Newcomers Need You! Be a First Friend!

Q: What is the purpose of a First Friend?
A: To be an ambassador for Saint John to the newcomer individual or family you’re matched with, and create a long lasting friendship with them.

Q: What is the time commitment?
A: For the first few months, we recommend getting together once a week. Once you have created a bond getting together will become more natural.

Q: What are my responsibilities?
 Responsibilities include: offering support and guidance, introducing newcomers to our wonderful city through social/recreational activities, and encouraging newcomers to be independent.

Q: What is expected of me?
 There are no financial obligations with this role or obligation to help them with every aspect of their life; we have a huge, amazing team at the Y to take care of that. You are expected to have fun and build a genuine and supportive friendship, while helping them become independent.

Q: What if it isn’t a good match?
 The YMCA learns as much as we can about both the newcomer and volunteer to ensure we find a good match. We always tell our volunteers not to expect perfection and not to give up after one meeting but if you feel uncomfortable or feel that it isn’t the right fit, we will match both the volunteer and newcomer with someone else. We want both sides to feel great about this friendship.

Q: What do we do together?
There is so much you can do together!  A few “winter” ideas include going sliding/skating, going on drives to see Christmas lights, getting hot chocolate/coffee, or building gingerbread houses.  Other ideas are sharing a meal together, running errands, sharing hobbies, watching movies or TV shows.

Q: What do we do about the language barrier?
There are so many great apps available to help combat the language barrier (if there is one). If you are not very tech savvy we have picture dictionaries on hand that can help and the casual conversations you will have are of enormous benefit to newcomers.

Q: Do I get any training/resources?
 You receive training with the Volunteer Liaison, and a First Friends Toolkit to use prior to being matched, and you’ll have the ongoing support of YMCA Newcomer Connections staff during your friendship.