Deb and Marina: Partners in Routt County mentor pair benefit from each other

Teresa Ristow
Marina has some fun with Partner Deb Proper. Proper's daughter Madison was paired with Marina five years ago through Partners in Routt County. After her daughter moved out of town three years ago, Proper stepped in to partner with Marina the past three years. The Propers consider Marina to be part of their family.
John F. Russell

— Marina was only 8 when Deb Proper’s daughter began mentoring her through Partners in Routt County.

When her daughter left the area two years later, Proper, an advertising consultant at the Steamboat Pilot & Today, decided to carry on the mentorship with Marina, who already felt like part of the family.

“Marina has really changed our lives,” Proper said.

The duo is one of 47 currently paired together as part of Partners’ One-to-One mentoring program. Another seven pairs meet twice a month for lunch, while another 25 are waiting for mentors, according to Becky Slamal, community outreach coordinator for Partners in Routt County.

Partners is celebrating National Mentoring Month through January while seeking new senior partners, specifically male partners, to match up with kids ages 7 to 17 on the waiting list.

When Proper and Marina meet, which is usually a few times each week, they do homework, go biking, have sleepovers, go camping or just hang out, Proper said.

Marina said her favorite memory with Proper is a trip to the zoo and aquarium they took on Marina’s 10th birthday.

“I had never been to a zoo or aquarium,” said Marina, who is now 13 and a seventh-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School.

Marina said she and Proper like to bake and she enjoys walking Proper’s large poodle, Charlie.

Marina said when she’s older, she is thinking of going to college, and while she used to want to be a cop, now she’d like to be a singer and dancer.

“I really want to be a singer and do hip-hop dancing,” said Marina, who lives with her parents and some of her 12 siblings.

Proper said she enjoys setting a good example for Marina, who she describes as smart, organized and perceptive.

“She’s incredibly caring,” Proper said. “The most important thing for Marina is letting her know that the world is full of possibilities.”

Proper said it’s important for Marina to understand her value and what she has to offer.

“It’s so important for a kid to know they matter to adults,” Proper said. “She needs to know that.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.