From 1998: Barbara Bush speaks at Study Connection breakfast

April 18, 2018 GMT

This story, “Barbara Bush says your time is best gift for kids,” originally appeared in The Journal Gazette’s Sept. 12, 1998, editions.

The smallest gesture from an adult can make a world of difference in the life of a child, former first lady Barbara Bush said Friday.

“You are molding and shaping the future, and the future looks awfully bright for the children of Fort Wayne,” she said, applauding hundreds of Fort Wayne Study Connection volunteers.

Bush was in town for the Study Connection celebration and recognition breakfast. The event kicked off the program’s 10th year.

Study Connection participants are paired with tutors who work one-on-one with them one hour a week during the school year.

Bush said that hour, though it is a small commitment for an adult, builds self-esteem in children because they spend it with an adult they’ve grown to know and trust. That, she said, builds a better, stronger child.

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But she said now is not the time to rest.

Earlier in the day, program founder Don Wolf, retired chief executive officer and president emeritus of Do it Best Corp., said fewer than half of the students who need tutoring can be enrolled.

“If you’re not doing it, get involved,” Bush said.

She told funny anecdotes and inspirational stories to the more than 700 audience members -- including state and local officials, school administrators, teachers, students and tutors.

She even imitated her husband a few times, much like Dana Carvey did on “Saturday Night Live.” For instance, she laid down ground rules for the question-and-answer session by saying there were some political questions she would not answer.

“Not gonna answer. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.”

Despite the humor, though, she didn’t lose sight of her subject.

She congratulated tutor of the year Linda Hanefeld of Phelps Dodge Magnet Wire and student of the year Travis White, a fifth-grader at Lincoln Elementary School.

Travis was one of the six presenters in Fort Wayne’s bid to be named a All-American City.

She also tipped her hat to Wolf.

“I bet you never dreamed what you started 10 years ago,” she said. “I bet you never imagined what you’ve done. You have made a difference.”