We all need someone to lean on, someone to look up to. Be it a sibling, a best friend or friendly neighbor, mentors are all around us and the act of mentoring a child is one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable.

During these challenging times, where children are not attending schools or spending time with their friends and classmates, mentors with The Best Friends Mentoring Program are more critical than ever in keeping children on the right path through conversation, love, compassion and mentorship.

Mentors with BFMP are finding it more difficult than ever to foster strong connections with the underprivileged and underserved children in the community in light of the coronavirus pandemic and a dwindling source of revenue for the program.

The Best Friends Mentoring Program (BFMP), which has been helping match local youth with trained mentors for over 20 years, has adapted to the quarantine changes by transitioning almost all of their 100 matches within Stark, Bowman and the Western Morton counties to online communication — thus allowing the youth to maintain the relationships with their mentors in spite of being unable to meet in person.

“Every one of our active mentors has expressed enthusiasm and flexibility in pursuing their mentoring relationship by phone, computer apps or other means,” Mark Billings, senior program coordinator, was quoted saying a written statement. “We have also heard how much mentors and mentees miss one another and what these relationships mean to them.”

The BFMP organization is currently working with the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) and other facilities to help continue the e-mentoring program. The will also include iCloudBe, a secure interactive platform in which Kris Fehr, the organization’s executive director, touts.

“Our program is based on face-to-face relationships and communication and regular meetings every week, for about an hour per week,” Fehr said in an interview with The Dickinson Press. “This has been really tough because they’re not able to meet, so we have been working to put the mentors and mentees back in touch with each other.”

BFMP is trying its best to have its main priority be the continuation of the e-mentoring program, but the economic impact of the shutdown has quickly dried up funds. According to Fehr, the remaining funds could potentially run out within 30-45 days.

“Our major fundraisers have been either postponed or canceled,” Fehr said. “Between now and August, we usually bring in $75 thousand, which helps operate the program … and we don’t have a way to recoup those funds. We have shifted to applying for grants, and some disaster loans and keeping our fingers crossed.”

BFMP is also considering the expansion of e-mentoring through the rest of the year, but is in desperate need of funds and community IT professionals to assist.

“It’s uncharted territory for everyone, so I don’t want to sound like we’re the only ones,” Fehr said. “But mentoring is so important, it’s important for kid’s today and for our community's future.”

For more information, or to help the Best Friends Mentoring Program, please contact 800-872-2657.