Monday, December 29, 2008

Continued Coaching!

As part of the sport's analogy series I want to continue by giving background information about myself. I have been an athlete nearly my entire life. I have played on numerous basketball, football, and even baseball teams throughout my career. On those teams I found a way to become a leader as a captain of nearly every team that I have been apart of. The hard work that I put into athletics, and lets not forget academics, allowed me to earn and accept a full-scholarship to Northwestern University as a member of the football team. Due to a career ending injury I was unable to display my athletic ability on the football field at Northwestern, but I am able to continue to display my leadership ability in the field of Social Service!


The Cabrini Connections' staff would like to wish everybody a Happy New Years!!! (I know I know...I'm a little early)

While the Cabrini Connections' players are enjoying what we hope is a fun-filled break, the members of the organization's front office and the coaching staff have continued to prepare for a successful winter and spring quarter!!!

As the Head Coach, I took the time out today to analyze each and every player on the team (every mentor, mentee, and Volunteer Coordinator) so that each can be provided with the right coaching to have success as the program continues. So me and Assistant Coach, Chris Warren have been spending our day contacting each and every mentor, mentee, and Volunteer Coordinator in an effort to share these coaching tips. We have reminded the team of the start up dates for the 2nd quarter (Jan. 14-15th), reminded players of necessary paperwork that needs to be turned in, provided words of encouragement, pointed out areas of improvement, and maybe most importantly...just making sure all the players had a Merry Christmas and wishing them all a Happy New Years!!!
I truly believe if each and every member of the team makes a continued effort to work on individual techniques and skills, then those efforts can and will benefit the entire team as a whole and will move us closer to reaching our goal of each and every student entering a career by the age of 25. "Student continue with your preparation and focus. Volunteers continue with your commitment and dedication. Volunteer Coordinators continue with your leading by example, consistency, and your problem solving. Fans and other supporters continue with your financial contributions and other valuable resources that you provide. And the Head Coach and the entire coaching staff will continue providing all of the members of the team with the proper coaching so that each of the players on the team has the proper techniques and skills to be successful in and outside of Cabrini Connections...and in LIFE!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Head Coach is Always on the Job!


As part of the sport's analogy series I want to continue this week by continuing to give background information about myself and my start with this organization. I have been an athlete nearly my entire life. I have played on numerous basketball, football, and even baseball teams throughout my career. On those teams I found a way to become a leader as a captain of nearly every team that I have been apart of. The hard work that I put into athletics, and lets not forget academics, allowed me to earn and accept a full-scholarship to Northwestern University as a member of the football team. Due to a career ending injury I was unable to display my athletic ability on the football field at Northwestern, but I am able to continue to display my leadership ability in the field of Social Service!
First and foremost, the Cabrini Connections' organization would like to wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years!!!!

This week's post will show how even during the holiday festivities a Head Coach is always on the job. Last week the Cabrini Connections' team celebrated the Christmas Holidays by having a holiday party. Cabrini Connections' team member brought in treats for others to enjoy, some played various games, some enjoyed just hanging out and enjoying each other's company, while other members of the team went out for a holiday dinner off site. There was festive music, good food and treats, raffles with prizes, and a overall sense of enjoyment for what was taking place and a sense of accomplishment as we ended the 1st quarter on a very positive note. The coaching staff presented awards to various standouts on the team (Perfect Attendance Honorees and the FUNdraising For Quarters Winner). Last week's session was truly a positive and festive experience for all.

As the Head Coach of the team, I was enjoying the festivities, but I was also continuing to work towards the goals of the team's future in many ways. All throughout the events I continued to scout the team in an effort to see who was enjoying themselves, who was sitting alone, who was present and who was not present, and what all needed to take place at the moment to have even greater team success 2nd quarter and beyond. As a result of the observations, space was reserved for the players who needed to get homework done, team members made an effort to interact and engage those who were sitting alone, gratitude and rewards were provided for those present, and follow up on the reasons why others could not attend.

