At the entrance to the Kinship Partners office in Brainerd is a large board with photos of recent Kinship 'matches' pinned to it. There are young men, older men, young and older women, young couples, retired couples, and families who have chosen to include another child into their brood. The photos include Kinship boys and girls ranging in age from 5-14.
Such a variety of people. Different ages, walks of life, and reasons for being a part of this photo montage. Yet there is one common denominator: each one is smiling. The photo shoot was a happy occasion, capturing the moment that the caring mentors met the child they hoped to form a relationship with, and the kids meeting the person or people who would provide an important missing link in their lives.
The looks on the children's faces tell the story of Kinship Partners without words: happiness, admiration, anticipation, relief and, in several cases, pure joy.
Several of those happy kids have siblings who are still on the waiting list for a mentor. One that especially comes to mind is Carl, age 10. His three older siblings have each been matched with a partner.
Carl hears about the fun and new opportunities they have experienced. He'd love to have a man or a couple who would take time for him doing outdoor things -- hiking, exploring or fishing. He also loves quiet times playing video games or watching movies. Carl hasn't had an opportunity to get involved in sports but he's a tall, lanky kid with an athletic body. Sometimes a non-athlete like him only needs someone to open the door to athletic endeavors.
Hopefully one of the readers of this article will say "I can do that!" and make the commitment to become a mentor to Carl or one of the many kids waiting. Then they too can join the smiling faces on the welcome board at Kinship Partners. All it takes is a few hours of time each week, a love for children, and a willingness to walk beside a kid to open opportunities for him.
Interested? Check out the Kinship Partners Web site at www.brainerd.com/kinship or call one of the area Kinship Partners offices: Brainerd, 829-4606; Crosby, 546-7308; or Pequot Lakes, 568-4015. Smile. Say "cheese." Your happy face is wanted.
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