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Celebrating National Mentoring Month

BIG FRIEND LITTLE FRIEND, 2023 BOWL-A-THON

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.


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