Monday, March 21, 2011

Another War. Another Tsunami. Another Day.

We've all heard the story of the "tortoise and the hare". The rabbit gets off to a fast start then runs out of gas. The tortoise just keeps plodding along, passing the rabbit as it keeps on its own journey."

In my efforts to keep Cabrini Connections available to the 7th to 12th grade teens who are part of the current program, as well as those students and volunteers who have been part of Cabrini Connections in past years, I feel like the "tortoise". In my effort to build a Tutor/Mentor Connection information-base and communications strategy that helps tutoring and/or mentoring programs like Cabrini Connections get the resources the need to operate I feel like a very slow, very old tortoise.

However, the "hare" in this case is the on-going challenges we and other social-benefit organizations face from events we cannot control.

Over the weekend the US and its Allies launched another war. Just over a week ago the forces of nature unleashed one of the worst natural disasters in our history on the people of Japan. Public attention and public and private resources are once again mobilizing to respond to these disasters.

Yet, these disasters are just part of a series of wars, earthquakes, tsunami's and hurricanes that have plagued this planet over the past 10 years.

In September, 2005 I wrote an article titled "Disaster Challenges us All". What I said then is as true today as it was then.

We need to educate the world to create three pools of generosity and compassion, as represented by the chart below.

One part of this budget focuses on responses to disasters (the hare in my story). Another part focuses on personal/family disasters, such as a child with cancer. The final third, focuses on the on-going funding needed to solve complex problems.

Helping kids born or living in poverty requires consistent, long-term investment. Just like doing cancer or AIDS research requires long term investment. Just like rebuilding Haiti, the Gulf Cost, or Japan will require long-term investment after the initial surge of donations has passed.

This map of Chicago shows high poverty areas, and locations of organizations that provide tutoring and/or mentoring. All of these organizations need a consistent flow of dollars, volunteers, technology so they can stay connected to the kids they work with. These funds need to be available when we're at War, and when we're responding to natural disasters, or many will not be able to maintain key staff, connections with youth and volunteers, and the long-term race to help poor kids grow up to lead lives out of poverty.

I sometimes wonder what motivates the tortoise to stay in this race when there are so many obstacles.

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