Mentor FAQs

We support more than 2,200 one-to-one mentoring relationships annually. Each year, about 700 women become new Big Sisters. In addition to mentoring, volunteers host career awareness field trips for Little Sisters (Building Big Dreams), and assist at our annual fundraising events and activities for our Little Sisters.

Yes! We have a variety of volunteer opportunities including: planning Big and Little Sister activities; becoming a Big for a Day volunteer; helping out at our fundraising events; connecting us to your network to recruit Big Sisters, and offering administrative support in our office. Call 617.236.8060 to request a Volunteer Activities Form or email us to learn more about how to get involved.

Definitely not!  You are never too old to be a Big Sister. We have volunteers of all ages, and some of our most active Big Sisters are 70 and older. 

The possibilities are endless! During their time together, a match might visit a park, enjoy the beach, take walks, volunteer, explore different hobbies, learn a new skill, and so much more. Big Sister Association provides matches with free and low-cost activities (tickets to sporting events, movies, theater, museums) on a regular basis. Big Sister also hosts annual events such as the spring Appreciation Breakfast, Summer Picnic, Halloween Party, Teen Matches Give Back service projects, and Building Big Dreams career awareness events. No matter the activity, the most important thing is spending quality time together on a consistent basis. 

You can get started by completing our online applicationscheduling a call with one of our Recruitment Specialists, or calling our office at 617.236.8060.

Following completion of your application with our Recruitment team, you will be interviewed by a Big Sister Enrollment & Matching Specialist, provided with training, and then get matched with a Little Sister!

We serve girls who come from many backgrounds and neighborhoods, and are between the ages of 7 and 15.  They are most often referred to our organization by a parent, or they are referred by a teacher, counselor, social worker or clergy member. They have been identified as needing the special care and attention of an adult to focus on their innate strengths, talents and capabilities.

All of our volunteers must be able to make the commitment to spend regular, consistent time with their Little Sister for at least one year. Big Sisters in our Community-Based Mentoring program must be at least 20 years-old, and volunteers in our Site-Based Mentoring program must be at least 18 years-old.

Big Sister Boston’s Match Support staff are here to support you and your Little Sister and to ensure a positive experience for both of you. Please do not hesitate to contact your Match Support Specialist with any questions you may have.

Our Site-Based Mentoring program is designed for in-school visits. During the first year, contact outside of school is not permitted. However, if after one school year in the program, you decide that you want to visit your Little Sister outside of the school on a consistent basis, and your Little Sister and her family want to do this as well, you may be able to transition into our Community-Based program (where you would meet your Little Sister outside of school only), or our Site-Based PLUS program (where you can meet your Little Sister both in school and outside of school). Your Enrollment & Match Support Specialist can provide you with more information about these programs.

We encourage matches to have letter contact during the summer if the Little Sister’s family agrees to it. Some matches also like to be able to communicate through phone and email, which we allow as long as we have permission from the parent or guardian. Follow-through is very important with any summer contact arrangements you may have with your Little Sister. Some matches may also visit each other out in the community during the summer months, through our Site-Based PLUS Program. If this is something you are interested in, please speak with your Enrollment & Match Support Specialist. There are additional steps to be taken for matches to become Site-Based PLUS. We also encourage you to continue your match relationship into the next school year. Our goal is long term matches, as we know this has a greater impact on the Little Sister and is a more rewarding experience for the Big Sister.

Throughout the year, we host group activities for our Community-Based Mentoring Big and Little Sisters where you will have the opportunity to interact with other matches. We also have opportunities to get involved with our Young Professional Board or Team Big Sister in the Rodman Ride for Kids–both of which include members who are also Big Sisters! If you are interested in either of these opportunities, please call us at 617.236.8060 or email us.

While this does not occur often, any concerns that you have should be reported to your Match Support Specialist immediately. If you think that your Little Sister is in immediate danger, you should report this to the school contact or some other school administrator right away. If your Little Sister discloses something concerning, it is important that your Little Sister feels that she has been heard and understood. As part of the match contract, we state that “everything the Little Sister talks about with her Big Sister is confidential unless she is in an unsafe situation; then the Big Sister will let the school contact person and the agency Match Support Specialist know.” Please refer to our section on “Responding to a Disclosure of Abuse” in the Big Sister manual for more details.

