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Big Friend Little Friend is a youth mentoring program dedicated to positively impacting youth through fostering a friendship with a caring adult mentors through both a Community Based and School Based Mentoring Programs.


United Way Big Friend Little Friend provides youth, ages 7-14, from Yankton County with a mentor who serves as a positive role model and a supportive friend.


Volunteer mentors are trusting and caring adults from the Yankton area who are passionate about youth in our community.

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Celebrating National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month, and we at United Way of Greater Yankton Big Friend Little Friend (BFLF) were thrilled to celebrate and bring awareness to the positive impact of mentoring, all while providing a fun opportunity for youth to participate in an activity alongside some outstanding role models. On MLK Day of Service, January 16th, we were able to bring back the historical BFLF Bowl-A-Thon.

This annual community event is free and open to any youth, grades 1 - 5, within the Yankton School District thanks to generous community sponsors. This year’s local sponsors included Cimpl’s American Foods Group, Elwood Family Dental Care, Manitou/Gehl, Marlow, Woodward & Huff, Prof., Northtown Automotive, and the Yankton Morning Optimist Club.

A big thanks to Mount Marty University’s Mens Basketball team who volunteered their time to bowl, mentor, and chaperone all youth participating. You are all outstanding role models, thank you so much for your kindness! And to Jim Palmer at Yankton Bowl for hosting and providing in kind contributions, we appreciate your continued support.

United Way’s Big Friend Little Friend program is designed to give young people the opportunity to gain a one-to-one friendship with a positive and sincere adult mentor. According to studies, youth who are matched with a caring adult mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in post high school education programs, 78% more likely to volunteer, and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions within their employment. Since United Way launched the In-School Mentoring program in 2019, over 100 youth have been matched and impacted.

We at BFLF are grateful to Yankton School District leadership for allowing us to continue this critical youth mentoring program within elementary schools, and to the teachers, principals, and counselors for being advocates and identifying the need for mentors among their students.

We also would like to show our appreciation for each 2022/23 BFLF In-School Mentor who each make an incredible impact. These volunteer mentors are trusting and caring adults from the Yankton area who are passionate about youth in our community. Thank you to volunteer mentors Barb Mechtenberg, Ben Husman, Chesney Olson, Christopher Marlow, Deanna Branaugh, Dylan Wilson, Ellen Slowey, Gale Vogt, Janelle Bierle, Jenna Braunesreither, Joan Schild, Karlie Freng, Katie Doty, Kristin Madson, Lauren Hollenbeck, Leonard Hejl, Lori Lincoln, Marie Steckelberg, Peggy Thompson, Rob Stephenson, Stacy Starzl Hansen, Susie Frick, Taylor Wilson, Teresa McDermott, and Tracey Grotenuis.





This summer, United Way of Greater Yankton’s Big Friend Little Friend (BFLF) youth mentoring program is launching their “BE A MENTOR. CHANGE A LIFE” volunteer recruitment campaign, seeking volunteers to commit to spending 2 hours per month sharing their time and positivity with local students within the Yankton School District. After the hiatus with the program since spring of 2020, BFLF will once again be welcomed into local elementary schools, come fall 2022. 

United Way is thrilled to relaunch the BFLF In- School Mentoring Program and has begun efforts to recruit and train positive adult role models, who live in the greater Yankton area, to volunteer for this year’s BFLF In School Mentoring Program, doubling BFLF’s impact on youth in our community. 

“The BE A MENTOR. CHANGE A LIFE campaign hopes to bring awareness to the program and to recruit 20 volunteer mentors to give 1 hour, twice per month, during the school day beginning this fall. These volunteers will share their time and positivity with students in a one-on-one capacity,” shared Baylie Galbreth, United Way Program Coordinator, “and truly make a difference in their mentees’ lives.”
According to studies, youth who are matched with a caring adult mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions. Since United Way launched the In School Mentoring program in 2019, over 60 youth have been matched and impacted. 

Mentoring relationships are a shared opportunity for learning and growth. Many volunteer mentors say that the rewards they gain are as substantial as those for their mentees, and that mentoring has enabled them to:
•    Achieve personal growth and learn more about themselves
•    Improve their self-esteem and feel they are making a difference
•    Feel more productive and have a better attitude at work
•    Enhance their relationships with their own children

BFLF Volunteer Mentors are paired with a single student mentee with similar interests for the duration of their friendship. However, UW BFLF is not a tutoring program. Volunteer Mentors use this time in any way which is special to the pair—playing games, doing crafts, shooting hoops, sharing hobbies, and talking about their week. 

All it takes is one caring person to make a difference in the life of a child, can we count on you?

Please email or call United Way at (605)665-6766 to learn more about BFLF and how to become a volunteer mentor here in Yankton!

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