MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters has been closed.
According to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mid-South stopped being an active affiliate on September 1.
“BBBSA understands and appreciates the role that BBBS of Mid-South has played in Memphis and hopes to find an opportunity to continue serving the community in the near future,” the organization said in a statement.
According to a letter obtained by WREG, the closure means that the matches between Memphis volunteers and participants will no longer be active in the Big Brother Big Sister program management system.
The organization is recommending that volunteers pause contact with the children they were matched with.
“From this point forward, any future contact between you and your Little will be at the risk of the parties involved,” the letter stated.
Chris Thomas has been a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for 48 years, as a mentee, and now a mentor. He says it’s crucial that we get this program back up and running, as soon as possible.
“I was just a lost 11-year-old, and my big brother was 18. He helped guide me and steer me in the right direction as far as schooling, career choices. He helped me in so many ways,” Thomas said.
The letter did not say why they are closed but the office has been completely emptied out.
“Boys need men, good men in their lives, to show them what being a man is like and this is a very important time for that,” Thomas said.
National studies have shown children with mentors are less likely to inflict violence or commit crimes, as we see juvenile crime on the rise here in Memphis.
This is why Thomas says he plans to maintain contact with his Little Brother, whom he has mentored now for two years. He says that is not a bond that you can just cut off.
“He’s 13. We’re planning a camping trip next weekend with his church,” Thomas said. “So I’m going to keep that going because I don’t need supervision, as long as his mom is fine.”
In a report by WREG back in May, the Memphis chapter had served over 65 thousand children in its 55 years of operation. At that time, 88 children were still on the waitlist.
In a statement, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America told WREG they hope to find an opportunity to continue serving the community in the near future.