Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tutor/Mentor Conference Builds Local Global Connections

On Thursday and Friday of this past week the Tutor/Mentor Connection hosted its 29th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference since May 1994. More than 120 people attended. Some came from California, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania and many came from the Chicago region and Illinois. You can see a partial list of participants here, which is an on-line attendee form which was created as people registered for the conference.

Tomorrow I'm flying to Atlanta where I'll participate in the National Conference on Volunteerism and Community Service. While I expect more than 1500 people will attend the National Conference, I don't expect to be able to attend more than one workshop in any time frame, nor do I expect to meet any more people than I did at the Chicago conference.

In fact, since I cannot find an attendee list on the National Conference web site, I suspect participants will not be able to connect with as many of the people who they might want to meet as they could from the Chicago conference, which was much smaller.

While I'll be in Atlanta, the National NonProfit Congress meeting will be taking place in Washington, DC. More than 500 people will be attending and an attendee list is available on-line. While this does a great job of showing where a participant comes from, it still does not enable one participant to contact another participant directly. Thus, it's not likely that people attending this event will meet any more people than I'll meet in Atlanta, or that you could have met in Chicago.

Yet, we're all concerned with similar issues of volunteerism and service, which must be funded by philanthropy.

The most a conference can do is inspire us, energize us, and give us a few new ideas. The work of putting these ideas in place takes place after the conference and unless we have the resources, or help from others, it's not likely that many of these ideas will ever be used by the many people who are attending these events.

However, that can change.

If anyone who organizes an event builds in an on-line forum, or an interactive attendee list, they will enable participants to connect with each other. If this connects service providers, resource providers, evaluators, media and public leaders, it can lead to more good ideas taking root in more places.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered time to participate in the Chicago conference. We hope you'll introduce yourself in online forums such as this and this, so we can continue to work to build a stronger infrastructure to support our efforts, which will lead to better supports for kids living in disadvantaged situations.

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