Although the holiday festivities were suppose to be a fun-filled relaxed atmosphere, as the Head Coach of the Cabrini Connections' organization, I know and understand that I am always on the job and that no matter what occasion I have to keep remain focused on the overall mission of the program. So while the players on the team enjoy a 3 week break from the program, the Head Coach and the Assistant Coaches will be evaluating the 1st quarter and brainstorming ways in which to have further team success in the 2nd quarter and beyond!


Happy Holidays from the Cabrini Connections' Team

Monday, December 15, 2008

"READY...BREAK!!!"

As part of the sport's analogy series I want to continue this week by continuing to give background information about myself and my start with this organization. I have been an athlete nearly my entire life. I have played on numerous basketball, football, and even baseball teams throughout my career. On those teams I found a way to become a leader as a captain of nearly every team that I have been apart of. The hard work that I put into athletics, and lets not forget academics, allowed me to earn and accept a full-scholarship to Northwestern University as a member of the football team. Due to a career ending injury I was unable to display my athletic ability on the football field at Northwestern, but I am able to continue to display my leadership ability in the field of Social Service!
Last week's article talked about the behind the scenes action that takes place in order for a program to work. The GM, Head Coach, and the Assistants met to not only discuss the overall picture but to diagram a play for the end of the 1st quarter, 2nd quarter, and beyond. We will call the play the "pitch." In the meeting we discussed the basics and the small details that can and will lead to bigger and more consistent success in our games(short yardage play). We talked about communication, consistency, accountability, and team work; and how using these concepts to diagram and carry out plays are keys to success!
Now it was time to 'call the play in!' Following announcements during the tutoring/mentoring sessions we huddled up and provided both mentors and mentees the play! The Head Coach, the Assistant Coaches, and all of the players sat in the huddled and discussed the play...the "pitch!"
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For the pitch to work there are a lot of tasks that each member of the team must do.
1st...The Head Coach, Assistant Coaches had to know and understand what play needed to be called
-a simple play (the pitch) to just get a 1st down...not a touchdown all in one play
-cover the small details of the program (name tags, weekly expectations, resources etc...)
2nd...The play had to be communicated to all of the members on the team
-the leaders of the team (volunteer coordinators) needed to know what all they needed to do and how to do it
-know the expectations of the program
-the importance and value of their consistent participation
-aware of resources
-THE LEADER'S OF THE TEAM MUST 'PITCH' THE INFORMATION TO THE Mentors and Mentees...and continue to practice the play until each player gets the 1st down!!!
3rd...The Head Coach and the Assistant Coaches must then observe the play, see what went well and what didn't go so well, and continue to work with both the mentors and mentees so that the 'pitch' is a successful play.
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This is just one play in the Cabrini Connections' playbook. The 'pitch' is simple and basic play designed to get a short amount of yards, but if each member of the Cabrini Connections' team works as a team, communicates properly, knows and understands what is and is not working...and uses that information to perfect the play, then the 'pitch' can and will be successful throughout the game! Small successes such as everybody making an effort to put on name tags after signing in, putting the chairs up/cleaning their space before leaving, and enjoying their time at Cabrini Connections are short yardage plays that can lead to big gains in the near future!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cabrini Connections' Alum Shares...

It's always good to hear from Cabrini Connections' alums and it's even sweeter to hear that they are not only doing well, but also how the program helped them. Thank you Maggie for staying connected to the Cabrini Connections' program. We wish you the best of luck as you continue to have success for you and your family!
My name is Maggie Smith and I'm 21 years old. My time at Cabrini Connections was memorable. I enjoyed making friends, having help from my tutor and all the extra activities that Cabrini Connections had to offer. Around the holidays, they really helped for the children in need. Currently I live in Woodstock, IL with 2 children. I graduated from Lincoln Park High School with had participated in JROTC & Band. In JuniorHigh I was on the Track & Field Team, Softball, Cheerleading, Dancing, etc. As for furthering my education I have more than one major that I am interested as in pursuing: Business Administration, Criminal Justice and my favorite Law. I attend Northwestern Business College for a year in 2005 and did wonderful. I still talk about what happiness Cabrini Connections has brought to me in my younger years. I hope that I can enroll my children in tutoring activities as good as Cabrini Connections.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tis the Season for Giving

