By Fred Hamilton
DELRAY BEACH – A local mentoring program is using an innovative tool to raise money for a group of underserved teens to witness a momentous transition in the nation’s history — President Barack Obama’s inauguration – in Washington, D.C.
KOP, formerly known as the Knights of Pythagoras Mentoring Network, aims to raise $17,000 on the fundraising website Crowdtilt to pay for transportation, food, lodging and winter clothing for at least 50 deserving students in Palm Beach County
“We need to give these kids this opportunity,” said C. Ron Allen, president and CEO of the 20-year old mentoring group. “The last inauguration, we were only able to take a few students. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them and we want to make this a lifetime experience for these students.”
Five students from each of the public schools in Delray Beach will be awarded scholarships to attend the event along with KOP, Allen said.
Each principal will be asked to select the students to receive the scholarships.
“As someone who attended the last inauguration of President Barack Obama, it was meaningful to me as an adult. Imagine what it would be for a youngster,” Allen said. “This will likely be the most profound experience of their lives to this point.”
Atlantic High School senior Ashely Weatherspoon could be among those journeying to the nation’s capital for the inauguration.
“I would like to go just for the experience, to feel and to see what it all about,” Weatherspoon, 18, said. “I’m hoping to learn about the whole process about the inauguration and eventually the difference between each president and their platforms.”
In addition to attending the ceremony, Weatherspoon hopes to visit the city where she hopes to attend college.
“One of the top schools on my list is Howard University and it’s in Washington so I’d like to see the surroundings,” she said.
Engleson St. Louis, a seventh grader at Village Academy, is hopeful he will be one of the students selected to represent his school.
“I think it would be great to go since its one opportunity in my lifetime that I may see someone like me inaugurated as president and since President Obama won’t be elected in another four years,” St. Louis, 13, said.
St. Louis’ mother said she is hoping her son will be among those selected.
“I know that he is going to have the experience of his lifetime,” his mother, Cindy, said. “It’ll be exciting to see a change in his face after I pick him up. The enthusiasm is just going to be visible.”
Allen encourages people to give whatever they can buy going to https://www.crowdtilt.com/campaigns/help-them-get-on-the-inauguration-bus, clicking on contribute now on the lower left hand of the page on the secured site. You may have to create a password. The organizers only have a month to get the money together.
The South Florida-based mentoring program promotes and enhances the development of underserved youth ages 7-17, by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence. The organization provides a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. It is the place where great futures are started each and every day.
You may also learn more about KOP at www.kopmn.org or call 561-665-0151.