Friday, October 21, 2022

Alumni Collaboration - Role of Mentoring

Yesterday I saw this image announcing a new book titled "I Am Here" which was co-authored by two former students from the Cabrini Connections program that I led from 1993 to 2011.  The book has not yet been published, but I'll share that information when it is available.

11-9-2022 update - the book launch will be Nov. 18, 2000. Click here for details

One student, Kaealya Holmes was one of the first students to join Cabrini Connections in 1993. The other, Toi Dickson-Fuller, was part of the program from around 1995 through her high school graduation. 

Both Toi and Kaealya are "giving back" by mentoring young children through their own efforts.  I've been sharing my own experiences and resources to help them. 

That reminds me of an article I wrote in December 2008, calling for support of Tutor/Mentor Programs.  I'm sharing that below, with updates. 

---- begin ----

Yesterday when I came to the office I received an email telling me about a funeral being held that morning for the 2-year old daughter of a former Cabrini Connections student. The message came from the volunteer who began mentoring that youth in the mid 1990s and who continues to this day --- more than 15 years later -- to still be a mentor in the life of this youth and his family.

I went to the funeral. It was tragic. The minister said "nothing I say can make sense of this tragic death" but "God has a purpose and maybe this death brings us together and changes our own life direction".

While he was addressing the family and friends of this young man and his wife, he did not realize he was also addressing the Cabrini Connections family. I had not talked to this volunteer in more than a year, or to this young man in about the same length of time. At the funeral I saw, and talked with, others who had been part of Cabrini Connections, or the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program prior to 1992. I'd not seen many of these young people for many years, but have been making an effort to reconnect via Facebook and our Linked in pages.

Maybe this tragedy will be the catalyst that gets more of our former students and volunteers reconnected to our current students and volunteers and each other.

Mentoring is not about reading, writing, test scores, and teacher-directed tutoring. It's about relationships that form because a program like Cabrini Connections is available in the neighborhood, and creates an introduction during one year, that we hope lasts for a life time. Well organized tutor/mentor programs support the match between youth and adult, with the goal that they last for additional years so the bond between young people and volunteers, and the organization, grows and remains supportive as everyone grows older.

"Once in Cabrini Connections, always in Cabrini Connections." I've been saying this for many years. I mean it.

Being at this funeral and giving support is just one small example of the type of support mentors can give to youth, and each other. Recognizing that these young adults, who were in elementary school or middle school when we first met them, still need our support for them, and for their own children, is what this community is really all about, and why we need donations from people who read this blog or visit our web sites.

--- end 2008 article ----

I've not been an official part of the first tutoring program that I led since 1992 or part of Cabrini Connections since 2011, yet I'm still connected to young people and alumni of these programs.

I really believe the "Once in Cabrini Connections, always in Cabrini Connections." message. My involvement has never been a "job" but a "purpose". 

If you view my Facebook page and look at my Friends list, you'll see many former students and volunteers, including Leo Hall, who was the first, and only, youth who I was matched with in a one-on-one relationship, starting in 1973. 

I did not take another mentee after Leo graduated from the program after 6th grade, partially because he continued with the program as a "Jr. Assistant" volunteer helper through high school, and mainly because, as leader of the program, I was a mentor to ALL of the students and volunteers.  That's how I first came to know Toi and Kaealya.  

They are just two of many who I continue to connect with myself, the Tutor/Mentor library, and each other, using social media. 

This graphic visualizes the goal of the tutor/mentor programs I led, of helping kids through school and into adult lives. I'm still connected to three of the students in this graphic, and to the volunteer, Claudia Bellucci.  

Through the Tutor/Mentor Connection, formed in 1993, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (formed in 2011), I continue to try to help programs like this thrive in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities. 

I encourage you to browse this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website frequently.  

Use the ideas and your own leadership to help more kids become part of well-organized, on-going, tutor, mentor and learning programs.

Build your own "life-long" connections.

Thanks for reading.  

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I hope you'll connect with me on one, or all of these platforms.

Have a great weekend!  

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