What is Big Pals-Little Pals?

Big Pals-Little Pals is a mentoring organization that recruits adult volunteers and matches them with boys and girls in an effort to provide the kids with an adult friend, role model and mentor. Our volunteers are called “Big Pals” and are matched with kids called “Little Pals”. Big and Little Pals meet out in the community, allowing the match to spend their time together doing things they both enjoy and giving the Little Pal a new perspective on what the world can offer.

The Big Pals-Little Pals Association of Greater Columbus’ mission is match children with adult mentors in a fun, community-based program to spark positive growth and confidence.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity.   (from Mentoring.org)

What is a Big Pal?

A Big Pal is a volunteer who serves positive role model and mentor to provide emotional support, guidance, friendship and understanding to a child. Big Pals are regular people of good character who are willing to be a positive role model and invest their time and interests in a child. They may be individuals or married couples who come from all walks of life.

If you are 19 years or older, have a driver’s license and access to an automobile, and have a couple hours a week to spend with a child for at least 1 year, you are welcome to apply to be a Big Pal and help a child who could benefit from your time and perspective.

What is a Little Pal?

Little Pals are kids between the ages of 6 and 16 who could use an additional caring adult in their lives. Children in our program have higher aspirations for their future, improve their self-confidence, avoid risky behaviors and do better in school. If you’d like to get your child involved in the program, you can start by filling out our online application.

What do Big and Little Pals do together?

Big Pals spend time with their Little Pal building a meaningful relationship. They can do anything together that they both enjoy – fishing, making crafts, playing sports, baking or sharing hobbies. They might also learn new activities together. The most important thing a Big Pal can do for their Little Pal is to be a role model and mentor by offering attention, support and encouragement.

What measures does the organization take to ensure child safety?

Our staff is trained in child safety and takes all necessary precautions to make sure everyone in the program stays safe. All Big Pal applicants undergo thorough background checks, meet with staff for an in-person interview and training session, and need to have great personal references.

After the match is made, our staff contacts the Big Pal, Little Pal and the Little Pal’s parent on a monthly basis for the first year of the match. During these contacts, our staff is checking to make sure that everyone is getting along, having fun, and feeling safe and comfortable with the match.

Does a Big Pal replace a parent?

No. Big Pals are not meant to replace a parent or parental authority. A Big Pal is not to be a disciplinarian for their Little Pal. A Big Pal’s main role is to spend time with the child doing positive activities that help the Little Pal become more self-confident. The parent is the disciplinarian. By forming a friendship with a Little Pal, a Big Pal becomes part of the team of caring adults who support the healthy development of the child.

What is the parent/guardian’s role in the match?

The Little Pal’s parent/guardian plays a major role in the match! Parents/guardians will come with their child to an in-person meeting so our staff can get to know your family and what kind of Big Pal will be a good fit. Once the child is matched, parents/guardians are asked to help in coordinating schedules for the match activities and participate in the monthly check-ins with staff to ensure the safety and success of the match.

Where can I find a copy of your annual report?

Click here to download a copy of our 2023 Annual Report