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Becoming a Big in the Big Brother Big Sister Program…Hopefully…

In mid-July, I decided to fill out an application to become a “Big Sister” for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).  I had been thinking about it for more than a year, but I just now seem stable enough to devote consistent time to a “Little”.  I had no idea what the process would entail though, lol.

Process Up to Now

Here’s the breakdown of what has been required so far to volunteer with the BBBS program:

  1. Fill out basic 5 minute application.
  2. Fill out the more detailed 15 minute application.
  3. Send in the 5 work and private/social references that they requested.  This took about an hour to find everybody’s basic info and text them all to make sure that using them was okay.
  4. Sent in a copy of my driver’s license and car insurance.
  5. Spent just 20 minutes overall of texting to make sure that all of my references received the quick info sheet that they needed to fill out about me and send back to BBBS.
  6. Scheduled an interview with a match specialist.
  7. Took the 1.5 hour online “training course” that consisted of watching 2-5 minute informational videos about BBBS, writing down video codes, and then taking a quick quiz to make sure you know not to be stupid.
  8. Had the 1.5 hour interview with the match specialist, which included answering more questions about me and my home environment and letting them know what I was looking for in a “Little”.
  9. Now I have to wait 2 weeks for a letter letting me know if I am approved.
  10. Then I’ll wait 1-5 months for a match.

My View So Far

I am actually still super excited.  :-)  I mean, there has been more involved with this than with any other volunteer program I have worked with ever before, but I understand.  I’m going to be working with a kid…they have to cover everybody’s butt.  ;-)  I just hope that I get a match sooner rather than later.  I am getting better with having patience in day-to-day stuff, but long-term patience when I am excited about something is still lost on me.

Based on the feedback I got off of my match specialist, I will be getting accepted into the program as long as everything I said checks out and I am not a secret serial killer or anything.  So I should be good to go with BBBS in a couple of weeks.  Then I just have to wait for a match.  In general, they try to find a match as close to your requirements that is within a 30 minute drive of your house.  Since I had very few requirements, my match specialist thinks I will get matched quickly, so within a month or two after being officially accepted.  I might have a “Little” as early as late September.

My Ideal Match

Since I didn’t care about gender, age, or “little” issues like ADHD, I am pretty open in their books.  My only “requirements” were that I was looking for a kid that wasn’t prejudiced (no racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) and wasn’t a “girly-girl” since I generally suck at that.  I just recently learned how to put on my own makeup, so giving me a kid that is really into fashion and style would be pretty awful to the kid.  I also mentioned in passing that it would be cool if they liked animals and food since most of my ideal outings would be around animals or food, lol.

I also declined working with severely emotionally challenged kids since this is my first time.  I was fine with kids that have a parent in prison or have suffered abuse of any sort, but I just had to say no to kids that were in juvenile detention at some point themselves or who suffered from extreme emotional disorders.  My match specialist let me know that even with my few restrictions, I didn’t really narrow the field much at all.  So, yay!

On their end, about 70% of their Littles are boys, but only 30% of their Bigs are male.  The age range for Littles that are just being assigned is 7 years to 15 years old.  Female Bigs can be used for all female Littles or even male Littles from 7-11 years old.  But, most of their female Bigs request young, female Littles.  That means that there are a ton of 10+ aged males that end up waiting for a Big for a while.

My Best Guess

Most likely, I’ll be matched with a 10-11 year old boy with ADHD, lol.  That sounds great to me, so fingers crossed!

Oh, and you can keep being a Big Sister to a teenaged male as long as you two were paired up earlier.  That was important to me because I didn’t want to be assigned to an 11 year old boy and then have to say bye when he turned 12.  Apparently, they just want you matched long enough that the boy sees you as a friend or authority figure before his hormones go all wonky.  :-D

Plans

My largest concern now is the waiting time.  So wish me luck for a late-September match!  Also, I’m already excited and making lists of cheap activity ideas…of course, I had a ton of those on BFS to steal ideas from, hahaha.  BBBS requests that you don’t spend a ton of money during your weekly or biweekly visits, so I actually searched around online and found a few awesome ideas.

One Big Sister set a $25 a week budget with her Little, and they save whatever they don’t use each week to place towards more expensive activities in the future.  I’m stealing that one (but will be setting the amount at $20 per week).  Maybe it will even help my Little to learn to budget!  I also looked up a ton of restaurants in my area that have Kids-Eat-Free days so we can stretch the budget even more.

