Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters

What is mentoring all about and how does it make a difference?

First and foremost, mentoring is about being a friend to a child or youth. Mentors make a difference in so many different ways! See our success stories for testimonials from Little Brothers, Little Sisters and their parents.

How old do I have to be to volunteer?

To be a mentor you have to be 18 years of age or older with the exception of 2 programs: Conversation Club which is 16-24 and Teen Mentoring which is 15-18.

See a list of our programs here.

What kinds of activities do Mentors and Mentees do together?

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.

Is one-to-one mentoring the only program? Or are there different types of opportunities available?

Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies offer a wide variety of mentoring opportunities, and the programs offered vary from agency to agency. See our Mentoring Programs page for a full list of our programs and brief descriptions for each.

Does mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters cost a lot of money?

It doesn’t have to. Big Brothers Big Sisters encourages no-cost and low-cost activities, and in most agencies it is not the responsibility of the mentor to pay for the child or youth.

What can I do if I need support with an issue in my match?

You will be assigned a caseworker, a trained professional who is there to support you in your match with your Little Brother or Little Sister. You will be required to have regular contact with your caseworker, and we also encourage you to contact your Caseworker at any time to discuss how the match is going, what activities you are enjoying together, and any issues that you may be having.

Are mentors expected to help out with the child or youth's personal activities, such as bringing them to appointments, helping them with homework, etc?

No. Mentors may decide to help out with these types of activities every now and then, but this is not a requirement. An exception would be Big Brother Big Sister mentoring programs that focus on assisting the Little Sister or Little Brother with their homework and studies.

The Process for Becoming a Volunteer

How do I get started toward becoming a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer?

You can start by inquiring or filling out an application form here, then sending it to us!

We will contact you once we receive and review your application form. We will be looking for a police record check and a reference check.

After that we will do a volunteer interview with you and put you through a child safety training.

Once these steps are completed we will start matching you with a Little Brother or Little Sister. This process can vary depending on the program, but generally can take up to 6 weeks, so if you are interested we suggest you get started today!

Do you accept everyone who applies to be a volunteer?

No. As prospective mentors go through the application and assessment process, the agency may determine that a mentoring role is not right for them. Prospective mentors themselves may also decide the time is not right to take on this role.

What steps do agencies take to ensure that inappropriate people are not accepted as volunteers?

Several steps are taken. For example, all prospective volunteers must provide a satisfactory criminal record check and three or four satisfactory references.

Where do I go to get a Criminal Record Check done?

You will need to go to your local RCMP or Police Department. Your local agency will be able to provide you with information on the location of the police station as well as their hours of operation.

How is a Little Sister or Little Brother picked for me? Do I have any say?

When matching you with a Little Sister or Little Brother, your caseworker 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 Brother or Little Sister. Before introducing you to your Little, your caseworker will call you to tell you about the child to make sure you are comfortable and to answer any questions you may have.

In some agencies, you may 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.

Help with Making Your Decision

How do I know if mentoring is right for me?

If you are someone who has a passion for being with children and youth or giving back to your community, that is a good start.

Continue reading through these FAQ’s and explore the video stories on our YouTube channel to get a better sense of what mentoring is about if if you think you will enjoy it.

You may also wish to contact us to get answers to other questions you may have.

I am a teenager, can I volunteer?

Possibly. Certain agencies offer mentoring opportunities for teenagers. Contact us to find out what is available.

I am a senior citizen, can I volunteer?

Most definitely! Most Big Brothers Big Sisters programs have no upper age limit to volunteering  – just be prepared to get in touch with your inner child!

I don't know much about children and youth, is that okay?

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.

Do I need to have access to a car?

This depends on the agency policies as well as the program you are volunteering for. Having a vehicle may be necessary in remote or rural areas; however, in urban centres some matches rely entirely on public transit. This is something you should discuss with your caseworker prior to being matched.

I can't commit to one year or once a week. Can I still be a volunteer?

Most likely, yes. Talk with your local agency – some offer over 10 different types of programs with different commitment requirements.

They will let you know if there is a program that might work for you. You may also want to start out by volunteering in another way, for example by helping the agency out with a fundraising event.

What if I can't see my Little Sister or Little Brother for a week or two because I'm on vacation, going through exams, or away on a business trip?

Occasional absences are to be expected, whether for vacations, work responsibilities or illness. If you are going to miss an outing, discuss your plans with your caseworker, your Little Brother or Little Sister and his or her parent or guardian prior to your absence.