Thursday, December 31, 2009

17 Years and Counting...

This is a photo taken around 1995. Claudia Crilly Bellucci, one of the first two paid staff at Cabrini Connections, and a veteran from the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, is shown. So are students who were part of the program at that time. Two of them (Tameeka Meekins and Tangela Smith) are now connected to me on Facebook, along with more than 60 other former students.

Most of the 500 teens and over 700 volunteers who have been part of Cabrini Connections since 1993 have hear me say "Once in Cabrini Connections, Always in Cabrini Connections". Now through the technology of social networking, this is becoming a reality. People who were connected, through us, to each other in the past, are now able to connect with each other, and with others from the past 17 years.

They are also able to draw from the extensive library of information that I have collected and which is shared in the files in the Cabrini Connections office, and via the links library on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site.

Our aim is to build habits of learning among students and volunteers and staff, so that we know where to find information we need to solve any problem we face, and we know where to find people who will help us use that information, or find things we don't know. As members of the Cabrini Connections community learn to use this knowledge, and this network, each life will be richer, and the world for our own kids will be better.

I have not been able to keep Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection going for the past 17 years without the help of Ray Dowdle, who has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors since 1994. Ray and his wife Chris started as tutors with the Montgomery Ward program, then became volunteers with Cabrini Connections in 1993. Ray has helped me recruit members for the Board, and Advisory Council, and has been the most reliable fund raiser during all of these years. He is one of those "energizers" who just keeps on ticking.

Thank you Ray, and all of the other volunteers who have served this organization. May you all enjoy a blessed, healthy and prosperous 2010.

Our Holiday Fund has had many generous donors. You can see the list here. I hope others will add their names, and will join Ray in introducing people they know to the work we are doing. This is the only way Cabrini Connections has survived for so many years and it is the only way we will continue to be an anchor in the lives of so many youth and adults in the years to come.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NU Alum Adopts a Cabrini Connections' Family for the Holidays!

Even during a time when the economy is in turmoil, Northwestern University alum and former standout linebacker, Pat Durr, finds a way to spread some holiday cheer during the holiday season! Pat had been reading the stories and the updates of the program that I'd been posting on Facebook throughout the year, and about a month ago, Pat sent me a message on Facebook saying that he was looking to do something nice for some unsuspecting youth and their family during the holidays and chose to focus his attention on the Cabrini Connections!
Pat began reaching out to people in his network asking if they would be willing to support his project idea by donating any amount of money they could. He reached out to family, friends, former NU teammates, and others in his network who not only who would be interested in supporting this project because he asked but people who believe in giving back and supporting those who made need a little extra help.

On our end we went through the complete list of students who are currently enrolled in our program to which two students and their family could definitely use this gift from Mr. Durr. That project was a lot harder than most would think because the majority of our youth are in the extremely low income status, and nearly ALL of the students and their family could benefit from this act of kindness. But after accessing the students, we were able to select two families.

On Sunday evening Santa, I mean Pat Durr, and I met at Cabrini Connections so that I could receive the gifts of two pre-paid Visa Cards with a couple hundred dollars on each and make arrangements for a pickup. And whats this the gift that keeps on giving is that we contacted the parents of the students and informed them, but not the students, about the project and the parents plans are to take the cards to purchase more Christmas presents for those in the household!!!

Pat Durr says, "If I could have one Christmas wish, I would wish that all my friends find it in their hearts to give back to those less fortunate. Next time you see someone struggling asking for help, give them a dollar or two. Christmas is about giving back."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Pat, the entire Cabrini Connections' family thanks you for your act of kindness during the holidays, and also for setting a great example for others! For a program like ours to be successful we need you and many more people like you to continue giving back!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your entire family!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Season's Greetings!

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 we hope 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.

Over the weekend I put began putting my list together. I made an effort to reach out to people who not only have been supporting me and my career, but the people I selected to add to my list are also people who care about improving the lives of youth. True there were professional athletes who are Cabrini Connections' fans such as Tyrell Sutton and Barry Cofield, but I also included everyday people who know the importance of having a mentor in their own personal lives.

