Friday, October 24, 2014

Was it your dream to be in the NFL? Be a friend to Chance!

This could be you at a Vikings (or Packers) game with your new friend!
We currently have 56 kids waiting for a mentor!  Please consider coming forward as an individual, a couple, or a family to befriend a child age 5-16 for weekly fun and enriching everyday activities.

Here is just one youth currently waiting...

First name:  Chance

Age:  8

Interests:  Chance enjoys all sports, especially football (he plays flag football), baseball, volleyball, & tennis.  He also loves swimming, Frisbee, ice skating, ice fishing, sledding, &snowboarding.

Personality/Characteristics:  He lives with his mom, & younger sister.  Chance is friendly and social.  He’s in 2nd grade.

Goals/Dreams: Chance’s dream is to be in the NFL.   He’s looking for an active male role model (individual or couple or family) who loves sports. 

For more information, check out Kids 'n Kinship's website or call 952-892-6368.  Our next information session is Thursday Nov. 20th, 6-6:45 pm at the Wescott Library in Eagan.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mentor's Field Guide: Are My Mentee's Parents Comfortable with My Role in their Child's Life?

You may or may not have direct contact with your mentee’s family, depending on the type of program in which you are mentoring. All programs should make every effort to assure the parent’s or guardians’ comfort by involving them during and after the match process. However, even though the family may have requested a mentor for their child and signed a permission form for participation, they may still have ambivalent feelings, wanting to help their child but also feeling uneasy about this “stranger” entering the child’s life.
If you put yourself in the parents’ shoes, it is easy to imagine that the fact that your child has a mentor might make you feel inadequate in some way. Or, you might feel jealous of the mentor’s relationship with your child, especially if your own relationship has been characterized by conflict or lack of time to spend together. Parents also can be nervous if you, as a mentor, come from a different cultural, racial, religious, or socio-economic background, wondering if you are going to turn their child away from her family heritage. To avoid these concerns, it can help to engage parents as “partners” from the beginning. If your program allows, you can talk to them or drop them a note telling them what a wonderful child they have and thanking them for trusting you, reiterating how you can never take their place in your mentee’s life.
When talking with your mentee, it is very important that you avoid any criticism of her family (even though your mentee might be critical) and that you show respect for the family’s culture, values, and beliefs. If your mentee needs to talk to you about family conflicts or frustrations, avoid taking sides; put yourself in “sounding board” mode. Help your mentee figure out why she is upset, and guide her in problem-solving discussions. In general, avoid speaking to your mentee’s parents on her behalf, but rather help your mentee develop a plan for such a talk. If she is willing, role playing can be a fun activity with your mentee being the parent and you being the child. This can help you both see things from a different perspective. If these issues come up frequently or persist over time, talk to your program coordinator and together develop a plan to increase the family’s comfort level with the mentoring relationship.
Father comforts a sad child
Reprinted with permission from The Mentor’s Field guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed by Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick; Questions about the Mentoring Relationship, Question 32. Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®, Copyright © 2012 Search Institute, Minneapolis , MN ; 877-240-7251, ext. 1; All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kids 'n Kinship 2014 Gala A Huge Success!

Kids 'n Kinship's Annual Gala on Sunday September 21 was very successful, raising over $30,000! Brackett's Crossing Country Club hosted 200 people that night who enjoyed the silent auction, wine pull, craft beer pull, portrait sessions, dinner and entertainment by comedian Scott Kadrlik, as well as testimonial by a mentor & his now adult mentee.

Kids 'n Kinship is so thankful for all of the MANY donors, sponsors, and volunteers who gave so generously of their time and resources to help make the event a roaring success!   The funds raised from the event will fuel our mission of providing friendships to children and teens in need of a positive adult role model. 

