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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Georgia is essentially defunct. Only one employee remains. Children already matched up, will continue to be mentored by volunteers, but hundreds of young people and adults on the waiting list will have to wait even longer.
The lights are off, the door locked at the Satellite office of Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Albany. "Right now, the program itself is on pause," said Albany Council Chairperson Carrie Council.
During the summer, a major grant the organization depended on to operate, ran out. "That is when the layoffs started," said Council. "We started very small and thought that we could make up the money with personal fundraising and that sort of thing, but it did not work, so to date, we have laid off ten of our 11 employees."
The South Georgia chapter serves 41 counties. The 266 children currently matched, will continue to be mentored. "We have stacks of children waiting to be matched." But the hundreds of children waiting to be matched, will wait even longer.
That's because each adult willing to volunteer must undergo a rigorous background check. "There's a lot of red tape involved because, obviously, the safety of the child is our number one priority."
But there's no longer anyone to perform that tedious task. Council said, "We had to let all of the employees at each location go."
And for now, the littles will go without bigs, until big money can breathe new life into the organization.
Big Brother, Big Sister Satellite offices in Albany, Cordele, Douglas and Valdosta are closed. The Tifton office, which houses the CEO, is still open, but not able to accept new matches.
The focus of the organization has now shifted to fundraising. A major fundraiser, Bowl for Kidsake, is planned for March.