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Series: Grant report for the Freeborn County Community Foundation

Leean Dulitz of the Feeborn County Community Foundation presents a check to Mary Jo Volkman of the STARS mentoring program. -Provided

Organization: STARS, Success Through Adults Reaching Students, and Community Mentorship Connection

Project: Supporting and developing mentor/mentee relationships

Report: There are currently 18 mentor/mentee relationships in Freeborn County through the STARS program. Grant funding is used to help with operational support to increase the number of children served and provide ongoing support to existing mentoring relationships. Mentoring is a proven strategy for preventing youth from engaging in drug and alcohol use, skipping school and other at-risk behaviors. Young people participating in quality mentoring programs are more likely to do better in school and have aspirations for college and a career that ultimately strengthens the community.

Group events are also sponsored through grant funding. This past summer those in the mentoring program enjoyed having a picnic at Pioneer Park; meeting at the Community Education Boathouse to canoe, kayak and paddle board; and visiting the Freeborn County Historical Museum, Library & Village for a hot dog roast and hands-on experience with the historical village. This winter the winter the group planned to bowl at Holiday Lanes, enjoy swimming and fun and games at the Family Y and its annual Paint the Pastries canvas painting event led by an art teacher through the Albert Lea Art Center. Mentor appreciation was recognized in January.

“Working with Community Mentoring Connection for just over 2 1/2 years, I have seen meaningful connections between mentors and mentees that have made positive outcomes in our community as a whole, said Mary Jo Volkman, project coordinator for the STARS mentorship program. “Mentoring is a proven cost-effective investment; for every $1 invested in mentoring, there is a $3 return to society.”