Mentoring Appreciation Night Award Winners

2019 Ripple Effect Award Winners: Dave and Sue Hodson

January is National Mentoring Month. Each year we celebrate our amazing mentors, partners, donors, and families for all that they do to support students. See below for the complete list of Mentoring Appreciation Night Awards Winners!

2022 Awards: Join us virtually Wednesday, January 26 awards, prizes and celebration! Grab a drink or snack and enjoy. You must register before the event to receive the Zoom link.

YearGo for the G.O.L.D. AwardPush Through AwardSoaring High AwardLongevity AwardPriceless PartnerRipple Effect AwardLukaart Legacy Award
2022Karen Small

Veronica Meza

Alex Stevenson
Geoffrey Bonham

Kim Stoub
Claire WoltersMike ZieteseMallowfieldsErika VanDykeAngel Barreto-Cruz

Luis Perez
2021Gary EveyCandy Wilkes-Scheper

Larry Whipple
Mike KruppDebbie SchuhmanKent District LibrarySergio Cira-Reyes

Carole Paine-McGovern and Kent School Services Network
Karina Zarate
2020Sara ArandaMadeline Aguillon

Kathee Longberg
Will HollandCindy KesselGordon Food ServiceJohana Rodriguez-QuistSusan Lukaart
2019NAVanessa NolteMaura LamoreauxSuzann VanklompenbergBlue Cross Blue Shield of MichiganDave and Sue HodsonNA

Advancing Equity through Innovative Partnerships

By Rachel Humphreys

At Affinity, we work towards the mutual liberation of all of our community and believe that youth are already leaders and community members, but need equitable access and platforms to use their voice. Affinity’s mentoring model provides individual, one hour per week mentoring with trained, safe, supportive adults to support the growth of leadership and social-emotional skills, as well as math and literacy skills.

“We collaborate closely with school administration, community partners, and community members  that share our values to build close relationships and are strategically involved in area schools in a manner that strives to advance equity. Our partners help recruit mentors, financially support our program, and advocate for our organization,” explains Cassandra Kiger, executive director of Affinity Mentoring. “We have nearly 30 local partners, including Gordon Food Service, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Steelcase Foundation, and Kent School Services Network.”

This year we have worked extremely hard to rebuild and innovatively rethink our entire approach to mentoring in the most equitable way possible. As we reviewed community feedback and local data on health and safety, as well as personal fears surrounding COVID of various populations (Kent County Racial/Ethnic Data) (Kent Co. Latinos with COVID Die Younger and More Often) (African Americans Disproportionately Affected), we quickly realized that traditional mentoring would no longer be accessible to all students. 

For the past eight weeks the Affinity team has worked tirelessly to develop accessible, equitable, and safe methods for all mentors and mentees to continue meeting weekly from the safety of their homes, and/or with students in clean, individual spaces in mentor centers. “The overall cost of this overhaul in staff time and material resources has been approximately $30,000 above and beyond regular programming costs, but we believe that it is worth all students safely having access to mentoring, and we recognize the long-term investment that we are making in accessibility and technology,” explains Cassandra.

We shared our need for COVID relief and virtual mentoring support and our partners at Gordon Food Service (GFS) immediately stepped up to help. Despite being financially affected themselves by the pandemic, GFS committed to supplying 60 devices for our Mentor Centers. (Though students receive devices through their school, each household has a different level of technological fluency. Devices will be provided to families who specifically site issues with technology navigation as a barrier to virtual mentoring, as these devices will be specifically preprogrammed with all technology necessary for mentoring.) This equates to roughly $12,000 in technology support, not including the countless hours their IT department spent to ensure the computers were ready for students and mentors. GFS has been one of Affinity’s community partners since 2015 and the number of employees that volunteer as mentors has grown exponentially (8 to 84). 