Enjoy these photos from the Gala

Our testimonial speakers - Jim Puncochar and Tony Dotson
Craft Beer pull table
Wine pull table

Rita Younger, Program Coordinator, and Laurie Thulien, our 2014 Gala Co-Chairs

One of the many silent auction tables

Participants enjoying the silent auction

James Backstrom, Dakota County attorney was our MC

Karen Anderson, winner of the Heart of Kids 'n Kinship award, with director Jan Belmore

Thomson Reuters, winner of the Community Partner Award
Dale & Bette Schenian, winners of the Friend of the Program Award

See more in this online gallery
We hope you will join us next year!

For more information on Kids 'n Kinship youth mentoring program in Dakota County, go to

Friday, September 19, 2014

What If We Could Help Mentees Become "Mentor Magnets" For the Rest of Their Lives?

by Venessa Marks
I clearly remember the first non-familial adult who took an interest in my development. Mrs. Hunt was blunt when she told me that I was not applying myself in her English class, and that I could do better. Then, as I transferred to a new high school, another teacher advocated for me to receive advanced placement, despite my grades being borderline. As a young professional, supervisors and more experienced colleagues have taken the time to counsel me, to open up new opportunities, and have even helped me land new jobs. It’s clear that throughout my education and into my career, informal mentors have pushed me to achieve more than I ever could have without their support.
Many of us share this same story. Yet, unfortunately, a large proportion of the youth who need mentors the most never receive that support. According to MENTOR’s new study, The Mentoring Effect, an estimated 9 million at-risk young people will reach adulthood without connecting to a mentor of any kind – informal or formal. Further, the survey also showed that with each additional risk factor, a young person is less likely to connect with an informal mentor.
These statistics certainly speak to the need for formal mentoring programs, but I think there is an even louder cry emerging from these numbers.
The landmark evaluation of the Big Brothers Big Sisters community-based mentoring program helped to establish that formal mentoring can positively influence a young person’s relationship with his or her parent, and recent research conducted by Drs. Jean Rhodes, Carla Herrera, and Sarah Schwartz on school-based mentoring has broadened these benefits to include an improved relationship with teachers.
Beyond formal mentoring programs, we also know from the work of Dr. Noelle HurdDr. Bernadette Sanchez, and others that naturally-forming positive relationships with caring adults can have a valuable impact on youth throughout their journey into adulthood and beyond.
Clearly, formal mentoring programs have the potential to influence how a young person develops and nurtures positive relationships with adults…but what if we were to seek this outcome with even greater intentionality? What if “being mentored” wasn’t just something we provided, but also a skill we taught? What would it look like for us to more intentionally build the confidence and the skills of our mentees to help them cultivate natural mentors throughout their lives? What if mentors saw themselves not as the sole non-family support, but as a connector to other, additional positive relationships in the present and into the future?
In the research field, we often discuss whether mentoring is a “vitamin” that only impacts youth while services are rendered, or an “inoculation” that, once received, forever changes one’s life trajectory. While many of us might fervently believe the latter, evidence of impact sustainability is hard to come by. But perhaps there is a different way of approaching this dilemma. Perhaps we could better sustain our impact if youth were consistently equipped to cultivate natural mentoring relationships after leaving our programs.
Together with our counterparts in Canada and researchers including Drs. Jean Rhodes, Sarah Schwartz, Tim Cavell, and Noelle Hurd, the Research, Innovation, and Growth team at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is interested in exploring these ideas; taking an opportunity to think beyond the often time-bound constraints of a formal mentoring relationship and towards future informal mentoring experiences for our youth.
Originally Published by The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring March 4, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

This beautiful hand-painted piano could be yours!

On Tuesday August 26th, Kids 'n Kinship mentees, their mentors, and family hand-painted this lovely piano at Keys 4/4 Kids in Belle Plaine.

It is available for purchase in Kids 'n Kinship's Online Auction! Bidding closes Monday September 22, 7 pm

Here's some photos of the painters in action!

