps are taken. For example, all prospective volunteers must provide a satisfactory criminal record check, a social development check, and three satisfactory references. For more information on requirements see our online orientation or call us.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A MENTOR?
This varies across agencies, and also depends on the time it takes for the application process to be completed. Contact us to learn more.
WHERE DO I GO TO GET A CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK DONE?
You will need to go to your local RCMP or Police Department. Your local agency will be able to provide you with information on the location of the police station as well as their hours of operation. Your agency will also provide you with a reference letter that will waive the applicable fee.
HOW IS A LITTLE SISTER OR LITTLE BROTHER PICKED FOR ME? DO I HAVE ANY SAY?
When matching you with a Little Sister or Little Brother, your caseworker carefully reviews your application, noting your stated preferences, activities you enjoy, your background, personality, where you live, and other information gathered during your interview. All of this information is carefully considered in order to select compatible profiles for your Little Brother or Little Sister. Once you have selected a Little, your caseworker will call you to tell you about the child to make sure you are comfortable and to answer any questions you may have. Before introducing you to your Little, you will meet the parent(s)/guardian(s) to discuss expectations and to further confirm your decision. Once everyone feels comfortable, you will be introduced to your Little in a formal setting. You do have the option to say ‘no’ – we want everyone to be excited about a new match.
HELP WITH MAKING YOUR DECISION
HOW DO I KNOW IF MENTORING IS RIGHT FOR ME?
I AM A SENIOR CITIZEN, CAN I VOLUNTEER?
Most definitely! Most Big Brothers Big Sisters programs have no upper age limit to volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters – just be prepared to get in touch with your inner child!
I DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT CHILDREN AND YOUTH, IS THAT OKAY?
Yes! It doesn’t take much knowledge or experience to be a friend and positive role model, and the caseworker is always there to support you.
DO I NEED TO HAVE ACCESS TO A CAR?
Yes, you do need access to a vehicle to transport your Little to and from outings. Unlike some urban centres, it is impossible to rely entirely on public transit. This is something you should discuss with your caseworker prior to being matched.
I CAN'T COMMIT TO ONE YEAR OR BI-MONTHLY OUTINGS. CAN I STILL BE A VOLUNTEER?
Most likely, yes. Talk with your local agency – some offer programs with different commitment requirements. They will let you know if there is a program that might work for you. You may also want to start out by volunteering in another way, for example by helping the agency out with a fundraising event.
WHAT IF I CAN'T SEE MY LITTLE SISTER OR LITTLE BROTHER FOR A WEEK OR TWO BECAUSE I'M ON VACATION, GOING THROUGH EXAMS, OR AWAY ON A BUSINESS TRIP?
Occasional absences are to be expected, whether for vacations, work responsibilities or illness. If you are going to miss an outing, discuss your plans with your caseworker, your Little Brother or Little Sister and his or her parent or guardian prior to your absence. Communication is key!