by Trillium Swanson
Mentoring strengthens the community within which a child is raised. When asked why he and his wife, Angela Kasperski, sought out mentors for two of their sons, Doni and Daniel, Richard Kasperski said that it was a way to create “a larger support group for them.” He explained that “in Chicago we both have pretty big families, so if an event happened in [our kids’] lives, they’d have someone to lean on. But here, we didn’t have that variety.”
Doni, age 11, began meeting up with his mentor, Ben Booth, in March of 2017. Daniel, age 10, and Chris Dalla Santa have been a Funhouse mentor match since June 2017. Daniel and Doni are part of a five-sibling family, so time with Chris and Ben, Richard explains, has meant that “they get time alone, away from their brothers. Time to identify as not one of five.”
Doni and Ben spend time on Sundays together. They’ve been flying remote control planes, building plane models, baking, boating, hiking and doing outboard motor repair. One of the highlights of the mentoring experience for Richard and Angela so far was when Doni brought home an airplane he’d made with Ben.
“Angela was really impressed because it went really far. He brings home stuff like that he makes himself. He takes a lot of happiness from being able to bring that to us,” said Richard. “For Daniel, it was some of the new board games he was able to tell me about. He was proud about being able to introduce us to new games.”
Chris and Daniel have spent many hours together playing Magic: The Gathering (a card game) and board games, visiting Moran State Park and going on the zipline at Camp Orkila. Getting to learn from a caring adult outside of family or school exposes mentees to a diversity of experience, and builds their self-esteem.
Richard shares that “there seems to be a little more confidence in different areas of their lives. I’ve definitely had interest in many of the things [the mentors] provide, but I’ve never had the time to learn those skills. It’s awesome to have my kids learn from people who have experience in things that I don’t.”
As part of their mentor agreement through the Funhouse, both matches have committed to spend at least four hours a month together, doing an activity of their choosing.
To potential mentors in the community, Richard said, “You probably don’t realize how hungry these kids are for that kind of impact you could provide. You could be a unique change that takes them to the next level. And you never know what path these kids are going to take.”
If you have questions about the Funhouse Mentor program, contact Trillium Swanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.