To learn more about Kids 'n Kinship youth mentoring program, go to our website

To learn more about Keys 4/4 Kids mission and programs, go to their website

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Modeling Positive Behavior

Many would contend that, whether or not you are officially a “mentor,” you are a role model in the lives of young people whom you encounter, just by the way you acknowledge them (or don’t), show support and caring for others (or don’t), and prioritize what really matters in your life. The question then really is, what kind of role model are you going to be? Since you have chosen to be a mentor, we can assume the answer to that question is that you want to be the best role model you can be.
Modeling admirable behavior does not mean you have to be a perfect human being who never makes mistakes and is a superhero in the eyes of your mentee. Instead, it means being intentional about letting your mentee see your positive behaviors toward others and the values you hold that drive you to behave the way you do. How do you treat the person taking your order at a fast-food restaurant? Why do you treat the person the way you do? How do you react when you have made a mistake that may have a negative effect on others (and may affect the way others perceive you as well)? As you already know, a lecture on how to be a good person probably isn’t an effective strategy for teaching positive behavior. Little and big encounters during your time together will all be teachable moments where your mentee has the opportunity to see proper behavior in action.
Modeling Support
• Take turns telling each other about a family member who made a difference in your life and why. Make thank-you card together so you can each that that person for making a difference.
• If your program staff thinks it is appropriate, invite your mentee to visit your neighborhood. Introduce your mentee to the caring people who live there, or discuss ways you’d like to make your neighborhood a more positive environment.
• If your mentee is allowed to spend time around your family, engage in a healthy, supportive conversation with a family member in the presence of your mentee.
Modeling Empowerment
• Take your mentee to a location where youth are given useful roles. For example, visit a park where teens are coaching younger children in sports.
• Invite your mentee to join you as you do volunteer work for a community organization.
• Ask your mentee to help you type up a list of emergency contact numbers. Talk about how the fire department or a poison control center can help people feel safe.
Modeling Boundaries and Expectations
• Talk about rules you had in your family growing up and what may have been good and bad about them. If you have children, talk about boundaries and expectations you have for them and why.
• Ask your mentee for advice on how you can support a friend or family member who is going through a rough time.
• Always refer to your mentee’s future in terms of the possibilities and goals she can achieve, not in terms of limits or obstacles she needs to overcome.
Modeling Constructive Use of Time
• Invite your mentee to join you in a variety of activities, like creating artwork, listening to different types of music, or running in a race for charity.
• Challenge each other to spend less time in front of “screens” (TV, video games, and computers) during your free time. Make it a friendly competition.
• Schedule your time together to include a balance of learning, working, talking, and fun activities.
Modeling Positive Values
• Demonstrate the “Golden Rule” in action – whether ordering from a server at a restaurant or saying hello to young people in the mall, treat others the way you want to be treated.
• Admit when you are wrong. Apologize sincerely and talk about what you learned from the experience.
• Invite your mentee to get involved with you in causes that matter to both of you.
Modeling Social Competencies
• Invite your mentee to attend events in places where people of different cultural/racial/ethnic background are a majority.
• When one of you loses your temper, step back and talk about other ways that your frustration could have been communicated.
Modeling Positive Identity
• When talking about someone, emphasize the strengths that person has.
• Help your mentee learn about college options. Work on applications together or visit campuses if possible.
• Does your mentee have career ideas? Jointly look into them. Find people already engaged in those careers to learn what it takes to be successful.
Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®. From Mentoring for Meaningful Results: Asset-Building Tips, Tools, and Activities for Youth and Adults. Copyright © 2008 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN; 800-888-7828; All rights reserved

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kids 'n Kinship Youth Receive Chromebooks through Best Buy grant!

The 2014 Tech Mentor class youth & supporters
Thanks to Best Buy, 6 teens received Google Chromebooks in this year's Tech Mentor program! The youth and their adult supporters (mentors & parents) learned how to use the Chromebooks and created projects to showcase the impact mentoring has had on their lives.  In the final class, youth shared their mentor stories using a projector.  Much thanks to Best Buy Geek Squad Sergey Goldman who was our instructor for the class! Thanks also to Best Buy Apple Valley who hosted the first class and to Keller Williams who hosted the 2nd class!

Agent Sergey instructs the class
 Teens and adult supporters check out their new Chromebooks and learn how to login to Google Drive.