• WHAT: Give Every Child a Chance casino night
• WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27, 6:30 p.m.
• WHERE: MRPS HALL, 133 N. Grant St., Manteca
• COST: $35 (tickets available at the door)
I plan on fighting crime Saturday night.
I’m buying a $35 ticket to the Give Every Child a Chance casino night.
It makes perfect sense.
The money that goes to organizations such as Give Every Child a Chance and the Boys & Girls Club provide daily safe havens for kids to stay out of — and away from — trouble as well as help mentor them whether it is with school work or building character. That pays off in big dividends down the road by reducing gang membership, school dropouts and youth going down roads that lead to a lifetime of illicit behavior.
If you want to reduce crime for the long haul this is where you start.
The late Antone Raymus understood the power of helping a kid that is not your own, a relative or even a neighbor.
The longtime Manteca home builder told a story over and over again of touring the California Youth Authority facility north of Manteca as part of a Manteca Kiwanis excursion. There he saw a frustrated and angry teen ward hurl a shop project he was working on.
What he saw haunted him. How does a boy end up committing a crime that lands him in the CYA and how can he be that frustrated and angry?
He thought about himself. He remembered how as an 8-year-old he was struggling in school and getting frustrated. He started thinking he was stupid and school wasn’t meant for him. But then an adult took time to work with him one-on-one after school. He recalled those that helped mentor him well into young adulthood.
Raymus opened his heart and pocketbook to a lot of good community causes during his lifetime. But none has had as much of a lasting effect and impact as his investment of $100,000 to get the Boys and Girls Cub going nearly 40 years ago and funding and bankrolling the launch of Give Every Child a Chance’s free tutoring program with $300,000 and office space.
There are countless success stories from both non-profits.
The Boys & Girls stories run the gamut from troubled juveniles turning their lives around and growing up to become productive adults to the club offering a safe haven for kids to be kids. When the club first opened some 35 years ago juvenile crime in a large swath of Manteca dropped by almost 30 percent virtually overnight.
Give Every Child a Chance has improved the educational success of thousands of struggling kids.
Both organizations provide mentors for kids looking for positive adult role models. Sometimes a kid needs to know someone is listening and willing to talk with them just as much as they need help learning to make the right choices.
I did not know 11-year-old Hunter Davis.
I do not know 17-year-old Zachary Hurlburt-Erhardt.
Hunter died when he was shot in the head. Zachary is the alleged shooter. It was the end result of booze, teens being not just unsupervised but basically living on their own, a loaded gun, and what apparently was a spur-of-the-moment decision to play a version of Russian roulette.
Hunter is gone. Zachary faces a bleak future as a conviction means he may spend as many years as he has lived behind bars if not more.
They can’t be saved.
That’s not the case, though, for countless other Hunters and Zacharys out there who are on the edge.
My schedule makes it impossible for me to volunteer as a tutor one-on-one twice a week. The same is true of being a Boys & Girls Club volunteer.
But I can give money so others can help kids like Hunter and Zachary in a bid to make sure their lives aren’t lost.
Six years ago, the Rev. Quincy McClain and her small Southside Church congregation answered the challenge issued by then Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker. The challenge was simple: Manteca needed to increase its efforts to fight the influence of gangs and drugs on young people. They responded by launching Friday Unity Night during the summer to provide a safe place where kids can belong to something besides a gang and also a place to learn life skills and good nutrition. Both Bricker and McClain understood kids yearn to belong and when the only option are gangs —either highly structured ones such as the ones law enforcement document or a loose configuration — everyone comes up a loser. That includes the kid, their family, the community, and the taxpayer.
Supporting efforts such as Give Every Child a Chance and the Boys & Girls Club is the best investment you can make to reduce future crime.
And just as important, it is the best way to help make sure kids don’t throw their lives away.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.