Monday, February 07, 2022

Mentoring Connections - Over Many Years

If you've read many of my articles you know I advocate for the growth of long-term volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs that reach youth in high poverty neighborhoods. My passion comes from leading such a program from 1975 to 2011 and from the many long-term connections I've been part of. 

Below are a few photos that illustrate this.

Me and Leo Hall - 1973 till 2022 - Leo and I were matched in 1973 when he was in 4th grade. We've stayed connected since then. We're now connected on Facebook.  View past articles where I've talked about Leo and myself.  Leo's now looking for a Kidney donor. If you think you can help reach out to me on Facebook. 

Allen Tyson and Victor Dawson - 1975 till 2022.  Below is a set of photos that Victor posted on Facebook last week.  The three on the right are from the year-end yearbooks that I created every year from 1974 to 1991.  

Allen has actually been involved a year or two longer than myself.  He has had a series of mentees, including Victor's siblings, over the past 50 years.  Here are a few articles where you can read about Allen and past mentees.  

Chris Dowdle and Tangela Smith Marlow - late 1980s till 2022. Below is a Facebook interaction in February 2021 between Chris and Tangela.  They met in the original program at Montgomery Ward, then joined Cabrini Connections in 1993 when Tangela aged out of the original program. Chris's husband, Ray Dowdle, with the long-term board president of Cabrini Connections. 

Alberta Duff and Cindy Hene.  1980s till 2022.  This is part of a Facebook conversation started by Alberta in 2021.  She asked if I knew who her past tutor was before the Cabrini Connections program.  I looked in yearbooks from the late 1980s and found the photo of her and Cindy, then looked for Cindy on Facebook. I then re-connected them.

View the yearbook archive.

Victor has had several of the yearbooks from past years and a couple of years ago I shared this link where anyone can find the entire collection from 1976 to 1991. Visit this page and you can find links to newsletters from 1993-2003 from the Cabrini Connections - Tutor/Mentor Connection, as well as annual reports from those years. 

When Victor posted some photos of him and his Cabrini-Green friends and family recently I skimmed through them and did not recognize any faces after so many years. So I suggested he look at the old yearbooks and put pictures from the past with those of the present.  He did that.

I also suggested that others look up their former tutors.  Kimberly Smith found photos of herself with two of her former tutors and posted them the the Facebook conversation.

Tramaine Ford accepted the invitation too,  and posted the photos below to Facebook. He received responses from Carrie Clifford and Gloria Harrison, who he met when they launched the Innervisions Youth Productions video creation group at Cabrini Connections in 1997.  

These are just a few of the connections taking place today, in 2022, that were started through the tutor/mentor programs I led from 1973 to 2011.  They show that the work we did in past years to help build and sustain these relationships are still paying dividends today.  

I'm connected to each of these former students and many others on Facebook and delighted when I see them posting stories telling of the success of their own kids.  I'm also saddened when I hear of tragedies that continue to plague others.

There are very few organized tutor/mentor programs in Chicago that have longer histories than 20 or 30  years, but there are some.  The program I led at Montgomery Ward is now Tutoring Chicago and can probably offer many stories of these on-going connections.  The Chicago Lights program at 4th Presbyterian Church and the Custer Tutoring Program in Austin are also long-term programs. 

Each green icon on this map is the location of one of the tutor and/or mentor programs on a list I host. Find the map and list at this link.  Browse through the list, look at the websites, identify other long-term programs and/or unique mentoring models, then share stories of these programs with your friends, family and co-workers. Help each program attract the resources needed to build long-term connections. 

Create your own map stories.

I've plotted the location of Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs on maps since 1993 and created overlays showing indicators of where programs are most needed, such as high poverty, poorly performing schools and/or incidents of violence.  

Use this information to create your own map-stories that draw attention, volunteers and donors to programs in different parts of Chicago.  Browse the list of map-based articles on this blog, or the MappingforJustice blog to see how I've embedded maps in stories. 

Increasing attention. Sharing information.

I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences in Chicago every six months from May 1994 to May 2014 to help programs learn and share from each other, and to draw media and donor attention.  I've used my newsletters, blogs, social media and websites to encourage every program to constantly learn from each other, and to share their own stories of what works, what challenges they face, and how their students and volunteers are still connecting after many years.  

I've  used articles like this to encourage programs to share more information on their websites and to create and use blogs. I feel such information would provide more evidence that donors, volunteers and parents might use to choose programs to support or get involved with.

However, more people need to encourage this than myself, especially donors.   

Add your photos. Rebuild connections.

If you're part of the tutor/mentor programs I led I encourage you to go through the old yearbooks and find photos of yourself and your tutor or mentee, then share them on Facebook with myself and each other. In doing so you show the value of these programs and encourage donors to support existing programs that are doing similar work.  And, you help re-build and strengthen the ties that bind us. 

Are you part of other programs? Tell your own stories.

If you are connected to other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago or in other cities encourage them to share stories showing the connections that still exist between former students and volunteers, or the successes alumni are having because of the help the programs provided in the past. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to get the largest possible attention for your posts, and for these organizations. 

Together we can draw greater attention to programs that support long-term connections and help them attract the volunteers and donors needed to help those programs operate from year-to-year.

Thanks for reading.  

I hope you'll connect with me on one of these social media platforms. 

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