After being forced to nearly close their doors the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mississippi organization has received the funding needed to continue serving children in the magnolia state.
WJTV 12’s Margaret-Ann Carter spoke with the executive director about Tuesday’s last minute call from the Department of Human Services.
It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for Director Chris Burkett who was told in October of last year DHS would not be able to fund Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mississippi.
However after Burkett put out a statement letting his families know, the director of DHS called him and said the agency had made a mistake.
“Without a program like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, it would be very unfortunate if we have to end this program any time soon,” Executive Director, Chris Burkett said.
Over the last two years Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mississippi has provided guidance through their mentorship program to more than 1700 at risk kids and teens.
“We can see the progress in our children, and that’s what’s important, look we’re a prevention program you look around, and you see all of this crime, and all of the issues that we’re having, imagine if you could catch these kids in elementary school and middle school, before all of this happens,” Burkett explained.
That’s why it was so devstating for Burkett when he found out DHS, who funds 75 to 80 percent of their program, would not be funding it anymore after 18 years.
“Somebody is going to mentor these children. The bad guy or the good guy, but somebody is going to mentor these children, hopefully we’ll get to them before the bad guy gets to them,” Burkett said.
After months of uncertainty DHS will continue to fund the non profit organization through the end of the year and then some.
Burkett says saving our youth is a mission that everyone can get behind.
“These kids can drive now, they’re moving, so it can affect you and sometimes you don’t understand or you don’t get it until it happens to somebody in your family, and by that time it’s too late. You know, by that time you’re walking out of Walmart or Target, you feel a cold piece of metal on the back of your neck, it’s almost too late,” he cautioned.
The end of the year for the funding will be September 30th and DHS has told Burkett they will negotiate a new contract for the next year.