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. We also offer teen empowerment programs, college guidance and scholarships and own and operate Camp Bob Waldorf.
Q: Who are our mentors (“Bigs”)?
A: Our Bigs are caring, trusted, dynamic, Jewish volunteers ages 21 or older who have a variety of personal and professional experiences. We conduct extensive background checks and interviews to ensure the quality of our mentors and to provide the best match possible.
Q: Is there an upper age limit to be a Big?
A: We are honored to have wonderful mentors of all ages. However, for more mature mentors the wait is generally longer. Since our ability to match any given volunteer is tied to the needs and requests of our pool of mentees (“Littles”), we sometimes close the Bigs’ wait list when we determine we would be unable to make a match within a reasonable time frame. Please consult our enrollment team for the current status.
Q: Who are our Littles?
A: Our Littles are Jewish boys and girls, ages 6 and older, who could benefit from an additional committed, attentive, and positive adult role model. Our Littles are children who are being raised by single or same-sex parents, have siblings with special needs, are living with a grandparent or other guardian, have experienced significant loss, or are otherwise in need of additional support they may not get anywhere else.
Q: How long is the commitment?
A: Bigs must commit to a minimum of one year, though we encourage matches to continue as long as they are mutually rewarding and beneficial to the child.
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: What Bigs and Littles do varies widely depending on their shared interests. 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. Bigs and Littles can also participate in agency-sponsored events or small group outings 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 most of the independent match activities they choose. However, we strongly encourage outings that are free or modestly priced and expect that your expenses will be minimal. In addition, JBBBSLA helps minimize the cost of your outings. We sponsor free program events and smaller group activities approximately monthly (some targeting specific age groups), and we also offer subsidized match outing opportunities several times per year for each match. We do all we can to make this affordable for everyone!
Q: When do outings take place?
A: Matches make their schedule based on what works for them. 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: The only people who should go on your outings with your Little should be those in the match party. If you are matched one-to-one, then only you should participate; if you are in a couples match, then only the two in the match party should attend. As the 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 training sessions and ongoing coaching 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, we will contact you to discuss overall eligibility and schedule your in-person interview, during which we’ll ask questions that help us get to know you and understand your goals for being a Big. After we conduct a background check and speak with your references, the enrollment team will review your full application and make an approval decision.
Q: What is the application process for Littles?
A: The child’s parent or guardian completes an online questionnaire and provides the child’s basic information. One of our staff then contacts the parent or guardian by phone to provide an orientation to the program and learn more about the child’s needs, in order to assess whether having a Big through JBBBSLA will be 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: The time it takes to be matched depends on many factors. 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, interests and preferences, so a Big’s wait time is largely contingent upon the unique pool of Littles waiting to be matched.
Q: How far will I need to travel to pick up my Little?
A: JBBBSLA serves the entire Greater Los Angeles area, but we strongly consider geographic proximity when making matches. Most often, Bigs will pick up and drop off their Littles, but some parents are able to help with transportation when distances are greater. When we offer you a match, we will confirm you are comfortable with the proximity.
Q: What happens if I have challenges during the mentoring relationship?
A: You are never alone as a JBBBSLA Big! Our professional Match Support Specialists are there every step of the way to help guide you through any challenge, big or small.
Q: What are some of the benefits of mentoring?
A: Mentoring can have a significant positive impact on a child’s life, including increased school engagement and self-esteem, stronger social skills, greater concern for others, and less risky behavior.
Q: How does mentoring impact the life of the volunteer?
A: Our mentors frequently tell us that the mentoring experience is not just fun, but life-changing. In fact, they often comment that they believe they get as much out of it (or more) than their Little. Recent research shows that mentoring someone can reduce overall stress levels and raise overall well-being for the volunteer!