ANNAPOLIS – Paying tribute to the thousands of mentors who provide guidance and support to young people, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated the Mentoring A Child commemorative stamp Thursday morning at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts here.
“Mentors inspire and shape the dreams of what young people seek to become as they grow into adulthood,” said Gov. Parris N. Glendening at the unveiling.
The Postal Service chose Maryland for the stamp’s release, because of the launch of the new Maryland Mentoring Partnership, formerly the Baltimore Mentoring Partnership, said Mallory Maxwell, MMP manager of Resource Development and Communications.
The Baltimore partnership expanded to accommodate the state’s demand for mentoring relationships, making it the only full-service mentoring program in the state. MMP, with 32,000 mentor relationships statewide, provides training and technical assistance to organizations and individuals.
Designed by Lance Hidy, a designer of posters, the 34-cent stamp depicts an adult offering guidance to a child. The computer-generated design reads “Mentoring A Child” at the top and “Values-Goals-Skills” at the bottom. Derry Noyes of Washington was the art director.
Mentoring improves school attendance and academic achievement.
“Young people are more likely to stay in school and graduate and less likely to be influenced by negative factors,” said A. Skipp Sanders, deputy superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education.
The first thing the nation’s schools cut out is extracurricular activities, said Richard “Digger” Phelps, television sportscaster and former head coach at Notre Dame.
“That’s why the top three hours of juvenile crime are 3, 4, 5 in the afternoon,” Phelps said.
With mentoring, relationships are established between adults and school-age children, providing activities during and after school and on weekends.
“Since Sept. 11, we’ve all been looking for a way to make a difference,” Phelps said. “Basically, there’s a lot of things we already have in place. We just need to recruit more mentors.”
“We need `Operation Domestic Storm.”
Executive Director Gail Manza of the National Mentoring Partnership, said, “15.7 million American youth want or need mentors.”
The Mentor A Child stamp “translates into real action on the behalf of American children.”
The National Mentoring Partnership, headquartered in Alexandria, Va., advocates mentor expansion and mentor initiatives nationwide. It assists individuals and organizations that want to develop, operate, volunteer or fund a mentoring program.
At the ceremony, Glendening proclaimed January 2002 National Mentoring Month in Maryland.
National Mentoring Month and the commemorative stamp promote awareness and voluntary involvement for youth, Glendening said.
On Jan. 11, the four-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the Postal Service planned to release 125 million mentor stamps nationwide.
“We can be proud of what this stamp represents and recognize the fresh poignancy and importance of this message,” said Richard J. Strasser, USPS chief financial officer. “The best way to prepare the future generation, is for the current generation to guide, advise and develop them.”
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