This post is very different than my previous posts on this blog. In this post, I give an overview of my experience joining Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Over this past summer (2023) I attended several charity and non-profit events. I was hoping to stumble across opportunities to be more connected with this community that I now call home. Generally, my modus operandi for these types of events is to spend an hour grabbing a drink, socializing with as many people as possible, learning a little bit about the organization (I've been looking for community service/volunteering opportunities), and then heading out. One event that I attended was a benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Southwestern Indiana (their territory extends into Kentucky). My normal agenda was derailed when I was approached by Denise, absolutely the most enthusiastic person on the planet, and her explanation of BBBS caught my attention. Personally, I don't want to just give to the community, I want to be involved in the community. BBBS is exactly that, involvement. Shortly after that event, I decided that I wanted to learn more and started the process of becoming a Big!
What is Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS)?
Great question, I asked the same thing... several times. Personally, I'm involved in the community-based type of match. However, there are other programs available, depending on where you live, such as the site-based match.
My attempt at explaining the community-based program:
An adult (Big) is matched with a kid (Little) in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. In a community-based match, the Big takes the Little on "outings" and they do things like going to the park, watching a movie, or having dinner. The idea is that the Big will be a positive and consistent adult role-model in the Little's life.
Another great question, I asked myself this a hundred times. Initially, when I moved to Henderson, I planned on living/working here temporarily. However, after living in Henderson for around a year, I began exploring the idea of staying and becoming a contributing member of this community. In my opinion, volunteering is the best way to be involved in a community. Volunteering has allowed me to have an impact on this community while also expanding my network and connections. BBBS is an opportunity to volunteer, impact community, and have a positive influence on a kid's life.
My Process for Joining BBBS
Initially, it seemed a bit daunting and confusing. However, I promise the Enrollment Coordinators are extremely helpful. Throughout the entire enrollment process, the coordinator was consistently in contact and kept me updated along the way.
- Attended a 1 hour orientation.
- Reflected for a few weeks to consider if this would be a good fit for me.
- Submitted the Application with references.
- Attended an interview (BBBS learning more about me and my interests).
- Attended the pre-matching training session.
- Received information/interests about a potential match.
- Accepted the proposed match.
The process took about 6 hours spread across 2 months.
The enrollment specialist at BBBS did a fantastic job at pairing our match. We have several common interests such as math, science, space, and most importantly PIZZA!
The first time I met my Little was during the "Match Introduction". This introduction consisted of an icebreaker "get to know you" game, signing the match contract (a symbol of commitment), and scheduling our first outing. Our Match Support Specialist guided us through the entire introduction and kept the conversation alive.
For our first outing; we toured a museum, went on a short hike, and played at a playground. Initially, it was slightly awkward, and I don't think either of us knew what to expect during the outing. Touring the museum gave us plenty of conversation starters and helped us to feel more comfortable. By the end of the outing, we were both having a great time just hanging out together.
During the match introduction, we created a goal for us to accomplish during the first year. The goal was decided by the little, and he decided that we should find ways to be involved in community service projects! This is perfect! I'm looking for new ways to be involved in the community and now I have someone to share that journey with. During a recent car-ride, we spent time discussing this goal and sharing ideas on ways the we could accomplish it. We're both looking forward to the potential that our relationship holds.
If you have any opportunities for volunteering in/around Henderson, please reach out.
If you're interested in learning more about this organization, check out these resources for more information! Also, I'm always down to grab coffee and have a chat.
If you live in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, Spencer, and Gibson Counties in Indiana, or Henderson County in Kentucky: mentoringkids.org.