A local non-profit has provided hundreds of youth with positive role models for nearly 50 years. A masquerade is helping Companions for Children with their mission.

Although the masks leave a little mystery, the purpose of the Martini Masquerade is no secret. The annual event helps Companions for Children – Youth Mentoring fund their day-to-day operations.

“It’s really awesome seeing how the community gathers for our organization and for, really, the children in our community,” says Heather Cymbaluk, Executive Director of Companions for Children.

The non-profit began in 1972, matching children with adults who volunteer their time to aid the youth as they grow up.

“Sometimes, I think, it’s a unique experience for both the mentor and the child. They might find a really exciting new activity that they may otherwise not do, so they can have fun together and share new experiences,” says Cymbaluk.

Their studies show having a mentor makes a difference. Youth in the program are almost 30% less likely to begin drinking alcohol and nearly 50% less likely to start using illegal drugs. They are over 50% more likely to enroll in college and over 100% more likely to hold leadership positions.

“By helping the kids in the community, we’re helping our community as a whole. You know, anytime that we can provide these kids with some positive mentorship, we’re helping the community, as a whole, to grow and to be a better community,” says Sara Medalen, Mentor.

Medalen is a teacher in Minot, but wanted to help children outside of school. She has been a mentor in the program to one child for nearly two years.

“I just would never want to give up on her. I would never want to stop that mentorship that we have going, that time that we spend together, and the time that we could be out in the community,” says Medalen.

All it takes is four hours a month for a year, but many stay longer and develop a friendship into adulthood. Companions for Children are currently looking for more male mentors to join the program.