In the fall of 2015, to celebrate our 50th anniversary, Project Friendship board members and staff began the quest to determine Project Friendship's impact in Northfield. Until 2013, there was no record of who participated in our program as a mentor or as a mentee. There wasn't a need to keep the information up until now. Since 1965, we estimate that around 5,000 youth have been matched with a caring PF mentor.
So the process began - combing through old financial records dating back to 1965 for names of those who were reimbursed (a past practice in the earlier years) and searching through newspaper articles and college archives. We compiled a list of 1,500 names that participated as a mentor. We were excited we had names! However, we do not have contact information for most of them.
Through a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, we were able to continue the project and locate some of the past participants on our list. We interviewed 16 of those 1,500 in 2017. We partnered with the American Conversations class at St. Olaf College and created podcasts from 8 of the 16 interviews.
These stories are why we continue to push forward. Project Friendship mentors give any child HOPE, stronger confidence and an hour each week to relax and have fun! Listen below to the stories of a positive and caring mentor's impact on not only the child but also their family and the mentor them self.