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BBBS branch in southern WV closes

November 15, 2018

HUNTINGTON — It’s a sad day for “bigs” and “littles” in southern West Virginia with Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia announcing it is closing its doors.

In a letter dated Nov. 4, BBBS South Central West Virginia board president Sarah Ivanovic told volunteers they will no longer operate as a Big Brothers Big Sisters program and were formally closing matches between “bigs” and “littles.”

“Unfortunately, like many nonprofits in the area, our organization has seen a decrease in funding, resulting in the ability to comply with national expectations,” the letter reads.

BBBS of South Central West Virginia, based in Charleston, suspended mentoring services in Raleigh County on Oct. 31 of last year. According to a story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Raleigh County program had lost up to $80,000 in local grant money after donors learned the agency had accepted a national grant to guide staff members on appropriately responding to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) issues affecting any children in the program.

The organization was supposed to be part of a two-year pilot project to train staff on the LGBTQ initiative.

Fortunately, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State, based in Huntington and Ashland, are doing “very well,” said Patti Price, executive director.

“We are making lots of matches and serving lots of children,” Price said. “We are very thankful.”

Price said members of her organization were saddened to hear about the Charleston agency.

BBBS of the Tri-State currently has about 70 children waiting to be matched with a big brother or sister, primarily boys, Price said. The agency is actively recruiting men to serve as mentors.

The largest fundraiser for the organization is upcoming, as well.

The 38th annual Christmas tree sale will begin Nov. 24. All trees are freshly cut and are shipped from Floyd County, Virginia. Back by popular demand are the white pine, Scotch pine and Fraser fir. New varieties include concolor fir and Canaan fir. Fraser fir wreaths also will be available.

Trees can be purchased from three area lots. In Huntington, trees can be purchased at HIMG on U.S. 60 and the new location for the downtown area at the old FoodFair lot at 1st Street and 6th Avenue. In Ashland, trees will be at the Ashland Tennis Center, 13th Street and Oakview Road. Hours are from noon to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Volunteer teams are also needed to help sell trees for three-hour shifts. Groups, organizations, businesses, friends and families are encouraged to volunteer. More than 600 volunteers participate in the tree sale each year.

“Through purchasing a tree, you are really helping to support our agency and provide services to children,” Price said.

For additional information, call 304-522-2191, 606-329-8799 or visit their website at www.bbbstristate.org.

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