Parents: Just Breathe

From Pamela, our Development & Volunteer Coordinator:

Many years ago I realized, with a wisdom beyond my years, that disappointed expectations were the source of all the world’s misery.  I mention this because, now that I am working with mentors and mentees, I also speak to parents from time to time.  And parents are, sadly, subject to disappointed expectations regarding their children.  And needlessly, in some cases!  For example, many parents of elementary school kids think they will have more discretionary time when their kids head into Junior and Senior High School.  Why would they think that?  Because it’s comforting to think that, when their daily schedules are so often crunched into powder.  They think—“In a few years, I will no longer be 100% responsible for how for my offspring’s every waking moment is spent.”  Unfortunately, they will soon enough be 40% – 80% responsible for all those waking moments that are, now that the kids are older, 700% more complex, bewildering, and requiring ever-vigilant re-scheduling.  Below, I have sketched out a hypothetical schedule for Jr. and Sr. High parents (that I carefully researched and that is absolutely true-to-life) for a random four days in October.  (I was trying for a full week but quickly ran out of space):

Wednesday, Oct. 1

Orthodontist appointment

P/U from cheerleading practice

Tennis lesson

P/U from band practice

Observe World Vegetarian Day/Make special veggie salsa

Thursday, Oct. 2

Dermatologist appointment

Boys Jr. High Football game

Swimming Lesson

Plan ahead for Oct. 16 & 17, school closed for NDEA

Pay online bill for all tele. and personal devices

Friday, Oct. 3

Orthodontist Follow-up Appointment

Girls Junior High Volleyball Game

Boys Varsity Football Game

Start planning for Halloween Party/decorating house

Saturday, Oct. 4

Girls JV Volleyball Tournament

Observe National Golf Day/Take kids out for nine holes if no rain

Drive daughter to sleepover

Check to see if things are going okay at sleepover

I’m exhausted just keystroking this—and this was a typical four days for kids who aren’t socially active and say they don’t have any friends.  So, you parents with younger kids, you get the idea.  And, now that I think about it, to parents with Jr. and Sr. High kids, mentoring must sound really, really easy.

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Each Dinner with Your Kids & Be a STAR

Studies show that children who eat dinner with their parents have a reduced risk of substance abuse. Try to make meals a family event. Here are some other ideas for activities that strengthen your family from

Become a Family Day STAR!

I commit to:

SSpend time with my kids

TTalk to them about their friends, interests and the dangers of nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs

AAnswer their questions and listen to what they say

RRecognize that I have the power to help keep my kids substance free!


Family Day is a national movement to celebrate parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free.



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Importance of Childhood Self-Control: New Study

From our executive director, Kris:

Why is self control important?

Research has found that childhood self-control, defined as “internally focused active control tendencies involving regulation of thoughts, feelings, or behaviors” predicts multiple psychological outcomes later in life. Studies show that:

  • Greater childhood self-control was tied to more positive adolescent behaviors, which were then linked to greater educational achievement.
  • Less childhood self-control was tied to more negative adolescent behaviors, which were associated with less educational achievement.
  • Educational achievement predicted greater job complexity and higher income, both of which in turn were tied to greater job satisfaction.

The findings from this study have implications for youth mentoring. Mentors can use strategies aimed at reinforcing students’ self-control through evidence-based therapies and exercises. These strategies, whether enacted through structured, skill-based approaches or more informal, “teachable moments”, have the potential to foster positive outcomes.

Citation: Converse, P. D., Piccone, K. A., & Tocci, M. C. (2014). Childhood self-control, adolescent behavior, and career success. Personality and Individual Differences59, 65-70.

Read the article here:

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What the Best Friends Mentoring Program Has Meant to Me

Caleb Burgard is a teacher education student at Dickinson State University. He has been a mentor since January 2011.

Insights from Caleb, one of our mentors:

Looking back on these past few years as a mentor, I truly believe the Best Friends Mentoring Program has given me the ability and tools I need to pursue my teaching degree. The ability to give my precious time to my particular best friend is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I look forward to every week when I get to spend time visiting, working on homework, playing games, and hopefully making a lasting impact on his life.

