In Stockton, where I am employed in education, we are facing the full brunt of social and economic disintegration — poverty, illegitimacy, broken families, gang violence and illiteracy. We have problems with not enough money to fix all of them; nor, with a trillion-dollar federal deficit, are we likely to get the money anytime soon.
We could not begin to get a handle on these challenges without community support. Our school is making great strides, but there are always students who need more individual attention. At the school I work in, University of the Pacific is providing us with more than 50 mentors for some of our struggling students. Churches and retired people have also brought volunteers to help. Several students have had their lives turned around by these good Samaritans. Volunteers are helping many to read so they can compete in today’s global economy.
We have a city councilman, our mayor, businessmen and businesswoman working with our students to teach them job skills, how to interview and provide internships. They are teaching our student leaders to get their friends out of gangs, and they are working with gang kids themselves as substitute mothers and fathers.
You might think that this is only Stockton’s problem. If that is the case, you would be very wrong. Gang violence and membership is growing here in Tracy, and many families here suffer the same maladies that occur in Stockton.
I strongly encourage you to walk over to your local school and offer to help. There is a youngster who is waiting for you to change his or her life. Encourage your neighbors, your churches, your civic groups to take a stand, and I encourage the schools to let them know what they can do.
Take a stand now for your city and for the next generation.