A place to honor those who serve well.
Steve, Joan, Hunter and Grace
Our Kinship Spotlight for June shines down on a mentor couple that has been mentoring with Kinship for the past six years. Their names are Steve and Joan Zeug and they mentor Hunter McKusick and Grace Harper.
I have known Steve, Joan and Hunter for the past three years and have recently been acquainted with their latest addition, Grace. I have been inspired by their close connection to their kinskids and encouraged by their dedication to the program. As the director, I typically see our matches once a month and it's very clear which matches are engaged and close and this quartet definitely is! They've recently added Grace into their match just in the past few months, and she seems to be enjoying her mentors, fellow kinskid Hunter, and the monthly events. I daresay that they're a match made in Kinship Heaven, every director's dream.
I asked Steve and Joan a few questions about their Kinship experiences and their mentoring memories. These are the responses I received.
What caused you to be interested in participating in Kinship?
We met these kids and knew we would love spending time and getting to know them more. We felt we could make a difference in their lives by just spending time with them.
Please share a meaningful experience you've had while mentoring with Kinship.
Grace is new and we are getting to know her which has been fun. We have seen Hunter grow from a boy into a young man and we are so proud of him. He has a big heart and is always willing to participate in everything we do including community service.
What would you tell others to get them interested in being a part of Kinship?.
We would tell others that these kids give back as much as we give them. They are great kids!
What has been your favorite thing about Kinship so far?
Our favorite things are listening to their ideas and watching them grow. We love our group activities as they are awesome. We have done some pretty cool things. We love our time when it's just us and hanging out.
Thank you Steve and Joan for being attentive, consistent, and dependable mentors! You are such a great example and model of what caring, supportive mentors look like. You inspire me and many others with your dedication!
Our kinskids also had a few words for their mentors. If you know Hunter (and I wish everyone did), you would know that he's not one to sugar coat anything but tells it just like it is. He is a hard-worker, has a servant's heart, and is a joy to have in the program. I asked him to share his thoughts about his mentors and this is what he said,
"My mentors are absolutely amazing people, they have helped me in so many ways. They've helped with my depression and anxiety. I believer we've been together for five years now, I quite frankly don't know what I'd do if I weren't with them. Kinship has helped me open up and be more outgoing with people." -Hunter McKusick
Wow! What a testimony of how Kinship is reaching our youth through our amazing mentors! This is straight from the horse's mouth, folks.
Here's what Grace had to say about Steve and Joan:
""They are nice and sweet. We do fun stuff together. From, Grace." -Grace Harper
(I couldn't have said it any better myself.)
And there we have it! This is proof that Kinship is providing safe, quality mentor relationships and improving the lives of youth in our community. This is our mission and that's what we are accomplishing through our many amazing mentors that give of their time, efforts, and talents to support, listen, and encourage our youth. Makes you want to sign up, right? If so, please contact Becky Harder by phone or email for more information on how to become a mentor. If you like kids and want to make a difference, you just might be the perfect candidate!
Thank you Steve, Joan, Hunter, and Grace for being part of Kinship! We value and appreciate your involvement and special part you play in our program!
A place to honor those who serve well.
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.
Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
Kinship Youth Mentoring of Princeton is surely a house that has been built with wisdom and understanding which clearly shows why it's so sturdy and hearty! The builders of this program were strong in character and full of compassion as they began laying the groundwork for a long-lasting, built to last youth program that would influence and impact youth ages 5-15 in a positive and uplifting way.
Every organization has the shining example of what a faithful, dedicated volunteer looks like. These are those who model humility, service, and actually sharpen the rest of us in the process.
One such person is Dan Engblom. He is one of the pioneers who helped set the course for establishing the Kinship program in our community of Princeton. His vision, hard work, and servant's heart helped set the foundation of Kinship and establish it to help youth in our community by providing safe, quality mentor relationships. After twenty two years of being involved and wearing a plethora of hats in the program, he is stepping away. As a board, we let out our inward collective disappointment groan, knowing we're losing a power player. His response was in true Dan Engblom fashion.
"I only do things in 20 year blocks".
We are sad to see him go but after 22 years of service, you can bet we want to glean from his wisdom. Here are a few nuggets he shared about his experience with Kinship.
How long have you been involved with Kinship and in what roles did you serve in?
Dan: I was a member of an organization back in 1998 or 1999 called Healthy Communities Healthy Youth. It was through the efforts of this group that a need for community-based youth mentoring was recognized. I was part of the initiative that over the next couple years looked at various mentoring models and we ultimately decided on Kinship. On the 15th of March 2001, with the help of Attorney Steven Anderson, we filed for 501C3 nonprofit incorporation which was granted on April 6, 2001.
At that time, I was mentoring a young man through the Immanuel Lutheran Church confirmation program so I suggested to the rest of the Board of Directors that this young man and I would be a good fit for the first official Kinship mentoring match. The rest is history. Over the next 15 years, I had the distinct pleasure of mentoring three amazing youth from our community. These relationships most certainly have been the most rewarding part of my time with Kinship. A very close second is the relationships with the many good people of Princeton that have volunteered their time and talents to serve on the Kinship Board of Directors.
What would you tell someone or what advice would you give to someone who's interested in being involved in the Kinship program as a mentor or kinskid?
Dan: Mentoring doesn't happen without parents willing to entrust their children to a caring adult who they may not yet know. I have, from the very start, said EVERY child can benefit from a safe, caring relationship with another adult. I encourage parents to reach out to our director, Becky Harder, to see if Kinship and our carefully screened mentors can offer you and your child that opportunity.
Thank you, Dan, for all your hard work, dedication, wisdom, and service to Kinship Youth Mentoring of Princeton! We will miss you and look forward to you firing up the trebuchet for Pumpkin Chunkin' 2021!