The Times West Virginian

Local News

July 18, 2014

Big Brothers Big Sisters NCWV closing doors

FAIRMONT — A West Virginia mentoring program is closing after not receiving enough funding.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Central West Virginia will have its last day of operations on July 31 of this year. The program matched mentors and children for more than 30 years in West Virginia.

The organization closed after it lost funding. According to Big Brothers Big Sisters executive director Sylvia Hawkins, the funding was through grants, fundraisers and donations.

Hawkins explained that the revenue streams had been reduced over time.

“As a nonprofit, we’re writing our budget almost a year in advance. It wouldn’t matter though if we wrote it 30 days before the start of the year,” Hawkins said. “Because of the fact that we’re relying on donations, fundraisers and grants, we have to put those into our budget without an actual confirmation that tracks the amount of money that we’re going to get.”

Fundraisers and donations would end up being less than what was projected.

“We could say that we’re having a fundraiser and we’re going to make $10,000 but we only make $5,000,” she said. “Or the same thing (with donations) with Company X, they’re going to  give us $10,000 but they give us $5,000 instead. There’s a lot more people or organizations in the community that are asking for the same money right now.”

Hawkins explained that these organizations included shelters and food pantries.

“Everyone is asking everyone for money and so you’re competing against a lot of other organizations and when you look at Big Brothers Big Sisters, we don’t provide clothing, we don’t provide shelter, we don’t provide food, we don’t provide medical care, yet we’re competing against organizations that do provide those things for funding,” she said.

Mentors and children are no longer being matched, although they are being contacted and told about the organization’s closing.

Big Brothers Big Sisters offered a variety of programs before its closure

Big Sisters Plus, afterschool tutoring programs, community-based mentoring and fishing buddies were the programs that were offered by the office.

According to Hawkins, the program matched up to 130 mentors and children per year and totalled just shy of 4,000 matches over the 30 years that they were in the area.

“We’re really proud of the service that we were providing to the community and those thousands of children and families,” Hawkins said. “We really encourage people to still be involved in mentoring children.”

Email Richard Babich at rbabich@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @rbabichTWV.

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