Mentoring Offers a Vital Path To All Our Children!

By Donald A. Collins | 29 September 2023
Church and State

(Image by Cambridge_Spark from Pixabay)

Watching as my wife and I do weekly the PBS show “Finding Your Roots” founded and moderated by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr, we were able to see firsthand the impact of mentoring in his life and the lives of all his famous guests.

Read here about Gates’s distinguished record.

He traces his guests from varied backgrounds back generations and frequently discloses many with a family history who were slaves! The multiplicity of all our ethnicity tells its own story of the many talents immigrants have brought to America.

One of Professor Gates’ recent guests served time in prison but with luck was discovered and mentored into film stardom to his surprise and gratitude.

But in finding and presenting the diverse backgrounds of Gates’ guests, every one of them can point to a mentor or mentors who guided them into believing in themselves and their life choices leading to their successes!

As America works its way out of our curse of racism, best exemplified by the African American example, the mentoring examples has proved central in producing so many successful outcomes. President Obama and VP Harris are but two of many who eluded the racist stereotype role assigned by too many of our white majority to too many for too long.

Examples of racial progress are now everywhere but one local DC organization I recently was introduced to by my friend Larry Mills is the mentoring work of Washington Jazz Arts Institute whose 45th anniversary performance I attended on September 9th at the People’s Congregational Church of Christ on 113th Street, NW, DC.

Both young musicians and their instructors gave evidence of how much confidence this program engenders.

See the picture of the young players in action here.

In my subsequent interview with the program’s President and Artistic Director, Davy Yarborough, who is a superb saxophone player, he told me of the many WFAI members who have gone on to multiple successful careers, not all in music but greatly helped by their early experiences.

The large number of mentoring programs around the US are proving their huge power.

As you can read here from the US Government program site:

Youth mentoring—a consistent, prosocial relationship between an adult or older peer and one or more youth—can help support the positive development of youth. Mentoring has been shown to improve self-esteem, academic achievement, and peer relationships and reduce drug use, aggression, depressive symptoms, and delinquent acts. Many young people have access to mentors (both naturally occurring and program supported); however, many more do not. In addition, there continues to be documented variation in both the quality of mentoring and its impact on youth outcomes.

OJJDP’s mentoring work aims to both increase opportunities for youth to have mentors and improve the quality and impact of the mentoring they receive. Through its research, programmatic grants, training and technical assistance, and publications, OJJDP provides national leadership to support the delivery of high quality mentoring to a diverse and growing population of youth. The OJJDP National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) has been developed as a key research and practice resource for the mentoring field.

Together with its partners, OJJDP is working on boosting mentor recruitment, enhancing mentor-mentee matches, and increasing the number of youth who have mentors.

The loss of local connections such as the disappearance of most small-town newspapers and a decline of other local community meeting places helped exacerbate ideological divides by failing to encourage regular personal social contacts!

America can come together again but not from the Trump GOP’s vicious, sustained, and continuous promotion of hatred, racism and homophobia that undermines the efforts to help our vital middle class understand the importance of a working democracy! Shutdown by the GOP House of Representatives of our Federal government would not offer a solution to anything.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”, “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us” and “Economic Growth: A Cancer on all Earthly Life”.

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