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A new office and a new momentum for mentor group

By Staff | Aug 4, 2019

A group of 12 mentors and mentees went to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater to watch “Mama Mia” and enjoy dinner.

For the past 22 years, a small group of dedicated members have been working towards bettering their community by being directly involved in the youth of the Blue Earth area, and recently, that group known as the Blue Earth Area Mentors, or BEAM, has had a lot of changes and positive goings on within the last year.

Blue Earth’s Peggy Olson, taking over as the BEAM coordinator, has worked hard at providing a new space for BEAM mentors and mentees to relax and kickback. The office was formerly located at 125 North Main Street, but moved to the old chamber office located at 113 S. Nicollet Street.

“We have a lot more space in our new office for our mentees to come and hang out, enjoy some lounging space or WiFi services or a snack,” says Olson. “It’s also a lot more private than our previous office so if our mentors or mentees need a safe space to talk, we can provide that for them.”

The move took place in December of 2018. Olson and her crew painted and redecorated the station in order to not only host activities, but to conduct meetings for their nine-member board of directors.

“It’s been incredible,” says Olson. “The amount of students who just come and stop in when they didn’t before. I am very grateful to the city for allowing us to rent this space, it fits our needs quite well.”

And that’s not all Olson has been up to since she started at the helm of the BEAM team. Olson has worked diligently to apply for grants in order to provide funds for activities for the youth and adult mentors involved.

Recently, BEAM received a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council to attend the Chanhassen Dinner Theater’s rendition of “Mama Mia.” A total of 12 BEAM members (six mentors and six mentees) attended the trip and enjoyed every minute.

“It was really a great trip and a wonderful opportunity to see something different that most of our students probably have not experienced before,” says Olson.

BEAM also received funds from the Huisman Donor Advised Fund in order to take a trip to the Mall of America last fall. 16 mentors and mentees packed a party bus that took them to the Mall of America where students and mentors alike enjoyed rides on the new “Fly Over America” interactive feature as well as spending an afternoon at Nickelodeon Universe.

Now, Olson is working on applying for another grant known as the Valero grant. If BEAM is a recipient of this grant, Olson hopes to take a number of mentees and their mentors to a Minnesota Twins game during the next baseball season.

“We also hope to purchase two bikes and funds for healthy snacks for our mentees,” says Olson. “We are really trying to provide opportunities for healthy activities for our mentors and mentees and know that not everyone has access to a bicycle. Our board and myself are really trying to mind those cost gaps and trying to provide as many opportunities for these students as possible.”

Each month since May, Olson has also engaged the younger mentees in monthly activities.

“In May we went on a Sprout search where we went to every single destination of the new Sprouts so the students could look at the artistry of each one and be able to point them out in the future. In June, we went to Steinberg Park and went on a nature scavenger hunt, and this month, we went and had lunch at the Faribault County Fair.”

Olson says BEAM is working hard to provide mentees and mentors opportunities to get them more involved in community activities and volunteer opportunities in the area.

“I’m open to any ideas anyone has to help enrich these student’s lives,” she says. “We have been so blessed by the volunteers and community groups who have helped us with keeping this program alive. Bevcomm has been a great supporter of BEAM, as have a multitude of other groups in the Blue Earth area.”

Within the year, Olson shares she has had five new mentors join the mentoring team.

“It’s so great that we’ve had so many wonderful people step up to the plate and provide some fun one on one time with students for just an hour a week,” she says. “That’s all it takes. Just an hour every week, and these students’ lives can receive a positive impact from an adult in our community. Meeting once a week provides the students with necessary routine and something for them to look forward to.”

But, as is the usual case, there is still a shortage of mentors, and this year, Olson is looking for the guys of the community to step up to the plate.

“We have four boys who are on the waiting list for a mentor,” she says. “I’m also looking for husband and wife teams who would be willing to work together for a mentee. I think it’s really beneficial for some of these kids to see a cohesive family environment and how it can benefit everyone.”

Olson says that there are many members of the community who may not be able to be a mentor, but can still help in a lot of ways.

“‘God’s Work, Our Hands’ committee from Trinity Lutheran Church is hosting a Tour of Homes for us on Oct. 12,” says Olson. “The proceeds raised from the Tour of Homes will go directly to assisting BEAM. And we also have our annual fundraiser, the Tour of Tables, coming up on Oct. 26. This year, we are switching it up a bit and doing a brunch-style setting instead of a lunch. Tickets for the Tour of Tables go on sale on Oct. 1 at Dikken’s. This is our annual fundraiser and truly helps us to be able to provide for our students all year long.”

If you would like to participate with BEAM at any capacity, contact Peggy Olson by calling 507-526-5219, or stopping by their new office. Olson’s office hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or by appointment.