The Evolution of Moore Buddies Mentoring
In 1995, a group of concerned community members from Bethesda Presbyterian Church saw a need in Moore County for youth to have a positive role model in their life, and so they created Moore Buddies. The Community Mentoring program was financed by a Governor’s One on One grant. Seeing that the grant would not sustain the program as it grew, Moore Buddies’ board members Mike Hall and Frank McNeil, Sr. approached Davis Clark about starting a golf tournament. They did not have any idea what a life of its own it would take on. In 1997, the 1st annual golf tournament to support Moore Buddies was born. It was then that the program was able to sustain itself because of the funds generated from the golf tournament. Davis then partnered with Bob Rigsby, also with Bethesda, for the 2nd golf tournament and hence the name, the Rigsby Clark Golf Tournament.
As the Mentoring program developed, Bob wanted to be able to motivate community members to start making a positive change, even if just for one young person. His sentiments are captured in The Starfish Story:
The Starfish Story
One day a boy was walking along the beach when he noticed a man picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.
Approaching the man, he asked, “What are you doing?”
The man replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
The boy said, “Don’t you realize there are miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the man bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the boy, he said,
“I made a difference for that one.”-author unknown
Moore Buddies Mentoring continued to do outreach, recruit, and train volunteers to be positive influences in a young person’s life. However, it became clear that in some cases, parents needed some additional support as well. In 2009, Moore Buddies received a grant from the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council of Moore County to implement a family strengthening class called Moore Family Connections.
Out of a need to recognize volunteers for the tremendous work they do, a yearly tradition to honor one special volunteer was started in 2012. It is celebrated at the yearly Thankful Dinner, another tradition started by Moore Buddies, and the volunteer is awarded the Expanding Horizons Award.
Effective July 1, 2013 Moore Buddies made the decision to dissolve their non-profit status. Its mission closely aligned with that of the 30 year-old national Communities In Schools (CIS) and it became its Mentoring Program. CIS had been in Moore County since 2003. CIS of MC had its own fundraiser golf tournament called Fore Kids Golf Tournament and had one In School Mentoring program that was funded by The United Way. In 2013, Tom Cruce, CISMC Board Chair since 2011 stated, “The two organizations have worked closely together over the past four years, including production of Dancing with the Sandhills Stars. CISMC approached Moore Buddies with the concept of a complete merger and their Board was highly receptive. This merger will drive stronger fund raising efforts and accelerate the services we bring to the Moore County Schools and the community around us.”
For four years, CIS of Moore County housed In School Mentoring, Community Mentoring, a new literacy program called Reading Buddies, and Moore Family Connections. Initiatives including UniqueMe and the Little Schoolhouse Book Program also began during this time. In 2013, CIS held the first annual Run for the Buddies 5k race and 1 mile fun run. In 2014, held the first annual 2nd Chance Prom, and in 2016, coordinated by Holly Floyd, a fundraiser called Spin A Yarn. A school supply drive started by CISMC called Stuff the Bus was in its 10th year in 2016. Also, in 2016, CIS celebrated the 20th year of the Rigsby Clark golf tournament. Over the past 20 years, this tournament had raised close to $500,000 for the Mentoring Program.
However, beginning July 1, 2017, the organization formerly known as Communities In Schools (CIS) of Moore County took on a new look. Still wielding the four core programs: In School Mentoring, Community Mentoring, Reading Buddies, and Moore Family Connections, the new name had a familiar sound: Moore Buddies Mentoring.
After careful consideration over the course of a year, the Board of Directors made the decision to leave the CIS network after stringent policy from the CIS National Office began to trickle down. New policy requires all affiliates to house programs that operate within specific schools and with dedicated staff to serve a percentage of the population of each school they are in. Programs serving the entire County such as Moore Family Connections and Community Mentoring do not qualify as one of those programs. Changes are also being implemented that affect the way affiliates can operate their Executive Director. For smaller affiliates such as Moore County who has for years, been known by their ‘legacy’ program, Community Mentoring, these changes would be difficult to make financially. It would have meant adding new staff and new programs with a budget that was already restricted to the current programming. Executive Director Bryana Nelson stated, “The decision to leave the CIS network was a difficult one and one made over time with careful consideration of programming and staff, but we knew it was important to keep the programs that have made us who we are.” The new requirements were unknown to the Board four years ago when the decision was made for Moore Buddies to dissolve it’s non-profit status and house it’s programs under the CIS name.
Although being a part of the National Communities In Schools network provided numerous training and networking opportunities, it did not provide any financial support as is common for other state and national offices of other organizations as well. Affiliates are responsible for securing funding on their own. Affiliates around Moore County have closed their doors over the past couple of years because of financial difficulty and also because of the new requirements.
For the Board of Directors and staff of Moore Buddies Mentoring, it was never an option to close the doors. They are the recipients of grants that support the programs such as the Moore County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, United Way of Moore County and the Moore County Community Foundation. Several generous individual donors, churches, and organizations also contribute on a regular basis to ensure the programs continue. Moore Buddies Mentoring continues to host the golf tournament and three other major fundraisers throughout the year to supplement the programs as well.
Board Chair Julius Fore commented on the name change, “We will continue to focus on what we do best; operating programs that serve all Moore County students and families. All of our programs especially our Mentoring programs, champion student success, literacy enhancement, and empower families. This is our legacy and it will not change.”
1995: Moore Buddies incorporated
1997: 1st Annual Moore Buddies golf tournament (later named Rigsby Clark Golf Tournament) at the Carolina
2003: CIS of Moore County incorporated
2009: Grant from JCPC to start Moore Family Connections
2013: Moore Buddies dissolves non-profit status and CIS of Moore County inherits Community Mentoring and Moore Family Connections, Rigsby Clark Golf Tournament
2013: 1st Annual Run for the Buddies 5K
2013: Reading Buddies program begins at Southern Pines Primary and Aberdeen Primary
2013: 1st Annual Girls Empowerment Program at Southern Middle School (later named UniqueMe)
2014: First Expanding Horizons Award winner named (Julius Fore)
2014: 1st Annual 2nd Chance Prom (later named Party with a Purpose!)
2015: Little Schoolhouse Book Collection Program begins
2016: 1st Spin A Yarn fundraiser
2016: 10th Anniversary of Stuff the Bus
2016: 20th Anniversary of Rigsby Clark Golf Tournament
2017: Name Change to Moore Buddies Mentoring
Directors of Moore Buddies:
Amy Blondin until 2012
Linda Harte 2013-2014
Bryana Nelson 2014-2018
Joyce Clevenger 2018-Present
Board Chairs of Moore Buddies:
Bob Rigsby for 2 years
Julius Fore 2013-current
1st Convention and Visitors Bureau
2nd Carthage at old police station all stone near traffic circle
3rd Downtown Southern Pines on PA Avenue
4th Lee Moore Insurance Agency Building, West End
5th 300 Kelly Road, Pinehurst
Expanding Horizons Award Winners:
2012: Julius Fore
2013: Jeff Clay
2014: Linda Pearson
2015: Tina Arno
2016: Coach Cook
Rigsby Clark Golf Tournament:
1997-1998: The Carolina
1999: Whispering Pines
2000-2011: The Pit
2017: Country Club of Whispering Pines