Obama Mentee Giving Back

Published by Pamela Gentry on Friday, January 22, 2010 at 12:39 am.

Michael Strautmanis_2By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst

Jan. 21, 2010 – The president and first lady announced the expansion of the White House’s mentoring program. The program will be expanded to include 20 young men to the 20 young ladies selected for the program initiated in November 2009 under the leadership of Mrs. Obama.

The East Room announcement Thursday introduced the mentors and their mentee and expanded the year long program to include young men. The forty young folks from across the United States will have a White House staffer as their mentor, attend one workshop a month, and participate in field trips in the nation’s capital.
    
 
First lady Michelle Obama told the children, “People are doing this because they want to be a part of your lives, they want to hear about your hopes and dreams and your passions and your struggles.  They are here because they believe in your potential and they want to share some of the lessons that they’ve learned.”

That’s exactly what Michael Strautmanis, chief of staff for senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told me about his high mentors: the Obamas.  “They have always been about giving back and I’ve personally benefited from it.”

 Strautmanis has been tapped to coordinate the program and its partnerships with other departments in the White House. “I wouldn’t be here today if they hadn’t been there for me,” he told me.  I first met Strautmanis when he came to Washington with Sen. Obama and served as the freshman senator’s chief of staff. A native of Chicago and an attorney Strautmanis started his legal career as at Sidley, Austin law firm in Chicago where he met the Obamas.

The president acknowledged the challenges facing young people today during his remarks – and reflected on his youth.  “Fewer young people are growing up in homes with two parents.  I’m one of those people who didn’t grow up with two parents in a household.  Parents are working longer hours and they’ve got less time to spend with their kids.  And many young people don’t have the advantage of living in those tight-knit neighborhoods that many of us who are older grew up in, where people looked out for each other, and for each other’s children,” he said. 

The White House Men/Boys Mentoring Program has also managed to snag the support of corporate sponsors, national non-profits and the U.S. Government is also stepping up and launching the serve.gov/mentor Website for federal employees to volunteer their time.

“It’s tough being a young person out there these days, “Statautmanis said.  “We’ll bring them [mentee] to the White House and expose them to different perspectives, new careers, how the federal government works and introduce them to cultural opportunities in D.C.

All of this for what the first lady summed up as a promise.  “The only thing that we ask in return, and we said this to the girls, is that when this is all over, that you give back, that you do the same for someone else.  That’s the only thing we ask of you.  Because the beauty of being a mentor is that anyone can do it at any age,” she told the mentees.

The message was clear from the first couple, anything is possible. Mrs. Obama told the mentee,  “Each of us has the ability to move beyond the circumstances that we were born into.  That’s really the story of both me and the president, that through hard work and perseverance, that you can actually choose the life that you want to live — it’s your choice.”

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Comments

Pamela said on January 22nd, 2010

Thank you, First Lady Michelle and President Obama for reaching out and giving our children support, and, an opportunity to make a choose in the life they want to live!

Bama said on January 23rd, 2010

Hey Pamela did not the President cancel vouchers for black parents who wanted to send their kids to a better school, to get a betterr education. Obama does not have to worry about his kids schooling. And you are thanking them.

HOWRU said on January 24th, 2010

BET, Please report REAL NEWS!!! All I see is a one sided view on the current administration. I understand that the Mr. Obama is black and this is Black Entertainment Television, but as a news reporter your reporting should be unbiased. All I see is the good things that this Admin is doing. Theres nothing wrong with good news, but you hide the truth to the millions of viewers who depend on this network for their current events. Not to many people understand the importance of why Obama’s numbers are dropping in ratings. Im reading many of these post and it seems that everyone thinks its because he is BLACK! Thats interesting! Considering the number of votes that got Obama elected were mostly whites. Yes the majority of blacks voted for Obama, but still the majority of blacks only represent 13-15% of america. Of those 13-15% how many blacks actually voted? But reading the news on BET… You have me convinced that Obama is the greatest thing since slice bread and the only reason his numbers are down is because people are hating that he is Black. It has nothing to do with the fact that the economy is getting worse, healthcare hasnt been passed even though his party owns the senate, the house, and the presidency. Not to mention that he hasnt passed any legislation. Well he did win a noble peace award not because he earned it but as a political statement against the prior administration. Im pretty sure this will get removed since you have removed many of my post!!! Even though I am saying nothing wrong and you have all these clowns on here writing racial comments!!! I lose more and more respect for you each day! Take care

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Joy B. said on January 25th, 2010

I think they are doing a great thing. I also feel like no matter what he does its not going to be good enough for a lot of people. He was left the biggest mess to clean up and the world wants it fixed over night. The problem is the mess was not made over night. I’m giving the president all of my prayers and support. This is a cuel world we live in and people only care about self. I think he is doing a great job and I appreciate him looking out for our children.

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Pamela, I appreciate your blog and I think a lot of people still support President Obama but don’t get affirmation in the public discourse. I’ve made a beautiful short film about the day we elected him because I think we all could use a shot of inspiration here.

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I think your readers will like it, and I think this film is a great match for BET. Could you help me figure out who to get in touch with at BET programming? Enjoy and thank you.

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