Mass Mentoring Partnership President & CEO, Marty Martinez, heads to the nation’s capital today for the National Mentoring Summit. He shares his thoughts with us on recent events in Washington and their effect on young people:
As I travel to Washington DC to both attend the National Mentoring Summit and meet with members of our congressional delegation about the needs of young people in Massachusetts, I can't help but think about the messages that are being sent from our federal government to youth across the country. I am both saddened and outraged at the turn our national dialogue has taken in only the first two weeks of a new administration. Our national values and shared history are being challenged by policies that seek to divide us and pit groups of people against one another. Those policies targeting immigrants specifically have led many in our communities to feel afraid of our government and of what could happen to them and their families.
For young people, specifically, they are watching a national debate on the value of immigrants and whether or not they are welcomed in our country. For many of the young people involved with our program partners, they can only wonder what this means for their own families, for those friends and classmates they go to school with, for those programs and organizations that support them and for their own pursuit for a better tomorrow. Not only do the policies target them and challenge their sense of belonging and worth, but the national debate on who belongs in our country and who doesn't raises even more fears and questions about what we collectively value as a nation.
As the CEO of an organization whose team works everyday to level the playing field for all young people regardless of where they live or where they come from, I know that we must continue to raise our voices and work even harder to ensure all young people have the developmental relationships they need to thrive and reach their full potential no matter what odds may be stacked against them. Standing on the sidelines and letting others raise their voices is not an option. At Mass Mentoring Partnership, we will advocate and work diligently everyday to ensure all young people are celebrated and given the tools and resources to achieve their very best.
As a Latino born and raised in this country, I personally understand and relate to the struggles that immigrants face every day, and I know I must not forget my own family history when working to overcome some of these national policies that harm our communities as a whole. As I make my way to DC, I will bring these thoughts and voices to Capitol Hill. More importantly, Mass Mentoring Partnership and all of our community partners will need to keep a watchful eye on policies, appointments and practices that will negatively impact the young people we serve so that we can counter that with more programming, more advocacy and more energy to do what's needed to help ALL young people reach their full potential. I urge you to stay involved in these issues and do not let your voice go silent in these challenging times.