Call United Way’s 2-1-1

In September, we had the pleasure of meeting with Jennifer Kammeyer, the Chief Professional Officer of one of our major funders & partners United Way of North Central Iowa (UWNCI).

Jennifer filled us in one some of the exciting, new efforts UWNCI is leading including the Dial 2-1-1 phone service.

United Way 211

Simply dial 2-1-1 and speak with a real person regarding resources for physical and mental health, employment support, assistance for older adults and people with disabilities, children & families  & emergency/crisis assistance. Dial 2-1-1 can also connect you with your local mentoring program. The service is completely free.

This phone line is answered 24/7, provides multilingual assistance and is confidential. You can also access the database of resources online.

For more information about Dial 4-1-1, you can also contact the United Way of North Central Iowa directly by calling 641-423-1774.

Meet Jessica: Mason City Youth Taskforce

Mentor Spotlight Jessica PrazakWe love collaboration!

Since 2012, we’re proud be a part of the greater North Iowa Mentoring Collaborative along with One-On-One and NIACC’s RSVP programs. All of our mentoring programs are actually certified by the state’s Iowa Mentoring Partnership and our partnership gives us all opportunities to connect, attend trainings, apply for grants and plan activities.

For example, our North Iowa Collaborative recieved a grant through the Office of Juvenile Justice & Deliquency Prevention (OJJDP) to specially serve 11-15 year-olds.

One individual we work closely with is Jessica Prazak of the Mason City Youth Task Force. Next month Jess is sending us to the Minnesota Mentoring Conference. We’re excited about this learning opportunity and thought it would be fun to feature Jessica:

How long have Bridges and the Mason City Youth Taskforce had a partnership?
“Since 2003. We’re going on our eleventh year.”

What are your main responsibilities as the Mentoring Collaborative Coordinator?
I run the One-On-One Mentroing Program, manage program budgets, recruit mentors, coordinate trainings and oversee outreach programs.”

What are you looking forward to this coming school year?
“We’re working on coordinating teams to pilot a new group mentoring program. We’re also excited about partnering with local businesses to involve them with volunteer opportunities in mentoring.”

Is there anything you’d like to share about your family?
“I have  an eight-year daughter and 10-year old son. They both enjoy coming to the group mentoring outings. My husband Jake and I own NIP Fitness in Mason City. Jake is a world record-holder in bench pressing.

Jessica Photo

What is your favorite book?
“Growing-up my favorite book was Charlotte’s Web. Now, I’m encouraging my kids to read it and hope they enjoy it as much as I did.”

What is your favorite summer activity?
“Every summer we look forward to getting together at a cabin in Northern Minnesota for a family reunion.”

If you have further questions for Jessica, contact her by phone at 641-421-2708 or email at Just like Bridges, One-To-One is always in need of caring adult mentors to serve Cerro Gordo County children.

Preventing Substance Abuse in Mitchell County

Substance abuse among youth is a significant problem in Mitchell County.

According to data from the Iowa Youth Survey, Mitchell County youth reported significantly higher 30 day alcohol use than the average Iowa student. Along with the Mitchell County school administration & Mitchell County Substance Abuse Coalition, we at Bridges want to help prevent substance abuse within our community.

We invited Jay Pedelty of Prairie Ridge Addiction Treatment Services to present at our final Bridges Speaks workshop. Pedelty is a Certified Prevention Specialist and Prime for Life Instructor who has extensive experience working with young people.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Foundation for the Enhancement of Mitchell County (FEMC), we were able to offer this event free of charge to the community and include a meal.

Jay Pedelty Lecture 2

Jay’s interactive presentation demonstrated how prevalent alcohol’s advertising is in our communities & media. The advertising of alcohol features cartoons that appeal to kids and substance abuse is normalized on billboards & greeting cards.  This all serves to reduce young people’s’ perception of the substances’ risks.

We learned the most abused substances include alcohol, prescription drugs and marijuana. Substance abuse rates correspond with availability which is why many are concerned about issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana. Learn more about Jay’s thoughts on the issue in this recent KIMT interview.

As Bridges Mentoring Program moves forward, we want to increase our efforts to prevent substance abuse among youth in our community. Research proves that mentoring works! A Big Brothers Big Sisters study found that youth who participated in a mentoring relationship for 18-months were more 46% less likely to use illicit drugs than those without a mentor, and 18% less likely to consume alcohol under the legal age.

For more information about substance abuse prevention & recovery resources, visit Prairie Ridge’s website. You can also attend a Mitchell County Substance Abuse Coalition meeting held on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. at the Mitchell County Services Building in Osage.

Contact us to learn more about how you can donate your time, talents or resources to our mission of creating meaningful mentoring relationships in Mitchell County.

*Special thanks to Jay Pedelty for donating his time and insight, FEMC for sponsoring the event, Signatures Supper Club of Northwood, Iowa, and the staff at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Osage, Iowa for offering their space as a location

What Have Our Mentors & Mentees Been Up To This Past Month?

Fall is upon us.

We’ve had a busy month planning next year’s activities, coordinating our Bridges Speaks trainings and launching our new fundraiser. Our mentors and mentees also have busy summers and just transitioned back into school and extracurricular activities. Still, they always seem to find ways to connect with each other. Here are some of the fun activities they did together this past month:

  • Attended a Vikings practice in Mankato, MN.
  • Visited the CRC to use exersize equipment & play raquetball
  • Partipated in Bridges’ Well Aware Wellness event & cyberbullying workshop

August Bridges Events Collage

  • Went golfing (SunnybraeAcorn Park offer a generous discount for mentors who take their mentees golfing. Contact us with questions)
  • Prepared caprese salad with summer tomatoes
  • Visited the Mitchell County Fair
  • Volunteered at the Kiwanis BBQ at the first Osage home football game.

Kiwanis Collage Edited

  • Biked to Subway for supper
  • Got pedicures
  • Picked out a bulletin board for the mentee’s room
  • Played at the local park
  • Played board games
  • Finished building a bean game game. These mentors noted how diligently their mentee worked to produce these stunning boards. 

Board Game Project

  • Swam at the CRC
  • Picked and prepared sweet corn
  • Baked zuchhini brownies
  • Helped a mentor with a bridal shower decorating project.

Bridges mentors and mentees enjoy a wide variety of activities, from special outings to board games at home. We encourage our mentors to simply invite their mentee to join them in every day activities.

How is your school year beginning? We love hearing from our mentors, families and community members. Contact us at anytime. We are always happy to connect.

Bridges Is A Comment For A Cause Recipient

p1150878We’re honored that Beth chose us as the recipient of her blog’s September “Comments for a Cause.

Beth is a Mason City resident who writes the blog It’s Just Life: Finding The Extraordinary In The Ordinary.  Each month, she features a charity organization to which she and her husband donate fifty cents for each comment someone leaves on her blog.

50 cents per comment!

How cool is that? In July, she raised $240 for The Davidson Centre for the Professions and in August, she supported Mason City’s Northern Lights Alliance for the Homeless’s efforts to build a women’s shelter all through Comments for a Cause.


During the month of September, you can raise money for Bridges by leaving a comment on any post in Beth’s blog. All funding will support our efforts to match school-aged children with mentors in Mitchell County, Iowa.

Beth updates her blog almost every day with encouraging and random content about all aspects of life. You’ll have fun reading it and can easily leave a comment by scrolling to the very bottom of each post. Look for this box and comment away.

Comments for a Cause Box

If you have Facebook or Twitter, you can log in by clicking on the icons. Otherwise, enter your email and name so that the computer knows that you are a real person, not a spammer.

Thank you for commenting for Bridges!