BEAM celebrates success
With the help of Blue Earth Area Mentors, local children have been able to experience a lot of new things.
One child in the program decided to be baptized after regularly going to church with their mentor. Another went to see their first movie at the theater in Fairmont as an 8-year-old, and several have gone to Twins or Vikings games for the first time.
“It’s things that you’re going to do anyway,” says former mentor and BEAM?board member Bill Paul, explaining that mentors don’t need to do outrageous things or spend a lot of money to entertain their mentees.
Paul, who spent four years as a mentor, says he would often read stories, do puzzles, toss around the football or cook supper with his mentee. And even though he isn’t technically a mentor anymore, he still keeps in touch with his former mentee.
“That’s kind of one of the goals of the mentor program,” BEAM?coordinator Mary Lucas says. “To form trusting, lasting relationships.”
Mentor John Roper feels the same.
“It’s really a lifetime friendship that you gain,” he says.
As beneficial as the program is to the mentees, Roper feels the adults get just as much out of it.
“It’s an equal benefit. I’ve learned a lot of things — what kids like now, what they’re doing,” he says.
Roper has been mentoring for nearly a year, and tries to meet with his mentee every Wednesday. He admits that he was on the fence about becoming a mentor, because he didn’t think he was really that qualified, but says it’s been a fun experience.
Looking to the future, Lucas says BEAM will be applying for a Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grant. For about the past four years, without any grants, the program has survived with the help of generous citizens and local businesses.
Lucas says she’s very appreciative of the community’s support, because she wants to keep BEAM?going so that children can continue to benefit.
“I think it builds their self esteem, they do better in school and they’re just more confident,” she explains.
As January — National Mentor Month — comes to a close, BEAM?will honor its mentors and mentees with a luncheon Sunday at the Senior Center.
Mentors also received individual thank-yous earlier in the month for their volunteering.
“I sent them each a personal letter thanking them for what they’ve done,” Lucas says.
At this point, only one child is waiting to have a mentor, but Lucas expects a few more may come along soon, so mentors are always in demand.