FAQ

We're so glad you're interested in becoming a Big.  It's a fun, life-changing volunteer experience that gives the gift of your friendship. Here are some answers to common questions.

FAQ

WHO ARE THE BIGS IN THE PROGRAM?
Our Bigs come from diverse backgrounds just like our Littles. They are regular people, just like you. You don’t need any special degrees or job skills. You just have to want to positively impact a young person. Role models come in all shapes and sizes, and you could be a perfect fit.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A MENTOR?
A mentor is an adult who, along with the child’s parents/guardian, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out strengths that are already there.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME AN ADULT BIG?
Bigs must be:
-18 years or older. (Our current Bigs range from 18 to 70+)
-a high school graduate or hold a GED.
-have a valid driver's license and current automobile insurance (if mentoring in the Community Based Program).
-meet specific criminal history and automobile driving guidelines.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A HIGH SCHOOL BIG?
Bigs must be:
-in their second semester of their freshman year of high school
- have transportation to meet their Little at their school or site.

WHAT IS YOUR SERVICE AREA?
BBBS of Central MN serves Stearns, Benton, Sherburne, Morrison, and the Northern tier of Wright counties.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A MENTOR?
A mentor is an adult who, along with the child’s parents/guardian, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out strengths that are already there.

WHEN CAN I SEE MY LITTLE?
As a Big/Little team, you decide together what you want to do and then you get approval from the Little’s parent/guardian. We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and get together on a regular basis. The outings will also depend on the comfort level of your Little’s parents/guardian, your Little, and you.

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I SPEND?
The quality of the time you invest with your Little is more important than the amount of money you spend. That’s why we don’t encourage spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is to help your Little see the world through a different lens so you can inspire your Little to become something they never thought possible. If you are going to spend money, we encourage you to seek out low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. Play a game together, or share that pizza that you were going to have for lunch anyway. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies offer donor-supported group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles. As a Big, you may also receive notices for free tickets to cultural and sports activities for you both to enjoy.

WHAT ARE SOME GOOD IDEAS FOR OUTINGS WITH MY LITTLE?
Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Go to the library, check out a book and read together. Buy a comic book to read together. Play a board game. Go on a nature walk. Hit a bucket of golf balls at the local driving range. Take a ride in the car with the radio on and talk about the music you like. 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: keep it simple and enjoy yourselves!

CAN I BRING MY SPOUSE, A FRIEND, OR A FAMILY MEMBER ON OUTINGS?
In the beginning it’s most important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis. However, over time it’s also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you. Just keep in mind that if you’re spending lots of time with others, your Little may begin to feel jealous or neglected. The main focus is the friendship you develop with your Little.
If you are wanting your family, spouse, or friend along on regular visits we have a Big Duo and Big Family option as well.

WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT CAN I EXPECT FROM BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS ONCE I GET MATCHED?
Once you are matched with your Little, a Program Coordinator from the agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Any time you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, you will have a Program Coordinator there to help. They’ll help you with ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference.

WILL I BECOME A REPLACEMENT PARENT?
No, Littles have a parent or guardian in their life already. What they need is a Big to spend quality, one-on-one time with them. Someone to have fun with, someone they can confide in, someone like you!

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BE MATCHED?
Because child safety is our number one priority, the total time from interview to matching is usually about 6-8 weeks. It is a lengthy, but necessary, process. We appreciate your patience and understanding!

ARE THERE OTHER WAYS I CAN CONTRIBUTE TO BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS?
Yes! Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer-driven organization, and there are numerous opportunities to volunteer and help support our agency’s mission. We often need help with fundraising, events, and general office needs. Contact Tina to learn about our current needs and consider making a donation as we are 100% supported by the community. There are no fees for our Littles or Bigs to participate in our program.

