Is Mentoring for You?

All children and youth need someone to look up to. More than this, they require someone to provide guidance and advice, to give attention and praise – not to mention someone to have fun with! Children and youth can get this support from parents or caregivers, siblings, teachers, coaches – and also from volunteer Mentors! The children and youth who come to Big Brothers Big Sisters seek an adult role model to talk to, learn from, and share experiences with. There may be dozens, if not hundreds of children and youth in your community right now who would like to welcome a caring role model into their lives. Could you provide this kind of support to a child or youth?

Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters is fun, easy, and benefits both the Mentors and the child or youth they are matched with! But there are also important requirements and responsibilities that come along with Mentoring, so it is not for everyone. The purpose of this orientation is to provide you with the information you need to determine whether Mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters is something that is right for you. The orientation also provides guidance on how to proceed if you decide that Mentoring with us is something that you would like to pursue.

WHAT MENTORING IS ALL ABOUT

Wondering what Mentoring is all about? This page will give you an idea about what it means to be a Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Mentoring is being a friend to a child or youth.

Mentoring is a commitment.

Mentoring is a partnership.

Mentoring involves trust.

Mentoring comes with responsibilities.

Mentoring is diverse.

Mentoring is inexpensive.

Mentoring is not time consuming.

Mentoring is fun!

Mentoring is rewarding.

OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Who are the children and youth that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex serves?

Every child or youth in our Mentoring programs has their own unique story. Some may have grown up with only one parent.  Some may come from a family stretched for time or other resources. Some may lack access to extracurricular activities, and some may have difficulty at school, either socially or academically. Just as every child has their own story, they all have their reasons why they are welcoming a Mentor into their lives.

How does Mentoring help them?

In countless ways! Evidence has shown that children who have welcomed a volunteer Mentor into their lives:

  • Have increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Have enhanced social skills
  • Are less likely to use drugs or alcohol
  • Are less likely to get involved in criminal behaviour
  • Do better in school, and are less likely to drop out

While the above examples are more obvious ways that Mentoring can help children and youth, Mentors also have the opportunity to affect the lives of their Mentee in ways that are more subtle but equally as important. For example, can you imagine being able to:

  • Share experiences with your Mentee that they may have never had otherwise
  • Help them figure out what they may want to do later on in life
  • Talk to them as they deal with a difficult situation
  • Be there to support them and lift them up when things don’t go well
  • Help them have fun, and be a kid!

MENTORING REQUIREMENTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

What are the requirements for Mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex?

Before you explore this section, you should know that you are not alone. Every volunteer Mentor will have staff support from our agency. The agency staff will orient and train you, and will support you throughout your match.
To Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.  There is no upper age limit.
  • Provide a satisfactory Criminal Record Check which includes a Vulnerable Sector Check
  • Provide three or four satisfactory references who have known you for at least two years from the following categories; significant other/family, vulnerable sector/employment and  personal
  • Respect the confidential nature of our services and sign a confidentiality agreement

To Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex, you should also:

  • Be interested in developing a positive friendship with a child or youth
  • Be trustworthy, energetic, mature, stable, reliable, accepting, patient, caring and respectful of others
  • Be supportive and non-judgmental in your interactions with children and youth
  • Promote the welfare and safety of the child or youth
  • Act with integrity
  • Be comfortable with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex’s  core values, policies and procedures

What will be expected of me?

Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentors will be expected to:

  • Commit at least a few hours a couple times a month (this varies across programs)
  • Commit for up to one year (this is a minimum)
  • Ensure the safety and security of the child or youth when they are together
  • Communicate openly and regularly with the parent/guardian (for one-to-one community-based matches) or with the school liaisons (for school-based matches)
  • Communicate openly and regularly with your Service Delivery Staff
  • Keep everyone informed of life changes that may impact the match
  • Emphasize friendship over changing the behaviour of the child or youth
  • Be consistent and dependable and maintain a steady, positive presence in the  Mentee’s life
  • Involve the Mentee in deciding how to spend time together
  • Listen to and respect the thoughts and viewpoints of the child or youth, and focus on their strengths
  • Have realistic expectations, and be prepared for any issues that may arise
  • Use available resources, including the support and guidance of agency staff
  • Work with their Service Delivery Staff to properly close the match when the match ends

What will not be expected of me?

Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentors will not be expected to:

  • Provide basic necessities like food or money
  • Organize elaborate or expensive activities
  • Act as a substitute for a parent, guardian or teacher
  • Act as a tutor
  • Take the child or youth to appointments or other personal activities
  • Act as a babysitter for the child or youth or his or her siblings/friends
  • Act as a therapist or social worker

What will I have to avoid?

Common sense should be used here, but in general, Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentors should avoid:

  • Criticizing or speaking harshly to the child or youth
  • Disciplining the child or youth
  • Any action or discussion that does not respect the values of the family
  • Any action or discussion that could in any way be interpreted as inappropriate

Your Service Delivery Staff will provide additional information and will guide and support you in your interactions with your Mentee.

Responsibilities related to Child Safety

The safety of the children and youth in our programs is our number one priority, and this should also be the number one priority for Mentors. The Mentor is always responsible for the safety and well- being of their Mentee during their time together. It is also important that the Mentor act safely and appropriately when they are with their Mentee.

Before matches start, all Mentors as well as the children and youth and their parents/guardians must complete mandatory pre-match training, which provides important information on how to respond to safety concerns. (Please note, for school based matches such as In-School Mentoring, the parents/guardians are generally not required to complete the pre-match training.) On an ongoing basis, Service Delivery Staff will discuss the safety and security of the match with Mentors, and Mentors should call the Service Delivery Staff if issues arise at any time during the match.

MENTORING OPPORTUNITIES

Have you been thinking that Mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters only includes one-to-one, long-term matches? Think again! Big Brothers Big Sisters offers a wide range of Mentoring opportunities to meet the varied needs of volunteers, children and families. This page provides information regarding the  programs offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex.

Big Brother Big Sister Mentoring

  • Matches children and youth with a volunteer Big Brother or Big Sister in a one-to-one Mentoring relationship
  • Requires a commitment of at least a few hours a couple of times a month for up to one year
  • Activities can be as varied as one’s imagination!
  • Ideal for individuals who have the time to commit to a longer term friendship with a child or youth
  • A Big Brother provides positive adult male influence, support and consistent friendship  to boys ages 6-18, primarily because of father absence
  • A Big Sister provides positive adult female influence, support and consistent friendship to girls, ages 6-18 from a variety of family situations

Couples Mentoring 

  • Matches a couple with a child for a unique two-to-one friendship
  • The agency strives to match each couple with a child whose needs correspond with the couple’s abilities, interests and preferences
  • Requires a commitment of at least a few hours a couple of times a month for a minimum of one year
  • Volunteers need to be  at least 20 years of age and 1 year in a common-law or married relationship

In School Mentoring

  • Matches children in grades 2-8  with a Mentor in a one to one relationship who meets with them in school
  • The emphasis is on building a meaningful friendship and is not about helping a mentee with homework
  • Generally requires a commitment of one hour a week for one school year at minimum
  • The volunteer and youth meet only at school and participate in a wide range of activities such as baking cookies, crafts, board games, playing basketball, paint nails, picnics, etc.
  •  Ideal for individuals looking for a shorter time commitment who can give time during school hours

Go Girls! Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds

  • Group Mentoring program for girls, delivered by trained  female Mentors between the  ages 19-24 years
  •  Designed to  encourage physical activity, healthy eating and the development of a positive self-image among girls aged 12 to 14
  • Structured around three themes: active living, balanced eating, and feeling good about oneself
  • Fun, educational games and activities enhance the learning experience
  • Ideal for outgoing women looking to provide positive guidance to a group of young girls
  • Primarily school based and generally includes 8 ninety minute sessions throughout the school year (fall, winter, spring sessions)Generally requires a commitment for one school year
  • Please note that space in this program is very limited and you may be referred to another program based on your preference.

