Growing up is tough. Many kids don't live with both parents and spend considerable amount of time alone, or with friends & siblings as mom or dad are busy working, going back to school, sometimes struggling to make ends meet. Sports or activities, when they are possible, provide opportunities, but not necessarily the wise counsel of a caring adult. Kids need more than food, water, shelter, space, video games and movies to survive.
This need for relationship is not new; it has existed since the beginning of mankind. However, over the years as families got smaller and more independent, the natural role models and mentors (i.e. extended relatives, neighbors, pastors & teachers) became more absent. So in steps formal mentoring programs like Kinship. A Kinship mentor serves as an adult friend, a role model and a consistent positive influence.
Youth age 6-17 who live in a home without both parents anywhere in Morrison County or greater Long Prairie are eligible to join Kinship. The parent and child attend an informational session, complete an application and have a screening interview with Kinship staff. A child with extreme needs may be beyond the scope of the mentoring services provided by Kinship staff & its volunteers.
Once accepted into the program, the youth is welcome to participate in all Kinship activities, and is placed on a waiting list to be matched with a volunteer.
Boys are matched with men, girls with women. Boys or girls can be matched with married couples or whole families who can serve as mentors through Kinship as well. All matches are made based on shared interests, hobbies and geographic location. Kinship staff, the mentor & ultimately the parent work to make the the best match for the child.
Mentors in Kinship are not professional social workers. They are screened volunteers who have a sincere interest and concern for youth, and spend time with kids because they want to, not because they are paid to.
Once matched, the youth and mentor begin a journey of friendship. A minimum of four hours per month (typically 1-3 visits) is spent together doing no or low cost, everyday activities, such as going for a walk, playing catch, visiting, doing yard work together, hobbies, etc. It is being together that will develop a friendship.
The Kinship office contacts the youth, parent and mentor on a regular basis to check on progress and to address any concerns. After a three month trial period, matches are encouraged to stay together for at least a year. Kinship's longest running match has been together since 2012!
Kinship activities are planned each month to provide an opportunity for all Kinship youth (matched or unmatched) and volunteers to get together and have fun, to foster conversation & friendship and to experience new things. These activities are provided at no cost. Most activities are either held at or begin at the Kinship office. Look under the Activities & Events tab for a description of current activities.