Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Add Support for Volunteer-Based Tutoring/Mentoring to y our New Year's Resolution

Yesterday when I came to the office I received an email telling me about a funeral being held that morning for the 2-year old daughter of a former Cabrini Connections student. The message came from the volunteer who began mentoring that youth in the mid 1990s and who continues to this day --- more than 15 years later -- to still be a mentor in the life of this youth and his family.

I went to the funeral. It was tragic. The minister said "nothing I say can make sense of this tragic death" but "God has a purpose and maybe this death brings us together and changes our own life direction".

While he was addressing the family and friends of this young man and his wife, he did not realize he was also addressing the Cabrini Connections family. I had not talked to this volunteer in more than a year, or to this young man in about the same length of time. At the funeral saw, and talked with, others who had been part of Cabrini Connections, or the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program prior to 1992. I'd not seen many of these young people for many years, but have been making an effort to reconnect via Facebook and our Linked in pages.

Maybe this tragedy will be the catalyst that gets more of our former students and volunteers reconnected to our current students and volunteers and each other.

Mentoring is not about reading, writing, test scores, and teacher-directed tutoring. It's about relationships that form because a program like Cabrini Connections is available in the neighborhood, and creates an introduction during one year, that we hope lasts for a life time. Well organized tutor/mentor programs support the match between youth and adult, with the goal that they last for additional years so the bond between young people and volunteers, and the organization, grows and remains supportive as everyone grows older.

Once in Cabrini Connections, aways in Cabrini Connections. I've been saying this for many years. I mean it.

Being at this funeral and giving support is just one small example of they type of support mentors can give to youth, and each other. Recognizing that these young adults, who were in elementary school or middle school when we first met them, still need our support for them, and for their own children, is what this community is really all about, and why we need donations from people who read this blog or visit our web sites.

January is National Mentoring Month. As you make your New Year's Resolution I hope you'll read the blogs we write, and learn more about this long-term form of mentoring, and ways that you, your church, your family and your business can support it in 2009 and beyond.

You can make a donation at if you want to help us continue this work in 2009.

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