After years without a mentoring program, the Youth Development Center is getting back in the game, merging with another local organization.
According to YDC Executive Director LaTasha Do’zia Earley, board members of Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwest Virginia approached Earley after the resignation of Executive Director Juli Ferrell to pitch a merger between the organizations.
“It’s mainly about getting rid of the big name and being able to keep funds local and really being able to focus on the kids that need mentorship,” said Earley.
Over the past few months, the Center has been working to incorporate the mentee-mentor pairs and the sole BBBSNV staff member, Abigail Zimmermann, who will serve as the new mentoring program’s coordinator.
“The YDC really was open,” Zimmermann said. “Introducing myself to the whole staff, and made me feel like I was part of them. And so that’s been really amazing and taking care of our matches that we currently have, as well as really looking to expand and help the children who are on our wait-list.”
The new Baker Anchor Mentoring Program — or BAM — is named after Tom and Sheila Baker, the founders of the YDC.
“There’s nothing that they loved more than the young people of this community, so we wanted to honor them,” said Earley. “The anchor is something about being [weighed] down, being able to have some kind of stability.”
Despite the new name, the program isn’t changing too much.
“It’s still very similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters as far as being able to connect young people with adults that can help mentor them and guide them through community outings, events, or even through the schools,” she said.
Staff are looking to expand the program in the coming months and are seeking more male mentors. To get involved, go to www.myydc.org/programs