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Dickinson man awarded MENTOR fellowship

The National Mentoring Partnership selected Dickinson resident Mark Billings as one of nine recipients for MENTOR's inaugural 2017 National Mentoring Summit Fellowship Program.

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The National Mentoring Partnership selected Dickinson resident Mark Billings as one of nine recipients for MENTOR's inaugural 2017 National Mentoring Summit Fellowship Program.

Billings, program and communications coordinator of Best Friends Mentoring Program, has been awarded admission and a travel stipend to attend MENTOR's annual National Mentoring Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit provides attendees with an opportunity to engage in skill building, peer learning, advocacy and networking. It is the only national convening of youth mentoring practitioners, researchers, philanthropic partners and leaders.

Billings said he believed there were 75 applicants that applied for the fellowship program and he was one of the lucky nine chosen.

"I think for me personally, it verifies my career goals," Billings said. "Obviously for Best Friends Mentoring to be considered among all of these other organizations for the fellowship is quite an honor given our remote location and, when you look at other organizations that work with hundreds and sometimes thousands of mentees a year, we are relatively small. So it's a really great opportunity."

Billings has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 15 years and joined Best Friends Mentoring on Feb. 23, 2015.

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Best Friends Mentoring Program matches adult role models with children who need positive adult guidance and friendship in western North Dakota.

Billings and the other eight fellows were selected based on their leadership potential and experience, eagerness to build their professional skills and networks, demonstrated financial need and personal commitment to helping young people succeed.

As part of this program, Billings will not only be able to participate in the general Summit programming, but he will also be on hand helping to facilitate two exclusive fundraising events and have the opportunity to participate in two post-summit learning webinars.

"To me, there is just a great sense of responsibility to go there and to learn all that I can from the experience and pass it along, not only to the staff, but to all of our really skilled volunteers that we work with on an annual basis," he said.

Billings is currently preparing for the annual Giving Hearts Day and will be hosting an event on Feb. 11 at the West River Community Center where people will be able to participate in a heart themed cookie bakeoff from 12:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.

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