WHAT DO I DO WITH MY LITTLE?
In the Community Based Program, whatever you like! Many matches are made based on personal interests, as well as goals for the Little. For example, we may pair a quieter Little with an outgoing Big to help develop communication and social skills, as well as build confidence. But many matches enjoy time together hiking through a park, playing board games, visiting a museum, or going out to eat. In the Lunch Time program, Bigs and Littles play board games, work on homework, read together, or play in the school gym. Since this program is held only at the school during the Little's lunch hour, the activities are limited to a school setting.
HOW WILL I BE MATCHED WITH A CHILD?
Just as every Big is interviewed to be a volunteer, every Little in the program is interviewed by our Enrollment Specialist. Our role is to determine the best fit for a child based on their needs, interests, and areas a parent/guardian would like to see them develop. We work with school social workers, teachers, and other professionals who can give us perspective of the child, and use that information to better match them with you, a Big.
HOW OFTEN DO A BIG AND LITTLE GET TOGETHER?
In the Community Based Program, 2-4x per month (2 at a minimum) for a few hours each time. In the Lunch Time and After School programs, the Big and Little meet during the designated hour 1x per week on the same day of the week, as long as school is in session.
DOES IT COST ANYTHING?
The quality of time invested with your Little is more important than the amount of money you spend. The goal is to inspire a child to help them realize their full potential and see the world through a different lense, which is why we encourage no cost/low cost activities. You can spend money on activities, however the Big is responsible for the cost. Occassionally, generous donors will provide free tickets to sporting events, museums, and cultural events that our Match Support Specialists will inform you are available. BBBS of McHenry County also plans no-cost Match Activities for Bigs and Littles to participate in that are open to all Community Based Matches, such as a Holiday Party, Summer Picnic, and game nights, to mention a few.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE ANY PRIOR TRAINING OR EXPERIENCE?
You are not required to have any specialized skills or background to be a mentor. Many mentors find that the relationship is easily formed when you are just yourself with your Little and give them an opportunity to learn about your interests and hobbies. As an individual, your unique life experience is important to mentoring a child.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM TIME COMMITMENT TO BE A BIG?
In the Community Based program, we ask volunteers to commit a minimum of 18 months of consistent contact to the program and their Little. In the Lunch Time and After School programs, we ask volunteers to commit to 12 months
(1 school year) in the program and their Little.
WHO ARE THE LITTLES IN OUR PROGRAM?
Littles in our program are initially enrolled between the ages of 6-18. We offer our program at no cost to all youth in McHenry County who are living in single-parent households, in a two-parent household experiencing extreme difficulties, coping with parental incarceration, and/or growing up in poverty.
HOW FAR DO I HAVE TO TRAVEL?
Aside from interests, we also try to match Bigs and Littles based on geographic location. We serve kids across McHenry County and try our best to match Bigs and Littles who live close together. In some cases, a Big may express no conflict with long drive times across the county, and thus may be matched with a Little farther out from where they live.
WHAT KIND OF BACKRGOUND CHECKS DO YOU PREFORM?
All volunteers and employees are subject to background checks, as well as references from people who know you well (friends, spouses, employers). Additionally, our agency conducts background checks through the National Criminal Background Check, Federal Background Check, DCFS Child Abuse/Neglect, Public Domain Search, Motor Vehicle Check, and fingerprinting. Please note for volunteers applying to the Community Based Program, all other adults ages 18+ in the home of the potential volunteer must also complete a background check (spouses, adult children, etc.). There is no cost for applying to volunteer; BBBS covers the cost of all fingerprinting and background checks performed.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS?
Once you are matched with your Little, a Match Support Specialist from the agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Any time you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, you will have a Match Support Specialist there to help. They’ll provide you with ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference.