Safety always a priority at Big Brothers Big Sisters Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Inside the Big Brothers Big Sisters Rhode Island organization, safety is always the top priority. Before a volunteer is accepted, a team of counselors and social workers run background checks and conduct interviews.

After a big and little are paired, that same team is constantly checking in with each of them separately to make sure the relationship is safe.  

“We are screening people. We are constantly in the relationship to make sure it’s a safe relationship. We do an extensive background check. We visit the mentor’s home to make sure it’s a safe environment,” said president and CEO of BBBS RI, Katje Afonseca.

“We also have opportunities where they don’t have to go out into the community. They have the option of coming to our office or visiting a school site and mentoring can happen there with a specific curriculum. Like a stem program,” explained Afonseca.

BBBS RI isn’t a one size fits all cookie cutter program. That’s one of the many things that makes the nonprofit so unique. The team at BBBS RI help guide the pair dependent on their interests, goals and needs. 

Currently, BBBS RI has close to 200 pairs, however, 50 boys are on a waiting list ready to be paired with a mentor. Because of that, the nonprofit was forced to stop taking applications from boys to be in the program until the current kids on the wait list are paired with a mentor.  

Afonseca has a message for every man in Southern New England, “It’s one of those things I wish I could tell every man — it’s really not that hard. We will do the legwork; we will do the hard stuff and it’s going to be fulfilling to you. They’re just cool kids. These kids are little bottles of Potential.”

Before taking the reins at BBBS RI, Afonseca served as a “Big” for five years. Now, years later, her former “Little” is 25, a manager at an area furniture store and is now paying it forward by being a mentor with BBBS.  

To sign up your child to be a mentee or to find out more information to be a mentor, click here.

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