I have seen his growth and improvement throughout his elementary years and I am convinced the Best Friends Mentoring Program is definitely worth someone’s time. He has changed my perspective on life and I strongly encourage everyone to become a mentor. The Best Friends Mentoring Program gave me the appropriate chance to make a perfect match. We have established a friendship that goes beyond the classroom and continue to build on it each time we meet.

My only regret with the program was not getting involved sooner or during my high school years. I wish I would have taken the time back then to give back but now I am very appreciative of the Best Friends Mentoring Program. They have been outstanding throughout the entire process and I look forward to using these concepts in my future classroom.

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Remember 9/11

For the bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner, 6,600 kids in Maryland created a living flag, replicating the same event 100 years ago.

From our Executive Director, Kris:

On this Patriot Day, a National Day of Remembrance and Service, each and every individual in the United States  is reminded how quickly life can end. How the last time you see someone can be your last. How quickly you can be left with an aching, empty feeling of things unsaid and of life gone suddenly. How reality can be changed forever in just an instant.

Here’s a way to make September 11, 2014 personally meaningful: Resolve today, for one day, to make a difference in the lives of everyone you meet: smile, hold the door, lay off tailgating when you’re in a hurry, wave, say please and thank you, be free with compliments.

Make today your personal tribute to our country and to those who died on September 11, 2001.


Today is Patriot Day. Take a look at this news story that commemorates the bicentennial of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. (copy link & paste into your browser if it doesn’t directly link):




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Have we already spoken?

From our administrative assistant, Dorothy:

You’ll most likely speak with Dorothy when you call Best Friends Mentoring Program.

Hi, my name is Dorothy, and we may have already spoken—if you’ve ever called Best Friends Mentoring.  I’ve been the receptionist here for three years and counting.  I’ve got four kids, 11 grandkids and one great-grandchild, and I’ve really learned a lot about kids today from the mentors and mentees here.

I’ve had a varied background—I’ve worked as a truck driver, in road construction, as a welder, and for many years as a nurse’s assistant.  I moved from Bismarck to Dickinson about six years ago to be near my grandkids.  (Well, some of them.)

But working for Best Friends has been the best job I’ve ever had!  I’ve met so many interesting and amazing people—the people I work with and those I speak with on the phone are so well-spoken and caring, and they always treat me with such respect.

And I’ve seen so much good come out of this program!  Some of the kids we work with are just about to get into real trouble, and we find, time after time, what they needed was a true friend to listen and care. A mentor DOES make a difference!

I wish I’d had mentoring to help my own kids—and in fact, to help ME when I was growing up.  In those days, parents were in a hurry for their kids to grow up fast and start working.

You know, Best Friends doesn’t just help kids, it helps the mentors.  I know they’ll be better parents (eventually, if they aren’t parents yet), for all the training and experience they get as mentors.

If you think mentoring might be for you, or if you’d like to volunteer to help out—just give me a call at 701-483-8615.  I’m not in charge here, but it’s very likely it’ll be my voice that introduces you to a really, really important organization here in Dickinson.

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Tuesday, August 26. Eleven days without sunglasses! and other remarkable newcomer revelations

News from Pamela, our new Development Coordinator:

Relocating to Dickinson after 13 years in sunny/parched Southern California has been transformative.  Here, sunscreen and sunglasses are not absolutely essential to remember before opening the front door in the morning.  In fact, sun defense seems not to be a top-of-mind priority.  Last Saturday, I opened an umbrella for the first time in three years.  I turned on my car’s windshield wipers for the first time since I bought it in October, 2013.  And last Sunday I attended church for the first time in 18 years.

Next week, all my transformative experiences will probably be connected with mentoring, as I will be visiting some matches at Dickinson elementary schools and I may be helping out with mentor training.

Ever wondered if mentoring might change your life or even the way you see Dickinson?  No need to wonder further about how you’d match with mentoring—you can contact me any time at all at

As you’ve probably noticed, I can be endlessly informative—did you know that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear?

More valuable data headed your way, so stay tuned.

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Volunteer Gets Canned & Offers Recycling Tips

Volunteer Chris Hammond and executive director Kris Fehr spent a Friday afternoon in the rain bagging and transporting cans to Continental Metal.

