Friday, February 14, 2014

Were you volunteer tutor/mentor in 1980s? Still involved?

This pin was given to myself and other volunteers in the early 1980s. It recognized volunteers who had given five to 10 years of consecutive service the Montgomery Ward-Cabrini/Green Tutoring Program in Chicago, where we were working with Cabrin-Green elementary school youth.

There might have been 20 to 25 people who received these pins. It was only awarded in one or two years. Mine showed 10 years of service. I had joined the tutoring program in 1973 as a tutor, then became part of the leadership committee the next year, and the volunteer leader the following year. When I took the lead in 1975 we were starting each year with around 100 pairs of volunteers and youth, but the number was down to about half of that by the end of the year.

At that time 90% of the volunteers were employees at the Montgomery Ward Corporate office and Catalog Distribution Center in Chicago.

By 1990 we were up to 300 pairs of volunteers and youth. More than 80% of those who started in the fall continued all year and with constant recruitment of replacements, we ended the year with more volunteers than what we started with. On 10% of the volunteers were from Montgomery Ward. After the Catalog operation closed in the early 1980s many volunteers went to other companies, then began to bring co-workers from those companies to volunteer.

I continued to lead the tutoring program at Wards until the fall of 1992 (we converted it to the non profit Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc. in 1990. It was renamed Tutoring Chicago in the past couple of years). In the fall of 1992 I created Cabrini Connections, to help kids who aged out of the original program after 6th grade have a similar support system to help them through high school. At the same time, we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help similar programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago.

I led Cabrini Connections until mid 2011. I'm still leading the Tutor/Mentor Connection, but under the structure of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

One of the other volunteers who received an award pin along with myself was Allen Tyson. He started tutoring a few years before me. He is still tutoring, now with Tutoring Chicago.

When I became a volunteer in 1973 I was assigned to work with a fourth grade boy named Leo. That's him with me in this picture. We're still connected today via Facebook, over 40 years later.
I'm connected to dozens of youth (who are now adults) and volunteers (who are now older) who I met between 1973 and 2011. I'd like to find a way to build a "great reunion" on the Internet, so more of those who were part of these programs in the past would reconnect.

One of the things I focus on every day is finding ways to empower some of those who have benefited from their participation so they will become leaders who share the vision I've shared in these blog articles and who will carry this forward in future years when I'm no longer here to provide that leadership.

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