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Page created by Jaclyn M. Phillips, Fall 2010

Big Brothers Big Sisters - Start Something

Maybe you miss your siblings from home. Maybe you’re an only child looking to build a long-term relationship with someone younger. Maybe you’re looking for an easy way to get involved with volunteering. Or maybe… you really just like working with children, like me.  Whatever your reasons, consider beginning one of the most fulfilling journeys that will stick with you for a lifetime.  Through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), you have the ability to become an inspiring and integral part in the life of young child.

Typically, the children in this program come from single-parent or low-income households. As volunteers, we are able to impact the life of each child in a meaningful way that will carry on well into their future. Research from BBBS shows that children enrolled into the mentoring program increased confidence in school and built better relationships throughout their lives.

BBBS, the oldest and largest mentoring program in America, has a local chapter in Greater Pittsburgh that extends into Washington County.  As a site-based program, the Washington chapter provides a regular meeting place near campus and a strong match-support network. The local Program Coordinator overseas match-support meetings, which help foster the relationship between Bigs and Littles.

Common Questions

What is my time commitment each week?

Bigs are required to spend one hour per week with their Littles.  During the academic year, the program runs from 2-3PM each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at Washington Park School District and 11:45-12:45PM each Tuesday and Thursday at Trinity West Elementary School.  

I am new to the Washington Area.  Where are these schools located?

Both schools are only a short drive away from W&J.  The maps provided below show the distances from the campus center to each school.

I don’t have a car.  Can I still join the program?

Yes! The local Program Coordinator would be delighted to match students up to carpool or provide emergency transportation.

One hour is a long time to spend with a child.  What can I do with my Little?

One hour may seem like a long time to entertain a child, but there are endless activities that allow you to create a fun and meaningful experience with your Little.  Some Big-Little pairs work on homework assignments or play board games provided by BBBS.  Others make seasonal crafts or shoot hoops in the gymnasium.  

Any reasonable activities will do as they will shape your bonding experience with the child.  In addition, BBBS is flexible allowing you to come up with your own ideas and activities!  Remember -you’re not in it alone. BBBS provides ideas for activities that you and your little can explore together!

I don’t know anything about kids. Can I still participate in the program?

Of course! Don’t feel intimidated by a lack of experience with children.  The local Program Coordinator will be ready to answer questions and provide suggestions on how to make your match a success.

What will happen after I sign up for the program? How long will it take for me to get matched?

After signing up for the program, you will be contacted by the local Program Coordinator.  All volunteers must complete a screening process that includes an interview, reference check and background check.  After exploring your interests, personality and background, your file will go through a detailed review process to determine your acceptance into the program.  Once accepted, BBBS will begin the search for a suitable little.  After a Big-Little pair is determined, the local Program Coordinator will contact you to set up a meeting time for you and your Little.

In its entirely, the process takes at least a few weeks.  Rest assured that the time spent on the matching process is essential for creating a successful match that will allow you to have the most meaningful experience with your Little.  

I would like to become involved, but I am a Senior.  Is it worth my time to create this relationship for only one year?

Yes, of course!  BBBS supports students without regards to their class status.  In fact, you can be involved with this program well after your College years.  Feel free to explore the local and national websites for more information.

It sounds like a great cause, but I do not think I am ready to become a Big now.  Is there another way to support the program?

Yes, there is a BBBS national annual charity event called Bowl for Kids’ Sake!  This event is also locally held in Washington.

Bowl a Strike when you Bowl for Kids' Sake.

“Bowl for Kids’ Sake - where fun counts more than the scores!” – BBBS of Greater Pittsburgh

Every spring, the BBBS nationally supports the Bowl for Kids’ Sake charity event.  This event consistently raises over $20 million nationally each year.  Annually, Bowling for Kids' Sake of Greater Pittsburgh contributes to the national fund and is the largest charity bowling event in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.  This event is also held at local bowling alleys in Washington.

In addition to promoting support and awareness for BBBS, the Bowl for Kids’ Sake event raises the funds necessary to shape the one-on-one Big-Little relationship.  While BBBS is free for both the Bigs and Littles, it costs around $1,000 to make and support one match for an entire year.  The donated funds from Bowl for Kids’ Sake offset operating expenses, provide support and supplies for the pairs, and allow numerous events to be held throughout the year, including W&J’s Big-Little Holiday party.

Bowling for Kids' Sake in Washington, PA

Students on campus can form six-member teams.  Students typically raise the money by seeking out sponsors (for example, local businesses and College recognized club organizations) or by asking friends and relatives to pledge donations. You can even register your team using the BBBS local website.  This website allows your team to create a personalized page for collecting donations simply and securely online.

Relax -- it’s time to celebrate your successful donation! All of the local teams come together and bowl at a final event.  At this point, the hard work of collecting donations for BBBS is done! In return, BBBS creates an afternoon full of excitement, fun, prizes, games, and of course…BOWLING!

I joined Big Brothers Big Sisters. I Started Something.

Personal Experience of a Big Brother

Narrative Written by Jaclyn M. Phillips based on an interview with Eric Kohr

As a sophomore at W&J, I am in my second year of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  During my freshman year, my friend introduced me to BBBS and encouraged me to join.  Immediately, I saw the value of this program and how much BBBS affects the lives of the child participants.
Growing up, I never had a brother and this was the perfect opportunity for me to step into this relationship and become the big brother role model. It worked out perfectly because my little in the program doesn’t have a brother either.  My little and I are more than a match – we’re friends. We often do homework or play board games, but most importantly, we talk.  We have a personality connection that cannot be defined in words.

I highly encourage others to join the program.  I hope that more students will get involved simply by spreading the word.  Currently, I don’t think there are a lot of students who are even aware that the BBBS exists for us at W&J.  While much of the benefit is to be had by the Littles, the program no doubtfully has matured me in a certain ways and makes me realize how blessed I am to be able to change the life of a child simply through donating and spending my time with him.  With my anticipated business degree from W&J, I hope to go on to become an athletic director and to continue to work with children and students throughout my entire life.

Are you Ready to Start Something?

You’re interested in joining the program!  Here is a list of people that you can contact to get involved.  Currently, there is a shortage of male volunteers, so help us spread the word around campus.

Contact Information

  • Sara Thomas, BBBS Program Coordinator for Washington & Jefferson College, is available by phone (724.228.9191) and email (
  • Megan Schreck, Washington & Jefferson College Volunteer Coordinator, is available by phone (724-503-1001, Ext. 3086) and email (
  • Check out our information table at the annual Volunteer Fair (typically during the first weeks of fall semester).

Additional Resources 

Big Brothers Big Sisters National Website

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh

Bowling for Kids' Sake

Like us on the Big Bothers Big Sisters of America Facebook Page