Make a ‘BIG’ difference

*What is Big Brothers Big Sisters?

For more than 25 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Juniata Valley has operated under the belief that, inherent in every child, is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. We make meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“BIGs”) and children (“LITTLEs”) ages 5 through 17.

Our mission is to provide children who are facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally-supported one-to-one relationships.

*Who are the Big Brothers and Big Sisters in the program?

BIGs come from diverse backgrounds just like our LITTLEs.

They are regular people, just like you. You don’t need any special degrees or job skills to become a BIG. You just have to want to positively impact a young person.

If you are 18 or older, have a driver’s license and insurance, a clean driving record and a few extra hours each month, we will match you with a compatible LITTLE who shares similar interests and preferences, and lives within a reasonable distance!

*What is the time commitment to be a mentor?

We ask our Community BIGs to commit to 12 months of mentoring their LITTLE, with match outings lasting, on average, four hours per month.

*How am I matched with my LITTLE?

Our Case Managers will spend considerable time getting to know you and our children on the wait list in order to make the best possible match. LITTLEs and BIGs are matched on the basis of personality, common interests, the child’s needs and the volunteer’s strengths.

*When can I see my LITTLE?

As a BIG/LITTLE team in our community program, you decide together what you want to do and then you get approval from your LITTLE’s parent or guardian.

You have flexibility to choose the day, time and activity that best suits your schedule. We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and get together on a regular basis.

*How much money should I spend?

The quality of the time you invest with your LITTLE is more important than the amount of money you spend. That’s why we don’t encourage spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is to help your LITTLE see the world through a different lens so you can inspire your LITTLE to become something s/he never thought possible.

If you are going to spend money, we encourage you to seek out low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. Play a game together, or share that pizza that you were going to have for lunch anyway.

Once you become a BIG, you will receive email notices for free tickets to cultural and sports activities for you both to enjoy. Group activities, organized by JVBBBS, are another free way to spend time with your LITTLE as well as a great way to meet other BIG/ LITTLE matches.

*What are some good ideas for outings with my LITTLE?

Choose an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Go to the library, check out a book and read together. Buy a comic book to read together. Play a board game. Go on a nature walk. Take a ride in the car with the radio on and talk about the music you like. You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning.

Most importantly, keep it simple and enjoy yourselves!

*Can I bring my spouse, a friend or a family member on outings?

In the beginning, it’s most important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This happens best on a one-to-one basis. However, over time it’s also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you.

Just keep in mind that if you’re spending lots of time with others, your LITTLE may begin to feel jealous or neglected. The main focus is the friendship you develop with your LITTLE.

*What kind of support can I expect from Big Brothers Big Sisters once I get matched?

When you are matched with your LITTLE, a case manager from our agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Any time you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, a case manager is available to help.

We’ll help you with ideas for activities, guidance for handling difficult situations and feedback on how you are making a difference.

*Do I become a replacement parent?

No, LITTLEs have a parent or guardian in their life already. What they need is a BIG to spend quality, one-on-one time with them. Someone to have fun with, someone they can confide in, someone like you!

*How do I get started?

Call Big Brothers Big Sisters of Juniata Valley at 248-4034. We’ll answer any additional questions you have and mail you an application!