Mentoring Activities: Endless Possibilities

During each month, our mentors and mentees meet for about four hours and do many fun activities together. Now that it’s summer, they are taking advantage of the beautiful weather. Here is a sampling of activities they’ve participated in within the past couple months:

  • Planting a flower in a  pot and giving it to mom for mother’s day.
  • Bowling
  • Using a metal detector
  • Going to the park
  • Practicing how to count money
  • Studying for tests
  • Building a bird house
  • Playing ball with a mentor’s dog
  • Fishing
  • Going to the CRC
  • Baking
  • Playing checkers at the coffee shop
  • Participating in AWANA
  • Preparing dinner together at a mentor’s home

We’re always looking for mentoring activities! Let us know if you have any ideas or if we should share any upcoming events in North Iowa. 

You Are Invited! Roller Skating & Root Beer Floats Event

The Bridges Mentoring Program staff and board members are excited to invite the whole community to join us for an afternoon of roller skating and root beer floats at the CRC Events Center on June 22nd. This event is open to the whole community so feel free to bring your family and friends.

You may bring your own skates as long as they don’t have black brakes.

If you haven’t found us on Facebook yet, give us our page a “like” and connect with us there.

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Who’s Invited: Everyone

When: Sunday, June 22nd, 3-5 p.m.

Where: CRC Events Center
1006 Chestnut Street
Osage, IA 50461

Cost: FREE admission, skate rentals & refreshments.

Free-will donations will be accepted with all proceeds benefiting Bridges Mentoring Program.

We look forward to meeting you! Contact us with any questions or concerns or call us at 641-732-3566.

Meet Our New Program Coordinator

LaceyHelp us welcome our new Bridges Program Coordinator!

Meet Lacey
Lacey is a North Iowa resident who graduated from UNI with a degree in Family Services and Conflict Resolution.

She is a huge Iowa Hawkeye fan for all Hawkeye sports. In her free time, she loves being outside, spending time with her family, traveling, and reading.

She is married and just celebrated her son’s first birthday.

Lacey adds, “I am very excited to begin this new adventure with Bridges and I hope that each and every one of you are  excited for the new things to come.”

You can connect with Lacey by emailing lwaller@nicao-online.org or calling the Bridges office at 641-732-3566.

 

 

There Are Many Ways You Can Support Bridges

We are excited to have trained in six new mentors. We’re working on finding them mentees and plan to offer another training before the summer.

Last week, Pastor Roy of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church invited me to speak at their Lenten service and tell the congregation about Bridges. We’ve had a long history with Our Savior’s since the program’s beginning and are thankful for our many mentors who are apart of this congregation.

Speaking about Bridges made me think about all of the ways you can support us even if becoming a mentor is not the right fit for you at the moment. Here are six ways:

  • Become a mentor

Our primary need is for more mentors in Mitchell County. We have about 25 children on our waiting lists and we haven’t even recruited for new mentees recently. There’s just that big of a need. We especially need male mentors. Many of the children on our waiting lists are boys and some have been waiting for mentors for years.

We ask our mentors to commit to meeting with their mentee for a minimum of four hours a month for one year. Some of our mentors meet with their mentee every week and others meet a couple times a month for two hours. Some of our mentors choose to spend money on activities and others don’t. You don’t have to plan special activities each time you meet like swimming or fishing, but you certainly can. Simply invite your mentee to join you on whatever activities you would normally do such as making dinner, going on errands, walking the dog, or gardening. This is an incredible article recently published in the Des Moines Register about the huge impact mentoring can have on a young person’s life. 

We’ll also organize group activities that are planned and paid for. All you have to do is show up. In the past we’ve attended sports games, gone bowling, and attended movies.

  • Donate money

Bridges always welcome donations of any amount. We are very thankful for our community’s support. Our budget is sustained by significant funding from The United Way of North Central Iowa plus grants, donations, and fundraisers. If you are interested in making a donation, you can send your gift to:

Bridges Mentoring Program
P.O. Box 131
Osage, Iowa 50461

All donations are tax deductible.

  • Volunteer

Bridges could use helping hands. Some areas we could assistance in is planning fundraisers and helping to distribute marketing materials. Let us know if you have additional ideas for ways you could donate your time and talents.

  • Donate Local Gift Certificates

As a new effort, we’d like to offer more giveaways for our mentors and mentee families. Giveaways are a fun way to encourage them and show our appreciation. We can also utilize gift cards as prizes we offer to grow our social media following. Plus, we love supporting local businesses.

Last month, we offered a photo contest in which mentors and families received one drawing entry for a $25 gift certificate for each photo they submitted of them having fun together. Our winner chose a gift card to one of our favorite Osage restaurants, the Teluwat Grille House & Pub.

  • Interact With Us On Social Media

We’re trying to grow our social media presence to expand our reach within the community. Social media networks help us to connect with our mentors and mentee families, and Mitchell County.

– “Like” our Facebook Fan Page
– Follow us on Pinterest
– Follow us on Twitter

  • Put in a Good Word

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful referral. Tell people about Bridges and recommend us to anyone in Mitchell County who would make a great mentor.

Thanks for checking out our blog! We hope to connect with you soon.

Our Photo Contest Winner

We like trying new things.

Online giveaways have become popular, so we decided to have one of our own. Mentors and families of mentees were given a drawing entry for each photo they submitted of them having fun together. Then, we used the old-school method of drawing a name from a hat for a $25 gift certificate of the winner’s choice.

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Emily chose a gift card to Teluwat, one of our favorite restaurants in Osage.

Emily Kuper 1 Blog Frame

As you can see, Emily and her husband love spending time with their mentee. They accomplished one of her goals of building a snowman this winter.

Our mentors and mentees typically meet on a weekly basis for an hour. We check in with everyone and know they are always doing fun activities but thought it would be fun to see some photos.

Collage for Blog

Photos are also crucial to Bridges’ operations for several reasons. As a nonprofit organization, we secure our funding from grants, fundraisers and donations. We also submit grant reports to our funders so that they know we are using their funding effectively and meeting our goals, such as aiming to train 75 mentors by the end of 2014. Photos say so much more than words, so we include them with our grant applications and reports hoping they’ll share the heart of our mentoring program.

We also include photos in our marketing materials which increase our presence in the community. There are over 25 children and youth on our waiting list demonstrating the huge demand for mentors in Mitchell County. We need to get these children matched so we can include even more families in our program.

Finally, Bridges obtains photo releases from mentors and families of mentees. If someone isn’t comfortable being photographed, we honor their request. The most important thing is that our mentors and mentees are comfortable participating in our program.

If you are a mentor or family of a mentee, keep sending those photos!

We had fun with this contest and hope to offer another opportunity soon. And thanks for stopping by our blog. We love sharing our stories with you.