Gathering for the presentation of the statewide funding in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Amachi program mentoring children of prisoners, from left: Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner Gayle Ray; Representative Brenda Gilmore; Lowell Perry, Jr. – CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee; Representative Mary Pruitt; Senator Thelma Harper; Senator Douglas Henry; Amy Carroll – Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Clarksville; and Ansel Peak – Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chattanooga.
Children of Prisoners Have Opportunity to Pursue the American Dream
NASHVILLE, TN (August 20, 2010) – Some of the children most at risk in Tennessee are on the path towards a brighter future thanks to $300,000 in funding provided to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Tennessee Amachi Initiative.
The Tennessee Amachi Initiative provides mentors to children whose parents are in prison. Its mission is to break the intergenerational cycle of crime and incarceration and give an often forgotten group of children the chance to reach their highest potential. Legislators and officials from the Tennessee Department of Correction agreed that this funding was a prudent investment in the future of some of our community’s most vulnerable children.
Lowell Perry, Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee remarked, "Many thanks to the legislature, particularly the Black Caucus, for again recognizing the wisdom in making prevention-oriented investments in support of youth serving organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters that are helping to ensure that all children and youth – especially those most at risk – have every opportunity to pursue the American Dream.”
Perry continued, “We also applaud Commissioner Gayle Ray and the Tennessee Department of Correction for being such a strong Amachi partner to all our Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the state, and for embracing one-to-one mentoring as a critical component of the long-term strategy for making the State of Tennessee safer for all.”
It is estimated that without intervention, children of incarcerated parents are 70% more likely to end up in prison themselves. Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters help children facing adversity beat the odds, changing their perspectives for the better. This shift is a key solution to reducing crime in our communities long-term.
“This initiative promotes our efforts to not only correct criminal behavior but also to preserve families and help children become productive citizens,” said Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner Gayle Ray.
Amachi is a Nigerian Ibo term that roughly translates to “who knows but what God has brought us through this child.” Indeed, the potential of these children most at risk is infinite.
Funds from this grant will support Big Brothers Big Sisters programs statewide based upon the number of children served. There are five participating agencies: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chattanooga, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Clarksville, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. In 2009, these five agencies served over 6,000 Tennessee children with a one-to-one mentor.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer and donor driven organization that matches children in need with a positive adult role model. Revenue is used to conduct background checks on volunteers to ensure child safety, and provide ongoing support for children, families and volunteers to build and sustain long-lasting relationships.
For more information on getting involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Middle Tennessee, visit mentorakid.org or call (615) 329-9191.