Are you searching for volunteer opportunities in Utah? Our mission at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah (BBBSU) is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the potential of youth throughout the state. Right now there are nearly 100 kids waiting to be matched with a Big, so we need your help!
There are a lot of questions you might have if you are thinking of becoming a volunteer mentor (Big) in one of our 3 programs. We have put together some of our most commonly asked questions from people that are thinking about becoming a mentor. If you have a question that is not answered here, you can always reach out to ask at [email protected].
One of the biggest things to know is that you do not need special skills or certifications to become a Big; you just need to want to mentor a local child and be a caring and consistent role model for them!
Here are frequently asked questions by Bigs and potential Bigs.
Q: What are the age requirements for Bigs?
A: Community-Based Bigs must be at least 18 years old. Site-Based Bigs can be adults or high school students (Freshmen- Juniors). Mentor2.0 mentors must be college graduates or have equivalent professional or military experience. There is no upper age limit to be a Big.
Q: What is the commitment?
A: BBBSU offers volunteer opportunities in Utah for three different mentoring programs. We ask Bigs and Littles in all our mentoring programs to commit a minimum 12 months to the mentoring match (and each other!)
We ask Bigs and Littles in the Community-Based program to meet at least twice per month. All activities are arranged by the Big, Little and with the approval of parent/guardian. On average matches spend 7 hours per month together across two to four activities.
Site-Based match activities are scheduled by BBBSU staff and Bigs are given the scheduled day/times for the school year in advance. The meetings take place weekly at the Little’s school for about 60 minutes in after-school hours and weekly activities are supported by BBBSU staff.
Mentor2.0 matches communicate in the electronic platform weekly and meet monthly in person at the Mentee’s high school. Meeting times are scheduled and activities are supported by BBBSU staff.
Q: Who are the children (Littles/Mentees) served by BBBSU?
A: Our Littles range in age from 6-18. We serve youth who have a lot of potential but who may not reach it because they are facing a number of challenges (risk factors). We prioritize enrolling kids who are living in low-to-moderate income homes. Many of the kids in our programs are from a refugee background, are coping with parental incarceration, or living without one, or both, of their biological parents.
Q: I am not sure I am qualified to be a role model / I don’t know much about kids
A: You don’t need a specific kind of degree or job or knowledge to be a great Big. You DO need to be a caring, consistent, compassionate adult who is willing to share what life has taught you. Throughout your mentoring experience, you will have a dedicated and professionally trained BBBSU staff member to assist you. We will coach you in building your friendship with your Little and as you help them develop and meet the goals they have set for themselves.
Q: How long will it take to become a mentor?
A: We have a thorough application process but the amount of time it takes depends largely on you. You will provide references, and their timely response will speed up the process. You will need to complete online or live training and completing those in a timely fashion will also speed the process. Finally, we currently have a waitlist for Big Sisters. On average from the time you apply, to the time you meet your Little, it will be about one to three months depending on preferences and location.
Q: How will I be supported once I start mentoring my Little?
A: Our Bigs are not alone! Once you and your Little agree to be matched, our enrollment staff will arrange a “match meeting” where they will introduce you to each other and the parent/guardian, go over all the ground rules, and help you get started with planning activities. They will also introduce you to the Match Support team and introduce you to your first specialist and share their contact information. Anytime you have questions or feel you need support you can reach out to them. The Match Support staff help ensure that you have the ideas and resources you need to have a successful mentoring experience.
Q: What sort of activities do I do with my Little?
-We do everything we can to make matches where the Big and Little have similar interests. But the most important thing you can do is involve your Little in making the plan for the activities. It empowers them and it helps ensure they will be engaged. So do things you love that your Little also wants to do. Try new things together or introduce your Little to new things.
-In Community-Based matches, you schedule activities when it works for you and your Little and their parent/guardian. You don’t have to spend a lot of money — it’s about the time. Common activities include going to get ice cream or going to a movie, playing catch or a video game, walking the dog at a park, attending a sporting event or concert, or visiting the library or a local rec center.
-Site-Based and mentor2.0 matches participate in activities set by, and at a time/place pre-determined, by BBBSU staff.
To learn more or apply to become a Big for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, visit https://bbbsu.org/.