Frequently Asked Questions
How to become a mentor
Thank you for your interest in becoming a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Blair County. We’re always looking for people eager to positively impact a child and improve their community at the same time. Big Brothers especially are in high demand. For a few hours, a couple times a month, you can give a Little the invaluable gift of your friendship.
To volunteer now, fill out our application by clicking the Application button below. After, our enrollment specialist will contact you about scheduling an orientation date here at our office. For questions, check out our FAQ's below, or reach out to [email protected].org.
How will I be matched with a child?
The application and interview processes help us to get to know your preferences and learn about the situation best suited for you. You get acquainted with us and learn what to expect. In making your match, we take into account your personality, likes, dislikes, age preferences, background, and location. The final decision about a match is always yours.
How do children come into the program?
Children and parents may hear about BBBS from a teacher, a counselor, their church, a friend who has a Big, commercials, etc. All children and their parents choose to be part of our program.
Who are the children in the program?
Our Littles come from a variety of home environments, family structures, socio-economic levels, ethnic backgrounds, neighborhoods, and schools. Their backgrounds and personalities are unique. They all have a need for friendship with a caring adult.
When can I see my Little?
You and your Little—and his or her parent—decide the best times for your match to meet. Keep a consistent schedule and see each other at least twice a month to establish a genuine relationship and comfort level. The length of outings will depend on the comfort level of the Big, Little, and parent. If your Little is young, a shorter outing will be best to start.
How much money should I spend?
Seek out free or low-cost, simple activities, especially in the beginning. Our agency offers group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles! We also offer a monthly e-bulletin with information about free or inexpensive activities in the area. You will receive e-mails about opportunities for free tickets for your match to attend a variety of cultural and sports activities. Buying gifts for your Little will actually stifle your friendship, because your Little will have the wrong expectations of the relationship.
What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?
Friendships develop through shared experiences. Start your match with something simple and casual where you can learn about each other. Play catch in the park, bake cookies, bowl, have a picnic lunch, take a bike ride, or visit the library. This will set your Little's expectations for the time you share. Save special outings or events (which you both agree on) until after you have built an understanding and your friendship is solid. Your match support team can also give many suggestions.
What kind of activities should I avoid first?
Commercial “Fun” Stores: Gameworks, Boomers, Chuck-e-Cheese—these can be really fun places, but costly. Save these for special occasions only, such as birthdays, good grades, etc., and only if you choose this as an acceptable activity.
Movies: It’s important to communicate while engaged in a common interest with your Little: hard to do at a movie. When you do go, be sure to share your reactions and thoughts after the show.
Shopping: Avoid this as an activity unless you both agree on the purpose and goal, such as how make a sound purchase for a Mother's Day gift or spend an allowance wisely. If you choose to shop, set limits as you would with any child who, confronted with enticing displays, wants something he/she cannot have.
Can I bring my partner/friend /family member on outings?
It’s important to spend one-on-one time with your Little to get to know each other. It is good for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you—this can be a great way for you to model appropriate friendship/relationship skills. However, spend at least half of your outings in one-on-one activities so your Little benefits from your special attention.
What is the Match Support Team?
The Match Support Team is a group of specialists who can help you develop your friendship, address any questions, concerns, or problems, and give you guidance throughout your match. The team can help you understand what is happening in your friendship and flag problems before they start. It can also be a helpful link to resources. Contact information for the Match Support Team is on the back of this flyer.
What if my Little doesn’t talk to me at first?
Some children aren’t used to having an attentive listener and are uncomfortable talking. Here are some pointers …
• Use humor to start conversations; there’s nothing like a good laugh to break the ice. (Your match support team can give you great tips on this.)
• Keep intermittent eye contact; look at your Little when he/she is talking and smile when it’s appropriate.
• When your Little is talking make sure he or she knows you are not distracted; be an active listener: Tell me more about that, What happened next?, How did you feel? (Not: Why did/didn’t/won’t you?, How could you?, etc.)
• Be aware of your body language and facial expressions…avoid folding your arms, rolling your eyes, frowning, or otherwise showing disapproval
How long does it take to become a mentor?
The process of becoming a Big can take between 1-2 months, with an average time of 45 days.