The Fayetteville-Manlius A Better Chance program, a not-for-profit organization that aims to increase educational opportunities for high school-aged minority girls, is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year.
Its second gala dinner and award ceremony will be held Nov. 6 at the DoubleTree Hotel in East Syracuse and will honor East Syracuse-based Anaren, Inc. for its yearly community service contributions. It will also recognize one of F-M ABC's co-founders Barbara Sutton for her consistent involvement with the local chapter since 1974. Sutton is currently finishing her latest term as the Board of Trustees president and continues to serve on several committees.
Sutton had initially heard about the national A Better Chance program through her alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, but didn't get involved until the national director of ABC's community school programs visited the F-M area and spoke at St. Ann's Church in Manlius.
A steering committee was formed in 1973 and the first Board of Directors in 1974. Sutton said the group was thrilled that the F-M community and excellent school system could become a part of a successful, innovative national program.
Eagle Bulletin Editor Tami S. Zimmerman interviewed Sutton about her commitment to a program that Sutton describes as a huge part of her life. Since its inception, more than 70 students have graduated and moved on to excel in both college and careers.
What does F-M ABC mean to you?
F-M ABC means opportunity. Our scholars are ambitious and talented, but they need a challenging school environment and the academic and emotional support that our program has to offer.
It also means community. Over 36 years there have been so many people involved in F-M ABC: teachers, counselors and administrators at F-M High School; board members, host families and staff members. Individual contributors, churches and businesses have supported the program financially. People in the community have volunteered for our fundraisers, have driven the scholars to to their dance or music lessons or to the bus for vacation, and have worked on the house cleaning, painting, raking and weeding.