Big Brothers Big Sisters Enrolling Children and Volunteers

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big Brothers Big Sisters has openings in our Community-Based program for children ages 6-14, primarily from single parent homes, or children living with relatives, foster parents, or other nontraditional circumstances. Both the child and parent/guardian must be interested in the program.
Participation in the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs is based on need, not income. Other criteria will be discussed when considering enrollment, when a BBBS staff person will explain guidelines to determine if a child is eligible. There is no cost for families to participate.
The enrollment process for the traditional Community-Based program includes completion of an application and a parent/guardian and child interview in the home to assist with finding the right volunteer. There may be other reports required, if applicable.
Once children are enrolled, they are placed on a waiting list to be matched with a volunteer Big Brother or Big Sister. Big Brothers Big Sisters staff carefully select a mentor for each child based on preferences, interests, personality, geographical location, and the child’s needs. The parent/guardian and child must approve the volunteer prior to the final match decision.
Volunteer Bigs, ages 18 and older, are needed to pair with Littles in the Community-based program. Each volunteer must complete the enrollment and screening process, including interview, background checks, references, and training. Considering the dynamics of our adult population, most area Bigs are over age 50, and many are retirees who may have more time and also have a wealth of accumulated knowledge and wisdom to share with young people.
Parent/guardians are considered partners in each match, helping to coordinate outings with the child’s mentor, and conferring with BBBS staff on a monthly basis to monitor match progress. Outings depend on the interests of the child and volunteer. They may attend cultural or sports events, theater, movies, visit the library, cook, make arts and crafts, go on hikes, ride bikes or do other fun things. The volunteer provides transportation to and from the child’s home.
Big Brothers Big Sisters will enroll children for their School-Based (SB) mentoring program in the fall, for elementary school students who need a little extra one-to-one attention at school. In the SB program, trained volunteers, ages 16 and up, are paired with a student for one hour sessions each week to help with academics and/or encourage social development. The volunteer sees the Little only at the child’s school, an appealing option to some who may  be able to spare an hour a week to encourage a child’s education.
Potential volunteers are asked to contact BBBS to discuss this opportunity to serve children in Polk County and the Landrum area. Office hours are limited so please leave a message if you call. If you are interested in enrolling your child, or know of someone who may be a likely candidate, please contact BBBS at (828) 859-9230 or

– article submitted
by Karen Dacey

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