For Immediate Release

Buffalo, N.Y. – The local mentoring agency known as Be-A-Friend Program, Inc. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County for the last 45+ years is growing and has changed its name to reflect the new service area approved by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). The agency will now be known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier. BBBSA has designated the Southern Tier service area to include Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. In recent years, the agency had expanded it services through partnerships with the Lewiston Porter School District and Seneca Nation.

“We are excited to have the support of our National office as we expand to bring the nationally recognized mentoring programs of Big Brothers Big Sisters to more children in the Western New York region,” shared Thomas Guagliardo, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier. “We are committed to continuing the high quality mentoring services we currently provide in Erie County as we expand in these new areas.”

In addition to the organization’s name change, the agency has recently moved their office located at 85 River Rock Drive in Buffalo across the street to 100 River Rock Drive between Fowler’s Chocolates and the new Crisis Services office. Over the next several weeks, the agency will begin to officially transfer its signage, social media and other external materials to reflect the new name, office location and logo.

Big Brothers Big Sisters currently offers Community Based, Sited Based, High School Bigs and Group Mentoring programs to children between the ages of 6 – 18 years old. Recently, the agency has seen a growth in interest in the High School Bigs Program which pairs elementary/middle school students with high school students who serve as their mentors. This program, which currently operates in the Lewiston Porter, Cleveland Hill, Maryvale and Lackawanna districts, demonstrates positive impact in youth outcomes for both the child being mentored and the high school student volunteering as the mentor. Additionally, the need for Group Mentoring, which typically provides mentoring to older youth and is provided by an agency staff member with the training to provide a more extensive and focused mentoring opportunity based on the youth’s needs as identified by other service providers has grown.

“We see the High School Bigs and Group Mentoring programs as effective and successful resources to bring into new service communities in need” shared Guagliardo. “We have been meeting with stakeholders in these communities to pursue partnerships and funding opportunities to launch these programs and expand our presence in Western New York.”

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