‘The Things They Did Not Buy’

Investing time made him a better person

From Mark, our new program and communications coordinator:

As a suburphotoban kid growing up outside of Chicago, a highlight came nearly every summer when my sister and I spent two weeks with both sets of our grandparents in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

To a 10-year-old, the deep woods, crisp streams and lakes, and lush mountains of New England were alluring. As we cruised the winding roads in my grandparent’s 1967 Mercury convertible, the open air was heavy with the scent of tall pine, hay and an occasional tobacco farm. Overhead, a single-engine plane droned and a crow  swooped to a new tree. On the top of a favorite hill, we would stop to see the green hillsides rolling from Massachusetts into the nearby states of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Prior to one trip, a grandmother wrote how and she and my step-grandfather were on Granite Lake in New Hampshire fishing near Skull Island –a granite outcropping covered in evergreens and brush. It was a favorite destination for summer blueberry picking. On one fishing trip, she explained, a nearby fisherman wheeled in an unexpected surprise — a black rubber diving mask from the rocky bottom near the island.  Seeing it, she told the fisherman of our pending visit. “I told him my grandson would love to have the mask,” she wrote. “It’s here waiting for you when you come.” Using a dark pen, she drew a picture of it in her letter.

IMG_20150226_0001Our two weeks at Granite Lake spanned from cool summer mornings in front of the wood burning stove to still evenings on the screened porch, where my sister and I would sit with my grandparents and other visitors watching the sunset. During the warmer part of the day, we spent almost all of our time in the spring-fed waters of the lake, so clean people drank from it. And that once forgotten diving mask opened a new, clear world as I explored the soft, sandy bottom near my grandparent’s tiny cabin and the shores off the island. From late morning until sometime late afternoon, it became a beacon – a lens to a place I’d never seen.

Forty years later, I still have that mask in a box with other treasures from my youth. There are handwritten letters, a saxophone mouthpiece, pieces of an old coin collection and some pocketknives a grandfather gave me. In that box and in my mind, I remember the people who invested in me with their time and in many instances, the things they did not buy. I am a better person because of that diving mask, a serene rowboat ride to an island, a picnic lunch and time that ebbed away sweetly, like the clear lapping waves at Granite Lake.

026Mark Billings joined the Best Friends Mentoring Program (BFMP) as a program and communications coordinator starting Feb. 23.

Mark, who came to Dickinson in 2014 as Dickinson State University’s director of communications, will facilitate mentor and mentee recruitment, training and development while handling the nonprofit’s communications and public relations.

“Best Friends Mentoring serves a critical niche in our growing community,” said Mark. “Every youth, regardless of his or her background, deserves a stable, caring and positive influence. Every mentor is a catalyst for powerful, personal impact in a child’s future.”

Kris Fehr, executive director of BFMP, said Mark’s background in nonprofit management and communications in Illinois, where he was a lifetime resident, are a good fit for the 20-year-old nonprofit.  “He has already been active in the community and will continue to connect with people who desire the best for our youth,” she said.

Mark’s wife, Pat, is an education manager at CHI St. Joseph Hospital. The couple has three children, including Chad, 17; Garrett, 15; and Madeleine, 14.

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Every Day is a Food Holiday

national-banana-bread-day-february-23Has it come to this? Every day is a food holiday in the United States and on some days there’s more than one food to commemorate. There’s even special months dedicated to foods, too.

Monday was National Banana Bread Day. There’s months and days for many foods; for example, February alone claims National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Macadamia Nut Month and National Snack Food Month.

Punchbowl.com gives this brief information about the day set aside to recognize one of the most delicious and versatile — and easy to make — breads that’s as comfortable at the dinner table as it is appropriate for breakfast and snack time:

“Banana bread is a delicious baked good, which is classified as a “quick bread” or “tea cake.” Bananas arrived in the United States in the 1870s and quickly became one of the most popular fruits on the market. It wasn’t long before they started to appear in dessert recipes as the star ingredient.

The first cookbooks that mentioned banana bread were published during the Great Depression. Culinary historians believe that a resourceful housewife who did not want to throw away over-ripe bananas may have invented the original recipe.

Today there are many variations on this classic. To celebrate National Banana Bread Day, bake yourself a delicious loaf with unusual add-ins like chocolate chips, berries, or nuts!”

