Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County has announced that it’s merging with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lower West Michigan effective Wednesday.

The two organizations have been in discussions for several months, and have concluded that merging will allow each to expand services, improve efficiencies and serve more children in the region, according to a news release.

The Lower West Michigan affiliate presently serves Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties in Michigan. Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County will be the new entity serving these areas, and will continue to maintain an office in Niles.

The staff and board of directors of Lower West Michigan will be joining the St. Joseph County organization.

“We are excited about joining forces,” BBBS of St. Joseph County CEO Bill Carnegie said in the release. “Merging will allow us to centralize our administrative services and increase our focus on providing at-risk youth with a mentoring opportunity that will change their lives.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County has been serving children through mentoring programs for the last 51 years.

“Our goal from day one has been to help young people in our area,” said TJ Jorgensen, St. Joseph County board president. “This partnership emphasizes that goal even more.”

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit bbbs-sjc.org.