Many children do not have positive adult role model in their life. Mentoring relationships are proven to improve a student’s academic performance, school attendance rate, and increase their positive attitude. They also decrease the likelihood of the child turning to drugs or violence. You can read more details of the benefits of mentoring here.
There are many mentoring programs around the country, today I profile one that serves children in Dakota County, Minnesota. The original Kinship program began in 1955 by a group of students at the Saint Paul Seminary. The “Kinsmen” was a group of volunteers who befriended young men on probation and parole. Over the years, the program has evolved to become more preventative in nature by serving children instead. The Kids ‘n Kinship program began when Carol and Dick Frick saw a high percentage of youth in need of role models in their community. They established and ran the program in Dakota County for the first 20 years and in 2012, the program is celebrating their 40th year of serving children and families in the cities of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Lakeville, and Rosemount.
Kids ‘n Kinship’s mission is to provide friendships to children from ages 5 to 16 who are in need of a positive adult role model. They match children in need of support with a screened and trained adult volunteer mentors. Through these relationships, children receive positive attention, experience a variety of activities, and develop a sense of self-worth essential to successfully functioning in healthy relationships. Adult individuals, couples, and families spend time each with a child, modeling consistency, character, and good citizenship.
While there are many mentoring organizations around, Kids ‘n Kinship is unique because as a small organization they get to know their participants really well, which helps them make the best possible match for each child and volunteer. The matches are made on common interests, compatible personalities, and according to the preferences of the child, parent/guardian, and volunteer. The hope is to create a lasting friendship, not just a short term relationship.
You can see examples of these mentoring relationships in this short video from Kinship:
How can you help?
While Kids ‘n Kinship serves children in Dakota county, they do welcome volunteers from other areas. They do have 47 children currently on their waiting list. Mentors can be individuals, couples, or families who spend one to four hours each week doing fun and enriching low-cost activities such as going to a park, nurturing a child’s hobbies and interests, and attending community events.
There are also volunteers needed for their quarterly outings for participants, for presentations to the community about the program, or to provide any number of other services.
You can learn more about Kids ‘n Kinship on their website, kidsnkinship.org. You can also connect with them on Facebook or by phone (952-892-6368). For those nearby, consider attending their next information session on Tuesday May 22 from 6:00-6:45 PM in the small meeting room at the Burnhaven Library in Burnsville, Minnesota. You can RSVP to this session by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 952-891-3885.
There are Kinship programs in North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. You can connect with these other programs through the Kinship website, kinshipinc.org.