While we are continuing to practice healthy habits, we have been creating innovative ways to enroll, match, and support our Bigs and Littles. As we continue to evaluate how we can provide additional support and guidance, we are officially launching Virtual Enrollment, Virtual Matching, and Virtual Match Support.
Like all of you, we at Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA have been working to adapt to the local, state, and federal guidelines for minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19). With our community's safety and health as our priority, the Big Brothers Big Sisters office is open by appointment only. We want to be clear that Big Brothers Big Sisters IS OPEN. The need for safe, strong, active mentoring relationships may be greater now than ever.
At this time, Bigs & Littles ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to continue to meet virtually and continue to utilize the range of technology that is available. If the Big and Little do see each other in-person, Parent/Guardian approval is required, notify your Program Coordinator when you do see your Little in-person, proper health and safety measures are required, wear a face mask, wash hands frequently, and no closed building or spaces. Only meet in-person in open-air areas such as parks or lakefront for social distancing practices and NO HOME VISITS are allowed with your Little. Each mentoring program will be operating under slightly different circumstances during this time.
While we highly value conducting enrollment, match introductions, and mentoring in person, we will continue using video conferencing services (i.e., Zoom, Skype) to complete interviews and enrollment. These video conferencing services will also be used to complete virtual match meetings. This will allow our program staff to both see and hear all match parties, Bigs, Littles, and Parent/Guardians, during the match introduction process, as well as support the match virtually. New matches established via video conferencing must only have contact with each other via video conferencing for a minimum of 3 months before Agency staff will allow the Big and Little to meet in-person for one-to-one activities.
For those that have technology challenges with virtual enrollment and matching, we are able to complete an in-person interview and match meeting while practicing social distancing and health and safety measures by wearing face masks, temperature checks, physical see-through barrier with proper 6 feet apart between BBBS staff and Big mentor enrollee. All in-person program needs are by appointment only and only if proper safety measures are taken by all parties.
With a signed release, we are connecting our School-Based matches to Virtually Mentor while schools are closed. This enables our School-Based Littles to continue their mentoring relationship with their Big, via virtual connection, which will provide much needed educational, behavioral, and positive support they normally do not receive when schools are closed for summer and holidays.
Our active Community-Based matches continue to meet monthly either virtually or in-person, and many are finding creative ways to mentor through social media, FaceTime, virtual movie time, cooking together via video conferencing, and many other creative ways to maintain a healthy mentoring relationship.
Since January 1, we have made 58 new Matches, with 24 Littles still on the waitlist for a Big. Our mission is more important than ever right now. Our Littles need a positive mentor to connect with, as many of our Littles have social isolation issues, anxiety, and fear over the National health crisis, or are just lonely and feel down since they are not able to visit with friends and family. Our mentors are stepping up and providing a positive and healthy relationship, regardless of in-person meetings or social distancing measures. Technology is allowing us to continue to mentor and be an important part of the health and well-being of our SWLA children.
If you would like to become a Volunteer Mentor or have a Little to enroll in our Community Mentoring program, please visit the links below. We are actively enrolling in all mentoring programs. We are here. We are important. We are #BiggerTogether.
What do we achieve?
Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children achieve success in school, helps them avoid risky behaviors such as getting into fights and trying drugs and alcohol, and helps them improve their self-confidence. We hold ourselves accountable to our supporters by regularly measuring our impact
Whom do we serve?
Big Brothers Big Sisters seeks to change the lives of children facing adversity between 6 and 18 years of age. Our network of volunteers, donors and supporters comes from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all corners of the country.
What do we do?
Our unique brand of one-to-one mentoring, in which a child facing adversity is carefully matched with a caring adult mentor in a relationship supported by professional Big Brothers Big Sisters staff members, changes lives for the better forever.