Mentorship introduces new opportunities, friendship

Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 7:43 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When Michael Larsen sees his mentor arrive at school, plenty of peers say, “I wish I had one.” Michael Larsen’s mentor is more than that, he is also a good friend. There are plenty of moments filled with laughter between Michael and his mentor Bob Thimjon, but it took a little while to build this relationship. Michael has experienced challenges in his life that encouraged him to work with a therapist. When that failed, his family decided to see what a mentor could do for him. Since then, a relationship has blossomed over the years. Michael was in the fourth grade and admitted he was shy at first, but began to get lunch with Bob, go to the library, and play card games.

Now a middle school student, Michael is taking more of life’s challenges in stride with Bob nearby.

The two can be seen biking (when the weather allows) or driving around Sioux Falls examining new developments like Foundation Park where the soon to be Amazon building is under construction.

“He helped me understand their structure, how they’re built, and how they build it,” said Michael.

Bob has described it as music playing in front of them saying,” It’s almost been like watching an orchestra conductor with so many pieces moving. We talk about the items and how you get that coordinated, all the pieces of equipment, and the skills it takes to do those,” said Thimjon.

A priority for Bob is to teach Michael what makes some of the available jobs unique, and what it takes to reach those future goals. He has a lot of experience and knowledge to share after graduating from Augustana University and settling down in Sioux Falls in the 70s. As a business and accounting major, he relished the opportunities to speak with business leaders and city commissioners when he was aspiring to do more. Any conversation or relationship could be monumental to making a difference in any life he feels.

“As a college student, I think it’s a different realm,” Thimjon added. “As you look at grade school students, middle school, high school, I think we look at the people in our community who are willing to take the time. It is beneficial on both ends.”

Bob has felt very passionate about the Sioux 52 Mentoring Initiative and what it can do for people of all ages.

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