A Marshall Plan is needed for America's children and families, says a pioneer of the marriage movement. Dr. Lori Gordon, creator of PAIRS, is calling on delegates at the 2004 Smart Marriages and Happy Families conference to launch a FamilyCorps coalition to bring relationship skills training to every American.
Dallas, TX (PRWEB) July 9, 2004 -- "We need a Marshall plan for America's
families," Dr. Lori Gordon of Weston, FL said today at a national gathering of
marriage educators who are meeting this week with state and federal officials at
the 8th annual Smart Marriages and Happy Families conference in
Gordon said the breakdown of traditional family structure combined with increasing financial hardships has hit America's children with the force of a deadly epidemic.
"This epidemic is robbing our children of the developmental assets and resources most important for their future health and well-being," Gordon said. "They are innocent victims of social, economic and political factors that they have no power to influence."
"The children themselves and our society in general," she added, "will pay an enormous price for our failure to stop this epidemic."
Gordon is founder of the national PAIRS program (www.pairs.com) and author of Passage to Intimacy, Love Knots, and If You Really Loved Me. She has been training marriage educators and creating relationships skills workshops since 1984.
At the Dallas conference, sponsored annually by the Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education, CMFCE, Gordon is asking many of the 2000 conference delegates to volunteer 50 hours of their time annually to help strengthen America's families and neighborhoods.
"We’re asking other programs to join PAIRS in launching a national FamilyCorps initiative," Gordon said. "FamilyCorps will match trained volunteers with local projects that help restore the spirit of community to America's families and neighborhoods," she said.
Gordon said two decades of study by leading researchers has demonstrated "intimacy is a skill that can be learned."
"Twenty years of research has demonstrated unequivocally that communication, conflict resolution, and emotional understanding skills are key to sustaining successful, long-term relationships and building happy families," Gordon said. "These lessons need to be incorporated into textbooks, welfare and work training, civic and religious marriage preparation programs and elsewhere so they are available to everyone at the earliest possible age."
Gordon's PAIRS program was recently grant funded to provide marriage training to low income couples at two locations in Florida. She said early results are promising, but that much more needs to be done.
She said an initial goal for FamilyCorps is to recruit 500 volunteers over the next 36 months. "Every volunteer hour can make a difference," she said. "FamilyCorps members will be on the frontlines of a very real war for the future of America," she added.
To stem the tide of family breakdown, Gordon said, America needs the active participation of the major marriage education programs, civic and religious leaders, and state and federal government. Her husband, Rabbi Morris Gordon, a decorated military chaplain and co-founder of PAIRS, agreed. Rabbi Gordon said he believes FamilyCorps can make a difference for America similar to the impact the Marshall Plan had in Europe following after World War II.
"Winning this battle will take a national commitment that goes far beyond beautiful words and inspiring images," Rabbi Gordon said. "Saving America's children and families will take bringing together the very best America has to offer to protect the very future of our nation and world," he added.
Gordon, who during his 89 years has personally witnessed much change at home and abroad, said he has no doubt America has the resources to overcome the challenges ahead. The retired rabbi shared the story of sitting just yards away from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when he delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech in Washington, DC.
"My own dream," said Rabbi Gordon, "is that FamilyCorps activists will reach families in neighborhoods everywhere in America and help us restore the spirit of community to families so every child can grow up with the foundation and resources to experience the very best life has to offer."
Erich Jackson, spokesman for 411-KIDS (www.411kids.org), a Florida-based volunteer group that works on the streets in Fort Lauderdale with homeless, runaway and thrownaway youth, said he expects some of the program's volunteers to sign on with FamilyCorps.
"Our work with street kids has shown us over and again that the most common denominator for runaway and thrownaway children is family breakdown," said Jackson. "I’d be surprised if even one percent of the two to three million youth who become homeless in America had models at home that offered an example of what it takes to create a lasting marriage or happy family."
"In so many of those cases," Jackson added, "their own parents didn't know because they also didn't grow up with successful examples. Where were they supposed to learn?"
"So many American youngsters and teens look to celebrities like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff, Jennifer Lopez, Pam Anderson, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as examples to follow," Jackson said. "America needs more celebrities like Bill Cosby who are willing to stand up for our nation's young people and the role of family, community and society. Movie stars, recording artists and athletes have a significant impact on our youth. It would be wonderful to see some of them volunteer with FamilyCorps to use their talents and resources to make a difference in our neighborhoods."
Jackson said he hopes there will come a day when celebrities like Madonna and Britney Spears are willing to pick up the phone and volunteer with FamilyCorps. "When celebrities realize what a difference they can make in helping children and families, I think many of them will want to get involved," Jackson said. "I believe in miracles," he added.
The Gordons said FamilyCorps will begin matching volunteers with community projects later this year. For more information, visit www.FamilyCorps.org or call (877) 411-5437.
# # #
Source : http://www.prweb.com/releases/2004/7/prweb140146.htm