Sunday, May 15, 2005

Volunteers Make a Difference

On Thursday and Friday, May 12 and 13, more than 140 people gathered at the Northwestern University Law School in Chicago for the 23rd Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. Participants came from California, Texas, Canada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, etc.

From May 6 to 12 a Tutor/Mentor eConference connected even more people with each other, and with information that we hope helps people innovate ways to connect tutors, mentors and change agents with children and youth living in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, poorly performing schools and many other social/economic barriers that kids must overcome to reach jobs and careers. Another eConference will be held on May 23.

This is all made possible by volunteers. The speakers at these conferences are volunteers. People who help organize the events and host the econferences are volunteers. The Conference was co sponsored by the Children & Family Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School, and held at the Law School. Even the web sites that the Tutor/Mentor Connection uses to host a library of Tutor/Mentor information were created and hosted by volunteers.

This shows the potential of civic engagement. The challenge is helping volunteers find information and financial resources to support on-going involvement, while creating a larger, and on-going public awareness that encourages a growth of the number of volunteers who get involved.

I've hosted these conferences since 1994 and have led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program since 1974. I cannot tell you how good I feel when I watch the interactions of tutor/mentor leaders with each other, and of volunteers with teens and youth in tutor/mentor programs. It's because I know that lives are changed because I and other volunteers have helped create space for these gatherings to take place.

This blog is a new space. I hope it also helps connect tutor/mentor communities and volunteers with each other and with needed resources. As we head to the next econference on May 23, I hope to continue this process and expand the network of volunteers who are working to create a brighter future for those who were born to more disadvantaged circumstances.

"It takes a village to raise a child" is an over-used phrase. However, in the Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conferences, members of this village are coming together to learn ways to create a stronger community of support for children and youth who need extra help.

I hope you'll join us.

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Visit my Digital Divide Blog for log in ULRs for each of today's workshops.