What’s your favorite add-in? I always start with “3 dead bananas,’ to quote my sister, and just before spooning the batter into pan(s), I usually stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Feeling adventurous, I recently tried a wonderful banana bread recipe that called for buttermilk, brown sugar and pecans. Those ingredients are quite a departure from my usual recipes and the resulting product received thumbs up from the church choir when I brought it for a taste test. It might be my new favorite banana bread recipe.

Looking for a more comprehensive listing of national food holidays? Check out this website that contains extensive listings of United States symbols and special days and months.

And by the way: Happy Tortilla Chip Day on Tuesday!

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YOU Made a Difference

Kris & Pamela GHD 2BLESS your Giving Hearts!
Giving Hearts Day donors contributed more than $12,000 to the Best Friends Mentoring Program on February 12, 2015. Thanks to you,12 children will receive mentoring services from a caring, trained, positive adult role model this year. Statewide, donors contributed $6.9 million tom close to 300 charities working every day to make a difference in their communities. THANK YOU!

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It’s YOUR DAY to Make a Difference


Dear Friends,

This is your day…..

To provide food for the hungry, care to our elderly, give kids a caring mentor, support spiritual growth, connect youth with the great outdoors, deliver 24 hour healthcare… and more.

Today only Giving Hearts Day – your gift supporting the Best Friends Mentoring Program is multiplied AND your online contributions made to Best Friends will be matched up to $4,000.

Your gift can dramatically improve life for people in our region. To make a secure online contribution to Best Friends Mentoring Program and have it matched, simply go to www.impactgiveback.org today. All donations are tax deductible.

Thank you in advance for your continued support of Best Friends’ mission: “making a positive difference in children and families, one at a time.”


P.S. This is a one-day only opportunity to multiply the benefit of your gift! Today, donate at www.impactgiveback.org.

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You Can Improve People’s Lives

Giving Hearts Day is YOUR DAY

to make a difference in our community

Eleven Dickinson and southwest North Dakota charities will be participating in Giving Hearts Day 2015, a 24- hour online fundraising event that will be held on February 12. Contributions of $10 or more will be matched by Dakota Medical Foundation and other generous donors, effectively increasing an individual’s donation.

Really? Only $10 and it will be matched so it’s like I donated more? 

The AMEN Food Pantry, Assumption Abbey, Badlands Ministries, Best Friends Mentoring Program, Dickinson BackPack Program, Dickinson Public Schools Foundation, Home on the Range, House of Manna, Sacred Heart Benedictine Foundation, St. Benedict’s Health Center and St. Luke’s Home Foundation have joined together to spread the word about Giving Hearts Day.

Really? I can help local charities on February 12? And these groups are working together? I like that! These are great charities that do good work in southwest North Dakota. Tell me more!

The group, “Pledge from the Edge,” is encouraging everyone to support their favorite charities on Giving Hearts Day. Cooperative efforts to raise awareness include stickers on hot drink sleeves and pizza boxes,electronic billboards, postcards, a display at Dickinson City Hall, television ad, newspaper ads, a video posted on YouTube and cyber cafes. Anyone may support these nonprofits by going online anytime on February 12.

What if I don’t have a computer or internet access? What if I don’t know what to do and I need help?

Those who may want help or who don’t have computer access can stop at any of the following locations to receive assistance and enjoy refreshments while donating:

  • Prairie Hills Mall, Dickinson, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Dickinson Public Schools Central Administration Office, 444 4th St. W, Dickinson, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • St. Luke’s Coffee Shop, 242 10th St. W., Dickinson, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • St. Benedict’s Health Center, 851 4th Ave. E, Dickinson, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Assumption Abbey Visitor’s Center, Richardton, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Golden Valley County Library, Beach, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For information, contact any of the 11 participating charities. To donate on Giving Hearts Day, go to impactgiveback.org.


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Why Worry about Teens Experimenting?

Why should I worry about my child experimenting?


Adolescence is the critical time when kids are at risk of experimenting with nicotine, alcohol and other drugs.

In fact:

·        Nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18.

·        Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence.

·        Preventing or delaying teens from using alcohol, nicotine or other drugs for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety.

Casa Family Day is a national initiative to remind parents that YOU have the power to help your kids live substance free. For information or additional tips, go to casafamilyday.org.

