I am having to scramble a bit to get this post done but I know everyone is looking forward to the first of the month now just like I do every month. I am a bit distracted this weekend by the festivities of Cory and Sam’s wedding but what a wonderful way to be distracted!!! Best wishes to my son’s former roommate and his new wife!!!!
This past month has been a wonderful month to highlight a local group that is fundraising for a new facility that will house the local women and children who have found themselves homeless. The New Beginnings House of Hope will be a reality soon and you have all been a part of helping to get it off the ground with your comments on It’s Just Life during August. To read the entire post about this amazing outreach in Mason City please click here to go to a separate window. We did a great job this month and Chris and I will be making a donation of $232 to the New Beginnings House of Hope. Thank YOU!
In September it is kind of all about the kids again which seems fitting with school being in full swing and life getting back into the regular school schedule for many families. My friend, Jeni, who blogs over at Jeni Eats, works at this amazing non-profit , Bridges Mentoring, in Osage as their Communications and Mentor Assistant. Their mission is simply this:
“to strengthen the self esteem and social skills of children and youth by providing positive mentoring relationships at no cost to the families.”
While it sounds simple it really isn’t all that simple to find and train volunteers to work with the children in Riceville, St. Ansgar & Osage school districts. There is a lot that has to go into finding and training volunteers and also in keeping them excited about what they can do. Anyone who has ever worked with volunteers understands this.
I asked Lacey Waller, Program Coordinator, a few questions about what Bridges Mentoring is all about and she graciously answered so please read more about what this great place does.
- What is your position at Bridges and how long have you worked there? How many employees are there at the facility?
My position at Bridges is the Program Coordinator. I started working at Bridges in May of 2014. Bridges has two part time employees, me (Lacey) the program Coordinator and Jeni the mentor specialist.
- How many mentors do you have currently? How many active relationships do you have at any time ?
We currently have 57 active mentor/mentee matches and it continues to rise. All of our relationships with our new mentors and past mentors are always active as we touch base when them on a regular basis. Just because they are no longer mentoring a child does not mean that they are not a part of Bridges. A lot of our past mentors still volunteer to help coordinate trainings/events and hosts our Marvelous Mentoring Meal fundraisers.
- What are some of the activities that mentors do with the kids? One on one or larger events?
Some activities include, fishing, biking, going to the Cedar River Complex, arts and crafts, attending movies and the theater, going to their extracurricular activities, getting ice cream at the drive in, and riding horses.
Bridges usually has three or more larger events per year. The annual bowling night in February for all mentors/mentees and their families to attend. Educational trainings that include a wide variety of topics such as health and wellness, substance abuse etc, and then we have our Omelet breakfast in November.
- What is the time commitment for a volunteer?
The time commitment for a volunteer is to sign up to be a mentor for one year and meet with their mentee a minimum of 4 hours or more a month. Most mentors exceed that number and going close to 6 hours a month.
- What does someone need to do to become a volunteer? Training provided?
In order to become a mentoring volunteer, a candidate must fill out an application of intent to mentor, sign documents that allow Bridges to complete background checks, and participate in a individual or group training that focuses on mentoring, mandatory reporting, confidentiality, boundaries, expectations, etc. Once the training is completed Bridges staff does a home visit, were we conduct another interview. Then Bridges reviews the interview material and we try to match the mentor with the best mentee that suit both of their interests.
- What is your favorite thing about working at Bridges?
Bridges has a very strong support system from the three communities we serve. I love the fact that people who are in our program are so thankful for the opportunity a mentor gives their children. I love to meet new people, give back to the community and coordinate and plan fun and educational events for our mentors/mentee/s and the community.
- What is your hope for Bridges in the next year?
I hope to increase our mentor/mentee matches, offer more fun/educational trainings that have never been done before, and I want to see our new fundraiser Bricks for Bridges take off and raise a lot of money to sustain Bridges future.
Can you see why I am so very excited about this month’s Comments for a Cause? I love that I can highlight a new organization or cause every month and let people know what opportunities there are out there for folks to volunteer their time and talents and to donate financially. Don’t forget to comment often. It does not have to be just on this post. Any post on my blog written at any time is fair game. With 6 1/2 years of blogging under my belt you have a truckload of posts you can comment on. Each legitimate comment (which means you actually read the post 🙂 ) will spur a 50 cent donation to Bridges Mentoring. Sharing is caring so feel free to share with others. Thanks, as always, for all of your support.