Answer: Because of my son’s insistence in learning more about the program since Big Brothers Big Sisters staff went to the school to invite people to learn more. I have six children enrolled in the program, the longest has been matched for about three and a half years.
Q: What interested you about the Big Brothers Big Sisters program?
A: Well, I was tired of my children being bullied at school. Three of my children have been victims of bullying, each at a different school.
Q: What concerns did you have regarding your children before enrolling them in the program?
A: I was worried about the bullying that occurred at their schools. I felt sad because the staff, principal, and teachers did not provide enough support, so that’s what motivated me to be open to the idea.
Q: Was there anything that made you nervous about enrolling your children in the program? How did the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff help with those concerns?
A: I was worried that they might lose them, and I’d never see them again.
They told me about the history of the program. They said that they’ve served families in the community for many years, and they’ve never lost a child. The volunteers are selected because they are good with children and your child’s Match Support Specialist is always in contact with the volunteers. The volunteers send photos of where they go (on outings) and the time frames for your peace of mind.
Q: How have you felt supported by the program? Tell us about your experience with your Bilingual Match Support Specialist.
A: It’s been very positive. The emotional development and growth in self-confidence of my children has been good, and the Match Support Specialists provide great communication. I’ve really liked their support.
They frequently check in with calls to supervise the outings between the volunteers and children. They also answer all my concerns and questions in our language and they make us feel trusting of them.
Q: When you need assistance or have questions, how has the program’s staff helped?
A: Their assistance is great and fast. I can call them by phone, text, or email. They help clear my concerns or worries that I may have. They are flexible with my schedule and call me during the hours that work best for me.
Q: How does the program ensure you that your children are safe with their Bigs?
A: Before meeting the Big, the staff interviews the volunteer in person and becomes familiar with their friends and places of work. Most importantly, they do a background check. The program staff gives parents information about the volunteer, including their skills and reason as to why they want to be your child’s Big. As the parent, you decide — if you don’t like the Big, they’ll look for another one.
Q: How does the program make sure that each Big is someone safe, responsible, and a positive influence?
A: They have the phone contacts to supervise outings and meetings with the staff, if necessary. You can communicate in person or by phone.
Q: What was it like the first time you met each of your children’s Bigs?
A: They’re very good people. My impression of them was they’re very nice and available to help with the school needs of the children. They’re flexible in their schedules, even one as a mother, and seeing their desire, their attitude, and their excitement to know my children is naturally noticeable.
Q: How has the program benefitted your children?
A: Their self-esteem rose, and the bullying at school ended. They’re very communicative, they always give details about where they’re going, what they’re doing, what they’re watching, and eating. It’s fun for them and for me to hear and know about it.
Q: What was it like getting to know your children’s Bigs? What is your relationship with them like, and how have they helped you and your children?
A: There’s always the nerves and the lack of trust at first. It’s normal because they’re strangers, for one. Having a lack of trust and nervousness, I feel that it’s good on our part to be alert to any change. But it’s impressive knowing that we don’t share the same language, but they do whatever possible to communicate with each other. They have a translator on their phones and through that we’re able to communicate very well. It hasn’t been a barrier not knowing them or my uncertainty about them. There’s always communication to come to an agreement, like the day, the time, or the place where they’re going to be. They all work very well; I don’t have a preference one over another. I’m happy with my children’s Big Sisters, Big Brothers, and Big Couple.
Our relationship is very good. My children are more confident in school, their grades raised, and they’re following the rules at home because they’re hoping to go on their outing with their Bigs. They’re more independent and at ease about bringing their schoolwork home.
Q: Have you noticed a positive difference in your children since they enrolled in the program? What are those changes?
A: Yes, definitely. The change in bullying for one. My children are also happier to get to know different places, cultures, or foods. They also interact with their Big Brother and Big Sisters’ family and their pets. All of this motivates them and has been a beautiful experience that they’ve had.
Q: What has been your favorite part of the program?
A: Well, definitely all of it, in the way that my children are happy, and seeing them excited and content. For me, this is priceless.
Q: What would you tell a mother or father that doesn’t know anything about Big Brother Big Sisters? What would you say to encourage them to enroll their children in the program?
A: They should do it, especially the parents that have children 12 and older. I recommend them because these children are in a phase where there’s so much confusion, even if they have older siblings, it’s not the same, I assure you.
I have a daughter that didn’t make it into the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She’s the oldest, and I was a little sad for her because she would have wanted to have a Big. But she’s happy because her younger siblings have someone who can support them, have fun with them, talk, play, distract them, and also help them in school. And my youngest children — I have two more — are already waiting to be old enough to be a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, too.
So, be encouraged. You won’t lose anything. On the contrary, your child grows emotionally, and the family too, because your child is going to gain another family member. To me, it’s the best program in Kansas City. The most trustworthy for your child. They monitor the outings by phone calls each month. It’s very positive. It’s worth giving this new experience to your child.
Q: Anything else, or an experience that you’ve had with the program that you’d like to share about?
A: The staff is very nice and sincere. I know many of the people and they’re always available to help you and answer your questions, doubts, and to listen to your concerns. Those who speak English support you in your language by finding an interpreter. They’ve helped me a lot personally, like finding locations in the community or resources. When the pandemic began, they also gave us food that was very useful for my family. They also do events, which one can’t do at home for them [children] to celebrate. They do different activities, and they [children] get to meet more children with their Big Brother or Big Sister, and they take pictures. They also give awards, recognizing them for their efforts in school, and their grades. The children benefit from all of this because they’re participating in the community among kids their age. The program has been a great benefit for my family, and so all I have left to say is thank you very much.