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  • Holly Herring

5 Misconceptions about Being a Volunteer Mentor (AKA “Big”)



1. I don’t have enough time.

The perception of not having enough time is the number one reason that prevents many potential volunteer mentors (AKA “Bigs”) from signing up to learn more. And we get it. Most Americans tend to lead a very busy lifestyle that does not often slow down. While we will not get into the different theories about the illusions of time from Einstein and Newton, we will tell you that most of our volunteers find success when they include their Littles on already-planned events. Even the most mundane or simple of activities like grocery shopping, cooking dinner, potting plants, or going to a football game can be a new experience and create meaningful interactions with your Little – and could also be a great teaching moment.

We ask our volunteers to plan 2-4 outings a month with their Little which usually equates to around 4-6 hours a month. We do not require our volunteers to clock their hours because it is more important to focus on meeting consistently to create an impactful bond and friendship. Listen to a few words from a busy Cargill executive about his perspective on the time commitment to his Little Brother.

We do not require our volunteers to clock their hours because it is more important to focus on meeting consistently to create an impactful bond and friendship.

2. I’m too old.

We hear this one often and it is simply not true! Our volunteer ages range from 18 to nearly 80 years old. We welcome volunteers from – age 18+, income levels, ethnicities, religions, gender expressions, sexual orientations, disabilities, veteran, or marital statuses. Our data even shows that our “older” Bigs often have longer match relationships with their Littles and, as no surprise, can provide valuable life wisdom.

The only age requirement is that our volunteers must be at least 18 years old and/or a high school graduate. Other than that, all you have to do is share with us your preferences and interests, and we will find a Little best suited for you.



3. There are already plenty of volunteers.

While we do have a strong base of committed volunteers, we also have more than 300 Littles waiting for a Big in Sedgwick County and nearly 1,500 across the state of Kansas. The amount of youth enrollments consistently surpasses the amount of volunteer inquiries we receive. Our volunteer recruiters work every day to spread the word about our need for more Bigs, but the need is ever present (and will be ever present).

Every person who inquires and attends an info session is very important to us. On occasion, we present to companies with 50+ people in the room and only one person signs up to move forward. That may seem like a disappointment to some, but from our perspective, that means we will eventually be able to take one Little off the waiting list. Plus, we know we have planted seeds for the other people in the room who are not quite ready to take the next step now but might be able to in the future – and could possibly tell a friend or two about our mission and need.

4. I don’t know how to mentor a youth.

Keep in mind that your genuine friendship is more than enough to mentor a Little in our program. However, rest assured knowing that your Match Support Specialist (MSS) will be there to guide you. We employ passionate, professionally degreed staff whose purpose is to support you and your Little throughout the life of your match. This support is based on national standards that every BBBS agency must adhere to and is designed to ensure child safety but also to ensure that the match is benefiting both the Little and you.

Your MSS will be your key to your relationship between you and your Little and their family. They are your personal sounding board and can give great advice, provide ideas for activities, and help celebrate successes and milestones. They have each worked with hundreds of matches and can therefore guide you through many different scenarios as needed.

5. I don’t have all the “right” qualifications.

The greatest qualification is that you just be yourself. To be a Big, all you need to do is show up consistently, be supportive and listen. You do not need to know math, be great at sports or video games—you just be you and we will find a Little like you!

95% of Littles report that they feel like they have a special adult in their life that they can turn to – someone in their corner rooting for their success.

One of the cornerstones of the success of our program is our best-fit matching process. We match our Bigs and Littles not on a first-come, first-served basis but instead on common personalities, interest, preferences, and location. We have found that pairing Bigs and Littles in this way results in more meaningful and longer lasting match relationships. Our 2019 Youth/Child Outcome Survey results prove this is true as 95% of Littles reporting that they feel like they have a special adult in their life that they can turn to – someone in their corner rooting for their success.

Are you ready to take the first step towards changing a youth’s live for the better, forever? Inquire online today.

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