In today's tough economic environment people all over are cutting back on their giving, but if everybody can just give a little, that adds up! And there are still many people in the world who have benefited greatly from having tutors, mentors, and just a variety of support networks that have the ability give more than others.. And as a result of that success, these individuals have the opportunity to GIVE BACK in a huge way, especially during the holiday season!

~Happy Holidays~

Help with the Holidays

We hope that everyone who has been part of Cabrini Connections, now, or in past years, has been enriched by the people they have met and the experiences that have been offered.

In order for this to continue we need your help in finding holiday donors. Please send this form to people you know, telling of your involvement and asking for their help. If you reach out by email, point people to our blogs, or videos, to show the work we do. If they live in other cities, point out the mapping of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and how this helps tutor/mentor programs in all parts of Chicago. This strategy can be duplicated in any city.

Or pick up some holiday fund brochures, with art created by our teens, and mail them to friends, family, co-workers. We have these at the Cabrini Connections center at 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60642

At the Cabrini Fund Raising blog we'll show donors who have responded since Dec. 1. Please send thanks to anyone you recognize on this list. Please help us increase the number of donors so we have the ability to continue to offer this service in 2010 and beyond.

If you are a potential donor or benefactor and want to know more, just email or call 312-492-9614

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Meet Interns. View Art Club Video

Read the Tutor/Mentor Blog and meet interns working with Cabrini Connections.

View Art Club Video created by former volunteer Joe Piaskowy

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Reason Why We Do What We Do...

The Cabrini Connections' program works to provide resources to ensure that our students are in a career by the age of 25, but there are steps that need to be taken before getting into that ideal career. And one of the biggest steps before that phase of their life is getting into college. Over the past month several of our Cabrini Connections' seniors have been notified that they have received college acceptance letters!!!

Veteran student, Vontesha Stanfield, was accepted in not one, not two, but THREE schools over the past month!!! Ms. Stanfield received acceptance letters from Northern Illinois, Indiana State, and Central State. She is still waiting to hear from two other schools she has applied to and is still in the process of submitting 5 more college applications!!!

Veteran student, Alexis Montgomery, was accepted into Wright College and Truman! She recently had a meet and greet at Wright College and all went very well. And what makes this news even more special is the fact that Wright College was the 1st college on her list of schools to attend!!! She will be visiting Oakton Community College in the near future.

First year student in the program, Megan Caradine, got accepted into Allen University in South Carolina and by December 15th she will know if she was accepted into her number one school of choice, Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. She has also applied to UIC, SIU, and a number of other schools.

The Cabrini Connections' staff would like to congratulate these three students on their accomplishments, but we would also like to thank those who have assisted in making these accomplishments take place; mentors Jen Jozwik (Vontesha), Sandra Lee (Alexis), and Liz Sablich (Megan) for all of their hard work, dedication, and commitment to the success of their students and for assisting with carrying out the mission and goals of the program. THANK YOU!

We would also like to thank the College Zone Coordinators; Stephanie Rogers, Carla Reyes, Katie Nolan, and newcomer Sue Gill! Thank you for your guidance and all of your assistance! And we also would like to thank the parents and family members of the students.

We are truly proud of these accomplishments, but we all know this is just one of the many steps to success, and its going to take more hard work, dedication, and support to get these youth and many more to the next level on their road to success. Please make an effort to be a tutor/mentor, a supporter, and a donor so that we can continue to provide these type of success stories.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

And The Winner Is....Cabrini Connections!!!

In the NFL's history, the present, and in the future, there will players and coaches who do it for the money, fame, and/or the love of the game. And when I say "it" that refers to the hard practices, the long film sessions, the abundant amount of travel, the injuries, and all other 'sacrifices' that those involved in the NFL take on as being a part of the game of football that many have grown to love over the years.

I'm not 100% sure, but I would say that there are some that do it for the money, some who do it for the fame, some that do it for the love of the game, and many who do it for a combination of those three. There are many advantages to being a coach and a player in the National Football League. There is the money, the cars, the opportunity to play a sport that many have played since they were youth, and amongst other advantages is the type of plaques, trophies, and incentives are provided to those who become some of the best in the game.