Over the past couple of weeks the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection staff have been taking part in our annual Holiday mailer. The packages of information went to many past, current, and hopefully future Cabrini Connections' supporters. Our aim is to share a little more about what all we do here at Cabrini Connections with the youth and volunteers who participate in our program, and by sharing this information more and more people will be willing to support our program in various ways.

Beyond just the mailers that we sent out to the large group, the entire staff took different amounts for personal use. Individually, we all took some time to think of people in our own personal network that we felt would not only like to hear more about what we do, but could further support our program. Whether the support came from just spreading the word about Cabrini Connections to people in their network, donating a dollar or two, sharing other valuable resources, or all of the above.

On Monday night, I put my list together and these are the top 6 people that I came up with to send my personal mailers to. First and foremost, I sent a mailer to my mother Catherine Nix. Not just for the simple fact that my mother has always supported any and everything that I do, but she is so proud that I am dedicating my life to benefit others...and right I am dedicating my life to the Cabrini Connections' family.

The next person on my list was a good friend Rebecca Acosta. Rebecca is teacher in California and over the years we have continued to talk about ways in which we can better assist the students that we work with. I'm working with Chicago's inner-city youth and Becca is working with suburban youth in California. And although we work with two different populations, we are working towards the same goals and understand that necessary resources are needed for the students to reach those goals.

The four people rounding out my list are fellow NU alums and members of the NFL family. Barry Cofield(NY Giants), Jason Wright(Cleveland Browns), Trai Essex(Pittsburgh Steelers), and Noah Herron(former Green Bay Packers). I did not add these individuals to my mailing list for what seems obvious, the financial status. These four individuals were added because of the conversations that we had at one time or another about doing what we can to give back and what others provided us on our road to Northwestern University and our respective careers. Each and every person on this list, including myself, did not get to where we are now without the help of others, and by knowing, understanding, and believing this fact we are know how important it is for us to do the same for those following in our footsteps!

By these guys being in a position where there is tons of media attention in the NFL, positive and negative, these guys will hopefully get these holiday mailers and not just read about what we do and give a dollar or two, but use that some of that media attention to 'tell the Cabrini Connections' story and how that story features a mission to help the youth create and reach their potential and their goals!






Click here to view the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection eMail Holiday Card. Please send this to members of you own friend and family network and many will add their Holiday Fund donations to help us continue this work in 2009.

Will YOU join us in our efforts as well!?!?




~Tis the Season for Giving~


A True Cabrini Connections' Super-Star


Ms. LaFaye Garth just received some of the best news of her life this week. LaFaye was just made aware this week that she won the prestigious Posse Foundation Scholarship!!! (http://www.possefoundation.org/main/learn/index.cfm for more info). Over the past months or so LaFaye has been getting assistance through out the Posse Foundation Scholarship process from several staff member and her mentor. A couple of the helpful hints that LaFaye received was in the areas of essay writing, the use of personal reflection, and although she rarely needs any help in this area (smile)...communication. Ms. Garth has taking all of the information, tools, techniques, and helpful information along with all of the personal skills, talents, and resources she already has and combined everything and as a result she is the earned her way to a Posse Foundation Scholarship!!!
This is one of the many examples how if the students in Cabrini Connections' take advantage of any and all of the resources that are provided within the program, then they can and will put themselves in a position to have success! But in order to get the resources we need to share with the students, we need Cabrini Connections' supporters to buy into what we are trying to do and understand how valuable these resources are to the entire Cabrini Connections' program. With all of the violence that has taken a toll on the City of Chicago and those effects on the youth in particular, isn't it good to hear a POSITIVE story like this during the Holiday Season!!!
Congratulations goes out to LaFaye Garth on this great accomplishment and we encourage you to keep up the GREAT WORK! And I want to thank everybody who made this story possible...from the family members to the teachers, to the volunteers and students, to the donors and Cabrini Connections' supporters....THANK YOU...without all of you working together for a common goal...stories like this rarely created!
Happy Holiday!
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Student in the Spotlight article(Fall of 2008)

