Creating a world of good: Bridges Kinship Mentoring inspires and supports youth through mentoring

“Everyone has gifts and talents to lend to this world and I want to help people live their best possible lives,” says Amanda Lamppa, the new director at Bridges Kinship Mentoring. Bridges Kinship Mentoring connects youth with local community members, giving children and youth opportunities to achieve their greatest selves by connecting them with positive role models who can befriend, inspire, encourage, and guide them.

“I am so pleased that Bridges Kinship Mentoring has an endowment at the Community Foundation,” says Sarah Copeland Director of Grants and Programs at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation. “Relationships are vital to the well-being of a community, and Bridges builds those relationships. If I could use the word “relationship” once again, I would tell you that relationships take time. Endowments are forever – investing in the Bridges Kinship Mentoring Endowment provides that time.”

[PHOTO Above: Scott Patrow and his mentee travel and explore the ‘Lost Forty’. “What started out as a mentor/mentee arrangement has turned into a true friendship,” says Scott Patrow.]

Community Mentoring creates positive relationships and changes lives

Bridges’ main program is the Community Mentor Program. In the Community Mentor Program, local community volunteers (mentors) are matched with youngsters (mentees) who are referred to Bridges via social services, schools and even parents who just see a need for their child to form more positive adult relationships. [PHOTO: Scott Patrow’s mentee measuring trees out on the Lost Forty.]

According to Lamppa, “Relationship building is what it’s all about. We are all just human. Making and nurturing positive relationships helps us to grow, to become more resilient, and be our best selves.”

A couple examples of mentee/mentor relationships include: A single mother who sees the need for some positive male role models in the lives of her boys. (A male mentor might take them fishing or to a sporting event.) Grandparents who have full-time custody of their grandkids can find themselves in both a parenting and grand-parenting role. Bridges Kinship Mentoring can benefit both the grandparents and the children.

“It is important that children have positive, adult relationships in their life. Not only is this intuitive, but it’s also supported by data. SPARK, a community-based group interested in student success partnered with Search Institute to conduct local student surveys,” says Copeland. “So, not only do we have national data, but we have local student voices. Bridges Kinship Mentoring is literally the boots on the ground. The relationships that Bridges builds has a life-long impact on both students and adults in our community.”

Lunch Buddies – making a difference in kids lives

Lunch Buddies is a school-based mentoring program that matches an adult volunteer with an elementary student to have lunch together at school twice a month. Students and volunteers are paired up early in the fall and remain “buddies” for the entire year. The program was developed to help elementary students form positive attitudes about school, encourage healthy nutrition and physical activity, and provide children with positive role models. Adult mentors help their Lunch Buddies become more confidant and hopeful about the future. If you are interested in having a positive impact on a student, but just don’t have a lot of time, Lunch Buddies could be the perfect match for you.

[PHOTO: Bridges Kinship Mentoring held their “Taste of Itasca” fundraiser on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at the TimberLake Lodge. Here we see a Raptor selling 50/50 Split the Pot raffle tickets. What a fun event.]

Lamppa shares some of her thoughts about the value of positive relationships and mentoring

“I have a passion for humanity and integrity and doing what is right because you want to, not because you have to.”

“I see the world as not always so equal. I see some folks who seem content to just accept where they are in life. But, I also see many out there who want better. These people work hard and try to get ahead in life but often seem to struggle. The world is not always fair, nor equal. I am very passionate about helping this population of families. They work hard and when someone is trying, truly trying, to better their situation and life just keeps throwing them curveballs, it can be hard to navigate when things are not always fair.”

“I believe we need to level the playing field of life. Everyone has gifts and talents to give and I want to help people live their best possible lives. Once humanity does better, we all do better. I can’t think of a better way to give back. Making and nurturing positive relationships helps us to grow, to become more resilient, and be our best selves.”

[PHOTO: Bridges Kinship Mentoring 2018 Staff (L-R) Jess Pellinen, Program Assistant, Amanda Lamppa, Executive Director, Steph Vlatkovich, Program Coordinator]

Bridges Kinship Mentoring is located in the Community Presbyterian Church at 703 Pokegama Avenue N. in Grand Rapids. Feel free to stop in or call them at (218) 326-4700. Learn more about their programs – whether or not you are interested in becoming a mentor. Anyone can give to an endowment at the Community Foundation, including Bridges Kinship Mentoring. Call the Community Foundation at (218) 999-9100 or simply click any "Donate Now" button to search for "Bridges" and donate to their endowment.

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350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

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