National Mentoring Month: Enjoying some ‘girl time’

Editor's note: This is the third in a weekly series on youth mentors with the Perham Area Kinship program, in light of January being National Mentoring Month.

Marie Johnson/FOCUS Prairie Wind Middle School student Audrey Portrament and her mentor, Heidi Solberg, have been meeting twice a month for the past several months through the Perham Area Kinship program. They like to do different things every time they get together, such as attend school sporting events or go ice skating.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a weekly series on youth mentors with the Perham Area Kinship program, in light of January being National Mentoring Month.


Heidi Solberg and her 11-year-old mentee, Audrey Portrament, enjoy their ‘girl time.’

Twice a month since July, the two have met up to bake cookies, carve pumpkins, go to school sporting events and just get out and do different things together. Most recently, Heidi has been teaching Audrey how to ice skate and play hockey using a small rink in the Solbergs’ front yard.

Heidi has three sons, all older than Audrey, and she said she looks forward to her time with her mentee in part because “it is some time that I get to spend with a girl!”


She also looks forward to it because the two get along so well, and they always have a good time together.

“She’s really fun, and whenever I go to see her she always has this big smile on her face,” said Audrey. “And so I feel safe with her, like nothing bad should happen.”

Heidi said her boys and her husband are all great with Audrey, but their involvement in her mentorship experience is limited; usually, it’s just her and Audrey getting together.

Heidi signed up to be a mentor with the Perham Area Kinship program after talking to her friend and colleague, Ann Kostynick, who is also a mentor. The two of them teach at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, and they had both heard of the need for mentors.

Heidi signed up without much hesitation. She believes it’s important to give back to the community, and she wants to teach her sons and students the importance of volunteering.

Being a mentor, she said, is a pretty fun and easy way to do something good for another person. She looks at her mentorship of Audrey as “a friendship that we can grow together.”

Audrey comes from a good family, Heidi said, so she sees herself as just one of the influential and caring adults in Audrey’s life – another person who’s there to support and encourage her, and to serve as a role model.

“We do different things all the time,” she said. “Audrey likes to try new things, so I try to mix it up. Mainly it’s just about spending time together and forming that bond, so she has another adult in her life that she knows could be there for her.”


Heidi’s enjoyed the experience so much that she’s since referred other friends and coworkers to Kinship.

“It’s such a great program and there’s such a need for it in our community,” she said.

For more information about Perham Area Kinship, visit or contact the program’s director, Jill Shipman, at 346-7102 or .


A writer, editor and mom of four (two kids, two dogs), Marie's been in the newspaper business for over 20 years. She started at the Detroit Lakes Tribune in 2017 after working just down the road at the Perham Focus for several years. Before that, she was at the Herald-Review in Grand Rapids, Minn.
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