The Benefits of Being a Big Brother or Big Sister

By Bracha Goetz

Almost everyone is incredibly busy.  So how is it possible to find the time to volunteer to meet with a younger person in our community at least twice a month to become a supportive mentor in their lives?

Since January is National Mentoring Month, let’s hear what a few of the wonderful volunteers in our Jewish Community Services Big Brother Big Sister Program have to say!

A Big who is a student said, “Getting together with my Little always leaves me feeling great and refreshed.  It also allows me to have fun in my otherwise busy school life.  I am really grateful for this amazing experience!”

An older Big expressed it this way, “Being a Big is rewarding.  I love watching my Little grow up and become much more confident in herself.  It also allows me to take some time to do a fun activity without feeling guilty!”

These two Bigs both articulate well what many others also feel.  Being a mentor is one of the most rewarding ways to relax and have fun because it lets an adult re-experience childhood joys while doing a great mitzvah (good deed) at the very same time!

After a Big Sister spent a couple of hours simply baking with her Little Sister one Sunday afternoon, she emailed me, “Being a Big has really enhanced my life!”

Although we offer free passes for matches to enjoy the JCC, kosher restaurants, the Science Center, Michael’s Arts & Crafts store, mini-golfing, the zoo, sports games, and many other activities together, it is the one-on-one trusting bond that forms from simply spending time together which leaves the lasting impact.

As one Big Brother said to me recently, “Even though our match with the Jewish Big Brother Big Sister  program has officially ended now that my Little Brother has graduated, we plan to be friends for life.  This program has given me far more than I have given over the years, and I am happy to speak about how great this program is whenever needed.”

When her Little Sister went off to Eretz Yisroel for seminary, a Big Sister sent me this:  “Thank you for the beautiful opportunity!   Our match can be ‘closed’ officially – but our hearts will always be ‘open’ with each other. ”

Enough said.  There are many children and teens in our community currently waiting for a Big to make a big difference in their lives.  If you are not busy raising your own children, because you have not yet started your own nest, or  you are an empty-nester now, please feel free to contact me ( 410-843-7453,  bgoetz@jcsbaltimore.org) or visit the JCS website: www.jcsbaltimore.org  if you, too, would  like to participate in this very rewarding way to help another neshama (soul/spirit) – and yours – shine even more brightly!


JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland.  We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200. 

Bracha Goetz is a former volunteer coordinator for the Jewish Big Brother Big Sister program at JCS.

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