Game On! Eat Smart, Play Smart, Live Smart!

  • Group Mentoring program for boys, delivered by trained male Mentors between the ages of 19-24 years
  • Designed to provide boys  ages 11-14 with positive male role models, and support boys and young men in choosing to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle
  • Positively address physical activity, healthy eating, nutrition, self-esteem, leadership and communication skills
  • Ideal for energetic men looking to provide positive guidance to a group of youth
  • Primarily school based and generally includes 8 ninety minute sessions throughout the school year (fall, winter, spring sessions)
  • Requires a commitment for one school year

Group Mentoring

  • Group Mentoring program is   primarily for children on the waiting list to be matched in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring program
  • Volunteers in this program are considered Group Leaders and make a one year commitment
  • Group Leaders make a difference in the life of a child by providing approximately 3  hours a week in assisting with group  outings, building social skills and just having fun
  • Group Leaders provide role modeling and Mentoring in a group capacity
  • Group Leaders may be required to provide transportation to group members and help with meal/snack preparation

Between Generations

  • A school-based intergenerational program which provides an elementary school student with a unique one to one relationship • Matches children in the primary grades with a mature mentor in a one to one relationship who meets with them in school only
    • A mature mentor is a caring adult volunteer over the age of 50 years
    • The emphasis is on building a meaningful friendship and is not about helping a mentee with homework
    • Requires a commitment of one hour a week for one school year at minimum
    • Matches participate in a wide range of activities such as baking cookies, crafts, board games, playing basketball, painting nails, picnics, etc.
    • Mentors benefit from the intergenerational connection while impacting the life of a child

Next Steps in the Enrollment Process

Thank you for participating in the on-line Orientation Session.  We hope that you have been provided with sufficient information to make an informed decision about volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex.  Once you have made your decision, here are the next steps in the process:

1.    Once you have completed the Evaluation Form on the following page and provided your contact information, you will have the option to print a Volunteer Application and Volunteer Permission and Release Form. These forms must be signed and submitted to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex office at 3050 Jefferson Blvd. East, Windsor, Ontario. Be sure to include all necessary information required for us to contact your references. Please let them know that we will be contacting them.  It is important to note that we will be unable to accept your Volunteer Application without a signed Volunteer Permission and Release form attached. 

2.      It is important to obtain a Police Clearance Form and a Volunteer Handbook from the Big Brothers Big Sisters office when submitting your application.

3.     You must read the Volunteer Handbook in its entirety and call the Big Brothers Big Sisters office with any questions.

4.     Submit to your Local Police Services your Police Clearance form for processing.  It is advisable to submit your police clearance form as soon as possible as the process may be quite lengthy depending on the Municipality. They will let you know when it will be ready.

We encourage you to utilize the new Windsor Police Services online process for persons needing a police record check for volunteer or employment purposes who live in the city of Windsor. Follow this link https://www.police.windsor.on.ca/services/info-requests/record-checks/Pages/default.aspx to register for your police criminal records/vulnerable sector check.

NOTE: It is not recommended   that  you attempt to use this system if you:

  • Have lived in Canada for less than one (1) year, and/or;
  • Are under the age of twenty-one (21) years, and/or;
  • Have no established personal credit history – i.e. no credit cards, bank loans, mortgage, etc. – that is required in order to authenticate your ID using EIV

5.     Upon submitting your Volunteer Application and Volunteer Permission and Release Form, you will be asked to sign up for a pre-match training session particular to your program of interest.

VOLUNTEER EVALUATION FORM

Thank you for completing our Online Orientation Session. In order for us to accept your application, you MUST verify your participation by providing your contact information in the fields below and completing the Evaluation Form. Also, please print the  Volunteer Application & Volunteer Permission and Release Form by clicking the button below.

We appreciate your interest in volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor Essex!