Monday, June 14, 2010

Everyone Needs a Mentor

The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof related in his Sunday column the story of a man named Wes Moore, who survived a tough childhood in the Bronx, eventually went on to Johns Hopkins, became a Rhodes Scholar and then a White House Fellow and is now a banker who puts in many hours as a volunteer in Baltimore and New York.

There was another Wes Moore, who also came from a bad neighborhood, almost had some chances out of the despair of difficult times in Baltimore, was found guilty of murdering an off-duty police officer and is serving a life sentence with no chance for parole. Both Wes Moores were black, poor, had families who wanted better for them, experienced early run-ins with police and had opportunities. One got out of the dreadful cycle, one did not.

Kristof writes about the survivor Moore and the book Moore wrote, The Other Wes Moore, and identifies mentoring as the lifeline for the successful Moore. We as parents want to be the sun, moon and stars for our teens. But they need others, outsiders, to help them view the world more broadly, see its opportunities and understand that it takes hard work to take advantage of them. Read Kristof's piece and think about what we can all do to mentor young people -- and to give more kids an even chance.

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