Frquently Asked Questions
  1. ?

    Why is mentoring important?
    Mentoring is the act of providing guidance and friendship to someone who could use a role model for life’s choices and decisions. By mentoring, people can help others reach goals and improve self-esteem. When mentoring children, volunteers offer to help build a strong foundation for youth as they grow.
  2. ?

    How does mentoring work?
    It’s simple. Someone volunteers to develop a relationship with a young person, offering support and guidance. By spending time together, learning new things and enjoying friendship, the mentor helps the young person make better life choices.
  3. ?

    Why choose this program?
    BBBS pioneered youth mentoring in 1904. We are the industry leader in mentoring services to children. An independent national study surveyed our programs and methods spanning a five-year period. This research company found kids involved in BBBS mentoring programs were more likely to graduate and stay out of trouble when compared to their peers without mentors. They also found kids improved their school grades and relationships with others. Our program has proven results.
  4. ?

    What is Big Brothers Big Sisters of America?
    Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is the umbrella organization that supports local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies. They are headquartered in Tampa, Florida and offer standards for agencies to provide consistent, quality services.
  5. ?

    How many chapters exist nationwide?
    More than 300 agencies are spread throughout North America. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America even has partnerships with organizations across the globe, with programs in Russia, Canada and other major countries.
  6. ?

    What is your service area?
    Our service area includes the City of Charlottesville, as well as Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Nelson Counties.
  7. ?

    What is your greatest need?
    We need volunteers. With a constant wait list for youth, we just can’t recruit people fast enough. And to keep those mentoring relationships going, we need funds to do it. The bottom line – more mentors, and more dollars. This offers more services to kids in need.
  8. ?

    How many people volunteer annually with your organization?
    Volunteers support every aspect of our agency from supporting our funding efforts to volunteering at agency activities. And of course, volunteers are the essence of our mentoring relationships. We have over 200 volunteers in mentoring relationships alone, on top of the approximate 50 volunteers who help at our fundraising events, volunteer drives and through Board involvement.
  1. ?

    You have so many kids waiting for Big Brothers or Big Sisters. How long do they wait?
    The enrollment process is fairly quick, but recruiting the right volunteer can take a great deal of time. Boys and teenagers tend to wait the longest, anywhere from 2 to 12 months. Most young girls, however, are matched within 6 months. The more mentors we have coming through our door, the quicker we can get our kids matched!
  2. ?

    How many kids do you serve?
    We serve approximately 275 children annually and offer outsourcing and referrals for other issues facing our kids and their families.
  3. ?

    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 when finding a Little for you.
  4. ?

    How do children come into the program?
    Children and parents may hear about Big Brothers Big Sisters from a teacher, a counselor, their church, a friend, commercials, etc. Ultimately though, every child enrolled has expressed a desire to be in our program.
  5. ?

    Who are the children in the program?
    Our Littles come from many types of home environments and family structures, different socio-economic levels, ethnic backgrounds, neighborhoods and schools across all communities. Their backgrounds and personalities are unique, but they all have a need for friendship with a caring adult.
  6. ?

    How do I volunteer?
    Our enrollment process consists of three parts. Visit our Volunteer page to get a Volunteer Application. Next, we invite you to attend a Volunteer Training where you learn more about the program and have the opportunity to decide whether it seems like a good fit for you. Then we'll schedule an in-person interview to get to know you and hear about your preferences, enabling us to make a compatible match .
  7. ?

    What are the requirements to mentor?
    Our program requires a volunteer to be at least 18 years old and we ask for a minimum commitment of 12 months (18 months or 3 consecutive semesters for college students). We want stable, positive people to volunteer. You don’t have to be brilliant, athletic, famous or rich – our kids need real people as role models.
  8. ?

    Do the mentoring programs cost anything?
    No. You don’t have to spend money. This program is about developing a relationship with a Little Brother or Little Sister. We encourage no-cost or low-cost activities to do together. We don’t have an annual membership fee and we provide volunteers a list of fun, free activities to do.
  1. ?

