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Submitted photo Harley Staber reels in his first Muskie on a fishing trip in September with his mentor, Marc Reynolds.

Worth the wait; After 18 months, mentee finds his fishing buddy

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

A little more than a year ago, ninth grade Perham student Harley Staber was one of 40 kids on Kinship's mentor waiting list.

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After more than 18 months on the list, Staber officially began hanging out with his mentor, Marc Reynolds, in the summer of 2011.

An 18-month wait is longer than usual for Perham mentees. But if there's one thing the Perham Kinship program has learned over 11 years of matching adults with children, it's that ensuring compatibility takes time and patience, but it's worth the wait.

In a telephone interview, Perham Kinship's Director Jill Shipman said that through the years she has learned the most important thing is, "not to rush it." When mentors were matched too quickly, the duo, too often, wouldn't blend, she said.

Staber and Reynolds are the perfect example of why compatibility is worth waiting for. For one thing, they never have trouble finding an activity they both enjoy. On a monthly and sometimes weekly basis, the duo enjoys bowling, riding ATVs, and doing a lot of fishing, they said in a recent interview.

As a teacher, Reynolds decided to join the mentorship program because he wanted to help kids. In particular, he wanted to help Staber, who had attended one of his summer school classes.

Reynolds said, "I like to offer opportunities for people to do things that they might want to do. An opportunity to learn something new, like Muskie fishing."

In fact, it was on a fishing trip with Reynolds this past September that Staber reeled in his first Muskie, which measured 38 inches.

"I had blisters on my hands," Staber said. "It was a strong fish."

Staber said the mentorship program helps kids get away from troubles in school or life, giving them opportunities to enjoy themselves and not have to worry.

"It gets stuff off your mind. You don't think about problems. You just have fun," he said.

Looking back, Reynolds admitted that before he signed up to be a mentor he wondered if a teenager would really want to hang out with him, instead of friends. But Staber said he has always looked forward to their activities together.

"Who wouldn't want to go fishing?" Staber said.

All incoming mentors and mentees partake in an interview and training program, which addresses any questions as well as gives ideas for building relationships.

Support from Kinship continues even after the match is made.

"Mentors can call me anytime, because I want it to be a good experience for them, also," Shipman said.

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