From our executive director, Kris:

Thanks to one of our most faithful volunteers, Chris Hammond, for volunteering a few hours to clean bags of cans from our recycling bins. Chris joined our executive director, Kris Fehr, in collecting the cans and taking them to Continental Metal. Recycling makes up 5% of Best Friends Mentoring Program’s annual budget, so keep saving your aluminum cans.

Chris says:

  • Please put your cans into bags and put them into one of the recycling bins located in the Wal-Mart parking lot, West River Community Center parking lot, city recycling site off of 13th Avenue West across from Hawks Point and parking lot next to 135 W. Villard St.
  • Please don’t co-mingle anything with your cans–no plastic, cardboard, other trash and no vegetable or animal food cans. Just aluminum cans, please.
  • Please call Best Friends Mentoring (701-483-8615) to volunteer a few hours to help our community and to help a great cause.

Do you have a pickup and a few hours a month that you could help out with recycling? Call Best Friends Mentoring Program to volunteer: 701-483-8615 or email

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Somewhere between & Lifesaving: A Newcomer’s take on mentoring in Dickinson, N.D.

From our new Development Coordinator, Pamela:

Just drove in to Dickinson late on Saturday, August 16, and Toto, we are NOT in Long Beach, CA anymore.  I’m the new Development Coordinator at Best Friends, and I’m just settling in to my new job and new apartment.  If location is everything, I am thankfully centrally located in both.

The temperature is cooler here than in Long Beach, but the people are warmer.  The cost of living is higher, but the weather comes free with your ND welcome package, and weather was something I sorely missed in Long Beach.  Here, you not only have rain, wind and fog, but National Geo-grade cloud formations.

I’m looking forward to my new assignments working with mentors and mentees—and, of course, the fundraising (so dear to my heart).

The introduction to mentoring I’ve gotten at the office has given me insight into the hours of behind-the-scenes effort required to create and nurture good matches that last, matches that really work for both mentors and mentees.  The hours of background checks, interviews, recruitment and training, talking to parents, teachers, school principals and employees—that’s what’s required to run a quality mentoring program.

Stay tuned for more notes from a newcomer’s perspective—

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Give it a Chance: Tips for sending your child to college

From our executive director, Kris:

This is my third — and LAST — time to drop off a child at college, having just moved our son into his third floor dorm room at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.  My advice to parents of college freshmen is to stay positive to help your child get ready for his new life away from home. Here are some things I did:

  • Point out conveniences: Community showers down the hall? Great! You have a choice of showers and you don’t have moist air in your room. And you probably don’t have to clean the bathrooms, either.
  • Highlight opportunities: Don’t know your roommate? You’ll make new friends.
  • Stay focused and supportive: This is a chance to learn and grow. Take it slow and give it a chance. Let him know you are there for him when he needs to unload. And when he needs to share good news.
Eileen Ogintz  of offers these tips from her recent firsthand experience:

1. Keep calm! If you are nervous, your child will be nervous too. So what if they hate their roommate on sight.

2. Pre-order from a store like Bed, Bath and Beyond so you can pick it up and pay when you arrive — everything from plastic storage bins to an extra-thick mattress pad for that extra-long twin dorm bed to extra-long sheets for the dorm beds.Target has an entire back-to-college section to guide you.

3. Offer support but no opinions. Parents are not allowed to complain about the money being spent, the time racing from store to store or your child’s attitude.

4. Be prepared with a tool kit, duct tape, first aid kit and sewing kit. You will need all of them before you leave.

5. At all costs, avoid silly arguments with your child.

6. This is not the time for parents — whether divorced or together — to argue among themselves either. Remember, this is about your child.

7. Keep smiling as you wend your way through receptions and sessions on how to “let go,” though all you want to do is take a nap.

8. Don’t be insulted if your child prefers to have dinner with her new roommates rather than with you.

9. Be ready to back off and leave — even if it is earlier than you planned — if your child gives you the signals he doesn’t want you there anymore. (Remember middle school?)

10. Be prepared that your child might not cry when you leave.

(read her article here:

Last words from Kris: Of course you will miss your student! Let him know you can hardly wait to see him over the long Labor Day weekend, and that you support him going off to school and starting his adult life. (You’ll have plenty of time to cry in the car on your drive home.)

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