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Truly Enjoying the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program!

It’s been a little while since I updated all of you on being in the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program.  So far, so good!

Quick Backstory

  • I submitted a volunteer application in mid-July 2013.
  • Over the next 2-3 weeks, I sent in all of the requested paperwork, five of my friends and blogging buddies turned in their reference forms, and I took a 1-2 hour online class and quiz.
  • In August 2013, I was interviewed and was officially approved.
  • I was officially matched in very late September 2013.
  • My Little Bro and I started hanging out weekly in October 2013.

Our Activities So Far

For the first 3 weeks or so, my Little Bro was super quiet.  He smiled and would say a sentence here and there, but that was about it.  All I knew for sure through most of October was that we both like food, and I was told to keep our time together relatively cheap.

After being matched for 3 months, he can come over to my place, so we can start cooking.  Until then though, I’ve really made use of email signups at restaurants in our area so that he can eat cheap or free.  It’s pretty easy since he’s 10 years old right now, which is young enough for 99% of children’s menus.

So eating dinner and doing something once a week has become our routine.  We keep trying places and specific foods that he hasn’t had yet.  No, nothing exotic, but his family doesn’t eat out a lot.

For food, we’ve had:

  • Chili’s – He liked it a lot, but likes the buffets below better.  Cost $6 for him.
  • Hamburgers and Pomegranate shakes – It wasn’t amazing food, but it fit our plans that day and cost about $5 to feed him.
  • Cici’s pizza buffet – He loved it and he ate for free thanks to their email signup special.
  • Potato Patch (country cooking and they throw the yeast rolls at you to catch) – This was about $10 for him, so it’ll be reserved for special occasions.
  • Hartz Chicken buffet – He really loved this place, and it only cost about $6 for him.

Even though he really likes the food part of the evening, he says he’s had fun at all of our activities too:

  • Disc golf – free
  • Attended a middle school football game – his ticket was $1
  • Saw “Turbo” at the discount movie theater nearby – $1.50 per person
  • Billiards twice since they were rainy days – cost $6-7 per day total

Overall, our cheapest day has been about $15 total.  Our most expensive was around $32 thanks to Potato Patch having a very expensive kid’s menu.  I was aiming to spend $20 or less every week, and we are on track there.  Money-wise, this is a very affordable thing that we could make even cheaper if we have to.  I just enjoy watching this kid eat at places he hasn’t been before.  He really just has all of those great kid-like faces when he really likes something.  It’s fun.

The Emotional Side

This has been eye-opening.  My Little Bro started opening up a few weeks ago and it was awesome to see!  It’s been about 6 weeks and his parents are giving me positive feedback.  He apparently has started liking school more and wants to sign up for football.  That’s the first official team sport he’s been interested in even though he loves sports.  Cool beans!

On a different note, our different income classes don’t seem to matter very often.  BUT, some things he says makes it obvious that he sees a different between his family and the “rich” people.  I think he may see me differently if we hang out at my house too early.  We might wait longer than the suggested 3 months.  I don’t want him to get jealous or self-conscious with me.  Or think of me as his own personal Santa Claus, which the program wants us to avoid no matter what.

Overall, my Little Bro is a sweet little dude who opens doors for anybody and he’s a gentleman.  His stories also seem to highlight the fact that he really dislikes bullies and he does stick up for the dudes smaller than him.  And his mom says he loves talking about me to his brothers and sister after our outings.  I take all of that as very good signs that we can stay matched for the long run.

Have you ever participated in BBBS or something similar?  What have been your experiences?

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7 comments to Truly Enjoying the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program!

  • That’s so cool Crystal! I want to do this formally. I always have done this on my own for my two brothers, cousins, family friends, and friends at the gym. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone out. Also, sometimes, someone might just want their questions answered and they simply just have nobody to turn to.

    I recommend that everyone reading this tries something like this.

  • Christie

    God Bless You!

  • I can remember similar experiences from when I was a Big Sis. My Little loved to eat at one of the pizza buffets. I believe maybe it was Mr. Gatti’s? Anyway, it did cost a little bit, but you could tell she didn’t get to do that with her family, so it was nice to be able to do that for her. I lived in the dorm then, so I didn’t really have to worry about her thinking I was rich. The first time we went there to use the kitchen to bake cookies, she lost a tooth! It was pretty bloody, but we handled it well. I had forgotten that story. Thanks for reviving the memory.

  • @Martin, I should have done this more with my little sisters. I volunteered a lot off and on since 6th grade though. And yes, I highly recommend this for everyone to try too!

    @Christie, I’ll totally take the kindness, but I don’t think this falls into the category of getting blessings for it. :-) It’s fun for me too, I have the time, and I think most people want to be helpful. In an odd way, I think the adults who are in this program are here because we’re already blessed with the time. ;-)

    @Kim, I lost a tooth at church once when I was 8-ish. I wiggled it around until it fell out…it sounds bad, but I was bored and knew that it would get us to go home. Catholic masses take a long time in kid time…

  • As someone with past Little experience, LOL, try getting him into making something with his hands and see what happens. With the holidays coming up, maybe help him make a gift for his mother. A $10 candle making kit will make a couple of candles, or google for home-made bath salts using Epsom salts. Get him in front of a computer at the library and create a coupon book for Mom, or use your laptop and a graphics program to make something with fancy borders and cute clip art. Something cheap and easy any mother would love ☺

    Speaking of libraries, have you taken him to one and gotten him a library card? Libraries usually always have all kinds of free programs you can both participate in – crafts, reading sessions, movie sessions, small plays, etc. You would be amazed to know how many underprivileged kids never set foot in a library. Ever.

    Does the kid have a bike, or live in an area where he can ride a bike without getting killed on the street? Get a junk bike from Freecycle or Goodwill, and teach him how to replace the tubes in the tires, replace spokes, put on a new seat, add some stickers, etc.

    If the Little likes football, footballs are cheap and a lot of time can be spent in a park practicing throwing, catching, etc.

  • That’s great! My friend has been a Big Sister for a few years and it is pretty awesome.
    You could do a scavenger hunt, or a photo scavenger hunt, if you want to include some more “non-rich/spending money” type activities.
    My knowledge of what kids are into at different ages is pretty poor, but is ten young enough that going to a park that’s different from the ones you are used to is fun?
    Is there an area that has lots of graffiti and you could go on a walk and play “spot the graffiti”?
    Art programs at museums and galleries, libraries, book stores.

    Just throwing ideas out there to keep you entertained :-)

  • ODWO

    As a youngster growing up (divorced parents), I had a Big Brother. Not for very long, maybe a couple months(?), but I do remember the few times we’d get together and “do something.” Back then (Ha!), we had slot car racing and going to a McDonalds (over 100 sold) ;) . Cheap thrills, for a young kid. I wish it could’ve been a longer time together, but sometimes the childs family life doesn’t always conform to what BBBS’s rules are, or some other reason(s).

    I’ve always thought of doing this, or something like it … one day. :)
    Sounds rewarding.