Frederick Douglass: It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program to close their doors
The Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program (LBMP) board of directors has made the difficult decision to dissolve the LBMP as a non-profit organization and cease mentoring operations. The decision was made after a two-year review of the necessary resources and demands needed to continue as a viable program. Increased support for volunteers to prepare and monitor them, a changing landscape that includes students with increased risks and needs - coupled with school staff that have been stretched to capacity and struggle to respond to agency requests, and lack of stable funding are a few of the reasons the board has determined the mentoring program could no longer maintain its current capacity.
Prior to school closures when COVID-19 emerged in March 2020, the LBMP made the decision to pause mentoring activities in an effort to protect its volunteers, students and school partners. During this time, the LBMP took the opportunity to turn inward; strengthening policies and procedures, recruiting new board members and outlining a way forward that would both honor the mission of our program and meet the current demands of operating a modern volunteer non-profit. These measures were part of a strategic planning initiative the board had been engaged in and the stall in direct services gave the board the opportunity to focus on internal operations. LBMP outlined a path forward for the future of the program and began working with the schools to identify a virtual mentoring platform for students and mentors to roll out in the spring of 2021. However, after careful consideration the board members determined that this was prolonging the inevitable and they made the decision to work towards dissolution.
The LBMP began operations in the mid 1990’s as North Coast Community in Schools, a chapter of the larger national dropout prevention program Communities in Schools, Inc. The program operated two programs, the Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program and the School Supply Backpack Program, a partnership with Costco that provided approximately 500 backpacks to primary age students throughout the county each year. In 2009 the umbrella of the national nonprofit was dropped and the name Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program was adopted. The backpack program ceased a few years ago when schools reported less need and other donors were also providing backpacks of school supplies.
The board would like to express its deepest gratitude to all of whom LBMP has been lucky enough to work with throughout the years. This program could not have operated for as long as it did without the hard work of many community volunteers, donors, and stakeholders. The board finds comfort in the compassion and hard work they’ve witnessed throughout the entire county and are confident that in time, this same energy will allow another program to serve both the youth and mentors of our community in a meaningful way similar to the mission of the Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program. Board member and school counselor Natalie Dyroff said, ¨I know it works, I’ve seen the positive outcomes it has for our students.¨