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.

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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.

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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.

Job Opening: Seeking a Program Coordinator

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Bridges Mentoring is accepting applications for a Program Coordinator. Please share with anyone who might be interested in this position. 

A part-time person is needed to coordinate the Bridges Mentoring Program in Mitchell County.  This program promotes positive relationships to strengthen the self-esteem and social skills of youth.  A bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience is required.

Benefits include: Holiday pay, Paid Time Off and IPERS, Health, Dental, Life, LTD and Vision Insurance are also available.  Applicants must pass a background check and possess a valid driver’s license and auto insurance as travel is required.

Please forward resume and letter of application to: NICAO – Attn: Barb Kellogg by email at bkellogg@NICAO-ONLINE.ORG or mail to P. O. Box 1627, Mason City IA 50402-1627 by Friday, March 28th.  E.O.E.

North Iowa Community Action Organization: Job Description 

Job Title:                      Bridges Mentor Program Coordinator
Department:                 Bridges Mentor Program
Reports To:                  Associate Director of Planning & Development
FLSA Status:                Exempt
Prepared by:                Associate Director of Planning & Development
Prepared Date:             Revised March 17, 2014
Approved by:               Associate Director of Planning & Development
Approved Date:            March 20, 2014

SUMMARY:  To facilitate the implementation of the Bridges Mentor Program by coordinating all daily activities and program requirements while providing oversight of all activities of Bridges Program Mentors and/or staff.  Maintain regular contact with local school district and all community partners including members of program advisory board.  Conduct home visits with families of children matched with mentors, recruit and train mentors, maintain regular contact with all program mentors and provide supervision of mentor matches.  Engage youth as program participants.  Match youth with mentors.  Develop Group Mentoring Program.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following.  Other duties may be assigned.

Research and develop mentoring and other relationship building opportunities.  Coordinate adult/youth mentoring and relationship building projects and activities.

Research and develop group mentoring opportunities and either recruit, train and evaluate volunteers to implement group mentoring or facilitate group mentoring meetings as needed.

Recruit, interview, recommend hiring, train, evaluate and supervise staff and/or volunteers to meet program goals that occur during normal business hours, after hours, or on weekends.

Responsible for day-to-day operations of Bridges Mentor Program and supervision of staff and mentors assigned to the program.

Recognize service needs in program participants and their families and work in consultation with supervisor and/or other program coordinators to address those needs.

Maintain files and document all activities related to the completion of program goals and outcomes.

Collect data and statistical information regarding program services and program participants that are required for reporting purposes to North Iowa Community Action Organization as well as to funding sources such as the United Way of North Central Iowa.

Prepare and complete all required program reports.

Develop and maintain relationships with other public and private organizations and agencies as appropriate to support the coordination functions of this position.  Set up an effective youth and mentor community referral system.

Travel to provide service to families, mentors and program participants; to provide supervision to mentors; to complete recruitment activities; for speaking engagements; to meet with community partners; and to participate in training or staff development activities.

Attend community meetings and meetings with other local health and human service providers or referral sources as well as activities and events organized by North Iowa Community Action as a representative of the organization and Bridges Mentor Program.

Coordinate volunteer recognition and group activities for volunteer mentors.

Conduct quarterly meetings with community advisory board.  Work with advisory board members in planning and executing fund raising strategies and events.

Mail meeting minutes and reminders, newsletters and other written communications.

Complete all required North Iowa Community Action time sheets, mileage sheets, petty cash records and purchase orders and submit to Associate Director of Planning & Development on a monthly basis.

Order and purchase program supplies, maintain inventory of supplies on hand and monitor the use of petty cash.

Attend Iowa Mentoring Partnership meetings, as well as other training opportunities as needed.

Complete mandatory Child Abuse Reporter training every five (5) years.

Ensure that mentoring project meets all standards set forth by state and federal organizations.

Maintain confidentiality.

Provide consultation and technical assistance on developing mentoring programs as well as mentoring relationships to other communities and/or organizations as requested

Operate computers, printer, fax machine, copy machine, telephone, answering machine and other office equipment as required.

