Friday, February 27, 2015

Like hockey, skiing, snowboarding, & other winter sports? So does Rachel!

Consider stepping forward to be a friend to a youth today!  Below is just one youth waiting for an individual, couple or family to meet with her once a week for fun and engaging activities:

First Name: Rachel

Age:  11

Interests:  Rachel loves hockey, animals, and reading.  She also enjoys ice skating, soccer, football, playing board games or card games, coloring, and movies. She likes going to the mall, the zoo, the library, to a movie, or to a Wild hockey game.

Personality/Characteristics:  She is friendly, active, sweet, and sensitive. She lives with her mom and 4 other siblings. 

Goals/Dreams:   Rachel wants to learn how to ski and snowboard. She thinks her mentor could help her learn how to get along with her siblings better. 

For more information about mentoring through Kids 'n Kinship in Dakota County, go to

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mentor's Field Guide - Expectations

Question 19: What should my expectations be for my relationship with a mentee?
guy and boy
Like most mentors, you probably went into this out of a desire to make a difference in a young person’s life. Your desire to help is truly a gift to your mentee, but chances are that you were not exactly sure what “making a difference” looks like. You may have had very modest expectations, such as exposing your mentee to new experiences, or you may have had visions of your mentee achieving high levels of success as an adult. You also may be in a mentoring program that has explicit goals of which you are expected to focus, such as improving school performance or supporting the transition from foster care to independent living. There are many areas in which you can support your mentee.
No matter how long you have been in a mentoring relationship, it helps to step back now and then to examine your expectations: What do you want from the relationship, and what do you think your mentee wants? What exactly are you hoping to achieve? How do you or your mentee want your mentee’s life or behaviors to change because of you? How do you or your mentee define success? How does your role as a friend or “coach” call for a different approach to “helping” than that by a parent, teacher, or professional youth worker?
The more specific you can be in answering these questions, the better you can assess whether your expectations are realistic. In “It’s Not What I Expected” (2007), Boston College’s Renee Spencer demonstrates how counterproductive it can be when mentors fail to establish reasonable expectations for themselves, for their mentee, and for their relationship. But always remember, it is your mentee’s expectations that should drive the relationship, not yours.
Depending on the age of your mentee, you can also mutually set expectations for the relationship. You can ask questions such as, “What would you like to get out of our relationship?” “What kinds of things would you like to do with me?” “Is there anything in your life right now that I can help you with?” “What are your dreams?” “What are your biggest frustrations?” These discussions can set the stage for helping you focus your expectations and helping your mentee think about how to benefit from the relationship with you. These questions can be explored even if the mentoring program already has specific goals like the ones mentioned earlier.
It is particularly important to focus your expectations on developing feelings of trust and closeness in the early stages of your relationship. Building the relationship is the most important work you will do as a mentor and the most successful relationships are those in which mentors take their lead from their mentees.
While it is natural to have goals for the child you want to help, trying to push your mentee to achieve your goals will not only make you seem more like a teacher or parent than a friend, it may also impede the development of the very type of relationship that can be most helpful. There is a further risk, too. Mentors who go into mentoring with an agenda to “change” the mentee run the risk of feeling frustrated, disappointed, and rejected if the hoped-for changes do not materialize. These feelings, in turn, can lead the mentor to conclude that she is being ineffective or that the relationship is not working. Such feelings may be unintentionally conveyed to the mentee, or worse, may lead the mentor to give up on the relationship, thus inadvertently hurting rather than helping the mentee.
One mentor referred to expectations as the Achilles’ heel of mentoring. What he meant was that your expectations and the reality of mentoring may not be in sync after you are in an actual relationship. This discrepancy can lead to feelings of inadequacy on your part and to feelings of frustration or defensiveness in your mentee. And it makes it easy to forget that it is the relationship that is the trans-formative element in your mentee’s life, not actions you take to improve your mentee’s life. Further, it is possible you will never know about the real changes that have taken place unless you happen to see your mentee many years later, and he or she thanks you.
You will be most successful when you keep your goals “on the back burner” so that you can focus on helping your mentee establish his own goals and then provide support and guidance needed to achieve them. This is a fine balancing act, since you may see possibilities for your mentee that he would not see. If you do want to help your mentee raise his aspirations, you can do this most effectively if you “guide” rather that push. It is also very important to remember that mentoring cannot take the place of professional treatment that a troubled person may need.
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 19. Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®, Copyright © 2012 Search Institute, Minneapolis , MN ; 877-240-7251, ext. 1; All rights reserved.
For more information on getting started mentoring in Dakota County, go to or attend an information session Thursday February 19th, 6:00-6:45 pm at Wescott Library in Eagan (1340 Wescott Rd).  Please RSVP to Ingrid Henry 952-891-3885 or 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Like playing in the snow? Be a friend to Zach!

Could this be you enjoying the fresh snow with a kid?

