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A little time, a lot to gain; Both mentor and mentee benefit from partnership

Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Vickie Tate and Cassiey Klein have become friends since they began spending time together 10 months ago as part of Kinship's mentoring program.

Editor's note: This is the second in a four-part series featuring local mentorships, in recognition of National Mentoring Month.

When Vickie Tate began the interview process to become a mentor for Perham's Kinship program 10 months ago, she was nervous.

Tate had some free time in her life and she wanted to give back to the community. She thought volunteering in a mentorship program was one way she could do this.

But even though she wanted to be a mentor, Tate worried about the time commitment. Kinship asks all mentors to commit to at least a year, meeting with the child twice a month for a two to four hour time period.

"I was a little concerned at how to fill the time up," Tate said in an interview last week. It seemed like a lot of time.

However, once she met up with her mentee, fourth grader Cassiey Klein, Tate knew her worries were for naught.

"Time just flies when we are with each other," Tate said.

She explained how it always feels like, just as they start doing another craft project together, it's time for Tate to bring Klein home.

Tate said, "Now that Cassiey and I are friends, it will be a long-term commitment."

It helps that Tate and Klein are so well matched. They share many of the same interests, and their personalities work well with each other.

"Cassiey is very loving and sweet. We match each other very well," Tate said.

"She is very funny," the young girl said of her mentor. "She likes to joke around a lot."

Jill Shipman, director of the Kinship program, works hard to find compatible mentor/mentee matches. It's important for the two to get along, so the benefits of the program work both ways.

With so much in common, Tate and Klein have no problem filling their time with activities they both enjoy. Whether it's popping into Dairy Queen, making some crafts at Tate's house or taking photographs, the duo always have fun together.

On one of their earlier get-togethers, Klein took some photos with Tate's camera, and then the duo developed the favorites and finally, put the finished shots into a photo album.

And now that Santa gave Klein a camera of her own for Christmas, Tate and Klein look forward to taking more photographs in the future.

Tate is glad she went through with joining Kinship, despite her concerns.

She said, "The mentor gets as much as the person you mentor."

Klein has a sweet personality and is quick to give hugs, Tate said, which makes her day.

"I'm just the person she tells about her week and her family and all the good things that happen in her life," Tate said. Klein often shares stories of her parents and her twin sister.

Klein told Tate, "I didn't have to give you a Christmas present. You already have one - it's me."