    How will I know I've made a difference?
    You might not see results right away. Mentoring relationships take time to build trust. Our Big Brothers and Big Sisters are supported by a dedicated match support staff member who helps monitor the relationships. These professionals can help you see the difference you make in the life of a Little Brother or Little Sister, including increased self-esteem, becoming more outgoing, expanded interests, and better grades in school. You can be instrumental in helping a child succeed.
  2. ?

    I travel for work. Can I still volunteer?
    Our program requires a one-year commitment. Consistency in a child's life is one of the most important elements in being an effective mentor. Many of our Big Brothers and Big Sisters fit their relationships with their flexible lifestyles. The key to a successful match is communication. Talk with your Enrollment Specialist if you travel often or for extended periods of time.
  3. ?

    I'm in college. Can I volunteer?
    Absolutely. Being a Big Brother or Big Sister can greatly add to your collegiate experience. You have flexible time and spending that time with a Little Brother or Little Sister would work well with a class schedule. As a matter of fact, we’d love to meet some of your college friends and introduce them to the idea of mentoring. You will need to have reliable transportation!
  4. ?

    I heard that you really need minority volunteers. Why?
    Our agency matches mentors with kids based on the strengths of the volunteer and the needs of the child. We do not base relationships on ethnicity. However, we also realize children might benefit from having mentors of their own race to offer insight into culture and heritage. Currently, 60 percent of our children are minority compared to only 30 percent of our volunteers. We especially need African-American and Hispanic volunteers, with our greatest need being male mentors.
  5. ?

    Why do you need more Big Brothers?
    Predominantly, females volunteer more often and at a greater rate than their counterparts. Most of the children waiting for a mentor are boys, and they could use a positive adult male to look up to. Most of these boys are from female-headed households and have few close male role models.
  6. ?

    When can I see my Little?
    You will work closely with your Little's Parent/Guardian in order to come up with a visiting schedule that works for you and your Little. You and your Little can decide together what activities you'd like to do, subject to parental approval. If your schedule allows, we recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and that you see each other on a weekly basis.
  7. ?

    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. You will also receive weekly notices for free tickets for you and your Little to attend a variety of cultural and sporting activities.
  8. ?

    What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?
    Start with something you have in common. Read a comic book to each other, pass a ball at the park, do a science experiment together or pick out a healthy recipe and take your Little with you to the grocery store! You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. The most important thing is to have FUN!
  1. ?

    Can I bring my partner/friend/family member on outings?
    In the beginning it is important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This happens 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 a lot of time with others your Little may begin to feel jealous or neglected. The main focus is the friendship that YOU have with your Little. Always talk with your Match Support Specialist before including friends or family members in your activities.
  2. ?

    What kind of support can I expect from Big Brothers Big Sisters 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!
  3. ?

    Will you come to my business, church, sorority or social club to make a presentation?
    Will we?! Whenever you are interested in having one of our agency representatives share our mission with others, contact us. We can provide audio-visual presentations, videos, and materials about Big Brothers Big Sisters, all in less than 10 minutes. We'll also bring coffee and doughnuts!
  4. ?

    Besides volunteering, how can I help?
    Head to our Donate page and read about ways you can financially support Big Brothers Big Sisters. Although ours is a business, it is a not-for-profit business and relies on fundraising, grants, donations and individual gifts.
  5. ?

    Does Big Brothers Big Sisters have any results to prove success?
    Of course. We wouldn’t be in business if we couldn’t refer to our bottom line. In our agency, we surveyed our kids. We found their graduation rates to be higher than that of the general population, and four times greater than that of their “at-risk” peer group. Nationally, a study showed kids involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters were less likely to have peer conflict, skip school or use drugs.
  6. ?

    Do you have a newsletter?
    Yes! If you are a Big Brother or Big Sister in the program, you will receive a weekly Activities Newsletter filled with free or low-cost activities going on in the area. We also have a monthly Agency Newsletter that goes out to Bigs, families, partners and supporters to fill you in on exciting things going on in the agency as a whole. If you're interested in staying updated, join our mailing list from the Home page!