Become a BIG, and help a young person see what’s POSSIBLE
Being a Big Brother or Sister is the most rewarding, fulfilling, and enjoyable way to give back to your community. Too many youth face hardships that threaten to limit their future. Their parents and caregivers are doing the best they can, but often their time and resources are limited by circumstances.
When a young person’s social network is stretched too thin, they may experience:
- Depression and anxiety
- Poor school performance
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Unplanned parenthood
- Juvenile detention
- Loss of hope for the future
One more PERSON can make all the difference
At Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, we believe every one of us can benefit from having one more person invested in our success. That’s why, at the request of parents, we match 6- to 21-year-olds (Littles) with caring adult volunteers (Bigs) to walk alongside them. For many Littles, their Big is the only relationship that’s all theirs—someone who can invest dedicated time to encourage them and introduce them to new possibilities and perspectives.
Four steps to Becoming a Big
Individuals (at least 18 years old), couples and entire families can serve as Bigs. Submit your application to get the ball rolling!
2. References & Background Check
To honor a parent's trust, we require personal and professional/educational references. We also conduct extensive state and national background checks.
Potential Bigs meet with a Mentor Manager so we can get to know you, and so you can ask all your questions. We also interview the parent and youth to learn all about the youth’s interests, personality, needs and preferences. Our experts strive to make the best match possible (and we’re told this is part of the magic).
When we identify a Little who’s a great fit for you, we’ll set up an introduction. As you show up for them, you’ll make a true and lasting difference in a young person’s life.
SO... WHAT DOES A BIG DO?
Frequently Asked Questions when becoming a Big.
Who are the Bigs in the program?
Our 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. You just have to want to positively impact a young person. Role models come in all shapes and sizes, and you could be a perfect fit.
When can I see my Little?
As a Big/Little team, you decide together what you want to do and then your Little gets approval from his or her parent. We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and get together on a regular basis. Your local agency will provide more guidance on this. The outings will also depend on the comfort level of your Little’s parents, your Little, and you.
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 they 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. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies offer donor-supported group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles. As a Big, you may also receive notices for free tickets to cultural and sports activities for you both to enjoy.
What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?
Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Take a ride in the car, get a bite to eat, go to the library, check out a book and read together. Go to the beach, work out together. Play a video or board game. Go for a walk in the park or hike at the celery fields. Hit a bucket of golf balls at the local driving range. Listen to the radio 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 important: keep it simple and enjoy yourselves!
Can I bring my spouse, a friend, or a family member on outings?
In the beginning its most important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This can happen 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?
Once you are matched with your Little, a Match Support Specialist from the 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, you will have a Match Support Specialist there to help. They’ll help you with ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference.
Will 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!
Other ways to make an impact.
- Serve on a Special Events Committee
- Serve an on a Community Board
- Assist with the occasional parties or events
- Assist with the Back to School Supply Drive
- Assist with answering the phone and or clerical work in one of the offices