Friday, April 02, 2010

Easter. NCAA Final Four. How to spend 3 hours.

Today is Good Friday in the Christian Faith. Sunday is Easter. A time of hope. Right?

Saturday is the semi-final round of the NCAA tournament. Monday is the final. A time of hope. Right?

Today the headline in my Chicago Tribune talked of a shooting in the Austin neighborhood. By the time I got to the computer at my office, this was replaced by a headline saying "2 shootings near same corner: 'All hell broke loose'"

This is not Iraq, or Afghanistan. This is Chicago.

I don't know all the reasons this happens. I don't have a simple solution. But just as millions of Christians this weekend will read scripture to understand the messages of their faith, I want to point people to information on the internet that I hope they'll spend just two or three hours reading.

Below is a map of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago that I created using the Interactive Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. I originally created this map for a blog story I wrote on July 22, 2009, following a column in the Chicago SunTimes, titled, "West Side Community can't fight gun violence alone".

This map shows faith groups, hospitals and colleges in the Austin area. Other maps show some of the businesses in the area, and the 290 Expressway, that brings more than a million people through the neighborhood every day. My goal is that people in these organizations will form study groups, and use these maps, and other information on our web sites, to learn why these shootings are happening, and how they can help mentor-rich, non-school tutor/mentor programs form that help kids make better choices because the see better opportunities.

Here's an example of how such a discussion group might form. This was a DePaul University class from last fall.

One article I encourage you to read links to a video created by Breakthrough Urban Ministries. This organization operates in the Austin area. The video illustrates how a non-school program can expand the aspirations and opportunities for inner city youth.

If you visit web sites of Cabrini Connections, and other programs listed in the Chicago Program Links, you'll find other examples of how tutors/mentors are connecting, and how non profits are supporting this process in many neighborhoods.

If you read some of these articles, talking about challenges facing non profits, you'll understand how difficult it is to keep tutor/mentor programs growing in these neighborhoods, and how hard it will be to create additional programs.

As you think of the teachings of Christ, and of other faith leaders, look at these articles, look at this list of organizations, and then look at how many blessings you've been given because of where you were born, and the people who have helped you in your life.

Then, before midnight on Sunday, write a check and send it to one or more of the organizations on our list, or make a Cabrini Madness donation to support Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Three hours is about the time it takes to watch a basketball game, or to view the movie titled "The Ten Commandments". If you can spare this much time to read and reflect on some of these articles, maybe you can help bring hope to kids living in the inner city battle grounds of America.

This won't provide you with all of the answers. It will increase the number of people trying to find the answers, and trying to provide the operating resources to assure that there are places in some neighborhoods where kids can go to for help.

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Visit and see how the Benevolence Committee of the Winnetka Congregational Church Woman's Society responded to our prayer with their own donation of $4,000.