Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA)?
A: For over 100 years, JBBBSLA has provided professionally-supported, free, one-to-one mentoring for Jewish boys and girls, ages 6 and older, who could benefit from an additional committed, attentive, and positive adult role-model.
Q: Who are our Bigs?
A: Our Bigs are caring, trusted, dynamic, Jewish volunteers (ages 21 or older), with a variety of personal and professional experiences and all Jewish denominations. Bottom line…they are remarkable, nurturing human beings whom we are fortunate to know! We conduct extensive background checks and interviews to ensure the quality of our mentors and to provide the best match possible. Volunteer Today!
Q: Is there an upper age limit to be a Big?
A: No. We have wonderful mentors of all ages. However, in order to effectively match young people and volunteers in mentoring relationships, we need a balance of children and adults, as well as males and females and other characteristics. We also honor the preferences of both Bigs and Littles, so our ability to match any given volunteer is tied to the needs and requests of our pool of Littles. At this time, we have a number of mature big brothers and big sisters waiting to be matched, so the wait may be longer for more mature mentors.
Q: Who are our Littles?
A: Jewish boys and girls, ages 6 and older, who could benefit from an additional committed, attentive, and positive adult role-model. Whether experiencing social or emotional challenges, being raised by single parents, living with siblings with special needs, living with a grandparent or a non-biological parent, being raised by same-sex parents, or in need of additional enrichment and support for a variety of other reasons, there are many circumstances in which a child may benefit. Enroll a Child!
Q: How long is the commitment?
A: JBBBSLA asks that Bigs commit to a minimum of one year, though we encourage matches to last as long as they are mutually rewarding and beneficial to the child. Our average match length is over three years.
Q: How often to Bigs and Littles see each other?
A: Bigs and Littles meet twice a month and outings average 2-3 hours each.
Q: What match activities do Bigs and Littles choose?
A: This varies widely depending on interest. Examples range from riding bikes to baking cookies, shooting hoops or sharing a meal, visiting a museum or going to a movie, attending a sports event or sharing a community service experience. The possibilities are endless! Bigs and Littles also participate in agency-sponsored events with other matches, which is a wonderful way to expand their connections to the Jewish community.
Q: Who pays for match outings?
A: Bigs incur the expenses involved in the activities they choose to share with their Littles. However, we strongly encourage outings that are free or modestly priced and expect that your expenses will be minimal. The events and activities held by JBBBSLA throughout the year are also free or very low-cost.
Q: When do outings take place?
A: Matches have flexibility regarding their outing schedule. Some prefer weekend get-togethers; others may choose to combine one longer weekend activity with a brief weeknight outing (such as dinner or yogurt). Create whatever plan works for you and the family!
Q: Can I bring my spouse or significant other with me on match outings?
A: You may choose a one-to-one relationship or a couples match (in which you and your partner jointly mentor a young male). Either way, we ask that you don’t include on your outings anyone other than those in the match party. As a relationship grows, Bigs and Littles generally get to meet and know each other’s family members, and enjoy time together on occasion. However, the priority is for each Little to be the focus of the relationship and to know that time with the Big(s) usually belongs to him or her.
Q: How does JBBBSLA train Bigs for the mentoring experience?
A: JBBBSLA prepares all volunteers through a combination of one-to-one discussions, web-based materials, live group sessions and ongoing coaching/training opportunities. We are here to support you throughout the process!
Q: What is the application process for Bigs?
A: After you complete the online questionnaire with your basic information, an Enrollment & Matching Specialist (EMS) will email you a link to our brief online orientation (about 12 minutes). Upon completing this, the EMS will contact you to schedule your in-person interview, during which we’ll ask questions that help us get to know you. Once we have completed the background checks and spoken with your references, the enrollment team reviews your application and makes an approval decision.
Q: What is the application process for Littles?
A: The first step in the parent or guardian’s completion of an online questionnaire with the child’s basic information. One of our Enrollment & Matching Specialists then contacts the parent or guardian by phone to provide an orientation to the program, learn more about the child and his or her needs, and help determine if this program seems like a good fit for the child. Assuming so, we’ll schedule an in-person assessment with both the parent or guardian and child to learn more about how we can serve their needs and interests.
Q: How long does it take to be matched?
A: In order to effectively match young people and volunteers in mentoring relationships, we need a balance of children and adults, as well as males and females and other characteristics. While we seek to match those first who have been waiting longest, our primary focus is compatibility and our priority is to create the most successful matches. Our Littles have a range of needs and preferences, so a volunteer’s wait time is also contingent upon the pool of children and youth waiting.
Q: How far will I need to travel to pick up my Little?
A: Matches are based in part on geographic proximity to minimize travel time between the Little and Big’s respective homes. The general assumption is that Bigs pick up and drop off their Little, but some parents are able to help with transportation when distances are greater. Most match outings occur on weekends when traffic is generally less of an issue, and when we offer you a match we will also make sure you are comfortable with the proximity.
Q: What would happen if I were to have challenges in the mentoring relationship?
A: You are never alone! Like every relationship, sometimes you will have questions or need support to navigate something new or challenging but, throughout the life of your “match”, you will have a professional Match Support Specialist (AKA “Expert in Mentoring”!) to guide you.
Q: What are some of the benefits of mentoring?
A: Mentoring can have a significant impact on a child’s life. Whether experiencing social or emotional challenges, or seeking additional enrichment and support, there are many circumstances in which a child may benefit. Littles experience:
- A community of support
- Increased self-esteem
- Strengthened social skills
- Exposure to new interests and activities
- Fun outings with a dependable, supportive adult
Q: How does mentoring impact the life of the volunteer?
A: Our mentors tell us that the mentoring experience is fun, rewarding and life-changing. In fact, they often comment that they believe they get as much out of it (or more) than the youth. Recent research has shown that volunteering in a capacity which provides support to another person actually can reduce overall stress levels for the volunteer! Who knew?! (Join us and watch YOUR stress levels go down!)