Directly supervise staff and mentors assigned to the program.  Carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization’s policies and applicable laws.  Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring and training employees and mentors; orientation of new employees and mentors; planning, assigning and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees and mentors; addressing complaints and resolving problems; and approving employee and mentor schedules and travel requirements.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily.  The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Bachelor’s degree (B.A. or B.S.) from four-year college or university; or one to two years’ related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to read, analyze and interpret the most complex documents; to respond effectively to the most sensitive inquiries or complaints; to understand and demonstrate confidentiality requirements; to write speeches and articles using original or innovative techniques or style; to make effective and persuasive speeches and presentations on controversial or complex topics to employees, mentors, administrative staff, public groups, community partners, funding sources, boards of directors, and/or state and local officials.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to work with mathematical concepts such as probability and statistical inference and fundamentals of plane and solid geometry and trigonometry; and to apply concepts such as fractions, percentages, ratios, and proportions to practical situations.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions; to interpret and extensive variety of technical instructions in mathematical or diagram form and deal with several abstract and concrete variables. 

To perform this job successfully, an individual must have a current Driver’s License and automobile insurance.  If a licensed social worker – an up-to-date social work license.

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; to use hands to finger, to handle or to feel; to reach with hands and arms; and to talk or hear.  The employee is occasionally required to stand and walk.  The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.  Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, color vision and ability to adjust focus.

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally exposed to moving mechanical parts and risk of electrical shock during the use of general office machines.  The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Craft and Cooking Ideas for March

Craft and cooking projects are some of the most popular activities our mentors and mentees enjoy.

Our mentors and mentees often embark on adventures to the community pool to swim or the local movie theater. They’ve also been known to ice fish and snowmobile. However, they often enjoy just spending time together at one of their homes, catching up over dinner or board games.

Spring is coming, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it. Whether this Midwest weather hits the 40’s again soon or drops another blizzard, we wanted to share some seasonal craft and cooking ideas for both inside and outside days.

Here’s what we’ve pinned recently:

North Iowa’s recent blizzards left us with more than enough snow. Last Thursday, we received over a foot! If it’s too cold to make a real snowman outside, try this indoor game.

All you need is some disposable cups, construction paper and glue and balled up socks. Stack up the snowman cups and see how many your child or mentee can knock over.

Let’s pretend it is warming up outside. Make paint out of Kool-aid and pour it into squirt or spray bottles for painting the snow. The yard is your canvas.

This article suggests 12 craft ideas for boys, though we think they’d also be fun for girls. We especially liked the colorful superhero masks and paper plate marble tracks.

Two interactive ideas include the everyday item of painters tape. Try constructing this giant spider web and make a game of throwing balls of paper into it to see how many stick.

You can also go Mission Impossible style by using painters tape and yarn to construct a laser obstacle course. Challenge the kids to try to complete the course without touching any yarn. As the photo demonstrates, a banister would make this activity easier to build.

Those who have read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series may remember when the family makes sugar on snow by pouring the maple syrup directly onto the snow creating candy.

Some of us have tried this and felt disappointment when it just didn’t work, but the trick seems to be in reducing the maple syrup. This recipe explains how to make a perfect maple syrup taffy that will transform into candy when it hits fresh snow. Might as well use the snow to our advantage.

Having a day where you are just done with winter? Maybe these watermelon cupcakes will do the trick. The idea of watermelon-flavored cupcakes might sound strange, so don’t worry. These just look like watermelon. The vanilla cake is colored a rosy pink and dotted with chocolate chips. The green frosting really makes them pop.

Is there something cool that you just created? Let us know and we’ll share it so others enjoy a new activity. Find more ideas on our Pinterest Boards. 



Join Us For New Mentor Training (Part I)

We just scheduled our next training for new mentors for Wednesday, February 26th.

Have you always thought about becoming a mentor or do you know someone who would make a great addition to our team? Here is your opportunity!

Part I Training

We have a huge need for caring adult mentors who can volunteer one hour per week to spend time with a Mitchell County youth. We currently have a waiting list of youth waiting for mentors and hope you’ll consider attending our training next week.

During 2014, we want to emphasize that mentoring is easy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or plan extravagant events. Just spend time with your mentee and invite him or her to join you on outings that are a part of your daily life. This is not to say you can’t participate in fun activities that you both enjoy, such as gardening or playing basketball.

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It’s best for the youth if mentors can commit to a year-long relationship and we make sure we carefully match mentors and mentees so it’s the best fit possible.

To make mentoring even easier, Bridges staff plan free activities open to all of our mentors and mentees. In the past these have included our recent bowling and pizza event in Gerb’s in Stacyville, IA, movie nights at the local theater, and summer events at the parks.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to RSVP to our training. Thanks for meeting us on our blog!