Big Brothers, Big Sisters try to mend sibling rivalry

By Ryan Lengerich

Local Big Brothers and Big Sisters officials are hoping a meeting on Tuesday with the Roswell agency will ease tensions between the two entities and get the Clovis agency back up and running.

The Clovis-based agency serving Curry and Roosevelt counties had its office shut down on March 1 when Clovis officials declined a merger proposal from the Roswell-based agency.

Rebecca Fain, Director of Agency Development for the southwest region, said a merger is necessary based on the national organization’s restructuring plan.

Fain set up a meeting between the two groups for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the United Way office in Clovis. She is hoping to finalize a merger agreement at the meeting.

“We’re going to go through a sample agreement and make any adjustments that need to be made,” Fain said. “I think we’ll be able to work this out.”

Relations between the Clovis and Roswell entities have floundered since February when the Clovis agency declined Roswell’s proposal. Clovis Advisory Board President Roger Grooms said the proposal gave Roswell too much power and the board had concerns Clovis employees would be cut.

Grooms said the city needs a mentoring program and Tuesday’s meeting shows each side is open to discussion.
“We want to make sure the community is involved and the people that work here shouldn’t be ostracized,” Grooms said.

A merger would make Roswell the central location for the eastern New Mexico region, which would serve Carlsbad, Ruidoso, Lincoln, Curry, Roosevelt counties and potentially Hobbs.

Jill Dennis, executive director of the Roswell-area Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization, said the agreement her agency’s advisory board has drawn up for presentation Tuesday is similar to the one rejected in February.

“I hope anything that needs to be resolved can be resolved,” Dennis said. “My board is completely in it for serving the kids, there is nothing more we are gaining out of this.”

Grooms said there has not been any confusion in serving the Clovis area mentor/child relationships since the operation was closed.

His concern, he said, is a newly formed mentorship program between Portales youth and Eastern New Mexico University students. That program’s project has been temporarily put on hold.

“We were trying to get them totally committed to working hand and hand with us,” Grooms said.

Dennis said her agency has about 80 matches and is in its second year of existence.

The local program earned full affiliation with the national organization in 1999. It has 118 child-mentor pairs, officials said, in addition to 37 youth looking for a match.

“The program was going great,” Grooms said. “To stop it and stop the motion is like stopping a freight train and to me that doesn’t set well.”