There are four main WAY Alliance volunteer positions that we call the Big 4. These four positions are vital in helping us accomplish our mission to serve youth aging out of foster care.
The Big 4 volunteer positions are the:
We call these positions the Big 4 because they make up the core of our program. Each of these positions has ongoing responsibilities, and each volunteer position is connected—or matched—to a specific youth in our program.
You can click on the links above to read about the other volunteer positions, but in this post, we’ll talk about the Small Group.
The Small Group
A WAY Alliance Small Group is matched with a specific youth in our program and consists of at least four adults age 25+. In some cases, a youth’s mentor might even be one of the members of the Small Group.
The small group has three primary responsibilities.
- The small group prays specifically for the youth each month. How does the small group know about what the youth’s prayer needs are? The best way to find out is to talk directly to the mentor. The small group contact person should reach out to the mentor by phone, text, or email at least once a month for an update, perhaps before the small groups meets together. That way the small group can have the latest information about your youth’s needs and your group can discuss that at your next meeting.
- The small group sends the youth notes of encouragement and care packages periodically.
- Notes of encouragement: Consider sending a note of encouragement to your youth every month. It’s not necessary to include a gift each time; in fact, it might be helpful NOT to include one every time so as not to set up expectations.
- Care packages: Small groups might want to plan a regular schedule for sending a care package to their youth. It could be monthly, every other month, or quarterly. Consistency is helpful, though, so that it’s not forgotten, so it might be best for your group to determine a regular schedule from the start. We will survey the youth so your group will know what their preferences are for the contents of a care package.
- The small group sends cards and small gifts on the youth’s birthday and Christmas, and perhaps on other occasions such as a graduation. This might be a gift card, a favorite snack, or something else that is meaningful to the youth. The mentor might have some good suggestions for you about what would be a good gift. If you don’t know when your youth’s birthday is, contact the Match Coordinator or Joy Miller.
Optional Activities of the Small Group
While these are the only official duties of the small groups, the group may also choose to serve the youth in other ways.
- Meet material needs of the youth. If the small group discovers the youth has a specific material need—perhaps they are moving into a new apartment or a dorm and need some household supplies—the small group can choose to meet that material need if they’d like. If the group is interested in meeting a material need, the small group contact person should discuss it with WAY Alliance before proceeding.
- Meet financial needs (phone service, job uniform requirements, etc.) of the youth.
- Meet other non-financial needs, like graduation photos, etc.
- Sponsor mentor/mentee activities.
- Meet with the youth in-person*. The youth may decide they’d like to meet their small group in-person. There are several way the group might do this. Just note that if you are working with a youth living at a residential facility, it’s very important that you follow the rules of the facility when making plans to meet with the youth. Contact your youth’s Match Coordinator or Joy Miller for details on what those rules might be. Also, if you choose to meet with your youth in person, we will need to conduct a background check as well as a driving record check if you’ll be transporting the youth. So make sure you let WAY Alliance know your plans before setting up your first meeting.
- Organizes a formal get-together in honor of the youth.
- Take the youth out on activities, similar to what a mentor might do.
- Drop off notes, gifts, care packages in person.
What are the duties of the small group contact person?
Every small group will need to designate a contact person. The contact person has these responsibilities.
- Contact the mentor prior to your small group meeting each month for an update on what to pray for. Ask about upcoming events (birthdays, activities, etc.). Ideally, the mentor will respond and include the Match Coordinator as well to keep everyone in the loop.
- Schedule the group’s contacts with the youth. Consider a schedule like this for sending things to your youth:
- A note monthly
- A care package every other month
- A gift on the youth’s birthday & Christmas
- Submit a Small Group Activity Log for any contact or communication with the mentor OR mentee.
- When you contact the mentor
- When you send anything the youth
- When you meet with the youth
- Ask for help. If you have questions about what to do, contact your youth’s Match Coordinator or the Executive Director.