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Like all of you, we at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana have been working to adapt to the local, state and federal guidelines for minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19). With our community's safety and health as our priority, the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff will be working remotely. At this time, our office at 123 E. Main St. will be closed, but our staff will be accessible via email and cellphone (if applicable).  We want to be clear that Big Brothers Big Sisters IS OPEN. The need for safe, strong, active mentoring relationships may be greater now than ever. To do this, however, some adaptions must be made. 

At this time, Bigs & Littles SHOULD NOT be meeting in person. However, we strongly encourage our matches–as approved by their Match Support Specialist and as supported by their Little’s parent or guardian–to utilize the range of technology that is available to the youth for connecting virtually. Note that each mentoring program will be operating under slightly different circumstances during this time. 

Please remember that during this time of change and uncertainty however, our agency’s commitment to the youth and families we serve remains the same: To collaborate with you in meeting the unmet needs of the youth and families we serve. How we do this will look significantly different in the days, weeks, and months to come. 

What follows is our Virtual Mentoring Guide and Toolkit, which will provide you a wide range of ways you can engage your Little, even though you will be meeting virtually rather than in person. We encourage you to review these resources and chat with your Match Support Specialist or Case Manager to help develop a plan on how best to approach your relationship with your Little. 

As we said above, our approach to our work will not change. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana will continue to be focused on partnering with you to meet the needs of the youth we serve that may go unmet in their schools and communities

However, as we move forward together, that work will look completely different.

With face-to-face contacts suspended, here's how we anticipate the program will be shifting: 

  • All mentoring will be done virtually via telephone, smart phone, social platforms, and/or video conferencing solutions. 
  • Bigs will be encouraged to make weekly contacts with their Littles throughout the duration of the public health crisis. 
  • Our Match Support Staff will be providing on-going case management support just as they always have, but will also be focused on providing a bevy of digital resources to help all Bigs continue to have fun supporting the needs of their Little. 
  • You are still expected to have monthly or quarterly contact with your Match Support Specialist!

Amidst so much turmoil and disruption, one thing is clear: Our Little Brothers and Sisters needs us now more than ever. We here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana are ready and willing to provide you with the tools and resources you need to continue to provide that love, support, and guidance.  

Not being able to see your Little face-to-face will present some new challenges to your relationship, but following the tips below will help you navigate through these difficulties while continuing to help your Little reach their highest potential.

  • Rely on regular phone calls and text messages, or video chats via FaceTime or WhatsApp to stay connected with your Little.  Use this resource or this resource for great conversation starters for kids and check out this resource or this resource to get chatting with teens!
  • Messenger Kids (from Facebook) is a great way to safely connect with your Little via a social media platform, while keeping their parent looped in. Here's more on how it works.
  • Snail mail - still a thing!  Write letters to your Little (become pen pals!), send postcards, a homemade card, pass along some print-at-home games (like these puzzles or these coloring pages).
  • STAY CONSISTENT! However you choose to connect, your consistency is more important to your Little now more than ever.  Find days, times, and methods that work best for both of you, create a plan, set a schedule, and stick to it!  This will make it easier on you both, while giving you each something to look forward to and depend on.
  • ASK QUESTIONS! It's no surprise that everyone's day-to-day schedule is experiencing incredible upheaval.  Reaching out and chatting with your Little and their parent/guardian about when is best to reach out, what days and time are easiest, and how you can help are questions that will be enormously helpful for you (and your Little!) in staying connected.

There will be a many more of these to come over the coming days and weeks, but we wanted to get you started with a few Match Activity ideas that you can dive into this weekend with your Little!

We know many of our parents will be feeling the stress of supporting and providing for their children over the weeks and months to come.  We wanted to be sure every Big had specific resources that might be helpful to pass along to parents who may turn to you for support:

We have so many ideas for how to support you and your Little throughout the COVID-19 crisis.  We are looking forward to being able to provide:

  • Regular emails and text messages with resources and activity ideas 
  • Training on how best to practice the core tenants of Virtual Mentoring
  • Training on the basics of Zoom and how it may be a great option to connect with and "see" your Little 
  • Virtual Bigs Night Out sessions so you can stay connected with your fellow Bigs

Thank you for your commitment to helping a child in need during this challenging time. For children who are isolated, fearful and maybe just plain bored right now, your constancy and support can be the difference between regression and growth. Thank you.