I ran into an old friend/former intern yesterday. She is living the American Dream these days. She owns a successful, small business. She is very happily married. She has a new baby. She has a beautiful home. And, she is surrounded by a loving and supportive family and community.
And, her baby has recently been selected to be the "advertising baby" for a company with outlets across the country. She said she normally wouldn't have entered her baby in such a contest, except that this company promotes healthy/happy babies and families rather than baby beauty pageants.
Here is the beautiful thing about her story. She was the first person in her family to go to college. When she was a teenager, she was selected to participate in a youth-works program that gave her a job and career training. Her summer job in a professional office (rather than slinging fast food) inspired her to work hard to get scholarships for college. She worked, sometimes two jobs, while in school. She won a fellowship for graduate studies.
Her hard work has created a positive role model for other young people in her family, and now a whole generation of children in her family are working towards/are attending college.
I hate to think of the future community leaders we'll miss out on because of cuts to funding for youth programming. An education . . . mentors . . . opportunities are the keys to the kingdom. Sadly, we're locking too many people out these days.