Below you will find answers to the most common questions we get asked about mentoring. We hope this page will provide you with the information you are looking for but if you have any more questions you can reach us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call our office at (902) 569-5437
Who would make a great Mentor?
If you’re reading this, chances are the answer is you. We look for mentors who are 18 years old or older, and great mentors come from all walks of life. Anyone who is caring, friendly, and wants to help a child in their community reach their potential will make a fantastic mentor and a huge difference in a child’s life. A good mentor is someone to talk to, share your hobby with, learn together, grow with, and most importantly, to be a friend and have fun.
What is the difference between an In-School Mentor and a Traditional Big Brother/Sister/Couple?
Our traditional Big Sister, Big Brother, Big Couple programs are what people typically think of when they think of our organization. This involves a Big and a Little being matched together and then meeting up for a two to four hour outing at least twice a month.
The In-School Mentorship program works similarly, but the big difference is this program is run within the school system. Littles are selected by guidance counselors, and then we work with the school, the mentor, and the mentee to find a reoccurring time once a week where they can go to the school for an hour to do some activities, play some board games, or just chat with one another.
So I’ve applied online or given you a call – now what?
Once you’ve applied online or given our office a call one of our mentoring coordinators will reach out to set up an interview. After the interview, we conduct a screening process that includes talking to references and an extensive background check before completing the application process. When the screening process is completed we will conduct child safety training and match training before setting you up with a compatible mentee.
How do you choose which child to match me with?
As well as screening the mentors, we also screen the families. By doing this we’re able to get a comprehensive understanding of what the children in our program need, and this helps us match Bigs and Littles according to their personalities, needs, and interests. Our goal at Big Brothers Big Sisters is to make the most compatible matches possible to ensure long-term success.
When it’s time to meet my Little – how does that happen? Is it the same for In-School Mentoring?
In our traditional mentorship programs, our Mentoring Coordinators will set up a match introduction with the Big, the Little, and the family. At this first meeting, Bigs will exchange contact information with the family and that is how they will communicate and plan moving forward.
Our In-school Mentoring program works in a similar way. We find a time that works best for everyone, and then we arrange our first meeting. At this first meeting one of our Mentoring Coordinators will meet you at the school to introduce you to the staff and school counselor, show you how to sign in, and explain any special rules or guidelines. After this, you’ll have a quick meeting with the school counselor and the student before getting some one-on-one time.
What if I have a problem – what kind of support is available?
Our goal is always to provide as much support as we can to help ensure our programs run successfully. Our Mentoring Coordinators are always available to discuss any problems that may arise, and we are constantly checking in with mentors, families, and school counselor to ensure things are going smoothly. You can reach us quickly by calling our Charlottetown office at (902) 569-5437 or by emailing email@example.com.
How do I communicate with my Little’s parent or guardian?
When it comes to traditional mentoring, at the first match session Bigs will exchange contact information with their Little’s parent or guardian, and this will be how they communicate moving forward. We ask that Bigs meet with their Little at least twice a month, so they should be contacting the Little’s parent or guardian on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
If I’m an In-School Mentor, what activities are available?
Schools are flexible with the mentors and work with us to help provide activities for you to do. We can provide board games, craft supplies, and other activities that you can choose from anytime, and often you can work with the school to get access to resources such as using the gym, rec rooms, home ec facilities, go for a walk outside, and more. The schools have been wonderful to work with and are always great to let the mentors and students do what they would like to do.
How much time does being a mentor take?
The time it takes to be a mentor depends on the program. In our traditional programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, or Big Couples, we ask for at least two outings per month for two to four hours per outing. For our in-school mentoring, we set up a one-hour session per week on a reoccurring basis.
We also have other programs such as Go Girls, Game On, or Launch Your Life that require one to two hours per session with six or seven sessions total.
Is being a Big expensive?
At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we try our hardest to promote low-cost / no-cost activities that mentors and Littles can do together, but the reality is that sometimes mentors will have to pay for the expenses of their outings. That being said, we are always looking for things to do in the community, and there are also several outings we organize each year such as our Halloween Party or Christmas Party. On top of this we occasionally receive tickets for various events through our generous donors, such as going to a hockey game or attending a play, and sometimes we have various free activities for matches to do such as board games, snowshoes, or sledding.
I don’t have time to volunteer every week – are there any other mentoring options?
If you’re not able to commit to one of our mentorship programs, we’re always looking for an extra set of hands to help with our fundraising events. From filling out forms for the dream cottage, putting team packages together for our Big Little Scavenger Hunt, we are always thankful for the help of our volunteers.
Why do you always seem to have a waitlist?
We always have a waitlist because there are always new parents coming forward, looking for a mentor for their child. We try our hardest to make the wait time as low as possible, but as we continue to expand our program offerings we will continue to have a waitlist as we reach more kids in need.
What do you think people would find surprising about being a Mentor?
When talking to our current Bigs or our Alumni, they often say that the most surprising thing about being a mentor is how much they get out of the process. Most people enter the program thinking they are going to help a child, but end up really enjoying the time they spend with their little and learning about themselves as well. We are often told by mentors that they think they get just as much out of the program as the kids do.
Learn more by watching our Ask Us Anything Video
For Giving Tuesday 2021, we collected questions through social media and made a list of the things that come up the most in volunteer interviews. Here are Mary Claire (Mentoring Coordinator), Pam (Mentoring Coordinator) and Myron (Executive Director) in conversation with Heather (Communications & Development Manager). If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.