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United Way In the News


United Way & Volunteer Services of Greater Yankton and Big Friend – Little Friend (BFLF) announced today that they have merged the community-based mentoring agency to be a programming component under United Way.

BFLF is designed to give young people the opportunity to gain a one to one friendship with a positive and sincere adult mentor. Studies show that youth who have mentors experience improved self-esteem, greater academic achievement, increased motivation in school, and higher quality lifestyle choices.


Due to recent challenges with continuity within the mentoring program, the sustainability of the agency has been uncertain. Therefore, to maintain and add a broader range of services to a larger group of individuals, BFLF will become a program component of United Way per a Memorandum of Understanding agreement effective May 1, 2018.


Lauren Hanson, United Way Executive Director is enthusiastic about the merger stating, “Our mission at United Way is to change lives by mobilizing not only resources but people, volunteers, to improve our community. There is an opportunity to do more, serve more, and make a larger impact together than either of us could do alone.”


BFLF Board President, Dawn Henseler shared that “This merger is vital to the youth currently being served, and additional youth looking to add a caring adult mentor into their life. United Way’s leadership and staff will do an incredible job!”   


As the mentoring program will now be facilitated through United Way, Tara Bartekoske, United Way’s Community Impact Coordinator, will step in as BFLF Program Coordinator while continuing to facilitate additional United Way programs such as the Yankton Hunger Collaborative and SPARK – Connections for Community. Bartekoske stated, “I am excited about the opportunity to work directly with youth, parents and volunteer mentors, as mentoring creates a positive impact on our entire community.”


The merger offers a unique opportunity as United Way will continue to host monthly fun functions and match local youth with community-based mentors, while also looking to expand services to include in-school mentoring. Because of United Way’s position in the community as a cultivator of volunteerism, the hope is to grow the number of youth matched with adult mentors.


The BFLF Board of Directors would like to thank the entire community for their support throughout the years and asks for continued support of the program through United Way of Greater Yankton.


For more information, please contact United Way at 605-665-6766.

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