I remember the call I received back in 1992 when then St. Louis Park Superintendent, Carl Holmstrom called me to invite me to be part of a group of civic leaders to discus building assets in youth. At our first meeting, over 40 local agencies that work with youth were represented. They included leaders from government agencies, faith communities, non-profit organizations, public and private schools, neighborhood associations, and local business leaders.
There was an incredible energy in the room as Dr. Peter Benson was introduced. He talked about the development assets, and how as a community we might proactively and collectively, create a culture shift that would positively impact youth in St. Louis Park. We all knew from the start, that although we all had very different jobs, with a broad array of missions and ministries, we held a common belief that we needed to better serve our youth. We also knew that the developmental asset model provided a very practical and research-based method of helping young people.
Many of the contacts I made at that first meeting are still my closest colleagues, and the networking opportunities that were created by those first meetings have helped all of us who work with youth be more effective in our roles. Of course the real benefactors are the youth in St. Louis Park, which includes my four sons that my wife, Anna and I have raised here.
I will forever be grateful for the invitation to participate in the Children First initiative, and for the opportunity to better serve our young people. I have a quote on my desk in my office at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, which reads “Children are living messages we send to a time we will not see.” Children First is dedicated to meeting that challenge, and does so very successfully.
Dr. Bob Tift
President, Benilde-St. Margaret’s School