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Letter to the Editor: Service continues after MLK holiday

Resource type: News

USA Today |

Original Source

Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; Philadelphia

Americans who respond to President-elect Barack Obama’s call to service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day will do so armed with patriotism, idealism and a thirst for change. As the celebrating settles, our spirit of service must not subside.

We must forge ahead. Facing an uncertain economy, mounting unemployment and soaring school dropout rates, families need ongoing support to help their children beat the odds.

Like many citizens, we at Big Brothers Big Sisters, America’s largest network of volunteer mentors, will show up today. Professional staff and many of the 520,000 “Bigs” and “Littles” they matched, monitor and support will plant gardens, pick up garbage and recruit more mentors and donors so that our network can serve more children.

I am proud to say for these volunteers, service will continue beyond parade day. These amazing Big Brothers and Big Sisters mentor some of America’s most vulnerable children who live in poverty, come from single-parent homes or live with the reality of having a dad or mom who is incarcerated. Research shows the longer the Bigs serve, the more likely their Littles will beat the odds, succeeding in school and resisting harmful and illegal behaviors.

Our children can ill afford to have an adult show up to read just one book, play a sole one-on-one basketball game or share just one smile. I applaud Obama for asking that we sustain our service. We owe that commitment to our kids, our communities and our country.

This letter is in response to an op-ed piece by Allan Khazei and David Gergen of January 16.

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