Friday, December 14, 2012

Planting Seeds. Nurturing Growth

This is one of the graphics that I've created to wish all of my family, friends and connections a happy holiday and a joyous 2013.

It's using an image from an animation created by one of my interns to show how a volunteer grows into a leader as they stay involved in a tutor/mentor program over many years. You can view this at

My own growth illustrates this. I started tutoring in 1973 when I joined the Montgomery Ward Corporation as an advertising copywriter. I became the volunteer leader of the company program in 1975 and for the next 36 years I've spent time every day trying to figure out ways to attract youth and volunteers and keep them engaged. When I left Wards in 1990 I also had to figure out ways to attract donors and keep them engaged, too. The original program did not need to work about this because I and other leaders had full time jobs. We could afford to lead the program as volunteers.

In 1990 this became my full time job and I had to raise money to pay me a salary and to pay others who became part of our staff over the past 18 years. This map shows my journey over the past 38 years.

To do this I've tried to educate volunteers, youth, donors, and every other stakeholder by pointing them to information showing where and why tutor/mentor programs are needed and to stories showing the impact of these programs on the lives of kids and adults. This video is one that tells this story.

Since this is the season of religious holidays I would like to compare my work to the Parable of the Sower from the Bible.

Over 35 years I've spread many seeds inviting others to become involved as tutors, students, leaders, donors, advocates, and have tried to nourish them weekly so that some take root and grow.

I met a young man at the Chicago Police Department yesterday who told me he had used the Program Locator Maps in a college research project, to demonstrate the need for more youth programs in the Englewood neighborhood. That's an example of the seeds beginning to take root. A few years ago I received a $2,500 donation from the Women's ProGolf Association. By tracing the donor in my database I found it was a person who I had first started sending newsletters to in 1994. He had changed jobs but it was not until many years later that he could provide financial support. If you log in on the OHATS documentation system (user name Guest; password Visitor)you can see other testimonials and actions I've documented since 2000.

Thousands of seeds have been planted. Every time I send a newsletter, such as this one, I'm asking people from my past to become active in supporting the work that needs to be done in the future. Every time someone has visited this blog or one of my web sites since 1998 a seed is planted.

As some of these seeds take root we should be able to show workers and leaders in every node on this map who are working to support the growth of tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty of Chicago and other cities, and who are providing talent and financial support to help me continue to spread seeds and nourish their growth.

I'm not a non-profit, so you cannot get a tax deduction for helping me. You can look in the mirror and tell yourself how much you are doing to help kids living in high poverty have systems of support that tutor/mentor programs can provide.

Click here to add your support to Tutor/Mentor Institute.

Click here if you'd like to give your support in the form of a gift for my 66th birthday.

Click here to find a list of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago that you can choose to support even if you cannot support my own efforts.

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