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YouthFriends relationship comes full circle
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Diane Feldt and Vero Calzada pose for photos cementing their friendship. The two were matched through YouthFriends (now called Panter Pals because of state budget cuts) when Vero was a third grader at Riley School. She now works there.

It was a match struck a long time ago and yet it still burns brightly.
Michelle Daniel, Riley School  family support worker, recalls the match she made between Vero Calzada and Diane Feldt when Vero was just a third grader. It was through YouthFriends, a program that put together children in need of mentoring with adult mentors.
  “When Vero was in the third grade, she often came to see me for difficulties she was having at the time,” Daniel said. “I thought it would be good for her to have a positive adult role model to help her set goals and to believe in her.
“I matched Diane Feldt with her since they both had a funny quirky personality,” she said. “I knew Diane would be a good match for any child.
“I wasn’t prepared for what I found out this year,” Daniel said. “Vero came to see me and said she wanted to get in touch with Diane. She had graduated from GBHS and wanted to thank her for being a big part of her success.” 
Calzada found Feldt living in Kansas City and rekindled the friendship.
Recently, Feldt came back to Great Bend and she and her onetime YouthFriend ate lunch together at Riley School.
“I took a picture of that special day,” Daniel said. “We had a long conversation about how having a mentor can change your life.”
“Diane believed in me,” Calzada said. “I was in need of a person to tell me that I could do anything I worked hard for.”
Feldt fostered the friendship after the match ended in sixth grade. She followed the young girl to middle school and high school and they continue to be close.  
Vero is now an employee at Riley School and is considering becoming a mentor for a student at the school.