Friends are a basic need for everyone but sometimes for that special connection to be made, a little help is needed. Sometimes, especially when it’s young people and adults who need each other, a matchmaker is needed. That’s the role played by Kinship of Greater Minneapolis with living examples being played out in the Uptown area every day.
“Kinship is a community-based, one-to-one youth mentoring program” says their website, www.Kinship.org. “Kinship of Greater Minneapolis helps children, ages 5 to 15, in need of additional support to realize their God-given potential through adult friendships. Kinship also provides a unique service opportunity for individuals, couples and families to put their faith into action on behalf of children.”
“I love having a mentor,” says Lindsey, a 17 year old who has been with her mentor, Kelsey Starrs, since she was ten. “You get to do things that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Kelsey is like the big sister I never had. She’s a great role model and has helped me be more responsible. When I was ten I was dealing with some bullying issues and was unhappy. Kelsey helped me come out of my shell and learn new ways of socializing. Kelsey makes me feel happy. I forget my worries when I’m with her.”
“This mentoring relationship has helped us to examine our family goals, things that are important to us,” says Shannon, the mom in the Van Hunnik family that has developed a friendship with Jeanne through Kinship. “This relationship has worked out really well,” added Shannon.
“The impact you can have on a young person’s life through an hour a week is quite significant,” says Jason, the dad in the Van Hunnik family. “Statistics suggest that mentoring a young person is one of the best things you can do for that young person and to strengthen your community. Anytime one increases the amount of significant relationships, community is built. That is certainly true with a young person who could benefit from another healthy adult in their life. For our own children and Jeannie, the idea of building connections with people who have had different experiences than your own is a tremendous way to learn.”
“Projects for 2011 include program and training opportunities, a spring fundraiser planned by volunteers, conversations about working more closely with programs of Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches and Under My Wing Church/School program,” says Kinship Director, Margie Edberg.
Based upon experience and research, youth mentoring holds great promise in helping young people succeed in life. Positive outcomes can include improved self-esteem, social skills and knowledge of career opportunities. Studies of programs that place youth in formal one-to-one mentoring relationships have provided strong evidence of their success in reducing the incidence of delinquency, substance use and academic failure.
January was National Mentoring Month to focus attention on the need for mentors. The message is “If we individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors, we assure brighter futures for our young people.”
For more information about mentoring programs contact Kinship of Greater Minneapolis, 1100 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407, www.kinship.org, 612.588.4655 or Nancy Torrison, Director of Community Events, at 612.920.4424.