Doors will remain open at local BBBS

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) operations in Mission will continue apace after news late last week that Chilliwack’s office is downsizing and Maple Ridge’s is closing.“There won’t be too much impact in Mission,” said BBBS Abbotsford Mission executive director David Sheach on Monday. “We will be keeping the office and staffing in place.”The office serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is shutting down next month, citing cuts to charitable grants by the provincial government as the culprit.“It is with regret that we cannot continue to provide mentoring services to the Ridge-Meadows area” said Edwin Palsma, president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Abbotsford, Mission, Ridge Meadows chapter. “What we have learned over the past year is that many agencies across the country are experiencing similar challenges and that really tough decisions have to be made.”That chapter, as well as many others across the province, has seen its annual provincial gaming grant fall from $230,000 last year to nothing this year.As a result, BBBS can’t afford to pay the mentor coordinator responsible for the area, and the two chapters serving the Fraser Valley will begin sharing services as a cost-saving measure  next month. Two full-time staff have already been cut in Chilliwack, and the majority of staff will be moved to the agency’s Abbotsford office.“It’s been regrettable that we have to take this step,” said Shirley Wilson, executive director for BBBS Upper Fraser Valley. She added that the two Fraser Valley chapters may have to amalgamate if the economic situation doesn’t improve.- with files from Maple Ridge News and Chilliwack Progress