By Jessica Mathews /

A local non-profit that mentors kids throughout Livingston County is closing its doors.

Mentor Livingston, formerly Big Brothers Big Sisters of Livingston County, announced that the agency will be closing by the end of June. The non-profit pairs volunteers or mentors with children or mentees who serve as friends and role models to help them gain greater self-confidence and realize their potential. Fundraising accounts for over 65% of its budget, which was severely impacted by the pandemic. Executive Director Shari Davis-Schoech says they have commitments they can fulfill until June 30th for different funders and programs like Lunch Buddies and Rockin Readers but they can’t get into the fall without having a much healthier budget and they just don’t see how they can fulfill the financial needs of the agency moving forward.

Executive Director Shari Davis-Schoech says it was a very hard decision but one that finances dictated. She said it has been because of community support they’ve been living paycheck to paycheck and have been able to have enough money to keep going every month. She said guardian angels got them through last year and every month something good would happen and people were very generous - even during a pandemic. She told WHMI the board worked very hard to make good things happen but there’s a tipping point and they just came to the decision that they were there and needed to rip the band-aid off and move on. Had they remained with BBBS and not branched out, Davis-Schoech says they would have closed a year earlier because of all the money required to stay with the national organization, which would have cleaned out their savings even earlier.

Davis-Schoech says they’ve tried every opportunity they can think but their savings are gone and they realized it was time to face the music and do what’s right because they can’t consider starting things they know they can’t finish. She noted there were grant opportunities and they were very supportive of their mission but the bottom line was they were only giving to essential services and that doesn’t include mentoring. Some mentors have asked what it would take to remain open and Davis-Schoech says it would basically take a superhero with a $100,000 check.

She said the community has been outstanding and very supportive but they realize they’re not the only ones with their hand out and there’s only so much people can do – adding there are many worthy charities and so much need, which she thinks will only continue to grow.

Davis-Schoech says they’ve been so blessed by this community and the children served will probably never know how much support and love they got from perfect strangers. Mentoring has been around a long time and it’s not a new concept – it’s tried and true and it works. She says it’s proven to make a difference with kids for both intervention and prevention and changes the trajectory of a kid’s life for the better - for the rest of their life. Davis-Schoech added that she’ll remember all of the good that was done and all of the amazing people she’s met along the way – adding it warms her heart remembering all of the stories of goodness, selflessness, and triumph from mentors and the outcomes of connections with their kids.

Davis-Schoech said many volunteers will continue to support the kids they’ve created a relationship with the best they can and they’ll be doing everything ethically and legally in the coming months to make sure bills get paid and they follow through with necessary items through the state and IRS.

More information about the organization, as well as donation opportunities, can be found on it's website. The link is provided.