Jewish BigPals Program matches non-special-needs children, 2nd grade through high school, from Jewish single parent or non-traditional families or families where there is a special needs sibling, with a Jewish mentor from the community. Jewish BigPaIs support the children they are matched with by being a role model, having fun outings together, and helping them develop a positive self-image. Volunteers and Little Pal families make a one-year commitment. Big Pal and Little Pal aim to meet twice per month.
Part role model, part friend, Big Pals are there to support kids on life’s most important journey — growing up.
“I believe that the BigPals is an amazing program that is much more than donating a few hours of one’s time to a kid in need. The program is a life-changer. It has changed both my Little Pal and my life for the better. We have become much more than just ‘Pals’. We are like family.”
Through the interview process, our staff work to ensure that every match is a good fit for the participants.
A Collaborative Process
Program staff match Big and Little Pals based on a thorough screening process that takes into account availability, geography, family dynamics, and shared interests. Big Pals are required to provide personal references and go through a rigorous background and security check. At sign-up, all participants commit to the program for a minimum of one year.
JFS staff support matches with regular check-ins, training, and meetings. Group events for the matches are planned to engage in community service, and connect to the Jewish community.
Lots of Fun
Matches meet twice a month for one-on-one outings. Jewish Holiday gatherings, group Padres tickets, community-service days, and other opportunities are planned throughout the year for Big and Little Pals to get together.
A BigPal is a safe, trusting role model that helps their Little Pal build self-confidence, self-esteem, and healthy habits. Studies show that children with adult mentors are more confident, and are more likely to achieve their full potential. Program participants have found that involvement in JFS BigPals had a positive impact on the family as a whole.
Childhood can be a time of many challenges. Big Pals are caring Jewish adults who mentor children, 2nd grade through high school, from non-traditional or single-parent families. Big Pals engage their Little Pals in a mentoring relationship that can change their perspective on the world—and make a big impact in their lives for both Big and Little Pals! If you’re curious about becoming a mentor, start the process by filling out an application online, or give our Volunteer Engagement team a call at (858) 637-3050.
JFS is committed to uplifting San Diego families with services like counseling and support groups, parenting education, low-interest car loans, and more.
Parenting has its challenges – especially when you’re doing it alone. We get it. And we’re here to help.
As Andrew remembers it, “The first time I saw Tayo, he actually hid under his bed … Now, he’s in high school, and I’ve really gotten to see him grow.”