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Big Sister Mentoring Program

I'm really interested in volunteering as a mentor.  Has anyone been a mentor or mentee?  If you've been a mentor, can you share some of your experiences - the good and the bad? 

Re: Big Sister Mentoring Program

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    I used to run a mentoring program, so I can give you what I know from that angle.The biggest thing is to follow through on your commitments. Most of the kids in those types of programs have faced a lot of disappointment in their lives. Even something little they'll latch on to (like, if you tell them you'll be there at 5:30 but show up at 5:45, that could really upset them). Not all kids are like that, and not all kids have had horrible lives or bad parents, but in my experience, with my program, the majority did.The other thing is to not push a relationship too quickly. Just kind of let the kid dictate how quickly you become friends. Some may be shy and overwhelmed with a new person in their lives. Others may latch right on to your friendship. Also, I know in my area that it's more difficult to be a Big because we have a lot of people who are willing to do that. But some of the other mentor programs don't have as many willing volunteers because they're not as well known. So, maybe look into other programs as well and see if you like another one better. Or, if they put you on a waiting list to be a Big, think about mentoring somewhere else.I think it's an awesome commitment you're wanting to take one, and even though I don't know you, I'm very proud of you! :)
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    I mentored a young girl for 4 years in high school. I spent an hour a week with her during the school year - I'd walk from my HS to her ES and hang out with her for the last hour of her school day. I had a great experience and still think about her to this day. Unfortunately, we didn't keep in touch but I'd love to know what she's up to today. She was a great kid and we really enjoyed our time together. I think being a mentor is a great thing and I too have considered doing it again.
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    My little brother has a "big brother".  It has really helped him.  My mom set him up in the program after our dad passed away.  It really gives my brother an outlet to do one on one things with a man that he normally wouldn't ever be able to do because our dad isn't here.  It really isn't about spending money on the kids, it's about giving them a reprieve from everyday life to see things they normally wouldn't see on a day to day basis.  Sometimes it's easier for the kids to explain their frustrations to the mentor because they aren't directly involved in the childs day to day problems.  I wanted to be a mentor for a while but my schedule was so busy that I just wasn't sure I'd be able to really make an impact, I think most kids in these programs have people quit on them, or give them empty promises and as a mentor you have to definitely be the one that they can count on to follow through.
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    My friend did it and got a kid who didn't really need it.  Her parents were just too lazy and poor to do activites with their children.The little girl was not very grateful for anything that my friend did for her.  As my friend went above and beyond what was required for the program.  She tried to teach the kid manners and what not.  It was a lost cause.She began hating doing it after awhile.

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    The biggest thing is to follow through on your commitments.I 100% agree with this. Whenever I was missed a day of school, my mentee said she was sad because she was looking forward to seeing me. I know you can't help it if you are sick, but sometimes younger kids don't understand that and they think you are just bailing on them.So, I'd try to get the OK from her teacher to come twice the next week. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn't.
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    Thanks for all these different perspectives.  My only hesitation is the 1 year commitment required by my local program.  I'm still a bit of a nomad, and I could move out of the state in a heartbeat depending on where my job or DH's job takes me.  Also, since I've never been a mentor or mentee, I'm afraid there's a chance I won't be effective at all.
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    I did BBBS for a year and a half in college, and then when I graduated our match ended because I moved. I am now in a new state, and have been matched with a little for about 6 or 7 months? The time has flown by. I love it. My little sister has 3 siblings and another one on the way and her mom works a lot. She loves getting out of the house and having some one on one time. It's a one hour minimum a week committment usually. And most programs want you to sign up for a year because the kids in them usually are used to people walking out of their lives. You may think you won't make much of an impact... but I guarantee you will on some level.
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    I know I'm a little late in  this conversation. I have an awesome job where they are very involved with the community and let us spend on hour a week with our "Little".My little had two other mentors besides me. Thus, she didn't quite need one as much. But it still meant a LOT to her that someone younger came during her lunch to be with her. We played games more than anything, but it does help the littles so much.Ditto the commitment part. There unfortunately were some in my group that started volunteering and dropped out. Their little asked mine to find out what happened. It affects them if they get close and you lose interest. It's seen as something they did wrong to them. But if you're interested, it is a very inspiring thing to do.
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