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Kindergarden Ready: A Skookum Mentors Story

Last spring, talk about launching a new program started to buzz around our little shared office inside Perch & Play. My team and I began tossing around ideas about what we would call the program, and dreamed about the impact that something like this could have on the kids in our area.

Over the course of several months, and our fair share of planning and preparation meetings, we launched Skookum Mentors—a one on one mentorship program for foster youth in Whatcom County.

The goal of Skookum Mentors is two-fold. First, we hope that supporting a child through consistent one on one relationships would help stabilize them at school, with their friends and in their foster homes. Second, we hope that giving foster parents another support lifeline would help stabilize them as well! If we can help foster parents with transportation, homework help and recreational activities for kids in their care, maybe they will stay in the game a little bit longer.

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Since then we have been busy making mentorship ‘matches’ and watching these relationships form. We now have adults mentoring kids ranging from spunky 5 year-old girls in pre-K to 17 year-old recent high school graduates! And everything in between.

I have had the pleasure of taking on my own mentee, who I meet with weekly. During the school year, I would pick her up from Pre-K and we would spend a few hours together at the park before heading back to her home in time for dinner. Now that it’s summer, we’ve shifted our focus a little. She is getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall, and needs a little help practicing the alphabet before school begins. We still have plenty of fun together, but now we’re also working on learning games, tracing words and identifying letters when we’re out at city parks or the children’s museum.

We spend a lot of our time at “Vouldebard Park,” as she calls it, and she’s slowly working up the nerve to do the monkey bars—learning to trust that I will catch her if she falls.

It’s been such an honor to see this program go from an idea and a dream to something we’re doing every day! I love having the community on our side when it comes to this kind of work—so thank you to each of our mentors, our donors and community partners who have made the last year possible.

We’ve been able to cultivate some incredible moments that wouldn’t have been possible if we shied away from starting something new. At the end of our time together each week, even after making her do reading activities, my 6 year old friend looks at me and asks, “how many more days until I see you again?”

To become a volunteer Skookum Mentor, or sign your foster children up for mentorship, contact ellie@skookumkids.org

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