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By Joe Starkey



“One of Three Children in San Angelo and Abilene have one or both parents in prison or jail. Statistics show that 70% of children with an incarcerated parent are likely to follow in their parents’ footsteps into incarceration.” These cold words introduced the Big Brothers Big Sisters luncheon {{more}} to the Amachi program designed to address these needs and help alter the direction of these children’s lives. Amachi – a Nigerian word meaning “Who knows what God has brought us through this child.” BBBS believes and studies show that faith-based mentors can impact the children living “at-risk” and help them become children of promise. Reverend Wilson Goode founded Amachi in September 2000 in Philadelphia and the program now covers 49 states. He stated “this is about breaking the cycle of jail.One AdultOne Hour each weekOne ChildOne Year This commitment has resulted in 2/3rds of the children improving both their grades and school attendance. Over 80% now say they trust other people more. He told the audience that the Masai, a famous warrior people of Africa meet each other with the greeting “How are the Children?” and this needs to also be our concern. Stating that “We want all children to land in fertile soil.” He told the story of his childhood opening with “I am the son of an incarcerated man” and the family’s move to Philadelphia. Told by a school counselor that he was a “farm boy’ and should never plan on going to college – his pastor and wife became his Big Brother and Sister and helped send him to college and on to become Mayor of Philadelphia for two terms. After telling the story of the young man challenging an old wise woman to tell him if the bird in his hand was dead or alive with her knowing that whichever answer she gave would be proved wrong because the man would either free the bird if she said dead or crush it if she said alive but her answer was that the choice lay in the man’s hand – he challenged the audience that the “choice of these children’s lives is in our hands.” Over 30 pastors and ministers committed themselves and their churches to support the program and furnish volunteers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. All the others present promised to pray for those in the program and if they could not participate – to refer at least one other person who could to the program. BBBS still has 562 children in the Abilene area that need mentors this fall. If you volunteer, you will participate in the agency’s screening and enrollment program and soon be matched with a Little Brother or Sister. Opportunities include: Community-Based program – Matched with a child, you spend as little as one hour a week hanging out with the child. You have the flexibility to plan activities at a time convenient for both yourself and the child. You don’t have to be an expert on kids – just a friend. Lunch buddies – spend 30 minutes, once a week eating lunch with a child at their school. “Big for A Day” – one time program for groups to be matched with children on the waiting list. The group plans a 2-3 hour activity that gives the children a fun activity and the group a chance to meet the children.Big Brothers Big Sisters of Abilene720 Pine Suite 1 677-7839Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Angelo133 W. Concho Suite 102 486-2200

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