...Just what is HOWA anyway?
- (interj.) An Ojibwe expression of praise or amazement.
- (noun) Family Center serving the communities of Hackensack, Onigum, Walker and Akeley since 1996.
We are a family-friendly organization that is committed to equipping children, families and communities with the tools and resources needed to thrive! HOWA provides additional support to parents/guardians as well as guidance and friendship for children through our Kinship Partners mentoring program. The Family Center recognizes our youth are our most valuable resource— we seek to empower them to become leaders and role models themselves through Kinship Buddies Peer to Peer Mentoring. Finally, we understand the importance of community and intergenerational relationships. Kinship CommUNITY seeks to create opportunities for all ages to come together to learn from one another—whether during a volunteer food drive, or an informal fishing trip—we seek to unite our communities through common interests and passions, so we can feel confident and comfortable to come together and celebrate our differences as well. Please explore our site, and be sure to “like” our Facebook page to keep up to date with HOWA!
Alysia Vinkemeier has joined the staff of HOWA Family Center as the new program coordinator. As such, she is in charge of Kinship Partners and other mentoring programs, which are vital to the center’s core mission of “enriching lives through mentoring for children, families and communities.”
Vinkemeier has lived in Walker for four years and has worked as the Christian education director for Hope Lutheran Church and program coordinator for the local Boys and Girls Club. She also runs her own licensed day-care business. Through these positions, she has gotten to know the Walker community and many of the unique issues facing our children and youths.
“Mentoring allows us to build a better community by making a difference in children’s lives,” she said. “My primary focus will be to recruit mentors and mentees for the Kinship program, build those relationships and expand the program.
“I will focus on finding families with children who would benefit from making a connection with an adult mentor, and also finding mentors who want to take the opportunity to shape a child’s future and give back to the community by developing a special relationship with a child.
“It’s a win-win situation for both the mentors and the mentees,” she said, adding that Kinship Partners is proven to help children through their school years and adolescence by providing them with a positive adult role model. “Mentoring makes a difference one child at a time.”
Tiffany Vickaryous, HOWA Family Center executive director, said, “Alysia is a great asset to the family center team. Her main focus will be building and expanding Kinship and our other mentoring programs.”
Vinkemeier graduated from Central High School in Norwood Young America, Minnesota. She received a two-year degree in computer science from Minneapolis Business College and started a before- and-after-school program for Zion Lutheran Church and School in Mayer, Minnesota. She moved to Walker in 2010 with her husband, Scott, twin daughters Brooke and Breanna, age 10, and son, Braydon, age 4.
“I am really excited to start my new chapter here with the HOWA Family Center,” she said. “This is very close to my heart, to feel like I’m making a difference every day when I come to work.”
HOWA Family Center is actively seeking adult mentors, both men and women. Anyone interested in volunteering as a mentor or finding out more about HOWA Family Center programs should call the center at 218-547-4273.
Search Institute research has found that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to thrive. Positive adult role models will help youth and families build many assets, including a commitment to learning as demonstrated by students completing homework, attending school regularly and parents involvement in their children’s activities, as well as assisting the youth in developing positive values and a positive identity. Please click here for a detailed list of the assets your child will build by being involved in the Kinship Program! For more information on the Search Institute and their research on Developmental Assets, please click here.