Best Friends Mentoring requested additional funds from Stark County Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.

The nonprofit agency asked for a total of $15,000 to $18,000 in county support next year.

The agency connects youths with mentors, who serves as role model and guide.

The funds would help match 15 to 18 children with a mentor in 2020, BFM Executive Director Kris Fehr said.

"We all need a little bit sometimes, and at (BFM) we recruit, screen and train volunteer mentors who we match one-to-one with an at-risk youth," she said. "Those are school-age kids."

The service helps prevent risky behavior in youths.

"Kids find themselves in situations over which they have no control," Fehr said. "There could be parental circumstances, such as drug use, or other things that place (parents) outside of the home."

Increasingly, Stark County's youths are affected by mental health issues.

"Either their own or their families," Fehr said. "It's not just a child in a single-parent family who needs a friend to do something with. That's important. But we're seeing multiple issues that kids and families are dealing with."

BFM currently works with 113 youths, who are all matched with a mentor.

"We're going to work with at least 150 children just this calendar year," Fehr said. "Right now we have 20 kids on our waiting list. We're going to have more as soon as school starts."

The agency only has two staff members.

"We're over capacity," Fehr said. "We manage those matches. We help the children. We help the families and mentors, and we manage those things, but two is not enough. We do need more help to help the kids in Stark County."

Best Friends Mentoring has also requested $10,000 in support from City of Dickinson.

Though the city has a greater population, more youths from the county need the assistance, Fehr said.

"We've got more kids from outside Dickinson, more and more," she said. "They are receiving services. They go to school here, but they don't live in Dickinson."

For 2019, Stark County gave BFM $9,000, with an additional request of $5,000 for Family Fun Day, the nonprofit's main fundraising event.

"We found $15,000 was pretty comfortable for us to work with," Fehr said.

Fehr noted that BFM is also receiving funds from Bowman County.

"They're considering a $9,000 contribution, as a grant," she said. "Right now, in Bowman, we have 10 kids, and they have committed to funding them, so we're probably not going to spent Stark County money on Bowman County."

Commissioner Jay Elkin assured Fehr that BFM would be considered in county's 2020 budget.

"We're trying to finalize our numbers, and we need to make sure everything balances out," he said. "We will be giving you some money. There's no doubt about it. We just don't know at the present time what it will shake out to be."

Fehr thanked the county commissioners for their support.

"Mentoring makes a difference, and you are making a difference in the lives of the children in our communities," she said.

Commissioner Ken Zander applauded Best Friends Mentoring for its efforts.

"We know your organization does good work. There's never any doubt about that," he said. "As you know, we, I mean the taxpayers, are funding a lot of youth intervention work in this county."

He added, "We'll see what we can do for you."