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by Abigail Van Buren

Dads Who Talk With Kids Leave Rich Legacy Behind

DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter from Victoria Rowell and Alonzo Mourning about foster children, I couldn't help but wipe away the tears. I never dreamed that so many children are in need of a caring adult's love and guidance.

You mentioned mentoring in your reply. I am very interested in mentoring a child. While I am unable to provide full-time care to a foster child, I know I could mentor one -- or even two. Where can I find information about doing this? How can I connect with a child who needs what I have to offer? -- WANTS TO HELP IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR WANTS TO HELP: Bless you for your caring heart. I know there must be many people who cannot be full-time foster parents, but who could manage a couple of days a month to bond with a child and provide the kind of encouragement that will enable the child to strive for success.

Mentoring doesn't have to be a big production; take a child to the zoo, a sporting event, an art gallery, into your home and into your heart. These are children who, through no fault of their own, often float from place to place. They have no adult figure to give them a continuity of caring. They need an adult they can trust and confide in, to steer them in the right direction, and rekindle the belief that success is possible and that goals are worth aspiring to.

Readers, those of you who would like to mentor a foster child should call 1-888-432-MENTor (1-888-432-6368), which is sponsored by "Children Uniting Nations," to locate a program in your local area. (Note: For the safety of the children, all applicants are rigorously screened.) If you qualify, I guarantee you'll receive more than you give when you see that child blossom.