When Kinship Partners started its "100 Mentors 100 Days" three-month campaign last Sept. 1, the fact that the mentorship program met its goal shocked even ardent Kinship supporters.
"We had 99 new partnerships in the past year, which is just unbelievable," said Kinship executive director David Downing. "We grew by over 30 percent in three months. The first part of the year was challenging for us but a great challenge. There were so many matches that were just perfect, story after story, there's just a bunch of them."
The Pequot Lakes area now has about 8-10 mentors waiting to be matched with a Kinship Partner.
While that is great news for the program, there's a flip side. While children are on the waiting list for a shorter period of time, many more have been referred to the program because of the campaign.
As of Tuesday, there were 27 children waiting for adult mentors, 10 girls and 17 boys. Of those, 15 children are in the Brainerd area and six are in the Crosby area, said Downing. The program attempts to match youths with adult mentors who live not only in the same area but also create partnerships between those with common interests.
Bob Nibbe assisted his Kinship Partner, Tristan Rossman (left), 7, and Nibbe's sons, David, 8, and Aaron, 10, fish off the Mississippi River pier Wednesday at Kiwanis Park in Brainerd. Nibbe, of rural Brainerd, was matched up with Tristan about three months ago.
Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey
Before the campaign, the average waiting list for a girl was more than 300 days and the average wait for a boy was about 400 days. Soon after the campaign ended, the average wait was about 20 days, which was mainly because it took time to process the matches and perform background checks.
"That's never happened before, that's pretty exciting," said Downing.
As a member of the Brainerd Lakes Sertoma Club, Bob Nibbe had learned about the Kinship Partners program soon after he moved to the Brainerd area in 1992 and signed up to become a partner. He and his young Kinship Partner shared a successful partnership for several years but it ended when the boy was in high school. When he heard about the "100 Mentors 100 Days" campaign, Nibbe thought it was a perfect opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child and signed up again.
Nibbe and his wife, Caroline, have two sons, Aaron, 10, and David, 8. He figured the boys would have fun with a Kinship Partner, too.
Bob Nibbe received a hug Wednesday from his Kinship Partner Tristan Rossman, 7. The duo, who were matched three months ago, spend a few hours together every week. Tristan, who lives with his father, said he loves to fish with Nibbe and was hoping for a long time for a Kinship Partner.
Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey
Three months ago, Nibbe was matched with Tristan Rossman, 7. The two have many shared interests, including fishing. Tristan lives with his father in Brainerd and he said he had wanted a Kinship Partner for a long time because his sister had one. Tristan said he was waiting for a Kinship Partner for "500 years" before he was matched with Nibbe.
Every Wednesday Nibbe picks up Tristan and brings him and his two sons somewhere fun for a few hours, whether it be to a park or out fishing. They plan to do a lot of swimming this summer, especially since Tristan is learning how to swim.
Affectionate, energetic and outgoing, Tristan fits in like one of Nibbe's boys.
"He's fun and nice," Tristan said of Nibbe.
"Everyone has got such a busy schedule but you just have to make the time and make it work," Nibbe said of a Kinship partnership. Nibbe himself is a Minnesota Department of Transportation civil engineer and owns a farm. "It takes you out of your routine and forces you to have some variety in your life."
To find out more about becoming a Kinship Partner or to download an application, visit the Web site, www.kinshippartners.org or call 829-4606.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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