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Big Brothers Big Sisters pleads for community help to avoid closing

By: Andy Cunningham, Melissa Etezadi Email
By: Andy Cunningham, Melissa Etezadi Email

Without help from the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass announced today it will have to close its doors due to financial hardship.

The group even planned to close today before getting a lifeline from several private donors.

"Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass is in dire financial trouble," said Alan Stein, retired minor league baseball executive, president of Stein Group and former Big Brother. "I recently learned that, if something isn't done very soon, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass will have no choice but to close its doors. Even the board's legal counsel had recommended it."

For more than five decades, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass has served thousands of children in 14 counties throughout central Kentucky.

"This program has been life changing," explains little brother Cody Boone. "Before I met Don, my big brother, I was failing in school and about to drop out. Now, I'm the VP of Future Farmers of America and am at the head of my class. I can't imagine my life without him."

The problems began in 2008 when the former office manager Bendrea Wilson began forging two board members signatures on at least 140 checks. Those checks totaled more than $435,000 and most of that money has never been recovered.

"From the day that woman started taking money from us, it's been a death spiral, and we've been trying to climb out as best as we can," said BBBS of the Bluegrass President Leslie Baldwin.

"A few others and I have stepped forward and pledged to keep the organization afloat for two weeks," said Stein. "And I'm asking for your help. The children of our community need this organization. They are the future of Central Kentucky, and we would be doing them a disservice to take away the opportunities this organization provides to them."

The pleas are not only coming from leaders in the organization but also from those impacted by the program. "I wish I had all the money in the world," explains Boone, "cause I'd give it to this program cause I've seen what its done for my life."

Central Bank set up a bank account strictly for these emergency funds. Donations can be made by calling 1-800-201-8797, online at the organization's website (bbbs-bluegrass.org) or visiting any Central Bank location and asking about the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass Donation Account.

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass is to provide children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally-supported, one-to-one relationships that change a child's life for the better, forever.

Headquartered in Lexington and supported with satellite offices around Central Kentucky, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass serves children in Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Garrard, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer, Montgomery, Scott and Woodford Counties.

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