First name:  Zach   

Age:  12

Interests:  Zach likes playing in the snow, basketball and fishing. He is very focused on his studies at school.  He loves animals. When asked why he wanted a mentor Zach said "to get out of the house and do more stuff and meet cool people." 

Personality/Characteristics:  Zach is a remarkable young man - a great communicator, intelligent, athletic and energetic and very very nice. He lives with his single parent mom and his little sister. He needs a positive male role model or couple or family.   

Goals/Dreams:  "To build things, not just with Legos."

Zach is waiting for a mentor through Kids 'n Kinship youth mentoring program in Dakota County.  Mentors are individuals, couples, or families who volunteer to spend time each week with a youth age 5-16 for fun and enriching everyday activities.  To learn more, go to

Thursday, January 29, 2015

100 Ideas to Use When Mentoring Youth

Activities and Conversations to Help Your Mentees Excel
You and your mentee have met, started to get acquainted, and talked in general terms about who you are and what you might do during your mentoring partnership. Now what? The most important thing to remember is that mentoring youth isn’t another meeting or program; it’s a relationship. Effective mentoring is your personal involvement in helping mentees develop and become all they can be. Time spent doing things together—a series of “mentoring moments”—is what will build your relationships and change lives. “Layering” your times and conversations is less intimidating to youth than is a Big Meeting.
by Linda Phillips-Jones, Ph.D., Jean Ann Walth, B.A., & Carlo Walth, B.A., M.Div.© 2001 THE MENTORING GROUP

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to Motivate Your Mentee with their Schoolwork

 Mentors to young people often play a role in motivating students to do their best in school. Mentoring can improve mentees' attitudes toward school achievement and bolster their belief in their academic ability, according to youth development experts Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick.
Manza and Patrick, authors of The Mentor's Field Guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed, write, "Your belief in your mentees and your encouragement can help them to be more willing to make the effort to do well." Mentoring can also increase mentees' aspiration for their future, and when they have goals they would like to achieve, they are more likely to appreciate the role education plays in attaining them.
The following tips, offered by Manza and Patrick, can help mentees see that working hard in school has many benefits:
  • Be specific when talking about school success: turn in assignments on time, actively participate in class, ask for help when needed.
  • Ask what books your mentee is reading; you may have read some of the same books when you were young.
  • Help your mentee engage in problem solving about issues that arise at school.
  • Provide specific help with schoolwork, making sure that you stay in the role as "guide," not "doer."
  • If your mentee claims to not care about school, find out why. Does she believe she isn't smart enough to do well? Does he think he can't afford college?
Keep in mind that academic-related encouragement should not come at the expense of the relationship you are striving to develop with a mentee. Deciding how to help your mentee academically and how involved to get will depend on the wishes of parents, suggestions from teachers, and direction from your mentoring program.

Taken with permission from: The Mentor's Field Guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed, by Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick

For more information on Kids 'n Kinship, check out our website:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters

Each January our nation celebrates National Mentoring Month.  Kids 'n Kinship uses this month in particular to focus on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us –individuals, businesses, local government, schools, faith communities, and non-profits –  can join together to increase the number of mentors and assure brighter futures for youth.

There is a powerful mentoring effect demonstrated by research and the experiences of young people who are connected to a mentor. Mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic prospects and ultimately strengthens our community.
Research has shown that when matched through a quality mentoring program, mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible decisions, stay focused and be more engaged in school.
This same report found that one in three young people in our country will grow up without a mentor. Today in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, & Rosemount there are 63 kids on our waiting list who could benefit from having a Kinship mentor.
Mentoring relationships are basic human connections that let a young person know that they matter. Mentors frequently report back that their relationships make them feel like someone who matters in another person’s life.
As we focus on engaging more community members in volunteering as mentors, we will share a simple message: “Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters”.
Our community’s future rests on the hopes and dreams of our children and youth.
From Kinship Partners blog -
For more information about mentoring and Kids 'n Kinship, go to

Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Memory of Carol Frick

Carol & Dick Frick with Jan Belmore in 2002
It is with great sadness that we announce that Carol Frick, Kids ‘n Kinship founder, passed away on December 8th, 2014. Carol and her husband Dick started the program in 1972 and because of them thousands of children and youth have benefited from a caring adult mentor. Carol was a truly giving person, who, although she retired from Kids ‘n Kinship 22 years ago, still volunteered helping the program up to the week she died.  Since her retirement from the program, Carol made sure youth received a birthday card and assisted the program with paperwork and newsletter mailings. Carol was a beloved friend and supporter of Kids ‘n Kinship. She will be deeply missed and we are all very grateful that she had the foresight and determination to begin the program.
Carol was honored at the program’s 40th anniversary in 2012 with a piece of artwork
made from fingerprints of the children in the program.

Carol Frick (on the right) with Jan Belmore, Kids 'n Kinship board members