Building Community Relationships
Author: Todd Workman
Within the last three years, GVSU Pals Student Mentors has begun partnering with local community agencies in order to best facilitate mentoring relationships. This has been a significant change for the Pals program. In the past, Pals was having trouble finding enough children to mentor because they were disconnected from those with access to Grand Rapids’ youth. This prompted them to make a decision to enhance the program through the formation of intentional relationships with local schools, non-profit agencies and community centers.
Why it is important:
For Pals, building relationships with community partners is vital to the success of the program. Without stable and reciprocal relationships, it would be extremely difficult to recruit the amount of children that Pals hopes to mentor each year. The partner agencies help give Pals the legitimacy and trust needed to ensure parents that their child is safe, and being well protected from harm. Also, the community partners that Pals collaborates with are connected within the Grand Rapids community, so the network of resources and contacts that are available is greatly expanded.
It is important for Pals to establish and maintain professional relationships with each of their community partners. They achieve this by assigning a member of the Pals Executive Board(E-Board) to each agency. The E-Board member works directly with the primary contact from their assigned agency to recruit children who want or need a mentor, problem-solve when issues arise, and to communicate whenever it is necessary.
Some of the Community Partners that we have worked with in the past include:
D.A. Blodgett-St. Johns
The Other Way Ministries
The Hispanic Center
The Boys and Girls Club
Kent Schools Services Network(Harrision Park, Sibley, MLK Leadership Academy)