Dave Veldink + Student Mentee

“Our [company] culture is reflective of our values. The Gordons are an amazing family and [Affinity Mentoring] ties in closely with the values of GFS,” says Dave Veldink, NA Director of Marketing and Merchandising Operations at Gordon Food Service and longtime mentor at Affinity

Not only are employees encouraged to volunteer, but leadership at GFS has done everything to remove obstacles from employees who would like to be mentors. This includes being flexible about scheduling accommodations for mentors and not requiring hourly employees to clock out during their mentoring hours. 

“We are proud to support Affinity Mentoring as an organization, but it’s our caring volunteer mentors that are the heart of our effort,” explains Rich Wolowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gordon Food Service (GFS). “This recent donation of technology will help ensure kids continue to connect with and build relationships with their mentors, to the social and academic benefit of the students, their families, and our community.”  

At Affinity we are grateful for our partners, like Gordon Food Service, who find innovative ways to leverage their resources, social capital, and network to support mentoring. To find out more about becoming a community partner click here.



Affinity is accepting applications for new mentors for Fall 2020. Our goal is to recruit 100 new mentors by September 9 and we currently need 53 more!

Laurie Vanderbroek + Student Mentee

Become a Mentor | Apply Now >
No prior mentoring experience is needed and we match people based on their interests, personalities, and background! Last year we matched 286 students with a mentor, our goal this year is 300. The online application takes less than 10 minutes. Once you have applied you will be contacted by one of our program staff to schedule an in-person interview. For the health and safety of students and mentors, this year mentoring will be virtual (learn more).

Commitment
One hour per week (during the school day 8am-4pm) for one school year (late September – late May). We cater to working professionals and can be flexible and reschedule sessions.

Mentoring Sites | More Info Here > 

  • Burton Elementary School and Burton Middle School
  • Southwest Community Campus Elementary 
  • Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center 

Affinity’s Back to School Wishlist

Help us stock our new mentoring sites at Lee Middle School and Godfrey-Lee Elementary and replenish our other sites. After hundreds of students use our supplies and games each week we are always in need of a helping hand!


Check out our Amazon Wishlist for a full list of needs!


BOOKS

  • Spanish books K-3
  • English books K-3
  • Middle school books
  • Diverse + educational

CRAFTS

  • Pencils + colored pencils
  • Markers + crayons
  • Pom poms, pipe cleaner, buttons, sequins
  • Construction paper
  • Glue + glue sticks
  • Cotton Balls

GAMES

  • Flashcards
  • Math + reading games
  • Legos
  • Uno
  • Sorry
  • Kerplunk
  • Mancala

OFFICE/OTHER

  • Printer/scanner
  • Kleenex
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Stapler
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Rolling Cart

OUTDOOR GAMES

  • Hula hoops
  • Soccer balls
  • Jump ropes
  • Basketballs
  • Footballs
  • Frisbees
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Cones

Thank you for your support!


Please send or drop off donations at:

818 Butterworth St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Contact: Rachel Humphreys | rhumphreys@affinitymentoring or 616.215.0888

100 Days, 100 Mentors

Each year we have over 100 students on our waiting list, asking for mentors. With seed money from the Steelcase Foundation we are expanding to a 4th site this fall [Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center] to help meet that need.

But we need your help.

In the next 100 days, our goals are to recruit:

  • 100 new mentors
  • 100 match sponsors [to donate $10/month]

Will you join us?

Become a Mentor Match Sponsor 

Make a small, monthly contribution to Affinity. Your gift will not only help students academically, but it’ll also give them the social and emotional support they need to work towards a positive future.

Become a Mentor.

Sign up today to mentor one student for one hour week starting this fall and ask a friend to mentor too!

2017-2018 Annual Report

We are excited to share with you our first annual report! In this report you will find:

  • A letter from our executive director
  • Revenue and expenses
  • Growth and sustainability
  • Community impact
  • Mentor stories

Check it out now! Affinity’s 2017_2018 Annual Report