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As always, the health and safety of our children and youth, their families, our volunteers and our staff remains the top priority of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. As such, beginning Monday, March 23, we are asking all of our Bigs and Littles to heed the advice of the nation’s medical experts as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and limit your contact exclusively to electronic communication.
That has been the case with our school-based matches for the last couple of weeks. We are now extending that directive to our community-based matches as well. To help curb the spread of COVID-19, the public has been asked to stay at home whenever possible and maintain a minimum 6-foot “social distance” from other individuals when you do need to venture out.
The good news is that, thanks to advances in technology, there are many ways to stay connected that are easy and free. Phone calls, texts, e-mails, FaceTime, Zoom and Skype are just a few. If you have any questions about what might work for you, please reach out to your Match Support Specialist for guidance.
It is crucial that we maintain our mentoring relationships throughout this difficult time. Many of our Littles are likely scared and confused. They undoubtedly would welcome hearing from a trusted friend who can help ease their fears and provide a distraction. At the bottom of this note is a link to many resources relating to the current situation, including ideas on ways the Bigs and Littles can enjoy their virtual time together. If you come up with a fun or creative activity to share with your Little, please let us know so that we can share with other Bigs.
Also, be aware that you will continue to receive regular phone calls and e-mails from your Match Support Specialist, regardless of how frequently you are able to communicate with your Little. Regular communication with your MSS is essential and required. The MSS team can also be a great resource in helping you make and maintain contact with your Little, and to suggest alternative “virtual” activities.
In addition to our Match Support Team maintaining contact with all of our Bigs and Littles, the agency is also working hard to adapt to the current situation. We have moved our volunteer trainings online to Virtual Big Orientation & Trainings. We are conducting volunteer interviews over the phone via FaceTime, Zoom or a similar online tool. We are developing a plan to make virtual introductions between Bigs and their new Littles.
In time, this crisis will pass. But until it does, we are committed to maintaining and expanding the life-altering relationships that have defined Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than 100 years. If now is not the right time for you to become a volunteer but you would still like to help us sustain the important work we are doing, please consider making a donation.
Stay safe. And for more information, please review the list of virus-related resources we’ve assembled, including best practices for seeing your Little, how to mitigate the spread of the virus, and local resources.