As someone who has spent the better part of a lifetime chasing one degree or another, I hold a firm conviction that education is the key to real participation and survival in the modern world. I've seen its value firsthand.
For the past several months I have grown more and more sickened watching police and vigilantes overreact and use excessive force on young people for what generally turns out to be no criminal activity at all. That excessive force has, all to often, been lethal. Unfortunately for us as a nation and as a civilization, the legal system seems to be bent on condoning any actions by the police or even vigilantes, especially where poverty and race are factors, and offenders often walk away without so much as a minimal rebuke.
That is what happened in the cases of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
People who grow up in poverty and circumstances that would be unimaginable to many of us only have rare opportunities to change their stars.
Today I want to share some information about one of those rare opportunities that is coming to Ferguson, Missouri, an opportunity that will hopefully give some young people the ability to pull themselves above and beyond their present circumstances.
Jason Pfetcher is a young lawyer with a good heart and a strong social conscience. He lives and works in Chicago, but is a Missourian by birth - and he is a good family man who happens to be the husband of my niece. Jason and some of his friends have been angry about the situation in Ferguson, and a couple of days ago he forwarded information to me on a project that they are involved in that will provide opportunities to the youth of Ferguson.
A group of Jason's friends and co-workers have set up a "Go Fund Me" site to collect money for the establishment of a tech training program for young people in Ferguson. It is called "Hands Up United" and will teach Web Development, Graphic Design, and Quality Assurance Testing. Classes will begin this winter, and participants will receive a $600 stipend and a personal laptop that will allow them to freelance the skills that they acquire in the program.
There are people like me who do little more than sit around and piss and moan about all that is wrong with the world, and then there are people like Jason Pfetcher and his friends who roll up their sleeves and begin making a difference. They are focused on creating a better life for everyone - not just themselves.
For more information on this very worthwhile project, please go to: http://www.gofundme.com/hv6utk and then spread the word.
Supporting this program would be a great way to share your holiday blessings with those less fortunate.
Let's all help to change those stars!