Commonly Asked Questions
What is the aim of Big Brothers Big Sisters?
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County (BBBSEC) focuses on one-to-one, community based mentoring relationships, which help children in the program develop confidence, competency and caring.
Who is the Little?
The Little is a child in need of a consistent, supportive, positive friend in their life. The child is between the ages of 6 and 14 and comes from a household with one or no biological parent. Once a child is matched, the relationship can continue until he or she graduates high school.
Who is the Big?
The Big Brothers or Big Sister is a mature, responsible volunteer who seeks to make an impact in the life of a child by providing a caring and positive friendship. There are not any occupational, religious or educational requirements. A Big may be of any age, race, religion, sex, or marital status.
Couples wanting to volunteer together can become a Big Couple. Families can volunteer as a Big Family.
How often do the volunteer and child meet?
The child and volunteer generally see each other 2-4 times each month for 1-5 hours, depending on the schedule of the Big and Little and the match itself. Each volunteer is expected to commit to at least one year of volunteering.
What do the volunteer and child do together?
The ordinary, everyday things that are always more fun when done with a friend! The match may have an activity in common, such as fishing, crafts, or a particular sport. They may learn together, just talk, attend some special event or even volunteer together. Matches can also enjoy something new or out of the ordinary, such as a new hobby or special experience like a concert. The agency also offers occasional group activities, such as ice skating, a Summer Picnic, a Christmas Party, camping trips, etc.
How does the agency support each match?
The purpose of the agency in the relationship is to provide support and guidelines to the people involved in each match. This is done by the Match Support Specialist over the length of the match. The Match Support Specialist and other agency program staff (including Enrollment Specialist, Customer Relations Specialist, etc.) are involved in the match in many ways, including: the recruitment, interview, and overall intake of new volunteers and children; matching Bigs and Littles; and offering support, guidance, and supervision to the volunteer, child, and parents.
Does being in the program cost money?
There is no charge for parents and children to be enrolled in the program. Potential volunteers are asked pay a one-time enrollment fee of $26 to cover the cost of background checks.
Overall, the agency is funded by private donations, grants and fundraising activities. Participants may be asked to help with fundraising and promotional activities. The agency is a not-for-profit organization and contributions are tax deductible.
Although many activities can be low cost or even free, there is an expectation that the Big will cover the cost of the outings. The agency offers some free match events throughout the year, and will often post calendars and activities on the BBBS website with free community events. (Reasonable unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the volunteer for the Little and mileage may be tax deductible.)
How do I get involved?
Any person interested in volunteering as a Big is encouraged to contact the BBBS office or find out morehere.
Children enter the program by referral from parents, school, or social service agencies, and by the consent of the parent or guardian only. The parent and child must agree to interviews for social history and understand that children are matched as volunteers become available.
All information is treated in a confidential manner. Services are provided without regard to race, age, sex, religion, handicap, national origin or ancestry.
If you have any other questions regarding Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County and any of its programs or events, please call the office at 574-875-1039 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.