Last week, JoAnne Bacon, a Newtown mom whose 6 year old daughter, Charlotte, was killed in the Newtown shootings one year ago today, asked that the caring citizens of our country mark this anniversary by practicing acts of kindness in our own communities.
In the communities that Astor serves, there are so many opportunities to act as an agent of hope for children who need your help. Witness, for example, the number of youth living in areas of concentrated poverty in our counties:
- Dutchess County: 39,000
- Bronx County: 187,000
- Orange County: 14,550
- Ulster County: 340
Youth in our counties face challenges other than poverty. Twenty-one percent are likely to have a diagnosable psychiatric illness; five percent are likely to have a learning challenge or disability. We all have significant numbers of youth who are homeless, have run away from home, or have an incarcerated parent.
Your Support Helps our Youth Achieve their Goals
The striking thing is that many of these youth (estimates range from 40 to 65%) feel hopeful, have goals, and say that, when they get help and support from others, they feel they can confidently meet their goals and achieve their dreams.
Acts of kindness that can make meaningful differences in the lives of our youth range from small – making a donation of money or goods to an agency or church or school serving youth – to big – taking on the role of mentor for a troubled youth who needs support.
So Many Ways to Help!
There are so many ways to help. Reach out to a social service organization in your county; call the pastor of a church with a youth support program. Make an online donation to the youth-serving charity of your choice. Volunteer. Go to www.findyouthinfo.gov to learn about youth with challenges and how you can help.
The important news is – we have so many youth in need and there are so many ways to help. Situations like those in Newtown can be prevented if we all take seriously the importance of reaching out and supporting hope and healing in the lives of our challenged youth.
Today is December 14th, 2013. In honor of the Newtown victims and of the grace and courage with which the communities of Newtown and Sandy Hook have faced their loss, find a way to reach out to our youth today. Take your first steps soon.