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Be WARM & VOTE for your Favorite Charity


Exciting News: Your VOTES can make a difference & help us win $$s! Read more:

  • Please vote for Dickinson charities and help one win a donation from Gate City Bank. Go to Gate City Bank, 204 Sims St., Dickinson, to vote for your favorite Giving Hearts Day charities listed on the mitten. Gate City Bank will give $5,000 to one charity in Dickinson and a $10,000 grand prize will be drawn from entries statewide on February 18!  Vote as often as you like February 2-12 in person at Dickinson’s Gate City Bank lobby.
  • Please vote for the Pledge from the Edge video of Your Favorite local charities and help us win a cash prize (up to $750)! Vote February 6-12 on the VISIONBank web page at http://www.visionbanks.com/didyouknow/givinghearts.asp.

Remember Best Friends Mentoring Program on Giving Hearts Day-Thursday, February 12. To make a secure online contribution to Best Friends Mentoring Program and have it matched, simply go to the Giving Hearts Day website www.impactgiveback.org only on February 12. All donations are tax deductible.

Thank you in advance for your continued support of Best Friends’ mission: “making a positive difference in children and families, one at a time.”

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Mentor: “One Who Thinks & Shares Thoughts with Others?”

January is National Mentoring Month. We will be posting articles of interest through out the month. This article from The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring, published November 11, 2014, explores the meaning of the words “mentor” and “mentee.”

By  November 11, 20140 Comments

Why a syndicated columnist struggles with the terms “mentor” and “mentee”

Editor’s note: Here’s some thoughts for those of us who have struggled somewhat with using “mentor” as a verb, and replacing protege with “mentee,”

From the Christian Science Monitor

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.41.11 AMThe Monitor’s language columnist has made peace with ‘mentor’ as a verb; ‘mentee’ as the term for the one being mentored, not so much.

By Ruth Walker OCTOBER 23, 2014

A professional organization to which I belong has long struggled to establish a mentoring program for its members.

I suspect we’re not alone. It can be hard to find people of a certain breadth and depth of experience willing to commit to working long term to help someone more junior find the right professional path.

But beyond that, there are those – found disproportionately within the “breadth and depth” crowd, I suspect – who have trouble with mentor as a verb.

Lucy Ferriss, at the Lingua Franca blog, commented recently that a new writing project has taken her “deep into the fields of business and finance” where “at every turn” she has been encountering mentor and – gasp! – mentee. “I confess publicly here, and with no small amount of shame, that these terms irritate me, as if someone’s placing a guiding hand on the back of my neck every time either of them comes up.”

Those whose breadth and depth extend to the Greek classics, as Ms. Ferriss’s clearly do, recall that Mentor was the friend whom Odysseus asked to keep an eye on his son, Telemachus, while Odysseus was off fighting the Trojan War. And sometimes Athena disguised herself as Mentor to counsel Telemachus and keep an eye on the suitors trying to make moves on Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, in his absence. (Maybe my professional group would have less trouble if we could promise prospective mentors they could pass off some of the heavy lifting to the Greek goddess of wisdom.)

Mentor certainly makes for an apt figurative usage – after all, Mentor actually did mentor Telemachus. And I accept that nouns, even proper nouns, can become verbs.

My own quibble with the mentor thing is that there’s no perfect term for the junior partner in the relationship.

Mentee is the word that’s often used; it has made it into at least some dictionaries. But it sounds like the name of those sea creatures that fooled love-starved sailors into thinking they were seeing mermaids, doesn’t it? And it comes close enough to the French word meaning “to lie,” in the mendacious sense (mentir), that mentee suggests “someone who has been sold a bill of goods.”

My real gripe with mentee, though, has been that it suggests that those who use it think mentoris an “agent noun,” referring to a “doer” of some imagined action, “menting.” A “mentor” is one who “ments,” in other words. (Compare lessor and lessee, for instance.)

The Online Etymology Dictionary has this to say in its entry for mentor, which came into English as a noun around 1750: “the name appears to be an agent noun of mentos,” meaning “intent, purpose, spirit, passion.” Mentor is related to a Sanskrit word meaning “one who thinks,” and to the Latin monitor, “one who admonishes.”

So maybe a mentor is “one who thinks,” and by extension, shares thoughts with others. I’m still not sold, though, on mentee.

