Friday, May 23, 2008

As we remember our heroes this weekend....think of the battles still to be won

Over the next few days people throughout America will honor the memory of men and women who have fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy. We have the right to share ideas on blogs like this only because men and women have died to give us those rights. Never forget.

However, the battles that have been fought are not over. We are still in a shooting war overseas. We're threatened by terror every day. Our global environmental crisis is a growing enemy. And far too many people live in poverty in the US, and around the world. This poverty is a breeding ground for new forms of terror.

How do we stop this? Where are the heroes of tomorrow who will fight on the battlefields of ideas and social justice?

I lead a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in which adults from many different business backgrounds volunteer time each week to serve as tutors, mentors, organizers, activity leaders, fund raisers, etc. to help kids living in the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago. To me, these volunteers are heroes. So are the kids who make an effort to be here every week.

However, while I lead a single program in one neighborhood, I know that programs like this are needed in neighborhoods all over the Chicago region, and in other big cities all over the country. I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to try to help mobilize resources to support the growth of such programs.

There have been many volunteers who have helped the T/MC over the past 15 years. There have been a growing number of interns who have also helped. I create a page listing different projects that students and volunteers have been doing to help the T/MC.

To me, these people who devote their talent to helping us mobilize volunteers and raise dollars are also heroes. We need more of them. We need millions of them.

We can reduce the number of men and women who die on future battlefields, if we increase the number who sacrifice time and talent to help end poverty and correct the many social injustices that exist in this world.

As you celebrate and honor our fallen warriors, I encourage you to also look for ways to donate your time and talent to these other battlefields in the coming months and years.

If you'd like to know more, come to the Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago next weekend, May 29 and 30.

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