This week’s Student in the Spotlight is none other than LaFaye Garth, a senior at Sullivan High and one of our most hardworking students. Since she started here with her tutor four years ago she has known she wants to be a doctor. As a freshman she was selected for and enrolled in the Medical and Health Career Academy, a special program at her high school that helps dedicated students prepare for the long and difficult road to becoming a practicing physician. She is currently taking coursework that will make her a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) by January 2009. Throughout high school she has worked and volunteered at a number of Chicago hospitals such as Northwestern Memorial, Mercy and Prentice Women’s hospitals.

While running between her full load of classes, which includes AP Calculus, AP English and a college biology course at Northwestern University, working at Jewel and preparing for her promising future, LaFaye is always singing, sharing her beautiful voice with everyone around her. Since she is committed to leaving Chicago for college- her top two choices for schools are the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and Pomona College- she has also been applying for numerous scholarships that will give her the financial support she needs during her college years. In fact, she will find out soon whether she will receive the prestigious Posse Foundation Scholarship, which would provide full-tuition for either of her top 2 schools. Once at school, she wants to study either biology or psychology, both of which she thinks will help her in her quest to become the best possible doctor. Speaking about the role Cabrini Connections has played in her life, she says: “Cabrini Connections has provided me a motivating, positive environment that helps keep me focused on the future”. We are so proud of LaFaye’s accomplishments and are excited to be involved in the life of such a motivated and talented young woman!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Where it All Begins...in the Meeting Rooms