And I started a list of free or discount activities that happen once in a while like Free Tuesday evenings at the zoo after school starts again.  Overall, I am ready to go with a ton of ideas and just need a Little to help brainstorm some more and pick the ones they like too.  :-D

What do you think?  Would you volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters?

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17 comments to Becoming a Big in the Big Brother Big Sister Program…Hopefully…

  • Just curious, did BBBS encourage you to have a “pay for” activity with your little every week? Most people I know who have done it have had a similar policy to yours, which I thought was a lot. Growing up we never had a pay for activity every week, so it felt weird to me that kids would grow to expect that from a beneficiary.

  • I LOVE the idea of setting up a budget and being able to teach your ‘Little” about how the budget works. Too many kids don’t learn how to manage money while growing up, and then make very poor choices as an adult. This will be a great learning process for them.

    As for needing more male Bigs… any chance you could convince Mr. BFS to join the program, too?

    BBBS is actually a group I have thought about joining for a long time, but it takes a big commitment of time so I have been putting it off until I am confident I can give the time that my Little would deserve. One of my colleagues is a Board Member for a local BBBS group and love it. I am excited to hear how your experience goes.

  • I think this is a great idea! I definitely want to do this too.

  • @Mrs. Pop, no. BBBS only wants us to spend time with the kids – they actually rather us not spend much at all. They don’t care if we literally sit and talk. That’s why feeding the ducks, hiking, board games, the library, and stuff like that are high on my actual list of activities. But if we want to see a movie or go to the zoo on a regular day (only Tuesday evenings are free), then I wanted a budgeted amount. We can save the $20 a week when we don’t spend it and save up for a big outing like a theme park or something. But BBBS has already told the kids not to ask for anything beyond water when they are thirsty and basics like that. We are to be their friends, not their beneficiaries. :-) I just know me and also know that I like talking over dessert and visiting zoos…

    @Denise, Mr. BFS is thinking about it. But he doesn’t like to support any organization with sexist or racist policies, and female Bigs are allowed both genders of Littles but male Bigs are not allowed female Littles. Mr. BFS would want a male Little anyway to do sports stuff with, but he doesn’t like the policy. He rather all female Bigs be assigned female Littles and visa versa with males…the double standard of many organizations annoys him.

    I sort of agree, but don’t mind to the point that he does. Plus, I wanted a male Little anyway, so this works for me, lol.

    @Michelle, sign up now! It takes forever… ;-)

  • That is so great that you want to invest in a person like this! Jesus told us true religion is taking care of orphans, widows, the poor, etc. And that was during a time when those people were absolutely neglected and abused. How much more so today, in a society of extreme wealth (hey, if you’re making over $30,000 a year you’re pretty rich compared to a lot of the planet) that we can help kids?

  • @Todd, I hardly ever bring up religion on here since it is so emotional to talk about in general. But your comment made me want to respond because I love the fact that you seem to have summed up the best ideas of most organized religions without any added baggage. :-)

    I was raised Catholic but am not religious now. I don’t have anything against others being in organized religions, but I decided to simply be a good person and leave the organized part behind. I think the ideas that Jesus portrayed (and Ghandi, etc) – being kind to others just because and supporting the most needy – are just great ideals that can work for absolutely anybody, right?

    We should all help others. Even just being non-mushy, helping the world be a better place is simply a great idea for us all. There is more than enough unfair to go around, so why not make sure there is some support and love too?

    Anyway, thanks for commenting!

  • I’ve actually never heard of BBBS before. Definitely going to check them out!

  • Ann

    I hope this works out for you. I too once signed up and did all the necessary forms, meetings, and training to become a big sister. I had no restrictions on the type of child and was told I would be matched quickly. However, after fours months of waiting for a match I decided the program is obviously not as disparate for Bigs as they make it out to be. I ended up removing myself and volunteer my team elsewhere. I hope you get matched quickly and all works out great with you little.

  • retired

    Having 7 brothers/sisters, I always wanted just a space of my own growing up. But all of my siblings have helped make me whom I am, so I can understand a single child wanting to have someone , other than a parent, to confide in and from which to receive advice and a fresh opinion. Here’s to you getting a child to mentor! Not sure I like young people being referred to as “Little”s or adults being referred to as “Big”s, but its just semantics, jargon, and/or a gimmick I guess.

