More About Us

Kinship Partners is a member of the Kinship Affiliate Network. The first Kinship program was begun in 1954 as the Christian ministry of four theological students at Luther Seminary in the Twin Cities. These students befriended some boys in a tough Minneapolis neighborhood who were in need of a positive influence. They weren’t trying to evangelize or act as psychologists or counselors to these boys. They simply wanted to be their friend, to reach out to the less fortunate, and make a difference in their lives.

Kinship Partners is a nonprofit youth mentoring organization providing positive role models to youth in Perham area since 1996. 


How are children chosen to be Kinship Partners?

Children ages 5-17 from Perham and the surrounding area are served by Kinship Partners mentoring program.  Our program coordinators work hard to create great quality matches, initially lasting for one year, but potentially lasting a lifetime and having an important impact on the life of a young person.  We believe that every child benefits from additional adult role models.

Who can be mentors in the program?

Kinship Partners is unique among mentoring programs in that we encourage not only individuals but also couples and families to become mentors for children. All Mentors are screened and trained.

Am I good enough to be a role model?

Children are not looking for perfection. Rather, they’re just interested in spending time with real people who might be able to share from their experience and enjoy including them on the journey. We have discovered that “ordinary” people can make extraordinary mentors.

What is the time commitment?

Partners are encouraged to spend time together each week, two to three hours a week is recommended. Mentors tell us that including the child in what they were already planning, takes a minimal amount of additional time from their weekly schedule. We have heard from many volunteers that the rewards often surpass their investment of time.

I don’t know if I could afford to take a child out once a week, or every other week?

Kinship Partners stresses “everyday” activities. We have discovered that time together is the most valuable resource adults can provide. This might involve playing a board game, making a meal, doing odd jobs around the house, washing the car, flying a kite at the park, fishing, etc. Children do need exposure to special events and fun outings too and Kinship participants receive discounts at a number of community businesses and organizations. Kinship Partners also plans activities that are free of charge or minimal cost for both the mentor(s) and the child.

What if I go on vacation or am a “Snow Bird”?

The children in our program enjoy receiving postcards, emails or phone calls from many of our volunteers that travel in the winter. Although it is great when volunteers are able to select a constant weekly meeting time with their kids, for many it needs to vary from week to week.

I feel I’m too busy with my own family to be a mentor.

One of the great things about Kinship Partners is that couples and families can volunteer together. Instead of pulling families apart, mentoring can strengthen them through their common volunteer involvement. Whether it is your own children, or perhaps grandchildren, they can interact with your Kinship mentee as well.

Would a child like me?

An important element of creating long lasting mentoring relationships involves picking the right mentor and mentee. Adult-child matches are carefully made based upon interest, location, gender and other preferences. The child and his/her parent or guardian has the final approval of the volunteer. The Kinship Partners staff consistently monitors the matches and if difficulties arise assistance is provided.

What if I’m matched with a child that I can’t handle?

Our staff will provide full disclosure of the children’s background to prospective volunteers. Some of our kids require more experienced volunteers, but many children simply need a positive adult in their life.

Am I too old to mentor?

Anyone willing to share their time and interests is welcomed. Mentors have the chance to “give something back” to society and future generations.

What if I don’t have much experience with kids?

You do not need to have a lot of experience to be a friend. Mentors serve as role models in instilling universal values such as honesty, respect, trust, and responsibility.  Our staff provides ongoing support when questions or concerns arise.

How much personal liability is involved?

Kinship Partners works to diminish participant liability by carefully screening program participants and meets the rigorous Kinship Inc. standards. Kinship Partners has liability insurance which covers volunteers as additionally insured.

How will this influence my own children?

If you have children in the home, Kinship Partners takes them into account when matching you with a child. Mentors and their family have the chance to “give something back” to other children in their community.

Do I have to drive a long distance to be a mentor?

While Kinship Partners serves the Perham and surrounding area, geographic proximity is a key determinant when suggesting potential matches.

Tyler Schepper

Tyler was born and raised in Perham, MN. Tyler received his Bachelor’s of Psychology degree from NDSU in 2013 and attended graduate school at MSUM studying Clinical Mental Health. Tyler has always had a passion for helping others and is excited to bring his skill set to the Kinship program.

Tyler currently resides in Perham after spending the previous 19 years in the Fargo/Moorhead area. Tyler enjoys staying active with sports and outdoor activities, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and attending concerts.

Tyler has an emotional connection with the Perham area being a former Yellowjacket himself and looks forward to give back to the community that gave him so much. He feels strongly that putting caring adults in the lives of local youth will produce positive results in many areas of life for both the mentee and mentor. Tyler still stays in contact with his own mentors and gives them a lot of credit for the successes in his own life. Tyler looks forward to propelling Perham’s Kinship program into the future and changing the lives of area youth for the better.

Leona Cichy

Leona is a non-profit leader with ten years of management, resource development and program coordination experience. A New Jersey native, Leona re-located to the lakes area of Minnesota in 2015. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Studies from Monmouth University and a Master’s Degree in Adapted Physical Activity from Slippery Rock University.

Leona is passionate about building community and creating opportunities and resources to help others thrive. She has volunteered as a mentor for the Kinship program since 2017, and previously served as the Program Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club, where she currently provides Resource Development support.

In addition to her non-profit work, Leona is the owner of Roots & Wings Wellness, a yoga and wellness studio located in Perham offering in-studio and outdoor yoga classes, workshops, and retreats. She enjoys working with individuals of all ages to help improve their wellness and reconnect with nature and the great outdoors.

Leona is excited to continue making a difference in the lives of youth and the greater community through her role as Program Coordinator for Kinship of the Perham Area.