Westbury-based Big Brothers Big Sisters Long Island has put out an “urgent call” for male volunteers.
The organization’s CEO Mark Cox said there are 66 boys currently on its waiting list and another 114 boys are expected to be added to that list soon. Some of the boys have been on the list for years waiting for their Big Brother to step forward.
Part of the challenge, Cox said, is that people think they don’t have the time to commit. But, he said, being a volunteer mentor – or a “Big” as it is known in the organization – does not require a large time-commitment.
“It’s not a lot of time,” Cox said at a news conference this week. “It’s four hours a month.” People spend more time a month scrolling through their phones, he added.
The challenge to find a “Big,” is not unique to Long Island. Other chapters across the country are facing the same challenge as they try to meet the needs of the community, according to the organization.
As a volunteer mentor, a Big is matched in a one-to-one relationship with a child, or a “Little,” as it’s known in the program. A mentor is a friend and a supporter, as well as a positive and consistent addition to the life of a Little.
A Big Brother or Big Sister is not a replacement parent, a babysitter or a therapist. Instead, these volunteers bring value to children, who need someone to help share a different perspective on life and help to empower their endless potential.
After a Big is matched with a Little, they are assigned a support specialist who oversees and monitors the match. BBBSLI staff answers any questions, guides and assists with any issues or difficulties, and ensures that all parties are benefiting from the relationship. Additionally, BBBSLI provides training and support services for the duration of the match relationship. BBBSLI strives to make the match relationship fulfilling for the Big Brother as well.
A Big Brother is not expected to bring his Little to elaborate places or activities. He can take his Little to get ice cream, go for a walk in the park or throw a baseball. In addition, BBBSLI provides year-round activities and events for matches.
Big Brother volunteers must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, have a valid NY driver’s license, insurance and vehicle and commit to at least one year in the program.
The application to become a Big Brother can be found at https://bbbsli.org/become-big/#!/apply-now.