Letter: 20 years of A Better Chance

To the Editors:

A Better Chance of Wilton, better known as ABC, celebrates its 20th year of bringing academically promising minority boys and girls to live and attend high school in Wilton. This is truly something to celebrate as for 20 years the town of Wilton has supported this program with volunteers, host families and generous donors. For 20 years we have been giving an opportunity to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to engage in a rigorous high school career which leads to college and a successful future. We, in Wilton, cannot underestimate what a gift this is to these young people.

Recently, I had the privilege of listening to two of the seniors in this program describe how they came to apply to the ABC program and why they choose Wilton High School for their high school years. It was a humbling experience as I heard about the motivation and planning that led them to start the process in seventh grade that would bring them to Wilton. One of these students is the first in his family to attend college. Many of these students come from inner-city disadvantaged areas where the schools are subpar and often contain disruptions to learning including rampant delinquency, violence and substance abuse.

Now enter Wilton ABC, a completely community-supported program, where these students come to live and study. There are two ABC houses in Wilton, one for boys and one for girls. The program currently has 14 scholars. There are over 100 community volunteers in the program who act as “host families” on weekends, drivers who take these students to appointments or activities and college coaches who actively work with students to find suitable colleges for each scholar. Not to mention ABC’s committed and engaged Board of Directors who oversee all aspects of the program. In addition to these volunteers, scholars receive daily support from live-in residential directors in the homes.

Our board president, John Klein, is in his second rotation as president and is extraordinarily dedicated to the scholars and their success. He likes to mention that donations to this community-funded program all go directly to the program itself. There is no overhead as the community of volunteers is the engine of the program.

I am privileged to be part of this program and extend my heartfelt thanks to all in our community who volunteer to support these young people and those who donate funds to keep the program going. If you are unfamiliar with our program, I encourage you to learn more. More information can be found at our website abcwilton.org.
Lorraine Larkin
Member of the Board of Directors
Wilton, Nov. 22