Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lend A Hand - Support Mentoring

Today I attended the 5th Annual Lawyers Lend A Hand My Hero Awards Luncheon. More than 200 lawyers, judges, business people and leaders of Chicago tutor/mentor programs attended. The event honored the memory of Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, and celebrated how members of the legal community were supporting volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

I've written about the Lend A Hand many times since 2005.

I sat at one of the back tables and enjoyed listening to Merri Dee, formerly of WGN TV, as she did her duties as Mistress of Ceremonies. This photo shows me and Merri Dee at a Tutor/Mentor Leadership Networking Conference in 1995 or 1996. We were funded with grants from WGN TV Children's Charities until 2001. The first time we met she gave me the "If it is to be, it is up to me" slogan that I still use today to motivate my actions.

It was also a pleasure to here the work that the new Executive Director is doing to lead the Lend A Hand Program. This picture is of myself and Betsy Densmore, who was Executive Director of the Chicago Bar Foundation in 1993-94 when Lend A Hand was created and when Tutor/Mentor Connection first suggested a partnership that would "support the funding of general operations of tutor/mentor programs throughout Chicago."

I really enjoyed seeing Michael Chabraja of Family Matters receive the Making a Difference Award. This was presented by Devon Lovell, who has been a workshop presenter at many T/MC conferences. Devon told of Michael's journey from becoming a volunteer to being elected President of the Family Matters Board of Directors last weekend. This photo shows a representative of Family Matters receiving a Lend A Hand Award at the Spring 1998 Conference.

Tutor/Mentor Connection was not on the agenda today, but it felt good watching the ceremony, knowing the role we have taken since 1993 to help this organization grow to its current level of support for tutor/mentor programs.

However, what was not said is what I want people to think about. LAH grants range from $5,000 to $10,000 which is about 5% of the Cabrini Connections budget and much smaller for a larger organization like Midtown Education Foundation. The 30 programs receiving grants are a small percent of the 200 that are in the Program Locator Directory.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection heaps praise on LAH because of what it does, and what it has the potential to do. The lawyers represented in today's gathering represent huge wealth in Chicago. The can do much more to raise money, and provide direct funding, to all of the programs LAH currently funds, and many others who are on the T/MC directory.

Furthermore, they can do much more to influence what banks, accounting firms, engineering firms, construction companies and others do to duplicate LAH in their own industry, so that funding for tutor/mentor programs comes from multiple directions, and the total funding each year comes close to 100% of the operating expenses of most of these programs. Our goal is that businesses use maps like these to build strategies that distribute volunteers and donors to more places in the city where they do business, rather than to one, or two, choice organizations.

When the Hon. Mary Ann G. McMorrow ended her Judge Marovitz Mentoring Award acceptance speech today, she talked of the message greeting visitors to Harvard University as they entered campus and how the memory of your deeds and actions live beyond the span of a lifetime.

I feel good about what I and Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection have been able to do since 1993. I feel that we could have done much more if we'd been able to keep supporters like Montgomery Ward & Co and WGN, or find major benefactors from among the wealthy families in Chicago.

Yet, I'm uplifted by what I saw today, and hopeful for what we can accomplish tomorrow and in the future.

We can do this if more of you take Judge Abe's advise and "do a good deed" every day. Point some of those to helping tutor/mentor programs and you can get one of these awards for yourself in the future.

Or you can sit in the back of the room with me, feeling good about what you know you've done.

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