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How to Create a Strong Relationship

January is National Mentoring Month. We will be posting articles of interest through out the month. This article from The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring, published December 12, 2014, tells why a strong working alliance makes a difference in mentoring relationships.

By  December 12, 20140 Comments

Findings highlight importance of quality mentor-mentee relationships

Larose, S., Chaloux, N., Monaghan, D., & Tarabulsy, G. M. (2010). Working Alliance as a Moderator of the Impact of Mentoring Relationships Among Academically At‐Risk Students. Journal of Applied Social Psychology40 (10), 2656-2686.


In this study, Simon Larose and his colleagues explored the role of the working alliance in mentoring relationships—predicting that more positive working alliances between mentees and mentors would be associated with improved academic adjustment and achievement. Working alliance is a technical term for the quality of the relationship  Researchers have found that (1) a friendly, respectful bond; (2) agreement on goals; and (3) agreement on tasks designed to achieve these goals can lead to strong alliances.


High-risk students at a Canadian public college were randomly assigned to either an educational program with a mentoring component or a no-treatment control group. The program consisted of a community volunteering component, as well as bi-weekly individual mentoring.


Students and mentors who had strong agreement on goals and felt that there was positive bonding were more likely than other mentored students and non-mentored students to improve in:

  • participation in class
  • disposition to seek help from teachers
  • school persistence.

Conclusion and Implications

Developing a strong working alliance in a mentoring relationship is critically important for effective mentoring. Mentored students with a strong working alliance benefitted more from mentoring than other mentored students and the control group.
The authors suggested that agreement on goals is especially important because it establishes trust, mentees’ sense of ownership in the process, and their feelings of efficacy when mutual, reasonable goals are reached. This may give mentees a sense of ownership in the mentoring process.

summarized by UMass Boston clinical psychology student Max Wu.

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Boys: Disclosing Feelings a Waste of Time

January is National Mentoring Month. We will be posting articles of interest through out the month. This article from The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring, published December 16, 2014, tells why girls disclose more than boys and the implications for those who mentor boys.

By  December 16, 20141 Comments

Why are boys less likely to disclose their problems: Implications for mentoring

0319061237Rose, A. J., Schwartz‐Mette, R. A., Smith, R. L., Asher, S. R., Swenson, L. P., Carlson, W., & Waller, E. M. (2012). How Girls and Boys Expect Disclosure About Problems Will Make Them Feel: Implications for Friendships. Child Development83(3), 844-863.


One of the strongest findings in the sex differences of friendships is that girls tend to disclose more than boys (Rose & Adolphs, 2006). Although these findings have been consistently replicated in many studies, less work has been done in understanding and explaining this difference. One might predict that girls expect relief from receiving validation and support when disclosing emotional problems, whereas boys may fear embarrassment to a greater extent than girls.

These hypotheses were tested by Rose et al. (2012) in middle childhood and mid-adolescent boys and girls (ranging from 8 to 17 years old). Participants read vignettes in which they encountered stressful situations, such as being bullied. They then reported on their expectations if they disclosed the problem to friends, and whether they would disclose at all.  The major findings in the study were:

1) Girls endorsed positive expectations (feeling cared for, being understood) more strongly than boys did. Girls were more likely to feel that disclosure will lead to feeling better about themselves, strengthen their connections to others, and help resolve the problem itself. These positive expectations lead to girls’ greater amount of disclosure to friends.

2)  Boys did not endorse negative expectations of being embarrassed or worried about being teased more strongly than girls did. However, boys were more likely to feel “weird” and that they were wasting time.

These differences in expectations helped to explain girls’ greater disclosure to friends.


Why boys feel it’s “weird” to disclose (and what they mean by that term) should be explored in future research, but  gender roles may be coming into play.  Boys may be value toughness more than girls, even as early as middle childhood.

Future studies may consider why boys feel that they are “wasting time” in disclosing problems to friends. The authors raised the possibilities that boys may feel that sharing ambiguous problems with friends who cannot help the situation instrumentally, or even that talking about the problems takes away from other possible stress relief, such as leisure activities.

Mentors working with boys should provide safe, non-stigmatizing contexts for boys’ to discuss their problems, providing reassurance that problems are a normal part of life and that sharing them can be a constructive way of resolving them.

Summarized by UMass Boston graduate student Max Wu

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