Giving kids a second chance

Have you ever been fortunate enough to get a second chance? That’s the question one speaker put to the audience at the Foundation for Second Chances (FFSC) First Annual Leadership Gala. Those who have had a second chance can well appreciate what the work of the FFSC means to inner-city kids in South Los Angeles who face poverty, violence and poor educational access. The gala Friday, September 25, 2009 at the Proud Bird Restaurant was a celebration of the impact FFSC founder Melissa Wyatt and her dedicated band of volunteers have on children.

The mission of FFSC is to “ utilize hands-on education, mentoring, health, awareness, and community service to maximize the potential of youth.” FFSC carries out this mission with:

1) Community Service Program, including book and food drives, community health fairs and career days;
2) After School Programs, including 42nd Street Elementary;
3) Mentoring Program, which matches caring adults with kids in need of role models.

The master of ceremonies for the event was Grammy winner Mystic, who said “When children have access to mentor, they have a better chance to succeed.” Statistics may bear her out. A recent study by the California Mentoring Federation found that a whopping 98 percent of the youngsters who were matched with mentors stayed in school, did not become a teen parent and avoid participation in gangs. They were also less likely to use drugs.

Keynote speaker Democratic State Senator Curren Price spoke about the need for like-minded organizations to collaborate. In this time of recession and budget cutting, he urged non-profits to “step up to fill the gap.”

Several people were honored on Friday night:
Community Service Award: Leslie Belt-Adway of the Los Angeles Urban League
Inspiration Award: Darneika Watson-Davis, principal of 42nd Elementary
Business Award: Karen A. Clark of US Bank

But the real stars of the evening were Wyatt and her volunteers, many of whom found FFSC through Volunteer Match ( They have worked doggedly If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with FFSC, visit their website:

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