Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan provides one-to-one mentoring through two umbrellas of programming: Community-based Mentoring and School-based Mentoring. Across both programs, the foundational model remains the same: one child (“Little”) is intentionally “matched” with an adult volunteer (“Big”) in a long-term, professionally supported mentoring relationship.
Our Community-based Mentoring is the traditional Big Brothers Big Sisters’ program, where Bigs and Littles get together on their own to share fun activities they both enjoy. The Community Program is flexible to accommodate a variety of schedules.
To ensure a positive experience for both the child and volunteer, an assortment of activity options and ideas are provided along with the training and support of a professional Big Brother Big Sisters Match Support Specialist.
Getting together is a great time for both the Big and the Little. It doesn’t require a special occasion or expensive activities; just a few hours every month to share the simple things you already like to do. Some examples of activities are:
- Taking a walk in the park
- Going to Museum
- Inspiring each other
- Listening to music
- Hanging out and talking
Some Bigs meet their Littles on the weekends. Others get together with their Littles in the evenings. Each match is unique and develops a schedule that works for them.
Role models make an impact
National and local studies show that children who have role models are more likely to improve in school and in their relationships with family and friends, and less likely to skip school or use illegal drugs or alcohol. Students who are successful in school are less likely to drop out, abuse drugs or commit crimes. In fact, the success of children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters was proven in a nationwide randomized study.
It may sound obvious, but sometimes the best place to help a child realize their potential is at school. Kids enjoy having their Bigs meet with them there, whether it’s in the classroom or on the playground. And parents know what a positive impact it makes.
Some of the biggest supporters of our School-Based Mentoring program are actually teachers. They see students come back from their time with their Big filled with confidence, smiling big, ready to learn and eager to succeed.
Learning about life
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. At the end of the day, it’s really all about starting a friendship, providing guidance and inspiring them to reach their potential.
Virtual Mentoring Program
Virtual matches connect weekly through video chats to develop lasting friendships within a structured setting, facilitated and supervised by a Bigs’ Mentoring Specialist. The focus is on fun, virtual activities that build social skills and promote social-emotional health.