BECKLEY, W.Va. — Youth across southern West Virginia who rely on the programs and services offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia have had to look elsewhere lately.
The non-profit youth organization has been forced to temporarily suspend operations after discovering last month a local donor pulled their roughly $60,000 donation.
The donor, who has not been named, announced their decision shortly after the chapter received a $20,000 grant to help serve LGBTQ youth. The donor reportedly represents three foundations.
Executive Director Sara McDowell told MetroNews affiliate WJLS in Beckley that in the weeks following, some progress has been made.
“We’ve crossed the halfway point, but we still have another $40,000 to raise. We’re certainly hopeful that will happen by the end of the year.”
The Charleston-based organization’s temporary suspension of operations in their Beckley satellite office takes away crucial mentoring and after-school programs many kids rely on.
“There’s so many issues going on in southern West Virginia that kids are needing that role model,” said McDowell. “1 in 3 kids do not have a positive role model.”
Since services were put on hold last month, McDowell said it has been an emotional time for everyone involved.
“We had a parent call in of a second grader who watched another parent pass away, and he’s really struggling. It’s incredibly heart-breaking to have to put him on the waiting list.”
According to their website, Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia provides individual connections to youth facing adversity with a trusted mentor.
“A mentor supports, empowers and promotes greater academic achievement, self-confidence and the idea that anything is possible when you have someone who believes in you. We want every child to know they are connected, accepted and protected by their loved ones and if they aren’t available, through their communities.” -Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia
Additionally, the organization provides numerous after-school activities, community based programs, and workforce opportunities.
“I’ve had mentors cry, and it’s heart-breaking to think that they can’t meet with their little”, said McDowell. “They know these kids, they know how important that time with them is and how important that child feels it is to have that person come in. To know that might stop, it’s difficult.”
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia or to donate, click here.