As part of the sport's analogy series I want to continue this week by continuing to give background information about myself and my start with this organization. I have been an athlete nearly my entire life. I have played on numerous basketball, football, and even baseball teams throughout my career. On those teams I found a way to become a leader as a captain of nearly every team that I have been apart of. The hard work that I put into athletics, and lets not forget academics, allowed me to earn and accept a full-scholarship to Northwestern University as a member of the football team. Due to a career ending injury I was unable to display my athletic ability on the football field at Northwestern, but I am able to continue to display my leadership ability in the field of Social Service!
I first want to apologize for the delay in my sport's analogy entry this week, but the delay is what sparked the topic for this week. Like in most sport's arenas, the fans and supporters of the program only see the games, maybe a practice or two, and if they are really lucky they will see their favorite player or coach out in public and will be lucky enough to get an autograph.
But what those fans and supporters of programs such as Cabrini Connections don't see is all the behind the scenes work that it takes to build a strong and successful program, and the majority of that success can be traced back to the preparation and discussions that take place in the meeting rooms. Our program is trying to get 'one day better, everyday' and the ways in which we have been attempting to accomplish this is by increasing our discussions about the program.
The head coach and the assistant coaches (Thursday nights) took the time out after the practice to make some evaluations. The head coach noticed some areas that could be improved and sat down with the assistant coaches to not only share the areas that could use some improvements, but to get input from the assistant coaches on ways we could all share in building an even better program. Any successful head coach in almost any program in history paid attention to the small details because they knew that small details such as mental errors could lead to a loss. And these small details are some of the topics that we discussed, because in real sports a team could lose a game, and in our case a loss could be a loss of a kid to the streets, gangs, drugs , or worse. So with that as a possibility, it is extremely important that not only the General Manager (Mr. Dan Bassill) and the head coach knows and understand this, its important that every player(students) assistant coach (staff, volunteer coordinators, and mentors), and fans and supporters (donor) buy into that this ideology as well.
We addressed the top 3 issues that we felt could prevent our team from winning and discussed ways of eliminating those roadblocks. And maybe most importantly we talked about how overall improvements in the areas of teamwork, communication, consistency, and accountability on our parts is the starting point. We are the coaches of the program and hopefully all coaches know and understand the the 'team is only as strong as the leaders' the coaches...and that's us!
The team did not stop there with the evaluation of the program and with plans for a GREAT 2009. The several members of the coaching staff met on Friday and on Monday as well. The General Manager took part in the meeting and provided his coaching staff with a lot of personal knowledge and resources that the we could use to get the results that we are looking for. We took the time out to not only analyze the playbook, but to locate resources that will assist the coaches, the players, the team, and the overall Cabrini Connections' program. And the head coach and the assistant coach continued with another break out session to break down the game plan even more. We redefined our roles and expectation and how those changes can and will lead to further and future success of the team.
And for those who may be reading this series for the first time, let me help you get up to speed on what I am trying to do. The Cabrini Connections' program can be related to a football organization or any sport's organization in many ways, and that is what I am attempting to display week in and week out with this blog series. Both organizations have a front office, coaches, players, fans/supporters, and both organization works to be successful. Both organizations work towards a goal, has key principals (teamwork, communication, consistency, accountability, and others...)that they follow in an effort to be successful, and the world would not be the same without both organizations!
In the NFL the ultimate measure of success in many people's eyes is winning the Super Bowl and building a successful franchise. At Cabrini Connections our ultimate goal is for our students to graduate from high school, graduate from college, be in a career by the age of 25, and hopefully become an asset to the program to help others reach that goal. But in both organizations it takes efforts from EVERYBODY involved for these measures of success to come true; all of the members of the front office, the coaches, the players, the fans and supports have to BELIEVE and CONTRIBUTE!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

College Bound!!!

The Cabrini Connections' staff is proud to announce that senior Eboni Rivera was accepted to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on November 17th, 2008! This is a proud example of hard work paying off, and with the work and dedication that Eboni has displayed while being a member of the Cabrini Connections' program.
Our goal is for each and every one of our students to be in this situation at this point of their lives; on their way to a post high school education and eventually to a career of their choice by the age of 25. We are glad to be one of the many resources that Eboni has used on her road to success, and we encourage more and more students to take advantage of the resources we have to offer.
Congratulations Eboni and keep up the great work!!!
Below is the information that was gathered when Eboni was the Cabrini Connections Student in the Spotlight! Enjoy

One student who has taken full advantage of all that Cabrini Connections has to offer is Eboni Rivera. She’s one of our graduating seniors and will be finishing up her 6th year here at Cabrini Connections. That means that she’s been with us since 7th grade, for the full duration of our program! She’s been paired up with her mentor, Susan, for the past 3 years and they have become a tight-knit pair, sharing everything from their birthdays, to nights out on the town!

Despite being actively pursued by elite schools like Northwestern University, Eboni, who attends Kenwood Academy High School, has her sights set on Florida A&M University, which she fell in love with during a campus visit last year. She hopes to be one of the first graduates of their brand new college of journalism where she plans to specialize in broadcast journalism. She has been diligently taking all of the required journalism classes at Kenwood and is active in both her school newspaper, and the Cabrini Connections writing club. Since her father is Puerto Rican and her mother African-American, she is particularly excited about engaging both aspects of her ethnic heritage at a historically black university located in a state with a large Latino population

Eboni is also very active in her church, the Christ Universal Temple, where she participates in the Project A.C.H.I.E.V.E. program, a series of Saturday college prep seminars that offers: tutorial classes to prepare students for college placement tests and exams like the ACT and SAT, scholarship opportunities as well as their annual tour of historically black colleges and universities. She visited Florida A&M through this program last year as well as Clark Atlanta University, her second choice school. We will be working with Eboni throughout the year during the college admissions process to ensure that she gets into her top choice schools and can negotiate the best financial aid possible.

