Two boys with the same name, Wes Moore, were born within a year of one another, growing up blocks apart in a bad neighborhood of Baltimore. Both grew up with no father and experienced trouble with the police at a young age. Given these beginnings, you would assume both boys were destined to fail.
But one went on to become a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and a successful business professional; the other became a convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison, with no chance for parole. Both boys had similar beginnings; however, one was given the opportunity to make good choices, the other one lacked positive options, choosing a way that essentially ended his life.
Moore gave an inspiring and at times chilling reminder of how easy it is for those living in a ‘hostile world’ to make wrong choices that can send them down the path to self-destruction. Moore’s message wasn’t meant to spread despair and depression, but the opposite; the importance of having positive options available to children so they in turn can make good choices.
Moore went on to add that it’s our responsibility to take care of our neighborhoods, our neighbors, our communities, towns, and cities. In his book, “The Other Wes Moore,” this is the story Moore tells.
At the breakfast, we also heard from Melissa Graham, a young lady who was facing her own struggles at home. Although barely a teenager, she was fending for herself and expected to take care of her younger sister while her mother spent most days hidden in her room. While in high school, she was introduced to Teen BLOCK, a United Way sponsored program based in Lowell, Massachusetts that supports the healthy development of young people. Through her work with Teen BLOCK, Graham went on to give back to her community by joining The 84, a statewide movement of youth fighting tobacco in Massachusetts. She also went on to graduate with honors from high school.
Through the United Way, Graham earned a $10,000 scholarship and this fall began her freshman year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Graham is another example of given positive options and making good choices, youth can set themselves on a positive path to success.
At Boston Financial, we’re winding down from our 2014 United Way campaign. Boston Financial and our associates have been supporting the United Way since 1973. Our partnership with the United Way provides us the opportunity to help others through organizations such as Big Brother Big Sister, Interfaith Social Services, YMCA Training, Inc., South Shore Stars, Camp Ponkapoag, Team Smile, and many more. These organizations and hundreds of other organizations are working to assist children, helping put them on the right path.
When kids make good choices, and accept help, good things come of it. What can we do to ensure more of our youth end up like Graham and not “The Other Wes Moore?” Are you doing all that you can? Can you spare some time to provide positive options and choices? You could be saving a life in the process.