Reflect on your relationship pre-COVID to remember the commitment you made to defend the potential of your Little. Remember how you showed up for them each week and the energy you brought to every visit. How can you continue to improve your relationship with your Little? A great place to start is to review your BBBSMT Volunteer Guide. This will jog your memory on your role as a Big and contains useful coaching tips on how to have a successful mentoring relationship. Remember that your match support specialist is your one-stop-shop for guidance on how to re-establish your relationship with your Little. They can provide you with the latest trainings and resources on our state-of-the-art online Learning Exchange.
Now more than ever, your Little needs to know that you will consistently be there for them. Think about how uncertain and stressful this past year has been for you as an adult. Now, think about this past year from the perspective of your Little. Imagine the toll that adjustments to their school routine, limitations on social interaction, changes to their family’s financial situations and the impact on personal and family health COVID has caused. Consistency and dependability will earn your Little’s trust in a world where there’s still so much unknown.
It is important that you do WHAT you say, WHEN you say you will. Do not make promises you may not be able to keep. If you can’t make a visit, let your Little know well ahead of time and always put a reschedule plan in place. If you’re meeting online, keep your end of the bargain and post messages even if your Little is not responding. It’s not the response that matters, it’s your consistency that shows your commitment.
Reconnecting with your Little may feel like starting over again. Put your mentee at the center of the conversation and let them take the lead in how they want to connect with you moving forward. Get to know them again by asking them questions about themselves and most importantly, listen to hear what they are telling you and respond accordingly.
Remember to be patient since it may take a while for your Little to feel comfortable again. Show your encouragement and support by focusing on the wins in your mentee’s progress, no matter how small. If you are newly matched with your Little, there is a lot to consider regarding meeting up in person. Be mindful of your Little’s comfort level when it comes to their health. For example, they may choose to wear a mask when you meet.
And even with things picking up in person again, your Little may still prefer to meet virtually. Your commitment to staying connected is just as important virtually as it is in person. Post messages regularly to show that you value the friendship, even if your Little has not been very proactive on responding. You can always lean on your match support specialist for words of encouragement, guidance and advice.
RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
Our volunteers are the backbone of the work that we do at BBBSMT. The pandemic has been a testing time for all of us, but we are confident our Bigs can rise to the challenge of making mentorships post-COVID more successful than ever and continue the mission of defending the potential of the youth we serve!
At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, we ensure every volunteer mentor matched in our program feels equipped and empowered to face challenges by offering professional match support. If you’re interested in becoming a Big, you can fill out our volunteer inquiry form to get started or click here to learn more about our mentoring programs.