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franklin county times

Moore: Big hope for the future

By Staff
TAKE AN HOUR A WEEK Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore spoke passionately with Meridian business leaders Tuesday about becoming mentors to area children. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
April 10, 2002
State Attorney General Mike Moore began his statewide Link-A-Life tour Tuesday in Meridian.
Working to encourage more mentorship in the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program, Moore told local business people: "This is the ultimate way to show patriotism, and if that doesn't help, it's God's work."
Moore's visit included a luncheon at Mississippi Power Co. and stops at Hope Village for Children, Crestwood Elementary School and the Boys and Girls Club of Lauderdale County.
At Hope Village Moore announced a mentorship program called "Big Hope" for the abused and neglected children who live there. At the Boys and Girls Club, he unveiled the "Up 2 Us" program, and at Crestwood he emphasized a "Bigs in Blue" mentorship program, which pairs students with law enforcement officers and firefighters.
Moore wants to double the number of Big Brothers-Big Sisters matches in the state to 3,000 by the end of the year. Mentors usually meet with students for an hour a week.
Edward Kelley was named Mentor of the Year by the local Big Brothers-Big Sisters program Tuesday. He mentors a sixth-grade student at Carver Middle School.
Kelley's example has spread. One of his sons, Ricardo Kelley, plays basketball for Meridian Community College and arranged for some of the players to visit Carver. Kelley said several MCC students have now signed up to mentor.
Moore said 50,000 children in Mississippi are at risk of various forms of substance abuse or teen pregnancy, or becoming involved in crime, which costs millions of dollars a year. He said that Mississippi taxpayers are investing in failure rather than success.
He noted that the state is budgeting $275 million for corrections this year, compared to $80 million 10 years ago. During the same period of time, Moore said, Mississippi's inmate population has increased from 6,000 to 20,000.
Terrence Roberts, program manager of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Mississippi-Meridian, said the organization received mentor 16 applications Tuesday, most of them as a result of Moore's address to the business community.
Roberts said he expects more applications to come because business people also pledged to allow time for employees to devote to the program.

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