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Nov 27

Happy Thanksgiving & Mentorship Opportunity

Posted on November 27, 2019 at 2:25 PM by Fred Gaskins

It is hard to believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving! As we all prepare to celebrate with family and friends, I want to wish you a wonderful holiday. One of my greatest blessings is the opportunity to work with each of you to make our great city an even better one. I am truly thankful for each of you, as each of you makes a difference in the lives of our residents.

Today I am also writing to offer the opportunity for you to make an additional impact on our community, specifically on the lives of youth. To introduce the opportunity before us, I want to provide some background that will set the stage.

Last week, the Council, School Board, School Superintendent and I all participated in our annual State of the City address. At that event, we communicated our many collective successes, including but not limited to economic development, redevelopment, housing values, school transformation and public safety, just to name a few. We also acknowledged the work that still needs to be done.

As one example of that work yet to be done, Mayor Tuck stated the following: 

Serious crimes in Hampton continue to decrease, thanks to our police, our vigilant neighborhoods, and our programs that provide positive opportunities to our young people.


Hampton had the second fewest serious crimes per capita of cities in the region in 2018. In fact, serious crimes in Hampton were at a 16-year low in 2018  40% fewer than in 2003. That also is transformationaland yet it is not enough. While I know that crime is a national challenge for every locality, I pledge to continue to focus on improving safety in our city. 


Statistically, here and around the country, young black men face overwhelmingly difficult odds. There is much we – and our non-profit partners – are doing to improve those odds. 


I believe – no, I KNOW we can do more!


I urge you, if you haven’t already, to join me and Dr. Smith in our campaign to mentor middle-school youth. The goal of our program, called R.I.S.E. – for Reach, Inspire, Support and Empower – is to pair adult mentors with 100 middle school boys, promoting academic and social success.


We know the middle school years are a time of change for our young people, and that our community can respond to that need. That is why we are asking you and others whom you may know to make a commitment of 2 1/2 years to mentor a young boy. 


For some of you, I know it will require moving outside of your comfort zone. But think about the satisfaction you will receive, knowing that you were instrumental in helping to put a young boy’s life and career path on a positive trajectory.

Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset.


Because the entire City Council and I support this critical effort, I am pleased to announce that we are sponsoring a workplace volunteer opportunity for full time employees to become a mentor with the R.I.S.E. Program. We have worked with the City Attorney’s Office, Human Resources and the Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities to make provisions that will allow interested employees to participate without impacting an employee’s annual leave. (At this time, it is expected that all mentoring time will be done during school hours at school sites.) Volunteers who complete the screening process and commit to the effort will receive training on program guidelines and time keeping systems.


It is important that you have enough information to make a well informed decision before making  the commitment to become a R.I.S.E. volunteer. The commitment you make to a mentee is intended to be positive and consistent. On December 13th a lunch and learn session about the R.I.S.E. Program will be held from 11:30am-1pm at the Hampton Main Library 4207 Victoria Boulevard. During the lunch and learn session you will get more in-depth information about the programs purpose and get an overview of the application and screening process. If you think you might want to be a mentor, please come and learn more. To ensure that we have enough materials and lunch for the session please register online at on or before December10th. If for some reason you are interested but cannot attend this session, please let us know.


Should you need additional information about the session or this opportunity, please email Synethia White directly at

Thank you for considering this opportunity to make a true difference in the lives of our young people! Again, I wish you and your family and friends a wonderful Thanksgiving!




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