Jane & Sharon: Walking Side by Side

Our Side by Side Mentor Program is working to break down barriers and debunk stereotypes about poverty by building social capital in women.

“What exactly IS social capital,”  you ask?


Dictionary.com says it’s a noun meaning “the network of social connection that exist between people, and their shared values and norms of behavior, which enable and encourage mutually advantageous social cooperation.”

So, it’s pretty much agreed that “social capital” is all about networking, social connections, relationships, etc.

Ever since Side by Side kicked off last fall, we have been fostering these networks and connections among ten women: three are “Mentees,” and seven are women from the community (“Mentors”). We have watched these relationships flourish and produce many positive outcomes in less than a year.

One great example of how the Mentor/Mentee relationship is moving women from a place of day-to-day survival to sustainability is Jane’s story:

Jane is a single working mother trying her best to balance her family, work and college. She had the skills needed to navigate everyday life but was missing one important thing: a strong support network. Jane joined Side by Side as a Mentee in November 2012, and for the past seven months she has been actively involved with the program: attending monthly group activities, meeting with a Bridges of Hope case manager and connecting with her three individual Mentors on a weekly basis. These Mentors have been available for Jane to talk through stressful situations, take a break for a cup of coffee, and even bring over meals while she was studying for final exams.

With both the support of her Mentors and her own strong determination, Jane has been able to maintain stable housing for her children, start a new job, and successfully complete another semester of college.

It’s amazing what being in “Side by Side” relationships with others can do!

The Side by Side program is currently launching its second cohort (Summer 2013) with a new group of Mentors & Mentees. If you are interested in supporting this important program, here’s what you can do:

  1. Make a financial contribution to support a Mentor/Mentee relationship

  2. Share your hobby or area of expertise during an upcoming group session

  3. Pray for our Mentees & Mentors

If you or someone you know is interested in being a Mentee, or if you just want more information about Side by Side, call 218.825.7682 and talk with Carly.

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(218) 825-7682

2011 S 6th St, Brainerd, MN 56401, USA

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All Are Welcome Here used with permission from the artist.