Have questions about being a Big? Asking yourself questions such as am I the right person to become a Big, what's required, does it cost anything...we'll answer your questions and then you will have no doubt!
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I the right person to become a Big Brother or Big Sister?
If you are 21 years of age and older, reside in Ocean County and would like to spend time with a child who will benefit from having your friendship and your positive influence, then you have the potential to be a great Big Brother or Big Sister!
What does a Big Brother or Big Sister do?
Bigs spend one-to-one time with Littles having fun and exploring each others’ interests. They go to the movies together, or to a ball game, watch television, play video games, or bake cookies. In most cases it’s these simple activities that foster that special bond and lead to magical moments for both the child and the mentor that will last a lifetime. Research on our mentoring programs shows that our Bigs have a powerful, positive and lasting impact on the character and confidence of the children they mentor.
Who are the Bigs in the program?
Our Bigs come from diverse backgrounds just like our Littles. They are regular people, just like you. You don’t need any special degrees or job skills. You just have to want to positively impact a young person. Role models come in all shapes and sizes, and you could be a perfect fit.
Do I need special training or experience to become a Big Brother or Big Sister?
Not at all! The most important qualification for a Big to have is a genuine desire to enrich the life of a child by sharing everyday activities and experiences with them. We do require that our Big Brothers and Big Sisters be prepared to make a 1 year commitment to their Little, spending 4-8 hours per month with them, and have a vehicle with current auto insurance. In addition, our highly qualified staff provides Bigs with a mandatory training session before they meet with their Little for the first time.
How do I become a Big Brother or Big Sister?
The process to become a mentor begins as soon as you let us know that you are interested in being a Big. Your contact information will be collected so that a member of our case management staff can call you to discuss volunteer eligibility, explain the intake process and to verify your desire to volunteer with us. After that initial contact, the case manager will send you an application or you can apply online. Once your application is received, a case manager will arrange an office interview, with you. If your Little will be spending time at your home, a home visit may also be necessary. Once background and reference checks are complete you will be invited to our office for a mentor training session. The entire process takes between 5 weeks to 8 weeks and is designed to ensure the safety of our Littles and prepare our mentors for a healthy and successful match.
How will I be matched by a child?
Our enrollment and interview process is designed not only to ensure the safety of our children, but also to help us select the right Big for each child. We get to know you first, so we can find the best Little Brother or Little Sister for you. We take into account your personality, likes, dislikes, age preferences, background, and location and then we recommend a match based on all information gathered from the volunteer, child and parent.
Who are the Little Brothers and Little Sisters?
Our Littles are generally between 7 and 13 years old and they come from different ethnic, economic, educational and family backgrounds. Their parent(s) recognize that they have a need for a positive role model and they come to us based on a referral by a family member, teacher, guidance counselor or social worker. On average we have a waiting list of 40 children who are in need of a Big to call their own. Of that number not one of the male Littles currently has a father figure in his life. That’s why our need for volunteers is so urgent – and why our Bigs have such a wonderful impact on the lives of their Littles.
What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?
Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Go to the library, check out a book and read together. Buy a comic book to read together. Play a board game. Go on a nature walk. 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!
Can I bring my spouse/friend/family member on outings?
It is important for Bigs and Littles to really get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis and for that reason we recommend that Bigs not include others in activities with their Littles, certainly not before a good rapport has been established. We understand that over time it is also valuable for Littles to get to know the people who are important to their Bigs and we support that, as long as the main focus is the bond between the Big and Little. We also have an option called Couples Mentoring.
How much does it cost?
Being a mentor costs nothing, although there may be costs associated with the activities Bigs and Littles choose to engage in. We encourage Bigs and Littles to plan activities that involve low or no cost so that the focus remains on the friendship that is being built. For example, it costs nothing to go hiking, jogging or to spend time in the park, yet these are activities that can lead to special moments for both Big and Littles. Keep in mind that the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency has several events and outings that you can attend and we often offer free tickets to sporting and cultural events. There is a $25 charge for fingerprinting, but that comes after references and background and DMV are checked.
What happens if I have questions after I'm matched?
One of the things that makes our mentoring relationships unique is that they are supported by highly-trained, professional staff. Each match is assigned their own case manager that will provide problem solving, feedback and information as needed and support the match so that it is an enriching experience for both the Big and the Little. Case managers and Bigs generally talk to each other once per month and certainly more often as needed.
Will I become a replacement parent?
No, Littles have a parent or guardian in their life already. What they need is a Big to spend quality, one-on-one time with them. Someone to have fun with, someone they can confide in, someone like you!