About Big Brothers Big Sisters:

What does Big Brothers Big Sisters do?

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for better, forever.

What type of volunteer opportunities are available?

Big Brothers Big Sisters offers a variety of volunteer opportunities including mentoring, helping out at events and even addressing envelopes! The following are a list of the mentoring opportunities we have available. For a list of non-mentoring opportunities, click here.

  • Community-Based Mentoring: This program allows individuals to volunteer one-to-one with a child. They meet 2-3 times a month on their own time and choose the events they will do each time. Many relationships between Bigs and Littles fall under our Community-Based programs.
  • School-Based Mentoring: Although it takes place at schools, our School-Based Mentoring program isn’t limited to the classroom. Of course, some Littles do talk with their Bigs about class, or do homework, or read together, but it’s perfectly fine to shoot hoops in the gym or play on the playground.

Who can be a mentor?

Anyone aged 18 to 116 who has reliable transportation is eligible to be a Community-Based Big Brother or Big Sister. All candidates participate in a background check and home visit and are asked to supply a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. Safety is of the utmost importance and Big Brothers Big Sisters goes the extra mile to ensure that both our volunteers and children are protected.Individuals volunteering for our school-based program need to be a high school student or adult willing to mentor at one of our school program sites.

What benefits does Big Brothers Big Sisters provides to volunteers?

Big Brothers Big Sisters is an extremely rewarding experience for volunteers. Volunteers should be assured that the time they spend with their Little Brother or Little Sister is making an unforgettable, life-changing difference. Being a Big Brother or Big also gives volunteers a chance to try new things and enjoy time being a kid again. Volunteering is not only easy and rewarding; it also provides treasured experiences that are unique only to Big Brothers Big Sisters programming.

The process of matching a Big with a Little:

How will I be matched with a child?

The enrollment and interview process helps us to get to know your preferences as well as the situation best suited for you. It also helps you get to know us and the program expectations. We take into account your personality, likes, dislikes, age preferences, background, and location.

How do children come into the program?

Children and parents may hear about BBBS from a teacher, counselor, church, friend, commercials, etc. All children and their parents choose to be in our program.

Who are the children in the program?

Our Littles come from many types of home environments and family structures, different social-economic levels, ethnic backgrounds, and neighborhoods and schools across all communities. Their backgrounds and personalities are unique, but they all have a need for friendship with a caring adult.

What is the time commitment?

We ask for a minimum commitment of 1-year. However, many matches last for much longer. You should plan to see your Little at least 2-3 times per month in our community-based program, or weekly in our school-based program in order to make a lasting impact.

What it's like to be a Big:

When can I see my Little?

For our community-based program, our Bigs and Littles decide together what they want to do and they get parent approval. In our school-based program, our Bigs visit with their Little only at school during regular school hours.  Most visit at lunch time, during on-site after-school programs, or other convenient times agreed upon by the school and the Bigs agency.  We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and that you see each other on a regular basis. Your local agency will provide specific guidelines on expected frequency of activities with your Little. Until your relationship is established the outings will also depend on the comfort level of your Little’s parent, your Little, and you. If your Little is younger, a shorter outing might be better.

How much money should I spend?

We discourage you from spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is friendship. You should focus your time on getting to know each other. We encourage you to seek out free or low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. Our Big Brothers Big Sisters agency often offers group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles! You may also receive notices for opportunities for free tickets for your match to attend a variety of cultural and sports activities.

What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?

Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Buy a comic book to read to each other, play a board game or take a ride in the car with the radio on while you discuss music! You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. Most important: have FUN!

Can I bring my spouse/friend/family member on outings?

In the beginning it is important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis. Over time it is also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you. Keep in mind that if you’re spending lots of time with others your Little may begin to feel jealous or neglected. Remember that the main focus is the friendship YOU have with your Little. If you have questions about outings contact your Match Support Specialist for guidelines or suggestions.

What kind of support can I expect from BBBS once I get matched?

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. Anytime you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, you will have a Match Support Specialist there to help. You’ll receive ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference, just by showing up!

Donating to Big Brothers Big Sisters:

How do I make a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters?

It's easy to make a donation online! Simply click here to go to the donation form. To donate by mail, please send check or money order to:Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan, 521 South Union Street,Traverse City, MI 49684or to donate by phone, please call 231.946.2447 ext. 217

How can I donate clothing, toys, books, household goods, or other items? Will Big Brothers Big Sisters pick up my donation?

You will need to contact our office at 231.946.2447 ext. 217, to find out if we are currently accepting toys, books, and clothing donations.

Where does Big Brothers Big Sisters get its funding from?

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-profit organization supported by funds from generous donors including individuals, businesses, foundations and corporations.

How is my donation used? (Where does my money go?)

Your donation will support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan. As a professional mentoring organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters requires resources to maintain a well-trained staff to screen volunteers, make matches, and support relationships between Bigs and Littles -- to achieve the kind of success that shows proven results.

How do I make a donation in honor or memory of someone, and let them or their family know?


How can I get involved in helping to raise funds for the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in my community?

Contact our Executive Director, Cecilia Chesney, at 231.946.2447 ext. 218 to find out how you may participate in ongoing fundraising activities or to explore new opportunities.

Marathon 4 Kids

Marathon4Kids raises money to support our Matches. You can help by donating $1 for every mile completed. Join the Buck-a-Mile club today!

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