A child is abused every 13 seconds in America. Almost 50 percent of American children have used an illicit drug by the time they leave high school. Fifteen million young people live in poverty. The statistics are startling, but they can be changed.

Those who gathered at the recent Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future agree that volunteers can make a difference in the lives of these other at-risk youths. The summit’s organizers believe it is vital that all children have access to an adult mentor, a healthy start, a safe place, marketable skills and opportunities to give back through volunteering.

A delegation of Dallas residents attended the Summit, set local goals and is now working to implement those plans. Some of its goals are providing mentors for 50,000 children, ensuring all students are reading on grade level by the third grade and cutting the number of violent incidents in schools in half by the year 2000.

Nonprofit agencies are eager for volunteers. Big Brothers and Sisters, for example, has 400 children who are waiting for mentors. While a one-year commitment is ideal, the agency has developed a six-month match program, a family mentor program and a teen mentor program.

If you’d like to help improve the lives of children in our community, call the Volunteer Center at 214-826-6767. We need you to give these children a brighter future.