Eboni tells me that “For me, Cabrini Connections is like a second home. I come here for everything I need. I can always use the internet, get help with my college applications, my math homework, and use whatever supplies I want.” Since Eboni will be the first to admit how much she has benefited from her relationship with her mentor and other resources here at Cabrini Connections, she and a friend from church, Kelly Fair, are currently organizing a mentoring group at her church for girls ages 6-18. They hope to offer some of the same types of resources and relationships for at-risk girls in their south side community that Cabrini Connections offers to kids in the Cabrini Green neighborhood. We are so proud to have students like Eboni who are not only on the fast-track to success but are also making efforts to help others follow in their footsteps.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Working During the Bye-Week!




As part of the sport's analogy series I want to continue this week by continuing to give background information about myself and my start with this organization. I have been an athlete nearly my entire life. I have played on numerous basketball, football, and even baseball teams throughout my career. On those teams I found a way to become a leader as a captain of nearly every team that I have been apart of. The hard work that I put into athletics, and lets not forget academics, allowed me to earn and accept a full-scholarship to Northwestern University as a member of the football team. Due to a career ending injury I was unable to display my athletic ability on the football field at Northwestern, but I am able to continue to display my leadership ability in the field of Social Service!


~EL Da' Sheon Nix~

For this week's sport's analogy series I want to discuss some of the events that took place during our bye-week. Last week was the Thanksgiving Holidays (Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving) and while some NFL teams played their football game on Thanksgiving, the Cabrini Connections' organization had our bye-week. If you don't know what a bye-week is, this a week in a football team's regular schedule where a football game does not take place, but any and all people who have been apart of any football program in their lives know and understand that even though an actual football game is not played there is always work to be done!
Although we did not have our weekly tutoring sessions last week, the Cabrini Connections' front office, the head coach, and many of the coaching assistants worked hard during this bye-week! Many of the leaders of the Cabrini Connections' team used this opportunity to improve the overall program in a variety of ways. I, along with Assistant Coach Chris Warren, increased our recruiting efforts by calling and visiting schools looking for new players to join our team. Unlike the recruiting and scouting mind set of college and NFL teams, we were not looking for the best players in the school; Chris and I were searching for and recruiting the students/players who can and will benefit greatly from joining the Cabrini Connections' Team!
As the Head Coach I was able take some time to evaluate the program's progress and not just take pride the accomplishments that the team has had thus far, but to locate areas of improvement and put plans together to have successes in those areas as well as the season continues. Some of those plans include better communication between the coaches and the players, more opportunities for the fans (donors and supporters of the program) to get involved, and continued efforts to recruit the right people for the right roles on the team!
I'm sure you all have noticed the picture that I've added this week is different from the previous pictures that accompany these articles, but I've added this one for a special reason. As the title states "Tip of the Iceberg" is usually all that people see when it comes to not just our student/players but many adolescents throughout the Chicago community, and that "Tip of the Iceberg" that people see is very different depending on the player. But one of the similarities that all most all of our players have is the that at the base of the iceberg is the ocean of poverty and poor schools.
You may be wondering how does this "Tip of the Iceberg" picture relate to the Cabrini Connections' team and the title of this article. It's simple, the Cabrini Connections' leaders are doing all that we can to change the tip of the iceberg that people see in our players, and we used the bye-week as an opportunity to make changes to the iceberg picture of our players. Although the Cabrini Connections' coaches can not change the poverty and the poor schools in a weeks' time, but we can continue to recruit special players to our team, connect them with dedicated and committed tutor/mentors to coach them, and provide our players with the opportunity to change the media's perception of their 'Tip of the Iceberg,' and we will continue our efforts from the bye-week and beyond!
Will you join in our efforts?