Partnership fills void for both mentor, mentee
After the death of her father, Kimberly Hauser of Pequot Lakes felt that her son, William, could use a friend to help fill the void left by his grandfather.
With prompting from a school worker, Hauser enrolled William with Kinship Partners.
"I did it because I wanted him to have a grandfather figure. My dad passed away from cancer in 2008, and he was really attached to my dad so I wanted him to get attached to another grandfather figure. I thought it would be good for him to get him out of the house," Hauser said.
Her only concern was that William's autism and attention deficit disorder might be too much for a Kinship Partner to handle, but it proved to be a non issue.
William and his first mentor were matched in March 2012. They enjoyed their time together and, as Hauser had hoped, they became close. William was struck another blow when his mentor was diagnosed with cancer and had to leave the program. The partnership dissolved in February 2013, and William decided he didn't want another mentor.
"He wanted to take a break after his first Kinship partner. He got really attached and that mentor left because of his cancer. It really affected him bad. We waited a while until he was ready," his mom said.
In the meantime, Dick Becker of Pequot Lakes was considering becoming a mentor.
"I'd been thinking about it for a while, but I thought, 'I don't know. I can't really offer a lot.' But I have a place on a lake and I like to fish. I'm alone most of the time," Becker said.
Becker had experienced his own share of hardships. He was an empty nester and a widower. He said he doesn't have a lot of money, but he still had a lot of time to share with other people.
"I didn't know what the program was about. I found out you don't have to spend a lot of money," Becker said.
When Becker decided to become a mentor, William was back in the program and was back on the waiting list.
William and Becker were matched in May, and they have both found the company they were looking for.
Becker and William eat at restaurants a lot. Thanks to Becker, William has had many new experiences. Before the partnership, William had never played mini golf, done woodworking or gone fishing, and he had certainly never filleted a fish.
"He didn't want much of that," Becker said.
William and Becker have had exciting times, especially when Becker let William drive a yard tractor.
"We drove a tractor. That just about wasn't good," Becker said.
"Yeah. I almost crashed it," William said.
"I'd asked him if he'd done it before and he said he had. I don't know if he had or not. I had it going a little too fast and he took off. I can't go very fast, but he got to the wall and he hit reverse and came back at me. So, I caught up with him," Becker said.
At times, Becker said he has worried that he didn't have enough activities planned for William, since he can get impatient if things aren't exciting. Times like those give William the chance to practice patience.
"He just has to learn to do what we do. He's learned that a couple times," Becker said.
William's mother said he always talks about Becker and time out of the house has made him more considerate.
"He's been more polite to Mommy. It's helped his behavior a lot. Even at home. He's been more helpful and he comes home and talks about everything they do together," Hauser said.
Becker, who also volunteers time for Let's Go Fishing, said the companionship and the satisfaction he gets from spending time with William is valuable.
"I'm home alone most of the time and he just filled that void. It's satisfying to know you're helping out somehow," Becker said.