What’s So Special About $1,250?
you’ve spent time around Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, you’ve
probably seen or heard the number $1,250. It’s mentioned at Ice Ball, at Bowl
for Kids, on our website, and in our printed materials. $1,250 is a big deal at
BBBS. Why? Because $1,250 is what it costs to fund a mentoring relationship for
wait! Why does it cost money to match a child with a mentor if BBBS’ mentors
does use volunteer mentors as Bigs, but while it may seem possible to pair a
child with a caring adult and have a mentoring relationship just happen,
creating an effective match is not that simple.
spends a lot of time interviewing and pairing the right child with the right
adult, nurturing the match between the child, the family and the volunteer, and
supporting it with highly skilled, professional staff and programming. Quite
simply, BBBS puts its money – its $1,250 – where its mission is.
the customer relations employee who answers inquiries about being a Big or
enrolling a child in our program, to the enrollment team that conducts
interviews and background checks, evaluates applicants, and puts matches
together, to the match support specialists who reinforce and monitor these
mentoring relationships, it’s this highly skilled, professional team that makes
BBBS’ matches so successful.
program staff are required to have Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work or a
related field, and employees receive additional training from our
national office,” said Joe Strychalski, BBBS’ vice president of programs.
“That training, along with the sophisticated system and processes we use to
monitor child safety, participant attitudes, a child’s academic performance and
avoidance of risky behaviors, all set our agency apart. We work on lots of different
levels, activities and strategies to help Bigs and Littles achieve positive
a match is just beginning, we work on establishing effective communication
between the volunteer, the child and the family,” said Diana Hernandez, match
support supervisor. “At that point, our team is initiating a relationship
between people who are strangers and it’s important to get things off on the
quality of the relationship that develops forms the basis for a quality match.
“Our work is all about what’s best for the child. Many of the children we work
with face significant challenges in their personal lives and stability is
important for their matches to be effective,” Diana continued. “Changing
mentors because a Little and a Big didn’t bond well isn’t beneficial for that
match support specialists work to foster trust between the volunteer and the
family as match outings are planned, often serving as a go-between for the
volunteer and the guardian, especially when there are language barriers.
also keep volunteers up to date on dynamics within the family. BBBS works with
many low-income families and when financial problems result in a disconnected
phone or other issues that might make a match outing difficult, BBBS’ team
members keep volunteers informed. Similarly, if there are issues with school
work or external problems that impact the child and the parent needs the
volunteer to know about them but doesn’t want to relay the information through
the child, a match support specialist will help.
also coach Bigs on how to connect with Littles who are quiet or who don’t trust
adults. We help volunteers and families address issues that come up, suggest
activities related to interests Bigs and Littles share, and organize match
events that allow Bigs and Littles to connect with other matches.”
events occur not only in the Little’s life but in the Big’s as well, and BBBS’
match support specialists must work to keep the pair connected. “Our volunteers
may get married, have a baby, get a new job or have a schedule change,” Diana
said. “When these things happen, we help participants develop strategies to
keep the match, and the relationship, working.”
a lot to keep track of as each match support specialist manages an average of
85 – 90 matches – with each match involving 3 to 4 individuals. Specialists
work on building and maintaining relationships with all of these individuals to
keep them engaged, and to ensure that the match is truly benefitting the child.
that end, specialists monitor each match on a regular basis. “During the first
year, we talk with everyone in the match once a month,” Diana explained. “After
that, we touch base with participants quarterly.”
team also compiles reports, completes required match surveys, provides
information for grant reporting, implements workplace mentoring for a local
middle school and high school, coordinates monthly enrichment activities and
outings, and offers a scholarship program for Littles.
of these activities, combined with the care, expertise and experience BBBS’
staff members bring to their work, produce life-changing impacts for children,
volunteers, family members and the community as a whole.
make this kind of difference, BBBS relies on funds raised through events,
grants, and individual contributions.
often assume that there’s no cost associated with our services, or that funds
for our work are covered by the government. Neither is true,” said Brent
Fields, BBBS’ CEO. “There are costs associated with what we
do, and we don’t have any sort of automatic funding source. And, unlike
many great nonprofits, we don’t offer a fee-for-service product. We don’t
charge for what we do. There’s no membership or participation fee for the year-round
services we provide.
$1,250 may sound like a big number, the truth is that many people spend more
than this on coffee over the course of a year. For this same amount of money,
we can put a child on the path to success. And, as that child goes on to attend
college, get a living wage job and give back to the community, the return on
this investment is enormous,” Brent added.
BBBS $1,250 is a magic number.
the cost to fund a match for a year, but the benefits of that match are
priceless.Read more about BBBS and sign up to follow our blog here