Big Brothers and Sisters are people who care genuinely and for different reasons about helping kids succeed.
All prospective volunteers undergo a series of two interviews: a phone screening with a member of our Outreach team and an in-person interview with Programs staff. The agency conducts background and driving record checks. And, if a volunteer is qualified and wishes to advance in the process, Programs staff present him/her with the profile of a waiting Little Brother or Sister and arrange a first meeting between the volunteer, the child and – in the case of the Community program – his/her family. The Programs staff is present for the first meeting. The Big/Little relationship is formed.
“How did they know?” my Little Sister and I asked in unison on a recent trip to a bakery here in Boston. We were in search of the perfect macaroon.
It went under the radar for a few months and, bit by bit, my Little Sister, Iris, and I realized just how similar we were: from our life’s path down to (literally!) the way we look. Now nine months into our match, we wondered: How did they know? Our JBBBS social worker made the perfect match, and she knew it before we did. I don’t know why we didn’t notice it right away; it just snuck up on us.
Iris and I took it really slowly at first. After years apart from the high school experience, it took me a while to really understand the challenges that a young adult in the high school environment faces. Between the pressures of getting into college, hanging out with the right crowd, and discovering those things about life that really make you tick…it’s a tough job being a high schooler. But through visits to coffee shops, walks on the Common, an attempt at art, chick flicks and those countless other times we spent getting to know one another, her experience didn’t feel so far apart from mine. Slowly but surely, we realized we are both closeted nerds (humble brag: the evidence is in her A++ report card!), we love fashion, analyzing relationships, politics, and the world around us. We both have a serious travel bug. And, although she says she doesn’t like sports, I will one day win her over as a Celtics fan!
The gift in these moments has been our friendship, observing our growth and becoming bigger motivators to one other. How did they know? My Little Sister is just like me. I don’t know why the match happened the way it did, but I do know that our lives were meant to change and never be the same.
– Hadas, Children’s Program volunteer
Programs staff support the match from its inception, conducting monthly phone and e-mail check-ins. They remain available to help Big Brothers and Sisters brainstorm activities and to field questions and concerns as they arise.
Importantly, even while Big Brothers and Sisters are inevitably “in it” for the kids, they often find the experience of mentoring a child personally (and sometimes professionally) rewarding.