Three-part harmony

Reader survey To give your input on CN&R, please check or, for a printed copy, the July 20 issue (available at our office on Second Street and Flume).

Forgive me if I go a little Whitney Houston on you. No, I’m not marrying an R&B has-been or throwing a diva tantrum, but I am about to break out in song. Be glad this isn’t radio.

I believe that children are our future / Teach them well and let them lead the way / Show them all the beauty they possess inside / Give them a sense of pride …

OK, that’s enough ‘80s balladry for one column.

“The Greatest Love of All” oozes sentimentality, but it opens with a sound sentiment: Youngsters benefit from the guidance of caring adults.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has known this for more than a century—long before Whitney hit the high notes. Kids who get paired with a mentor are much less likely to take drugs, drink alcohol and skip school than unmentored peers facing comparable life challenges. Meanwhile, research also says, Little Brothers and Little Sisters are more likely to have confidence in schoolwork and better relations with their families.

Educators also notice the benefits, which is why Big Sisters Big Brothers of Butte County has been welcomed into Chico elementary schools. For that, the organization received a $20,000 grant from the Starbucks California Giving Program—as well as the offer of aid from the Chico Chamber of Commerce Community Corporation.

The grant will enable BBBS to bring more mentors to Chapman and Parkview elementary schools and start bringing them to Rosedale. Interim Executive Director JoAna Brooks hopes the chamber’s venture will expand the “Bigs in Schools” program to Shasta and McManus as well, perhaps as early as this fall.

Why am I getting rhapsodic about this? Because of the distinct tone of the harmony—the business sector reaching out to the charity sector to help the public sector.

The short-term goal is to add 50 mentors this school year. The long-term goal, chamber president Jim Goodwin said, “is to eventually touch every elementary school in the community.”

One hour a week for a year—that is the extent of a mentor’s commitment to the on-campus program. I waste more than an hour a week watching bad TV, so I know this isn’t an unreasonable request. And the benefits are so great.

“Teach them well and let them lead the way.” That works for adults as well as children. After learning about the program, I put my name in the hat, and I hope others follow suit by calling Brooks and her staff (343-8407). Together, “we can make the world a whole lot brighter” … oh, sorry, that’s the Brady Bunch.

Speaking of mentoring … : I feel fortunate to have worked with a great group of interns this summer. Fall semester nears, however, so three of the four will depart.

Our loss will be the gain of other eager young journalists. If you know a college student interested in an internship (yourself, even), let me know: <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script> or 894-2300 ext. 2240.