Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to Honor Fallen Officer

Today Chicago mourns another police officer killed in a Chicago neighborhood. According to the editorial in today's Chicago SunTimes, the wife of slain officer Thor Soderberg "took a moment to call us to a higher purpose."

She said, "Here is what you can do. If you have the opportunity to do something and change someone's life for the better, do it.

Start by taking care of every child. Thor and I knew that each young person needs five important adults and one strong adult to provide a positive influence in their lives.

Everyone one of us can do a tremendous amount of good to impact a child, even one that isn't ours."

This is what the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been saying for the past 16 years. Every child needs a range of extra adults in their lives, and kids in high poverty neighborhoods need churches, community centers, local businesses, and/or non profit organizations to provide organized, structured spaces, where those extra adults can connect, and stay connected, with kids for many years.

Volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, like Cabrini Connections, and many others who have web sites in the Chicago Programs Links Library, offer such structure. However, we can't do this without more donors stepping forward to provide the money to pay for the rent, insurance, staffing, technology and other basic costs of these programs.

If you use the T/MC Program Locator, you can zoom into different parts of the city where there is high poverty, and too many poorly performing schools. You'll see that there are far to few places in these neighborhoods where kids and extra adults can connect. Furthermore, in many of these neighborhoods, there are too few extra adults because everyone is dealing with the impacts of poverty and violence.

Thus, it's up to the greater Chicago region to respond. I encourage you to look at this transportation map, showing high way and Metra routes, linking the LOOP with the suburbs. Every day thousands of potential volunteers and donors pass through poverty neighborhoods on their way to, or from, work.

Heed the call from Jennifer Loudon, wife of Thor Soderberg.

The articles on this blog, and the links we point to, provide information that can be used by anyone who wants to do more to respond to this call for involvement. Form a learning group. Make time every week to read a little, talk about these ideas with friends, family, and co-workers. Then build an action strategy, and stick to it.

Learn more about how you, your church, your business, and/or your alumni and social group can make these networks of extra adults more available to youth in the high poverty areas of the Chicago region, and to all other youth who need extra help from structured tutor/mentor programs.

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