Friday, October 12, 2012

I've not forgotten Dantrell Davis. Have you?

Today in the Chicago Tribune you can find a half-page story by Mary Schmich titled "Dantrell Davis shouldn't be forgotten.   If you don't know the name Dantrell was a 7-year old boy shot to death in Cabrini Green as he walked to school in October 1992.

At the left is the front page from the ChicagoSunTimes of October 15, 1992.  The headline says "7-Year Old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action".  I've kept this page in my office as my own reminder and I've posted it in my newsletters and blog at least once a year to remind everyone else.

Mary Schmich has written about life in Cabrini Green for almost 20 years. Her stories are emotional and focus on the struggles and triumphs. However, like most stories in the major media, they don't focus on all of the neighborhoods in Chicago and the suburbs where kids live in fear of violence and attend poorly performing schools.  The don't point to databases of tutor/mentor programs, like the one I host, where volunteers, donors, public leaders, etc. can learn about existing programs working to help kids succeed in school and avoid gangs, or where there are neighborhoods of high poverty, but few or no existing non-school tutor/mentor programs.

It's been 20 years and not enough has changed to improve the lives of youth in poor neighborhoods.  One story in one newspaper on one day is not enough. Stories that don't point to on-line discussion forums, libraries of deeper information, or call on people to volunteer time, talent and dollars TODAY, and every day, tug on the emotions but don't move people to action like a good 50% off Sale at a local retailer does.

Anyone can look at maps of Chicago to see where poverty is concentrated, where poorly performing schools are located, where incidents of violence occur most frequently.  Using the Program Locator or Chicago Program Links library you can identify nearly 180 youth serving organizations who each constantly seek operating dollars, talent, leadership, volunteers and public attention.

If you are want to remember Dantrell Davis pick a neighborhood near where you live or work, or along the route you travel as you go from home to work and adopt a tutor/mentor program. Use the information in the Tutor/Mentor library to build your own understanding of what these programs do, how they differ and how volunteers and donors and third-party supporters can help each program constantly improve over many years of YOUR consistent support.

Dantrell Davis was 7. He would have been 27 now. Because he lived in a high poverty neighborhood he might still be needing people from Chicago's extended business community to serve as mentors and to open doors to jobs and careers for him. Or he might need the same people to be operating a tutor/mentor program in one of Chicago's neighborhoods for his own kids to be enrolled.

In yesterday's article I quoted General Colin Powell as he called on business to become strategically involved. He said "This isn't charity. You're doing it in your own self-interest."

I also pointed to a Wiki Page with quotes from Abraham Joshua Heschel .  One says "Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments."

We all have personal power to change the world. Unleash yours.  

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