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For Houston's Kids: the power of mentoring

For Houston's Kids (Credit: For Houston's Kids) N.T. Wright found that if you tell someone to do something, you change their life for a day; whereas if you tell someone a story, you can change their life. To tell a story is more than the recounting of a variety of details, deluging the individual in specifics. Rather it is communicating to someone who already possesses certain understandings of how the world works. Knowing this, the story teller is not trying to fill the person with needless details, but like Plutarch understood, light a fire in their imagination that might spur inspiration.

This is the heart of mentoring, and this is the heart of For Houston's Kids (FHK). With a vision to produce whole and healthy kids in every neighborhood, school, and community in the Greater Houston area, FHK wants to help kids become productive adults that make positive contributions. In 2011, men and women from across sectors came together to address unmet needs in the Houston area.

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Son loses dad on graduation day but gains community

Dakota Smith, whose father Reserve Deputy Sonny Smith was killed in the line of duty while responding to a burglary in the early morning hours of his son's graduation day, walks up to receive his diploma while local law enforcement officers salute as they stand-in for his father, May 15, 2015 (Credit: Julie Moore) Police officers attempt to protect us from it, doctors try to prevent it, and heroes have been known to save us when we're on the verge of it. Death, rarely welcomed and often unexpected, is like a thief in the night. To die is expected, but to die young is tragic. A young life leaves the earth, but it also leaves behind a set of questions that all begin with what if. Their lost potential fuels our present sorrow.

Which makes what happened in Clarksville, Arkansas so poignant. Reserve Deputy Sonny Smith was a man who gave his life to uphold the law and protect his community. On the night before his son's graduation from Clarksville High School, he was set to work the night shift, spanning from late night to early morning. He would be protecting the community while they slept, all the while imagining the next day's festivities.

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Has freedom of speech gone too far or not far enough?

Students and staff from Cambridge University take part in a silent protest outside Senate House as Lord Sainsbury was installed as the University Chancellor, in Cambridge, England March 21, 2012 (Reuters/Neil Hall) George Washington once said, "If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." The first president of a fragile union of states assumed that speech would be used to edify individuals and educate the populace towards the end of a more perfect union. Today, over 200 years later, this cherished freedom is being used extensively, however questions linger in the polarizing air as to whether it is beneficial.

Last week, Pamela Gellar hosted a contest that allowed individuals to illustrate the prophet Muhammad. Knowing this was highly offensive to Muslims, Gellar proceeded without caution, claiming, "Increasingly, we are abridging our freedoms so as not to offend savages. The very idea that if something offends me or I'm insulted by something I'll kill you and that way I can get my way." Geller first came into the spotlight for her oppositional efforts against the building of a Muslim community center near the site of the World Trade Center. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, she is "the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead."

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