Big brother - big sister mentors: Mary Fay Pendleton school

Mary Fay Pendleton (MFP) is a K-6 public school located on Camp Pendleton. Nearly 85% of the school's student population has had a parent deployed since September 11, 2001. In September 2004, Big Brother/Big Sisters of America (BB/BSA) initiated the agency's first on-base program in its 100-year history at MFP. The mentoring program was named Operation Bigs. The purpose of this study is to determine the demographic profile of the initial volunteer mentors and examine their views about specific elements of the program's effectiveness. This study provides an overview of literature on children of active-duty military personnel and military conflict, volunteer partnerships, and the benefits of a school-based BB/BSA mentoring program. Qualitative data collected from 12 participants may influence recruitment and retention of future volunteers. Findings of this study provide insight concerning these volunteers. The participants are an average age of 30 years with at least a high school education. Nine of the 12 are active-duty Marines who live on or near Camp Pendleton and have prior experience as a volunteer with a youth organization. The data collected in this study revealed mentors are motivated to be adult role models for a military child and believe the BB/BSA program has value; training to prepare mentors emphasizes BB/BSA basic rules and guidelines; and most volunteers are pleased with the support provided by program and school officials. Recommendations to improve the program include allowing extra time to meet with little brothers and sisters; developing more structured activities; and recruiting additional adult volunteer mentors.