Definition: Person who spends time with a child, person who advises.
Synonyms: Advisor, coach, counsellor, guide, instructor, teacher, trainer, tutor.
Yikes… sounds daunting, doesn’t it? What if we look at it another way.
- Bigs in the Community. These Bigs meet at kiddo’s house, their own house, or out in the community somewhere after school or on the weekend. The time commitment is 1 to 3 hours every week or every other week. Here the main focus is friendship.
- Bigs in the School. These Bigs meet their Little’s at the kiddo’s school during the day (anywhere from 9 to 4:30pm). The time commitment is 1 hour every week. Here the main focus is homework and literacy but friendship is also important.
- Bigs in the Club. These Bigs meet with a group of kids at one of our after school clubs during the weekday (anywhere from 3:30pm to 7pm). We have 8 locations at designated clubs, and 5 at the schools near downtown Edmonton. The time commitment is 1 to 3 hours every week or every other week.
That’s it? Seem too easy? Okay, so there are some other bits. (We actually do have some expectations!) Here’s the formal stuff.
The objective of the 1-1 mentor match is to develop a defined, objective, and purposeful relationship. A mentor is to be a role model and provide the youth with support, guidance, and friendship. A Big Brother/Big Sister volunteer must comply with all policies, practices, and expectations related to the matching program – but don’t worry, we help you along the way.
YIKES! If you’ve stopped reading, we don’t blame you. But bear with us. Putting this in practical, real life terms, the purpose of mentoring a child is to give them an additional outlet for their energy and someone else whose opinion matters to them. Kids just need consistency and reassurance that someone likes hanging out with them. They need to learn life perspective from someone who has been there and understands and can help them when they need an ear. OR…who can play the heck out of Rock Band or who can build and shoot a potato gun or who wants to ride go-carts. Seriously.
All mentors/volunteers must complete an orientation, application, interview and screening processes. This includes a criminal record check. On completion, mentors are provided with training that will help you to understand your new role.
- Minimum 18 years of age; younger applicants will be considered only in programs where appropriate and on-site supervision takes place.
- Consistent availability: Volunteer Mentors are asked to set aside time on a regular basis, typically with weekly or bi-weekly quality contact for at least one year. Provisions for special short-term matches can be made as long as all parties involved agree.
Good candidates for volunteering as a mentor will have:
- Maturity, stability, personal motivation and a strong sense of responsibility
- A willingness to establish and adhere to relationship boundaries with the child/youth, parent, agency and where applicable the partnering site
- Good communication, relationship and social skills
- The ability to act in an ethical and mature manner
- The ability to provide the appropriate level of Duty of Care while performing volunteer role
- The ability to respect youth/family confidentiality
- The ability to communicate regularly youth/family progress, issues and concerns to the organization
- The ability to pick up and return the child home (does not include in-school or Club mentors)
- Though not necessary, a car is an asset
Every mentor/volunteer works closely with a Match Facilitator (MF), who is there to guide and support you and assist with any questions or challenges. You and your MF will have regular contact via phone, email or in person.
Wasn’t so bad, hey? Although being a volunteer mentor can seem daunting on paper, what matters most is your desire to be a friend, a consistent and positive presence in the life of a child.