How often do we take a moment to look at the people who shaped our lives? Think for a moment-who were the important men and women that influenced you?

Thursday, Jan. 31, is National Thank Your Mentor Day and Kinship Partners would like to publicly thank the over 300 dedicated men and women who mentor children right here in Crow Wing County, southern Cass County and the Staples-Motley areas. They are ordinary people doing ordinary things with extraordinary results. And for that, we thank you.

But don't just take my word for it. Here are a few comments from Kinship Kids:

• "I love my partner ... she is very special to me."

• "My favorite time with my partner was when I was at his family's house and we were all at the table telling jokes."

• "Thanks for setting me up with Steph! She's a really neat and cool person!"

• "Having a Kinship Partner is a great experience for me. I enjoy all of the things I get to do and the things I've learned."

• "I want to stay matched with my partner forever!"

So who mentored you? Join millions of others across the nation today in honoring an important mentor in your life-someone who showed you the ropes and helped you become who you are today.

And the best way to thank them is to pass it on by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community.

The choice to share your time with a child who needs a mentor results in a living expression of who you are; a legacy of caring.

With offices in Brainerd, Pequot Lakes, Crosby, and Staples, Kinship Partners serves area families by providing positive role models to youth from the ages of 5 to 14. Mentors can be individuals, couples or families.

For more information about becoming a Kinship Partners mentor, call 218-829-4606, or visit our website at www.kinshippartners.org.

Downing is Kinship Partners executive director