Press Room Headlines
ABC walks toward progress - The Daily Collegian
October 27, 2008
by Gisel Sailant
University of Massachusetts students "walked the walk" this past Saturday with the Amherst community, as they participated in the 40th annual Fall Foliage Walk for the A Better Chance House in Amherst.
The Amherst town common was awake early, as participants registered at 10 a.m. for the 5k walk along the sidewalk on the west side of Route 116 and into the Norwottuck Rail Trail.
According to the program's Web site, the mission of the ABC house is to prepare academically talented and highly motivated African American, Latino, Asian and Native American students from educationally underserved school districts for college and future leadership roles in the broader community. Since the program began, over 100 of it's participants have graduated from Amherst Regional High School and have attended more than 50 colleges and universities.
Before the walk "kick-off," Michael Hawkins, president and alumnus of the ABC program took the stage, thanked the sponsors and introduced Senator Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst.) Rosenberg started the walk with a citation from the Massachusetts legislature. Senator Rosenberg spoke briefly on the continuous community support in the program, the high value placed on diversity in the community and the importance of the "walk-the-walk part" of community service.
"We are going to start the walk the walk part, this community values diversity and values creating a community in which all people can feel welcome, is a goal we strive for each day, I hope we make progress each day in creating that," Rosenberg said.
He presented the current and former staff members with a recognition citation that congratulated their "great work … for the 40 years of outstanding and dedicated service to the community."
After the participants finished the walk, the common was filled with activities like a silent auction, a concert, a barbecue and a public art project.
"Remember the community art project, [we need] some good memories from this event. Participate in putting your own artistic touch on this celebration of community," Hawkins said.
Since it was the 40th anniversary of the event, the current ABC house board gave historical context by introducing Frank W. Anderson, one of the founders of the program that started in 1968 in Amherst. Anderson gave vivid details of the conversations, meetings and initial idea of the fundraiser walk that lead to the founding and continual success of the ABC.
Anderson talked about a conversation that he had with Rev. David King about creating a community outreach program for the church. A seven-member board wanted to bring the ABC program to Amherst, so they visited Dartmouth, N.H., where the program was running since 1965. According to Robinson, this program was too big for the church to take on, so they made it a community-wide program.
"That's how ABC started; I was the first treasurer, very easy job because we had no money," Anderson said.
Anderson connected hiking activities he had with his children to the fundraising walk.
"Walk for raising money and teaching our youngsters more about nature and the outdoors. You may thank me for the walk you just had because that's where it was started," Anderson said.
Jonathan Urena, a UMass junior and member of the Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity Inc., said the group enjoyed itself and is looking forward to next year's walk.
Shaiana Nuñez, a junior and vice president of Boricuas Unidos, said, "I enjoyed the walk; the turn out was pretty good. I like it because I feel like everything is geared to helping girls out, but this one is good to see that they are doing things for boys."
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