WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD) kicked off the second day of the third annual National Mentoring Summit here with an inspirational and emotional speech about the power of mentoring. He related a personal story about being told in sixth grade that he would be transferred to a special education school and that he would never become a lawyer or fulfills his dreams. Had it not been for the intervention of a mentor who told him he could be anything he wanted, he would not have been standing before the 650 attendees gathered at The Mayflower Hotel this morning. Cummings ignited the room and left many powerful messages including: "We must be a part of our children's destiny. They are the living messages to a future we will never see."
Selwyn Ray of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake introduced Cummings and said: "Congressman Cummings is a wonderful voice for us. He has become part of his constituents' spirit. He is never afraid to tell the truth." A poised and powerful voice preceded Ray - that of Candace Handy, a young mentee who is a student of molecular biology at Towson University and employee with Rebuilding Together Baltimore - who said, "I am a product of mentoring. Mentors take a child and help them become a productive adult. That's what it did for me."
Politicians continued to underscore the importance of legislation to further move quality mentoring forward. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (MI), the youngest lieutenant governor in the nation, spoke about the critical legislation he has put forth in his state to enhance quality mentoring and the quality mentoring movement there. "In our state, we are very interested in people making investments in people," Calley stated. "There are few areas where we have the chance to affect anything 50 or 100 years from now. The type of work you do will."
Keynote speaker Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD) with Candace Handy, former mentee, student at Towson University and employee with Rebuilding Together Baltimore; Tonya Wiley, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership; and Selwyn Ray, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake.
A true peacemaker followed the call for public investments in systemic reform for mentoring - Eric Dawson, president and co-founder of Peace First, a national nonprofit organization that exists to create the next generation of peacemakers. Dawson announced a new initiative today that he referred to as the "Nobel Peace Prize for Young People."
The Peace First Prize will recognize impressive young people for meaningful peacemaking work that creates lasting good in a community, neighborhood or school. By choosing five young people to receive a $50,000 Peace First Fellowship over two years to continue their peacemaking mission, the initiative will share this daring work far and wide, invest in peacemaking leadership and inspire others to make peacemaking a part of their daily lives. For more details on the application deadline and how you can identify and celebrate young peacemakers, see www.peacefirst.org/prize.
Stacey Stewart, U.S. president of United Way Worldwide, closed the exciting session with a personal story about her relationship with her mentee, Nicole. She emphasized the need to place special focus on mentoring young women and to engage in their success. "My relationship with my mentee is one of the greatest sources of fulfillment in my life," Stewart said.
About MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership
MENTOR is the unifying champion for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships in the United States. MENTOR's goal is to help young people by driving investment of time and money in high impact mentoring and promoting quality mentoring through the development and delivery of standards, cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art tools.
MENTOR carries out this work in collaboration with a network of local Mentoring Partnerships nationwide and more than 5,000 mentoring programs and volunteer centers throughout the country, serving more than three million children in all 50 states. MENTOR works to ensure our youngest citizens have the support they need through mentoring relationships to succeed at home, school and, ultimately, work. For more information, visit www.mentoring.org.
About The Corporation for National Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service's mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Last year, the agency engaged more than 5.5 million Americans in results-driven service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.
About The Harvard Mentoring Project
The Harvard Mentoring Project (HMP) of the Harvard School of Public Health was launched in 1997 to mobilize the national media and leading Hollywood studios to promote the growth of mentoring as a public health intervention of proven effectiveness for positive youth development. HMP is an initiative of the School's Center for Health Communication, which is dedicated to promoting the adoption of healthy behaviors through mass communication. The Harvard Mentoring Project and MENTOR created and spearheaded the first-ever National Mentoring Month in January 2002. For more information, visit WhoMentoredYou.org.
About the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides national leadership, coordination, and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization. OJJDP supports states and communities in their efforts to develop and implement effective and coordinated prevention and intervention programs and to improve the juvenile justice system so that it protects public safety, holds offenders accountable, and provides treatment and rehabilitative services tailored to the needs of juveniles and their families. For more information about OJJDP, visit www.ojjdp.gov.
About United Way USA
United Way USA is comprised of more than 1,200 community-based United Ways in the U.S., and it is part of a worldwide network of nearly 1,800 United Ways in 40 countries and territories. It advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all, by focusing on education, income and health - the building blocks for a good quality of life. United Way recruits the people and organizations from all across the community who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED is a call to action for everyone to become part of the change. For more information, please visit: LIVEUNITED.org.
About National Mentoring Month
National Mentoring Month is a national campaign to recruit volunteer mentors, spearheaded by The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Held each January, the campaign highlights the crucial role played by mentors in helping young people achieve their potential. The campaign's goals are to mobilize larger numbers of community volunteers to serve as mentors to young people and to promote awareness of the power of mentoring to enhance a young person's prospects for leading a healthy and productive life. Research shows that mentoring programs have beneficial and long-term effects, increasing the rate of high school graduation and college attendance and decreasing the likelihood of substance abuse and other risky behaviors. For more information about National Mentoring Month, visit www.nationalmentoringmonth.org.