West Point Cadets serving as mentors to the children of September 11

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:58

    WEST POINT-An innovative program pairing children who lost a parent on September 11th with an adult mentor is now available to families in the Hudson Valley region. Partnering with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the American Red Cross September 11 Recovery Program, Tuesday's Children has brought one of its most successful programs to 9/11 families who live in Orange, Rockland, Putnam, Westchester and Dutchess Counties. The new Hudson Valley Tuesday's Children Mentoring program matches West Point Cadets with young children and teens who lost a parent on September 11. The American Red Cross was instrumental in creating the partnership between Tuesday's Children and West Point. Chris Burke, founder and president of the organization, said extending this successful program to the Hudson Valley region broadens the reach of Tuesday's Children, which has made a long-term commitment to every child who lost a parent on 9/11. The organization can now offer 9/11 families living upstate this innovative program designed to facilitate the ongoing healing process, counter a growing sense of isolation, and offer a connection to a network of 9/11 families and critical resources that many of those affected desperately need. "At Tuesday's Children, our goal is to ensure that the thousands of children who lost a parent on September 11th never walk alone," said Burke, who founded the organization in honor of his brother Tom who was killed on 9/11. "The importance of a mentor's friendship, encouragement and support is incalculable. Now, thanks to the strong support of West Point and these amazing cadets, these kids will have another source of strength and guidance as they grow into adolescence and young adulthood." "We are extremely excited about this program. It is a perfect match with West Point's goal of developing leaders of character," said Major Matthew Abbruzzese, West Point Instructor in the Department of Social Sciences and advisor to the mentoring program. "Although we are a college which draws its population from the entire nation, our students consider themselves a part of New York for this important period in their lives. If we can give something back to our community, especially those who are still recovering from the September 11th attacks, we are honored to do so." "But really this program is about the cadets and the children with whom they are developing friendships. These new relationships will hopefully provide an outlet, confidante and mentor for these children who have suffered a great lost. Our cadets gain as much from this experience as the children do," Abbruzzese added. Tuesday's Children's mentoring program pairs children of 9/11 victims with specially trained cadet role models who support each young person's emotional and developmental needs and help them build the confidence, skills and resources they need to meet their potential. MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership provided initial training of the mentors. Each cadet volunteer has made an initial one-year commitment. The pairs meet twice a month for three-hour sessions include one-on-one time for all sorts of activities from games and sports to chatting and homework assistance. There also is a monthly group sessions which includes activities such as ice skating, bowling, or to take in a baseball games. "We'd like to offer our heartfelt thanks to the American Red Cross September 11 Recovery Program for their partnership in spreading the word about this program to the families in the Hudson Valley. Through their support we are better able to reach the families that these programs can benefit the most," Burke said. For more information about the organization and its programs, visit its Web site at www.tuesdayschildren.org or call (516) 562-9000.