Minot Companions for Children seeks men to mentor
Companions for Children seeks male role models for boys
It means a lot to a boy to have a mentor to take him fishing or to the ice cream shop.
Thirteen male youth are on a waiting list with Minot’s Companions for Children to be matched with someone who can give them those types of opportunities.
“We have a big need for male volunteers to be mentors,” said Heather Cymbaluk, executive director for Companions for Children. “Now is a great time to step up if someone has ever thought about it.”
Companions for Children serves youth ages six to 18 from within a 15-mile radius of Minot. The youth typically enroll because a parent or other adult in their lives sees that they could benefit from an additional role model, and the youth themselves are desiring to have that mentor, Cymbaluk said.
“We have so many amazing stories of our mentees, especially boys. Boys just really thrive with that additional male role model in their life. They really just enjoy that one-on-one time with an adult male, and it never hurts to have an extra role model on a child’s life,” Cymbaluk said.
Mentors also report being on the receiving end of the rewards.
“I think the biggest thing that surprised me about becoming a mentor is all the new things you can learn from hanging out with your mentee. The mentee can bring you out of your element and comfort zone by wanting to do something you have never done and sometimes you realize a talent or passion they never told you about,” said Brendan, a Companions for Children volunteer.
A mentor and youth spend at least four hours together each month. Companions for Children asks for at least a one-year commitment by volunteers.
“However, we have many matches who have been together for much longer than that,” Cymbaluk said. “It’s intimidating at first, but once they spend time together doing things, typically that connection sparks rather quickly.”
The type of activities that mentors and youth engage in varies with their interests. Cymbaluk said outdoor activities currently are popular, such as fishing, visiting the park, going to baseball games or the zoo. Going to lunch or playing a board game are simple activities when weather drives people indoors.
Also, the Minot Family YMCA offers free memberships to youth participating in Companions for Children, and mentors can participate with them at no cost in activities there, such as shooting baskets in the gym or climbing the rock wall.
High Air Ground also partners with Companions for Children to provide activities.
At least once a month, Companions for Children will be offering a free outing to its youth and volunteers with the help of program sponsors.
Due to COVID-19, volunteers are encouraged to take hygiene steps, practice social distancing when possible and maintain open communication with a youth’s family regarding any sickness or having been around someone who has been sick.
Adult male mentors of any age are needed. Youth come from a variety of backgrounds and hold various interests. The job of Companions for Children is to match personalities and shared interests and then to support the volunteers and youth during that mentorship, Cymbaluk said.
Men who are interested can apply online at www.companionsforchildren.org. They will receive a follow-up call from Companions for Children with an explanation of the program and to answer questions. There is a screening process with background and reference checks, online training, mandated reporter certification and an applicant interview. Final approval is given by a screening committee that reviews the applicants’ files.
Anyone thinking about applying who has questions can call Companions for Children at 838-5784. Cymbaluk said the organization welcomes calls and can answer any questions to help men determine whether this is the time for them to volunteer.