What is Big Brothers Big Sisters?

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, December 16, 2010

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) matches children ages six to 14 from single-parent families with adult mentors.

Bigs and Littles spend time together forming a friendship. They spend time together in order to explore each others interests and to have fun together. The impact of a mentor in a childs life often results in better grades in school, improved relationships with others, increased self-confidence and the ability to withstand peer pressure and make wiser choices. The match support staff provides support, activity ideas and guidance to enhance the relationship.

BBBS has two programs for Littles. The first is the community or traditional program, where Bigs and Littles participate together in activities in the community like hiking, playing ball, baking cookies, going to events or just spending time together.

The second program is the site or school based program. In this program, Bigs and Littles see each other at the childs school or recreation center. They spend time playing games, completing homework and having lunch together.

BBBS has been serving young people in Western North Carolina since 1982 and currently covers eight counties.

To become a Big Brother or Big Sister, call the Polk County office at 828-859-9230 and request an application. Applicants must provide references, participate in an in-person interview and go through a background check.

There are three main programs for mentors interested in BBBS: traditional, mentors and matches and after-school mentoring. In the traditional program, volunteers age 18 and older are matched with children for activities two times a month. Matches spend time doing simple, fun activities. Volunteers must be willing to make an initial one year commitment.

In the mentors and matches program, volunteers age 16 and older are paired with elementary age youth for activities one hour each week at the childs school. Mentors commit for at least two semesters.

In the after-school mentoring program, volunteers age 16 and older are paired with a young person for activities one hour each week at the childs after-school program site. Volunteers commit for at least two semesters.

Children who are eligible for a mentor in the community based program must be from a single-parent family or live with relatives or foster parents and be between the ages of six and 14. Both the child and the parent must be interested in participating.

BBBS works closely with parents and guardians to match every child with the right Big. The parent or guardians input about the type of volunteer that would be right for their child is very important.

To enroll in BBBS, call the Polk County office at 828-859-9230. The staff will ask for basic information about your child to ensure that they are eligible for the program.