A good place to start is reminding her about the match contract that you both signed, agreeing to keep your visits one-to-one. This may be a good time to remind your Little Sister how important you feel your time is together. We have found that Little Sisters may feel nervous about meeting one-to-one and including their friends may initially feel easier. It is important that you don’t take this behavior personally. When and if this comes up, please talk to your Match Support Specialist about it. She can help you figure out why your Little Sister might be asking for friends to come along, and if an exception to the guideline is appropriate.

First, don’t be afraid to acknowledge differences, either between you and your Little Sister or in the world around you. Take some time to think about your own feelings about differences, prejudices and stereotypes. It is important to pay attention to your own feelings, experiences and judgments because we all have them. Conversations with your Little Sister are an opportunity for learning and we encourage you to be open and sensitive about differences and values in all of your discussions. Please talk to your Match Support Specialist about any questions you might have regarding these discussions.

You can ask some questions about your Little Sister’s family and home as part of the getting to know you process, but she may not choose to talk about it until she feels more comfortable. Or she may never bring them up – and that’s OK! Your Little Sister may feel that the latest news about the most popular music groups is more important and more interesting than what’s going on at home.

Not all kids are the same… your Little Sister might be quiet and reserved at first and need time to open up. The first thing you need to do is to be patient. Try to find out what her interests are if she’ll tell you. You will probably need to take the lead and suggest a few different activities and let your Little Sister choose from them. It is often helpful with a shy or quiet child to involve yourself in “doing” something (such as an art project, even just coloring) to help make her feel comfortable and take the pressure off of talking. While your hands are busy, you could ask your Little Sister some light, open-ended questions about herself. You will need to take the initiative in starting the conversation. Tell your Little Sister about your weekend, what you do (for work or school), and other facts or stories about yourself. This models for her how and what to talk about with you. As hard as it may be, try to be comfortable with the silence if she does not open up, and convey to her that it is okay to be a quiet person. It’s okay for the two of you to spend your time just playing a game or working on a project and not talking much; it makes an impact on her when you come back to see her each week even though she is not talkative with you.

Your role as a Big Sister is not as a tutor or an instructor. As you spend time together and share thoughts and dreams, you help your Little Sister envision her future. Also, by giving her positive feedback on her reading, printing and even drawing, she’ll realize her strengths and potential. You can also incorporate fun learning activities that encourage academic and learning skills into your visits.

What feels too personal is different for each person. We give everyone in our groups the right to “pass” if they are asked a question that feels too personal, which means that you can politely tell girls that you don’t feel comfortable answering their question. The TEAM group leader is always there to guide you in responding to these kinds of questions in a manner that is supportive and respectful of you and the girls in your group. For further information on this subject, please refer to your resource and training guide or speak to your group leader.

The best thing to do is call the school and request that the school contact person or the person who answers the phone let your Little Sister know that you can’t come on your regular day. Please let them know when you will see your Little Sister next, and whenever possible, please visit on another day that week.

No, we ask that you meet once a week for three to four hours per visit.

Matches are meant to be one-to-one relationships between a Big and Little Sister.  To help foster the relationship, match visits should be one-to-one, particularly in the beginning of the match.  After the relationship has had time to develop, having an extra person along for the activity on infrequent occasions may be possible.  However, before anyone else joins a visit, it must be discussed and accepted by both the Big and Little Sister.  Some Little Sisters may feel uncomfortable having another adult join in their visits and this must be respected by the Big Sister. 

After you reach your one year anniversary with your Little Sister, you are encouraged to continue your match.  At this point, the frequency of visits becomes more flexible but we ask that you still see your Little Sister at least once a month. Your Match Support Specialists will continue to be your contact person if you have any challenges or need to work toward healthy match closure. 

We ask that during the first three months, when you are building a relationship with your Little Sister, that all visits focus on the one-to-one relationship. After the first three months, you can occasionally introduce friends and family into the match relationship, although your primary focus should always be one-to-one activities and Big Sister-sponsored activities. Also, you must always be with your Little Sister on visits and never leave her alone with friends or family members, as they have not been screened by our agency.

Some matches choose to have sleepovers. We do not allow sleepovers until your match has been together for at least three months. Please discuss your desire for a sleepover with your ongoing Match Support Specialist prior to arranging a sleepover.

No. We expect that you will pick up and drop off your Little Sister from her home and obtain parental permission/approval for all visits.

There are many benefits to mentoring with Big Sister Boston! In additional to professional training and support, we partner with businesses to offer unique perks.