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YMCA’s Brother/Sister program seeks volunteer mentors

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 7:35 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - With the school year upon us, the Mankato Family YMCA Brother/Sister Program is in need of mentors this fall.

The program is a volunteer-based mentoring program for local youth that offers several mentoring opportunities.

“We have a pen pal program that started last year during Covid, we have school-based mentoring where you go to school and mentor a youth for an hour once a week, then we have the community-based program, that’s where you spent one to three hours a week with a youth doing activities that you want to do like at a park of volunteer,” YMCA Brother/Sister Program Advocate and Recruitment Coordinator Allison Braswell explained.

Mentors and youth in the community-based programming are also free to use the YMCA at no cost for activities. There are also monthly planned activities at the YMCA for matches to participate in as well.

The Brother/Sister program is open to all families and youth ages 6 to 14 in the Mankato and North Mankato areas.

Mentors must commit to at least nine months.

To ensure mentors and youth are a good match, the program recruits, screens and trains mentors.

Mentor Nicole Reiger says she’s seen a big difference in her program sister.

“My current mentee, when we first matched she wasn’t doing so well in school and kind of struggled to make friendships, [but] throughout this past year she’s gained a lot of friends and has actually become an A+ plus student, so that’s something that I definitely praise and reward her for. I know that’s something she wanted to accomplish, meeting with me two to three hours a week and gaining her confidence in that,” said Reiger.

New mentor Jersie Schreder says she’s already felt the benefits full circle.

“It’s already made a world of difference in the mentee’s life and my life. It’s really fun to go do things you normally wouldn’t because they’re younger. As much as they are supposed to learn from me, I learn a lot from them as well,” said Schreder.

“There are many benefits, I think we can all agree covid took a lot out of our youth especially in their mental health, I think mentoring is one way you can make the biggest difference with our youth,” said Braswell.

The YMCA anticipates a larger need for mentors this year.

“Boys in our program wait three to four years for a mentor, we currently have 60 boys on our waiting list. Girls wait an average six months, so there is a need for everybody and anybody in any of the programs,” said

To learn more about the mentoring programs and meet with current members, the YMCA Brother/Sister Program is hosting a fall kick-off event Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Alexander Park in Mankato from 5-7 p.m.

Free pizza from Toppers, free pop and prizes will be available.

For more information on the program, visit the Mankato Family YMCA website.

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