Program connects Fillmore County youth and mentors
By Mary JergensonMonday, February 11, 2002
You don't need a toga to be a mentor. Just ask LuAnn Klevan, director of Connections - Mentoring for Youth. In fact, she would probably be concerned if you did wear a toga. This is after all Minnesota, and togas are, among other things, drafty!
"The first thing I look for in a mentor is the desire to share your life experiences with someone else." states Klevan whose enthusiasm for the program is contagious. "I also look for dependability, someone I can count on. We want all kinds of personality types, to complement the variety of kids we get in this program."
"We base our program on the idea that children need at least three adults other than their parents to influence their lives and help them become productive adults," adds Klevan. Mentoring has been described as "a community of wisdom." The youth involved are not the only ones that benefit from the program. The mentors receive as much as the youth.
Mentoring is an age old program dating back to ancient Greece. Homer, told a story about leaving his son with his old friend Mentor while he charged off to fight the Trojan war. Anthropologists suggest that mentoring in African society was commonplace and pre-dates the Greeks. The origin is not as important as the end result. Many adults can identify someone who has made a positive impact on their lives. Connections-Mentoring
Fillmore County's brand of this time-tested program is about one year old. Klevan became involved on the ground floor as the Kingsland School districts representative for the Fillmore County Family Services Collaborative. "We did a Search Institute Survey to determine what some needs were in the community. I was on the committee responsible for determining how best to reach people county-wide. We kept hearing comments like .....if only we had a mentoring program for the youth."
The committee came up with some ideas, and they grew and took form. Klevan put it all down on paper and presented the program to the Collaborative, who in turn decided to invest in it. Funding comes in part from state funding through grants, but also local contributions. The Commonwheel Theater arranged for the participants of Connections to buy tickets to the "Christmas Carol" at reduced cost. "That was generous of them and allowed many of us to participate, " said Klevan.
Klev .....[Read the Rest]