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Meeting their match: Mentor, mentee like the time together

Mentor Dell Sanderson with his mentee Antonio Dominguez. The two are participants in the RUSC Kinship mentoring program. Photo submitted

Their time together doesn't need a big event to make it a big deal.

Mentor Dell Sanderson and mentee Antonio Dominguez have noticed over the past months that they just like spending time together, Sanderson said.

Sanderson has been Dominguez's mentor for about 17 months.

"Mostly, we like to hang out," mentor Sanderson said of the relationship between him and his mentee Dominguez. The two were matched in the Raising Up Stevens County Kinship mentor program.

The mentoring program is designed to connect children with adults and the community, said RUSC Kinship director Andrea Dosdall.

"Every child can benefit from more positive relationships (in the community)," Dosdall said.

Sanderson is the pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Morris. It wasn't his role as a pastor that inspired him to be a mentor, but it was his bachelor's degree in child development that helped him understand the need for children to have multiple positive relationships.

"I would say that every kid needs a mentor," Dominguez's mom, Amy Havluck, said.

Dominguez's parents wanted to help their son connect to the community through interaction with another adult, Havluck said.

"To get Antonio out and doing stuff in the community, other than with his parents, or himself and his dad...," Havluck said was a goal of mentoring. "Antonio has difficulty socializing which was kind of motivating..."

Mentors spend four hours a month with the mentee. Those four hours can be arranged as an hour a week or four hours once a month, or whatever other schedule fits both, Dosdall said.

Mentees and mentors meet with RUSC staff and the parents in a first meeting. Dosdall explains the program to all participants.

Dosdall said the first meeting is a way to discuss what the mentee likes to do and to discuss any concerns either the parents, mentee or mentor may have.

"We encourage the mentor to schedule that first (activity) at this first meeting," Dosdall said.

Sanderson said his mentoring activity is geared toward Dominguez's personality.

"He's kind of a cautious kid. He doesn't like big groups," Sanderson said. "He's quite fun-loving and caring."

Sanderson and Dominguez have bowled, played foosball at Sanderson's church or gone out for burgers.

On other days, they will hang out at Sanderson's house and play games or play with Sanderson's dog.

"Sometimes, I take him to the golf course. He likes riding in the cart," Sanderson said. The pair ride on the cart to look for lost golf balls.

"(Antonio) feels more connected," Havluck said. "I see him more confident in social (situations). And just being more open to trying to new things."

Sanderson said he's seen Dominguez become more confident and social. He hopes to be another stable and positive influence in his mentee's life. The benefit for Sanderson is the chance to retain his own love of play. "Part of me is a kid at heart. I just like to play," he said.

But, he also enjoys getting to know his mentee and see his personality and gifts emerge through their interaction.

Dosdall said RUSC Kinship is need of mentors, particularly mentors for boys in Stevens County. Potential mentors should apply to RUSC Kinship. The program is also accepting mentee candidates.

For more information contact RUSC Kinship at 320-585-7872 or check the website at www.rusckinship.org!

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