Monday, December 9, 2013

Volunteer for Big Brothers/Sisters, by Ellen Barrett

Students on campus are always looking for new ways to get involved in the community or volunteer hours to add to a professional resume. A growing organization in the 7 Rivers Region is Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Lyndsey Langer, Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Delivery Specialist, says “Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-profit organization where an individual can change a child’s life and help enhance the organization in a variety of ways.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters is always looking for caring and committed volunteers. Bigs are given the opportunity to mentor a child in the community, one on one, who could deeply benefit from a mentor. Bigs and Littles are matched based on common interests and personality type.
There are two programs Bigs can choose to participate in. The Site Based Program currently partners with 7 schools in the area through an after school or lunch program. The Big meets with the Little at the Little’s school once a week for about an hour while school is in session. The Community Based Program involves a commitment of 2-3 hours per week where the Big is partnered with one specific Little.
This Big must be able to provide transportation for the Little if participating in the Community Based Program. These matches are able to go anywhere in the community and participate in any activities they see fit. Examples of activities include anything from playing basketball to going to a Loggers game. Many area businesses provide discounts or free tickets to Bigs and Littles in support of their service. Both of the programs require a one year minimum projected commitment. It is not uncommon to have matches last 10+ years.
College students are specifically encouraged to get involved by becoming a volunteer Big Brother or Big Sister in either one the BBBS onsite or offsite programs. There are also multiple internship and service learning opportunities throughout the organization. Both the internships and the service learning opportunities are unpaid positions.  To qualify, you must submit a completed application and pass the interview process and reference checks. Students who desire to participate must be at least 18 years old for the Community Based Program and in at least 10th grade to participate in the Site Based Program. Couples are encouraged as well. These service hours can be applied as volunteer hours to fulfill a student’s graduation requirements. Volunteer hours are ultimately flexible. A  Big may complete as many hours as desired and set a unique schedule based around a student’s school or work availability.
Big Brothers Big Sisters also accepts donations online and at their offices.
To donate, or find the closest location, visit

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit