Wendi Russo 

Tyiteana's Mother's graduation July 2009


Become an Everyday Hero: Mentor a Child

Tyiteana and I were featured as a cover story in Eden Prairie Magazine

photo property of Eden Prairie Magazine and shot by Marshall Long at Eden Prairie Dunn Brothers Coffee

My mentee Tyiteana and her little sister with my daughter at her princess party


Tyiteana learning to swim with a donation of free swim lessons from Foss Swim School

Weekly, I take Tyiteana to swim lessons and she's now able to dive to the bottom of the pool and do the crawl!

My main responsibility as a mentor is to provide consistent, ongoing support and friendship to my mentee, Tyiteana on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.   Foss Swim School has generously donated  free swim lessons for her so we swim once a week together.  Last year she was afraid to put her head and face in the water, this year she is doing the crawl and the butterfly stroke!

In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

                     - Mother Teresa


212 degrees of Kindness-  It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life-we can never help another without helping ourselves.

                               - Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Christ's Ministry while on earth was that he chose to invest in the lives of 12 people. What Jesus engaged in and encouraged us to do is mentor one another.  Mentoring empowers people and propels them forward in the face of great adversity.

What is a Mentor? A Wise and Trusted Friend, A guide.

Mentoring is a committed relationship between an adult and a youth focused on developing character and capabilities of the young person.

As a spokesperson for mentoring and Kinship, in particular, I help raise awareness of the need for mentors (in particular, men) and help raise money to provide the matches.  I have had the pleasure of speaking with local Rotary groups, Lions Clubs & Optimist Groups about the power of mentoring and suggesting different ways to become a mentor through my platform "Make an Impact in a Child's Life: Mentor".

I chose to work with Kinship because it is a faith-based mentoring organization that allows you to mentor a child as a family as well as an individual and you may share your faith with your mentee.  Kinship has 42 affiliates pairing over 3,000 children with mentors.  I first heard about Kinship of Greater Minneapolis through my church, Christ Presbyterian Church.  At the time, Big Brothers did not have a family mentoring program..but a year ago, they started Big Families.

Six years ago, when I was single, I chose to become a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters to give back to a child, since I didn't have any . I knew I had a lot of caring and compassion to offer a child and becoming a "Big" opened my eyes to see that my "little" could give a lot to me as well!   I know the value of mentoring because my brother had a "Big" brother when he was little since my father wasn't around to serve as a male role model for him. I wished that I had one, too.

After getting married and having my first child, I was drawn to the Christian bent of Kinship and my ability to mentor by including her in our family activities. Being a mentor helps me to put my faith into action.

Kinship is unique in the length of the mentoring matches...the average length of a match is 3 years!  Compared to an average length of 1 year.  I think it's the regular contact between the mentor and Kinship supervisor to see how the match is going, combined with their monthly email of ideas of free or low cost activities, that help the mentor to feel connected to Kinship and to maintain a match for a longer period of time.
For more info go to www.kinship.org

 Qwest and Joe Mauer Catch the spirit of Youth Mentoring. 
"There were a lot of mentors who helped me along the way" Minnesota Twins Joe Maur
Quest communications and Joe Mauer, Catcher for the Minnesota Twins, have teamed up in support of youth mentoring in Minnesota. Last year Mauer recorded a  public service announcement for Kinship advocating Mentoring.  My job as an Ambassador for Kinship was to call local radio stations and get them to run the PSA's locally.  We have had many matches made as the result of these PSA's running on KS95, 100.3, 98.7 to name a few.  Quest is even donating $200 to the Mentoring Parntership of Minnesota for every run batted-in (RBI) Mauer achieves this season.

Going to Libby Lu in MOA with Tyiteana--she seemed more confident than ever!

Daisy My Mentee through Big Brothers Big Sisters at Disneyland 8 years ago!


Daisy Today, all grown up and beautiful!  My first lil' sis from Big Brothers & Sisters

I'm so proud of Daisy! She is excelling in school with A's and B's and wants to be a teacher for children with Autism. Daisy's sister has autism and Daisy would be the perfect teacher...she has the patience of a saint and a heart of gold.  I remember after I took her to a restaurant for dinner, we went outside and she saw a homeless man...she said "can I give him my leftovers?"  She was always a shining example of kindness and thoughtfulness toward others.

Research:  Study Proves The Value of Mentoring in our Community

Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Los Angeles has conducted a study proving that Big Brothers Big Sisters’ one-to-one youth mentoring has been shown to have a significant and positive impact on the lives of children, according to the first-ever nationwide impact study of a mentoring organization

Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters were:
*46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
*27% less likely to begin using alcohol
*52% less likely to skip school
*37% less likely to skip a class more confident of their performance in schoolwork
*one-third less likely to hit someone

*getting along better with their families
According to the research, these one-to-one matches are such a powerful force for influencing children’s behavior because of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ signature approach to mentoring.

A Big Brothers Big Sisters’ match is carefully administered and supported by rigorous standards and trained personnel. Professional agency staff strive for matches that are not only safe and well suited to each child’s needs, but also harmonious and built to last. That is why so much care is taken in screening and orienting volunteers, and then in matching them with children.

What mattered to the children was not the activities, but the fact that they had a caring adult in their lives. Because they had someone to confide in and to look up to they were, in turn, doing better in school and at home. The Littles were also avoiding violence and substance abuse at a pivotal time in their lives when even small changes in behavior, or choices made, can change the course of their future.

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