I DON'T HAVE MANY EXPERIENCES WITH CHILDREN. HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT CHILD IS BEST FOR ME? 
Our Enrollment Coordinators are highly qualified and sensitive to making the best match possible for you. During your interviews, you will be asked a series of questions that will give our staff the information necessary to appropriately match you with the right Little. The more we get to know you, the better we can make the match. Our professional staff supports you before, during, and after your match.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST NEED?
We would not be able to serve Littles without our Bigs! But we have a particular need for men of color. Also, it costs approximately $1,500 a year to create and professionally support a match. In order to continue supporting our matches, and serving potential Littles on our waitlist, we need help reaching our financial goals.

DOES BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF CENTRAL MN HAVE LGBTQ VOLUNTEERS?
Yes! We recognize, affirm, and celebrate the diverse backgrounds, lives, and experiences of our stakeholders, including youth, families, board members, donors, volunteers, and staff.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY MATCH DOESN'T WORK OUT WELL?
We do everything in our power to make a match we think will last; however, we realize that sometimes things happen in life. Bigs or Littles move, situations change, or something does not work out. We will attempt to mediate the situation, but if it does not work out, we will end the match. If this happens, your Program Coordinator will be there to support you every step of the way and handle it in the best way possible. A Big should never just drop out of a Little’s life without closure as this is very detrimental to the child.

WHERE DOES BBBS FUNDING COME FROM?
We are 100% supported by the community. There are no fees for our Littles or Bigs to participate in our program. We receive funding from Federated Insurance's Federated Challenge, the United Way, foundation grants and individuals and corporations who believe in our mission.

WHAT ARE BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS' INITIATIVES?

  • Dr. Potter Bigs on Campus: We are partnering with St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Technical & Community College, Spanier Bus Service, Trobec’s Bus Service and the St. Cloud School District (ISD 742); AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students will be bussed to SCSU where they will be matched with an employee of SCSU or business professional from the community. They will meet twice a month on campus. The AVID program works primarily with students of color, low income, or those whose families are first generation college students. The purpose of this initiative is to introduce the students to college and provide professional adult mentors to the students.
  • Sports Buddies: The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Sports Buddies initiative is a fun way to mentor through participating and spectating sports. In this initiative one-to-one mentoring friendships between an adult and youth are formed while engaging in athletics. Bigs make a 6-month commitment with the option to continue their match after the 6-month mark. They will attend 1-2 events per month organized by BBBS staff. Activities will be about two hours long and primarily on a Tuesday or Thursday evening, but this will depend on the activity. A 6-month calendar will be provided. The Big will only spend time with their Little at BBBS Sports Buddies events or at BBBS agency sponsored activities. The Little’s family is responsible for coordinating transportation to and from activities. The BBBS Program Coordinator will conduct all scheduling and communication between Big, Little, and Little’s family. Sports Buddies is a great way to mentor and build community with other matches that love sports!
  • College & Career Readiness: Big Brothers Big Sisters provides activities for our youth to help prepare them for college and a career. This includes such activities as: scholarship opportunities, Path for Success (mini college fair), college visits, Paying for College Workshop, etc. These activities are open to all current and past Littles as well as High School Bigs.
  • Bigs with Badges: More info coming soon!
  • Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents: The objective of the Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative is to create quality, lasting, one-to-one relationships that provide children of offenders with caring role models for future success. Mentors provide opportunities for youth to gain new skills and interests and expand their experiences beyond their families, schools, and neighborhoods by acting as a trusted friend.
  • Operation Military Mentoring: Big Brothers Big Sisters supports children from military families and engages active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel as volunteer mentors. It’s an opportunity to provide support and friendship to families who give so much to protect our freedom.
  • Faith-Based: Our Faith-Based mentors help the youth explore their faith journey while engaging in fun activities they both enjoy. Mentors may share about their faith to help the youth with their own faith journey and teach/model the importance of serving others. As with all of our mentors, this has to be approved prior with the parent/guardian and an interest of the youth.
  • Bridging Generations: Big Brothers Big Sisters recruits and engages volunteers age 55+ to share their time and life experiences thru youth mentoring. This initiative makes a positive impact across the generations and offer long-lasting effects. Often times we hear potential mentors say, “I wish I would have done that when I was younger,” thinking they are, in their opinion, “too old.” We have found great success in mentors age 55+, both for the mentor and the youth.