Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Ohio (BBBSECO) recognizes that making the best possible match between a Little and a Big is critical to the growth and development of a child or teen. However, BBBSECO also recognizes the importance of safety for all children and teens, which is why youth safety is our number one priority! We, therefore, start by thoroughly screening potential Bigs in accordance with Big Brothers Big Sisters National Standards of Excellence requirements.
- Completion of a formal written application
- Background and reference checks
- In-person interview
- Orientation and training that…
- Outlines the individualized needs of your child
- Provides information and resources on how to encourage your child’s development.
If you have any questions about the screening or enrollment process, please contact us!
Our Bigs come from diverse backgrounds, just like our Littles. Just about anyone can be a mentor. You don’t need any special degrees or job skills, simply a caring heart, a good head on your shoulders, and the willingness to be a reliable mentor for a Little or group of Littles. Current Bigs are teachers, business executives, police officers, healthcare workers, college students, and more.
In order to participate in community-based mentoring, you must be 18 years or older. However, if you are younger, you can still mentor in a school-based mentoring program. In relationships that have a high school student as a Big, not only does the Little thrive under the mentor’s positive influence, but the Big is also empowered by taking on the responsibility of serving as a mentor and a role model for someone else. This may be a great way for your high school children to get involved as well!
Depending on the program in which you are a Big, you will meet with your Little once a month to once a week. The frequency, time, location, duration, and activities done during a mentoring session will vary based on the program. For School-Based mentoring, Bigs visit the Littles’ school at a time that does not disrupt the Littles’ education. For Community-Based mentoring, the details are flexible, and it is the Big’s responsibility to coordinate mentoring sessions with the Little’s parent(s) or guardian(s). The minimum meeting requirements for each program are:
- Community-based: at least four hours each month, in the community
- Site-based: once a week, for at least one hour, throughout the school year
These are just the minimum requirements, and we encourage more frequent meetings when available. For Community-Based mentoring, Bigs are expected to keep in touch with their Littles in between meetings – essential for developing a bond.
There is no defined minimum commitment requirement for being a Big. However, we ensure that all Bigs know that the lasting impact of a mentoring relationship takes place at the 12-month mark, and positive effects increase the longer the relationship lasts. The average match at BBBSECO lasts about two years, but again – the longer the match, the greater the impact.
With our School-Based program, we will match you with a Little who you will visit in school once a week. This takes place during the school day, so you need to make sure you can leave the office for enough time to allow for travel to and from the school with at least an hour of mentoring.
If your time won’t allow for this option, but you would still like to support our mission, you may consider a donation or join us for a fundraiser. There are different events throughout the year where your advocacy of our mission to your employer, co-workers, friends, and family would make a huge difference! You can check out our events calendar or contact Olivia Scally at email@example.com to find out more.
Bigs and Littles are matched based on specific criteria, gender being one of them. What is more important, though, is life experiences, personalities, and interests. A relationship is built on outings and activities, so we conduct in-depth interviews with all program participants (Bigs and Littles) to make effective matches that are likely to be long-lasting.
Little Brothers can be matched with a Big Sister or a Big Brother. Little Sisters can only be matched with Big Sisters.
For Community-Based mentoring, your Program Specialist will set up a time and place for you to meet your Little. It is critical for the relationship that you arrive on time for the initial meeting to ensure the relationship gets off on the right foot. Your Little’s parent or parents will be present, so you have a chance to meet them, as well – and so they have a chance to meet you.
During the initial match proposal over the phone, you will have received information about your Little’s life situation in order to help prepare you for your match.
For School-Based mentoring, you will meet your Little at an introduction session to get to know each other.
Depending on the program in which you are a Big, you may have designated times established to meet with your Little; this is the case for School-Based mentoring. In Community-Based mentoring, you decide as a Big-Little together what you want to do. It is your responsibility to communicate with your Little’s parent(s) or guardian(s) for approval. Until your relationship is established, the outings will also depend on your comfort level, as well as that of your Little’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and your Little.
The quality of time with your Little is more important than the amount of money you spend, which is why we don’t encourage spending a lot of money on gifts or outings. The goal of the relationship is to help your Little see the world through a different lens, so he/she can understand the potential that he/she has and join you in defending it. If you are going to spend money, we encourage you to seek out low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. You can:
- Shoot hoops or have a catch at a local park
- Play a board game or card game together
- Fly a kite at the beach
- Go for a hike in an open area
- Share a pizza that you were going to have for lunch anyway
- Go out for ice cream
BBBSECO also offers group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles, as well as occasionally has free (donated) tickets to cultural and sports activities for you both to enjoy.
Share an activity that gives you something to talk about. Get a comic book to read together. Play a board game. School-Based matches are provided with weekly activities by the Mentoring Specialist to help guide your time and work on different developmental assets.
If you’re in a Community-Based match there are even more options! Hit a bucket of golf balls at the local driving range. Take a ride in the car with the radio on and talk about the music you like. You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. Most important: keep it simple and enjoy yourselves!
In the beginning, it’s important that you and your Little get to know each other. This happens best on a one-to-one basis. Over time, it is also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you. Just keep in mind that if you are focusing on others during what is supposed to be a mentoring session, your Little may begin to feel jealous or neglected. The priority needs to be the friendship you develop with your Little and the impact you have on his or her life.
Once you are matched with your Little, a Mentoring Specialist from the agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and to give feedback. Any time you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, your Mentoring Specialist will be able to help. Your Mentoring Specialist can help you come up with ideas for activities, provide guidance for handling difficult situations, and give feedback on how you are making a difference. Please also feel free to reach out to your Mentoring Specialist with stories of successes and other milestones that your Little reaches! For School-Based mentoring, BBBSECO staff will always be on site while you are volunteering, so feel free to reach out to them at any time.
No, all Littles have a parent or guardian in their life already. What they need is a Big who they can confide in and have fun while spending quality time together. Someone like you!
Child safety is our first priority. Therefore, a comprehensive, current criminal history record check is required of all individuals who come into meaningful contact with children. We require this search for consistency and to ensure accuracy; therefore,we do not accept existing background checks. This includes all volunteers, BBBS staff, and other programmatic individuals. BBBSECO utilizes a global background screening company with 40+ years of expertise.