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Role models who matter most

As we shake our head at the latest NFL player accused of domestic violence and hope against hope that Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable is not a rapist, there comes a reminder that the important role models are not on TV or online — they are on the homefront.

Rachel Jackson-Bramwell was graduated from Belleville East and at age 25 started a charity by handing out $150 worth of sandwiches to 1,000 homeless people. Shortly after founding Project Compassion she was recognized on “The Tyra Banks Show” and given $10,000. Now she’s a L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, which garnered another $10,000 and a shot at $25,000. Her mission grew to working with disadvantaged women and girls. She hopes to open a center for teen girls.

We also saw 13 other quiet, local role models when the Belleville Achieves Strength In Character Initiative honored them last week. The list was heavy with educators, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise when we consider the place teachers occupy in most lives.

The awards this year were named after Mary McHugh, who taught at Franklin School for more than 40 years, helped create the Franklin Neighborhood Community Association and was on a litany of city and civic groups that were forces for positive change. McHugh passed away in August, but left a legacy of character that continues to grow in her proteges and those they inspire.

Direct your youngsters’ attention to these role models close to home, or better yet, emulate them and be the most influential role model of all.