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Best Friends Mentoring expands to Bowman

Best Friends Mentoring has expanded to Bowman. A community action group in Bowman identified problems with youth in their community, Kris Fehr, BFM executive director, explained. "They thought mentoring would be one of the possible supports for t...

Best Friends Mentoring has expanded its program to Bowman. Four mentors have already been connected with mentees, and more mentors are being recruited. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)
Best Friends Mentoring has expanded its program to Bowman. Four mentors have already been connected with mentees, and more mentors are being recruited. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Best Friends Mentoring has expanded to Bowman.

A community action group in Bowman identified problems with youth in their community, Kris Fehr, BFM executive director, explained.

"They thought mentoring would be one of the possible supports for their kids," Fehr said. "They reached out to us and said, could you help us?"

Best Friends is providing administrative support and training for the Bowman program.

"We didn't go to the community and tell them what we needed. They came to us," Fehr said. "And we are very happy to help more kids."

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The process started two years ago when Bowman County Social Services reached out to BFM after holding meetings with a community action group.

"They were going back and forth between beginning a new mentoring program and having us teach them about mentoring or (having) us manage a mentoring program down there," said Emily Gran, BFM volunteer coordinator. "We chose to manage a program for them down there instead of reinventing the wheel."

Bowman also provides funding for its program.

"We approached the (Bowman) county commission for some assistance in funding and their commission is very supportive of the mentoring movement," Gran said. "They've helped get it off the ground for us."

Four mentors were recruited, trained and matched with mentees last week.

"There are a few more mentors and mentees waiting to be matched," Gran said. "It just comes down to going there and getting mentors trained and interviewing the mentees."

The program is needed in Bowman, Gran said.

"In a small community, they don't have a lot of resources or activities for kids," she said. "A lot of the kids just go to the library, free range. It's kind of their hub."

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Youths there, though, are still causing problems, getting kicked out of the library, and have nothing to do after school or on weekends, Gran said.

A mentoring program is a source of support for kids who need extra help, Fehr said.

The mentor meets with the mentee for one hour once each week, at least.

"It fosters the relationship between a child and a positive adult in their lives," she said. "The research shows that mentoring works in deterring kids from risky behaviors. It also improves their attitude, their social skills, their grades in schools."

There is no limit to how many mentors the program can recruit, Gran said.

"We will continue to take referrals from parents, the school systems and social services for children who need a mentor," she said. "We're actively recruiting mentors in all communities that we're mentoring in."

Helping to realize a mentoring program in Bowman has been exciting, Gran said.

"It's been two years coming. It's not an easy process," she said. "There's a lot of background stuff that has to happen before we get to match people, and that's the end goal, to get kids and mentors matched with each other."

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She added, "We're really excited to finally be able to launch this program."

To become a mentor in Bowman, contact Stephi Nohava at (701) 206-0958 or by email at stephi2@live.com .

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