Our Take: Mentoring is another victim of COVID-19


Children have been isolated, out of school and disengaged, their social skills suffer, and their growth and development have been stunted.

At the same time, due to COVID-19, the nonprofit has not been able to stand in front of people to recruit them as adult mentors as it has in the past and like itself. needs it to maintain its unique purpose. -a connection that feels good and creates positive results in Duluth and Superior.

The results: Only 95 youth from Twin Ports are currently matched with adult mentors – and another 122 are on a waiting list that can last two years or more. Many children are not prepared to wait that long, and this may further exacerbate the development of their social skills and other necessary tools as they become adults.

“We know that when young people have a mentor, it builds their resilience and reduces isolation. It reduces anxiety and depression. This increases their ties to the community. It involves them in their communities and more likely leads them to leadership positions, ”said Beth Burt, executive director of Mentor North, in an exclusive interview last week with members of the News Tribune editorial board. “We all have these big impacts from an individual relationship.

“And so, right now, everyone is thinking, ‘What can we do for our young people? I would say one of the answers is to become a mentor.

Mentor North plans to intensify its recruiting in the coming new year, to resume recruiting volunteer and qualified adults as before. Its goal is for 75 new mentors to successfully complete the selection process, including a thorough background check and training. The goal is ambitious. In a typical year, that is, one year before COVID-19, Mentor North recruited 40 to 50 new adult volunteer mentors.

“Our goal is to reduce that waiting list,” said Burt. “These are all kinds of children, all kinds of young people. It really is any youngster who might need more adult support in their life, for whatever reason.

Don’t worry, interested adults. You will be matched with a child who shares at least some of your interests; the selection process ensures this. The minimum time commitment is four hours per month very doable, although eight to 12 hours is often more typical. And it won’t drain your bank account. Mentor North has partnered with local businesses and attractions to provide one-time purchase offers and free or discounted tickets to ski, see a theater performance, and more.

“In fact, we’re finding that it’s the simple things mentors do that mentees enjoy the most,” Burt said. “They do things like invite them over and cook a meal together. They are going to play basketball together. They will meet at the library together. They do arts and crafts together.

Doing such things makes a huge difference. MENTOR National determined in 2020 that at-risk youth matched with mentors were 55% more likely to go to college, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly, and 130% more likely to be in leadership roles.

“The purpose of a mentor is just to be there for that kid and to spend some time alone helping them develop their interests, their identity,” said Burt. “There is a lot of fun to do, fun things people do with their mentees. We don’t expect anyone to solve the world’s problems here, just to be there for a child who needs him.

Mentor North began as a YMCA program in the 1940s. The association formed in 2019 when the future of the interesting program seemed to be in doubt. It’s the only one-on-one mentoring program in Twin Ports right now, according to Burt.

Mentor North is far from the only one in need of volunteers, donations or other public support. As with so many other nonprofits and programs in Duluth and across the country whose mission is to improve lives or provide services, the pandemic has been absolutely devastating. To find where you, your time, or your money could do good, head to Volunteermatch.org or search for other resources online to find opportunities.

To help Mentor North specifically or to learn more, visit mentornorth.org. Call the association at 218-722-3600 or send an email to [email protected]

Your help is needed more than ever, especially as we are getting back to normal after the pandemic. Or try.


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