April 1, 2009 in City

Nurturing youth can be as simple as mentoring one child

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Anthony Johnstone, a mentor for Hillyard Head Start in the Foster Grandparent Program, gives comfort to Phillip Webber during activities time on Friday. “Grandpa T.J.,” as Johnstone is known, spends five hours a day at the program, four times a week.
(Full-size photo)

About this project

Our Kids: Our Business

Today is the official kickoff for Our Kids: Our Business, a unique community and media response to the needs of Inland Northwest children, especially those neglected and abused.

The project began in 2007 to help unite social service agencies, nonprofits, businesses and the media in the same cause: the protection of children.

Our Kids: Our Business is “an umbrella that unites us all,” said Mary Ann Murphy, executive director of Partners with Families and Children: Spokane. “Privately, we do prioritize our children. This is a way to prioritize our children in the community.”

This April, the dozens of groups that make up Our Kids: Our Business will focus on mentoring, especially how it helps kids stay in school and grow into healthy, productive adults.

At a recent meeting, Murphy and other adults explained what kept them in school. “The reason we weren’t truant was not because you’d get in trouble with the law, but because someone cared,” she said.

In these hard economic times, when stress permeates every home – from the poorest to the wealthiest – Our Kids: Our Business organizers are hoping Inland Northwest men and women will step out of that stress to mentor a young person.

Or take an hour or two out of their busy April to attend an Our Kids: Our Business event to see the need firsthand. And see the changes that have come about in children’s lives because adults took time to mentor, to be the caring person who said dropping out of school is unacceptable, who said you have a right to grow into a happy and healthy adult.

“Mentoring is so very doable,” Murphy said. “It counts.”

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