We know becoming a volunteer mentor is a BIG decision. There’s lots of ways you can get more information before jumping in. Below, you’ll find answers to many of our most frequently asked questions, you can sign up for a virtual drop-in session, and there’s also a form where you can email us your inquiry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is your enrollment process for new volunteer mentors?
A: Our enrollment process is made up of 5 steps:
- Submit your application.
- Be interviewed (approx. 1.5 hours) and provide references.
- Complete the volunteer training (6 hours).
- Clear a police check (specifically, the Vulnerable Sector Check).
- Be available for a home assessment (for “In the Community” programs only).
Q: Why is the volunteer interview so long?
A: The volunteer interview takes about 1.5 hours because we want to get to know you, learn about your strengths, and understand why you want to become a mentor.
Q: I don’t know much about children and youth, is that okay?
A: Yes! It doesn’t take much knowledge or experience to be a friend and positive role model, and the caseworker is always there to support you.
Q: What does the volunteer training involve?
A: Our training involves two 2-hour sessions where you will learn the role of a mentor, how to create a developmental relationship, possible activities you can do as a match, and specific details related to the program you have selected.
Q: Who qualifies as a reference and what are they expected to do?
A: We will accept references from almost all walks of life: personal (including significant other), family, employment and volunteer positions. Note that your personal references must have known you for at least two years. References are to be submitted through an online form. You will be asked to bring the names and email addresses of your references to your volunteer interview.
Q: Can you tell me more about the police check?
A: You must provide a new clear police check or one that has been done within the last six months. There are several types of police checks, but you will need the one that is specifically for working with vulnerable populations. It is called the Vulnerable Sector Check and you can find all the details here. You can get your check done in person or online. Doing it online is very simple and we recommend this process as you will receive your polices check electronically and can easily forward it to us for our records.
Q: How is a Little picked for me? Do I have any say?
A: When matching you with a Little, your mentoring coordinator carefully reviews your application, noting your stated preferences, activities you enjoy, your background, personality, where you live, and other information gathered during your interview. All of this information is carefully considered in order to make a compatible, comfortable match for you and your Little. Before introducing you to your Little, your mentoring coordinator will call you to tell you about the child to make sure you are comfortable and to answer any questions you may have. You will also have an opportunity to meet the child before the match is made. You do have the option to say ‘no’ – we want everyone to be excited about a new match.
Once You’re Matched
Q: What kinds of activities do Mentors and Mentees do together?
A: We encourage Bigs and Littles to choose activities they both enjoy. Caseworkers do their best to match mentors with a Little Brother or Little Sister who has interests similar to theirs. Many agencies organize group activities for matches, and are sometimes given tickets to movies, sporting events, and cultural events which they offer to their matches.
Q: If I am a mentor in a program that is supposed to meet in person, can I meet up with my Little over video chat or by phone upon occasion (like when I am on vacation)?
A: Yes. We recognize that there will be times when meeting in person is not possible. And meeting virtually is better than not meeting at all. We have a mentoring app called MentorCity that you will learn how to use to meet up virtually.
Q: What if I can’t meet up at all on a particular week?
A: It’s okay if you can’t meet up on a particular week, but it is critical that you let your Little (and sometimes their family) know. It’s all about managing expectations!
Q: Will I get reimbursed for any expenses I incur related to my weekly match visits?
A: Unfortunately, we do not reimburse for any match visit expenses. This is why we encourage low- to no-cost activities and work hard to provide you with ideas, discounts, monthly match events, and of course the free match space at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office.
Q: What kind of support can I expect from my mentoring coordinator?
A: Your mentoring coordinator will be a key ally for you throughout your experience at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Your coordinator will be available to support you through any challenging situations and answer any questions you may have along the way. Through regular updates and ongoing monitoring, your coordinator will work with you to ensure you are continuing to create a developmental relationship with your Little.
Drop-In Q&A Sessions
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a mentor before applying, join us at one of our online drop-in sessions. These sessions are a great opportunity to ask questions and meet some of our staff.
Email Us Your Inquiry
Can’t make it to a drop-in session? Type your question below and we’ll get back to you during our regular business hours.