We are officially a Big Couple for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas County! As part of their 100 Men in 100 Days movement, and interest from several people at hubby’s office, the process was very streamlined and pretty much smooth sailing every step of the way.
After our initial application submission about a month ago, we completed online training and then waited for our interview on July 29. Within days of our interviews (we were each interviewed separately), we received a call that we were officially accepted as a Big Couple. In that same phone call, we were also told about a potential match! We were surprised because we were told that normally takes a couple weeks after we are accepted. Our match specialist emailed over very detailed information on our potential little brother and hubby and I read it over and discussed.
One thing they stress is the importance of sharing common interests and having open communication. They go through great lengths to screen Bigs so they are matched appropriately with Littles. What they don’t want is to place a Little with a Big, who do not share common interests and it doesn’t work. That would be difficult for the Little, especially if they felt they were not liked.
Going into this, both hubby and I felt that we were pretty open as to who we want to be matched with. We did not set any limitations other than an age range. Our goal is to be mentors to a child who needs support and adult role models. Generally, the parent/parents place their child in the program specifically for that support, for a variety of reasons they may face in their household and family lives. It was our feeling that we wanted to help a child between the ages of 8 and 12.
After deciding we wanted to me our potential Little, a meeting was set up which took place this past Wednesday evening. Hubby and I, along with a match specialist from BBBS, all met at the Little’s home. Specific questions were asked of all us and it was a chance for us to talk and ask each other questions. Both hubby and I liked our potential Little right away. We had a lot in common as far as likes, dislikes, activities, and more. We both also really enjoyed meeting his mom. One of the things we like most is her desire for her children to have every opportunity they can to succeed in life. I love that and I know if we were parents ourselves, we would want the very same thing. At the end of the meeting, we were told we would both be called the next day to find out how we each felt about the meeting and if we wanted to proceed with the match.
We were very excited when we left and felt very good about it. I think we spent much of the evening discussing possible outings and activities we can do together. Yesterday, I received a call late morning from the match specialist to find out what we thought and of course I told her we absolutely wanted to move forward with the match. I was told they would call the Little’s mom next and then would call me back. By the end of the day, we received a call back that mother and Little were both very excited about meeting us and wanted to move forward as well. So, we officially have a Little Brother!
Big Brothers Big Sisters has very strong policies in place, all of which are there for the protection of the Littles. Because of this, we are not able to share his name or any photos. I can however, share general information about our outings and fun. So, he will be known as Little Brother, or LB, on my blog. And I will share this with you… He is 12 years old, going into the 7th grade, has a wonderful personality, and is probably one of the most polite children I have ever met. From here on out, we will communicate directly with his mom to plan our outings. Our commitment is 4 – 8 hours a month, for 15 months.
Big Brothers Big Sisters offers endless support to both Bigs and Littles. They plan events and offer free or low-cost activities to do, and provide a list of local businesses that offer discounts to volunteers. Being a Big does not mean spending a lot of money on activities or gifts. It is support, quality time, help with school work, focusing on life skills that the parent may want addressed, and quality time for the Little doing activities they enjoy and that will lead them in the right direction in life.
I am sharing all this because I am so impressed with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. I never knew much about it before, but have known a few people who have Littles and I’ve been told that it is so rewarding. After our match meeting Wednesday night, my heart was so happy, knowing that we might have a part in influencing this young boy who is very much interested in having a Big Couple in his life. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Hubby and I try to do things for other people and give back when we can. Rescuing a dog from the Humane Society who needed a second chance, to donating bikes last Christmas, and now being a mentor to a child. It is a wonderful feeling to make a difference.