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YMCA To Initiate BBBS Type Mentoring Program

November 26th, 2014 by WCBC Radio

The Cumberland YMCA Board of Directors voted unanimously at their October meeting to initiate a mentoring program in response to a request by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Alleghenies, which closed its doors in late October.

The mentoring agency, which had provided services to area children since 1987, had experienced challenges in meeting its annual $100,000 annual budget. All funds for the stand-alone mentoring agency were generated within the community.

“The agency had been struggling for some time,” said Kimi-Scott McGreevy, BBBS executive director. “We tried a number of approaches, but covering our expenses every year simply wasn’t possible. Being an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America meant we had to pay for a full audit every year, we had to pay dues to the parent agency, and we had expensive liability issues as stand-alone agency, along with general administrative costs. Plus, our BBBS of America dues were going to increase significantly in the near future. It was just not possible to continue. We really had no choice.”

In acknowledging the reality of their financial situation, Ms. McGreevy and the BBBS Board of Directors began looking for an agency to take over their matches and continue the mentoring program. The most logical agency was the YMCA; mentoring children fit within the Y’s overall mission. The BBBS Board hoped the Y would be willing to give the mentoring program a chance.

After meetings between staff and Board members at both agencies, the Y Board of Directors voted in favor of adopting BBBS’s existing matches as well as the children on its waiting list.

“We understand the need in this community for this service,” said Don Enterline, the Y’s Executive Director. “In looking at beginning a mentoring program, we discovered that YMCAs in 38 states already provide this service. The Y program, called the Reach and Rise Mentoring Program, is a little more structured than the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, but overall it’s very similar. We’re very pleased to be able to expand the services we provide families. It’s a good fit for our Y, and it’s been a pleasure working with the folks from Big Brothers Big Sisters in making this happen.”

Gene Combs, president of the BBBS Board, agrees.

“We were very disappointed to lose the BBBS affiliation in our community, but the important thing is the program will continue – that was our main concern,” Mr. Combs said. “BBBS is struggling not just here, but in other communities as well. The BBBS affiliate in Frederick, MD, just closed this fall, and the Morgantown, WV, affiliate closed over the summer. The fact that we managed to keep the mentoring service in our community by moving it to the YMCA is reflective of the dedication of the people involved in both agencies.”

Erin DeLong, president of the YMCA Board of Directors, believes the mentoring program can grow under the auspices of the Y.

“We’re hoping that the Reach and Rise program will grow the number of children served. It will be easier for us to provide the program – it will cost less through the Y than through a stand-alone agency – but we’ll still need community support to make it happen. The staff and Board at BBBS have come onboard and will help us with annual fundraising events. We think the staffing and facility resources at a much larger agency will help make the program a success. We’re very excited.”

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