  • Very cool, congrats! Always great to see someone getting involved and interested in making a difference.

  • I have always wanted to become a Big, but it’s quite the extensive application to do so. The only thing stopping me was the fact that I had to go to the police station to get a police check, and the station is only open during business hours, meaning when I am working!

  • My wife has a friend who has been a big sister to a little girl for many many years. She told me wife she loves it especially since she didn’t have kids of her own. They do fun things together and talk about life. It sounds to me like something we would also think about doing because there are many kids out there waiting for someone to love. Keep us updated.

  • Sounds great Crystal and hopefully they speed up the process. That thing takes a long time as my uncle was/is apart of BBBS. Seemed like he was waiting for months on end to see how things would turn out. With 3 kids already I know I don’t really have the room just yet do to anything right now.

  • Crystal, I did this when I was in college, and it was a really good experience. I certainly didn’t have much money to spend, but we did lots of fun things. I think it’s wonderful that you are doing this, and I bet you’ll love it.

  • Becky

    If you have a great time with BBBS, but feel called to more involvement, consider checking out being a CASA – you get to do all the BBBS stuff (if you want), plus you get a voice in a foster child’s life, being a voice ***just*** for their best interests and helping move them towards a permanent home (be that back with their bio family, an adoption or a permanent foster placement). There are CASA programs in every state, many are run by the counties, but some are independent non-profits. The application process is similiar, but much more in-depth as it (usually) includes fingerprints, polygraph and/or drug testing, and then several days of online or in-person training (40 hours in AZ). You can be a CASA for any age from infant to teen, siblings or individual children, and in most states there is about 1 CASA for every 10 foster kids, so most foster kids don’t have a CASA. Their only “voice” may be a case worker with dozen of files.

    Good luck with BBBS, I am sure you will be great!!

    As for the “discriminatory” policy of not allowing certain gender pairings but allowing the reverse, I am certain they would rather it be the same gender almost all of the time, but if it is anything like CASA, the kids are 50/50 or even skewed more to boys than girls **BUT** the volunteers are substantially skewed female. My CASA class had about 10 women for every man (30 to 3), and 2 of the 3 men were there because their wives/girlfriends were doing the process as well. If women weren’t allowed to mentor boys, the boys themselves would be discriminated against by virtue of having a drastically reduced opportunity to have a mentor. I am so happy you are open to a boy, my CASA is an 11 year old boy. :)

  • @Lisa, hope you liked what you checked out!

    @Ann, that sucks. Sorry!

    @retired, I think they just have to have a shorter name to refer to when they are talking, lol. I hope I am matched soon…you know my patience level…

    @Squirrelers, fingers crossed. :-)

    @Tushar, weird! Maybe there is a holiday that your job has that you can use to go to the police station…I did that a lot when I was a cubicle worker…

    @CBB, I will. :-)

    @Thomas, I sort of want to volunteer to help BBBS get caught up and get things moving faster, lol.

    @Kim, I hope so! I am being really impatient right now, lol.

    @Becky, I looked up CASA (court appointed social advocates, right?). It looks like a ton more real work and court dates. That is a little off-putting for someone like me – I take all of that really seriously and could get a little too involved. But I seriously think you are awesome for being so on the ball!!! Thanks for being an awesome volunteer!

  • Becky

    a little late on this – CASA = Court appointed special advocate. Yes, it is more involved than BBBS, although not really because of court. It is more involved because you have real authority in the child’s life and a chance/responsibility to try to make sure their life is made better.

    For older kids, there is usually only a court or board hearing once every three months or so. for under the age of 5 it is more often than that. Where more time comes in is that not only do you do stuff with the kids 2-4 times per month, you can interview anyone you feel it is necessary to do so to make recommendations for the child. You also have access to the CPS case file. You get a voice in court and provide an official court report to the judge on your opinions. You don’t answer to CPS, foster parents, bio parents, anyone except the judge really. You have court appointed authority to review anything regarding the child you need (school records, medical records, etc). In some ways you have more authority than foster parents – at least on my case, the foster parents don’t have official standing at the hearings, but I do. Now of course the judge doesn’t have to take your recommendations, but your sole job is to advocate for the well being of the child.