The Cabrini Connections' organizations strives day in and day out to be considered one of the best programs in the tutoring/mentoring league. We try to recruit the players (students) and coaches(volunteers and staff) that our team needs, we make sure our facility is a safe and attractive environment at all times, and then week in and week out we try to get "one day better" as individuals, as a team, and as an overall organization so that we are not only attracting more and more fans (donors and supporters) but so that we can be considered one of the best in the league. And as the Head Coach of the Cabrini Connections' program I am extremely proud to announce that we were considered one of THE BEST!!!

At the Delegate Agency Recognition Luncheon that took place at the Parkway Ballroom on Tuesday December 1st, the Cabrini Connections' program was recognized "for Outstanding Performance in the Youth Development for the 2008-2009." We were recognized for having over 90% attendance for our students and volunteers, for our ability to utilize the funds that they city provides us effectively, and for our ability to complete our documentation completely and punctually!

So while many do it for the money, fame, or the love of the game, the Cabrini Connections' organization does it for a combination of all three. The most important reason why we do the work that we do is because we love to provide those in our program and throughout the world with the resources needed to be successful in and outside of the program, and in the present and in the future. And because of that love for the 'game,' we hope our work continues to be recognized by future players, prospective coaches, and tutoring/mentoring fans! And as a result of that recognition we hope that our players and coaches will find ways to support the organization now and when they become alumni of the program. And those fans (donors and other supporters) will continue to recognize and admire the work that we are doing and not only continue to support our organization, but will reach out to others to become fans as well!!!
I want to personally thank Monica Dunleavey-Gerster for the nomination, the committee who selected our program, and each and every staff, students, volunteer, parent, board member, and donor/supporter who contributed to this recognition.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Holiday Party, This Friday, Dec. 4

Thanks to everyone who is planning an extra effort to help raise funds for Cabrini Connections during December.

Please make an effort to attend new Cabrini Connections' mentor Bill Blasko's Holiday FUNdraising party. Details are listed below.

See EVITE invitation.

Fizz, 3220 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657 US

When: Friday, December 4, 8:00PM
Phone: 773-348-6088

Message from Bill: I am having a fund raising party at Fizz for Cabrini Connections. Cabrini Connections is a program designed to provide tutoring/mentoring for 7th to 12th graders who live in an educationally, disadvantage environment. $40 includes draft beer, wine and well drinks. Please forward this evite to any of your friends or anybody I missed. Thank you.

Want to organize your own fund raising campaign? Want to ask friends, family and co-workers to donate? At GiveForward we've set up a Tis The Season campaign which you can contribute to. Or, you can register, and launch your own personalized campaign from your office, faith group, family, or social group. Goals can be to raise a few hundred dollars, or a few thousand.

It takes a Village to Raise a Child, and it takes the combined efforts of everyone in the village to raise the money needed. Thank you Bill and everyone else for your help.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Staff and Board of Directors of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection wish all of our volunteers, students, friends, donors a safe and happy holiday weekend. We thank you for being part of this community of people helping people.

Please take a look at the other blogs, to see the wide range of work that students, volunteers and staff are doing. For instance, the graphic on this page was created by one of our students during the weekly tech club sessions.

There will be no tutoring session on Wednesday or Thursday. We'll see you all next week.

As you give thanks, please consider giving, so we have the funds to continue to host this community in 2010 and beyond.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Working Thru the Holidays...

Next week there will be several NFL teams taking part in the traditional football games played every Thanksgiving day. The Green Bay Packers will take on the Detroit Lions, the Oakland Raiders will battle against Dallas Cowboys, and finally the New York Giants will play against the Denver Broncos. While the members of all of the other NFL organizations will be hopefully at home with friends and loved ones for the holidays, these organizations will be working on the holidays as this is just another week in a long NFL season.

The Cabrini Connections' program will be calling off practices and the games for the holiday season, but the Head Coach and all of the other members of the front offices will surely be working either in the office, at home, or while being away from the city of Chicago. We will continue to work because we know in this tough league you never REALLY take a week off if you want to be a champion at the end of the season. We will continue to evaluate the organization and all of those involved, watch game and practice films, network with other organizations, and look for more and more dedicated and committed fans to support the Cabrini Connections' organization especially during the December holidays!

I'm sure that many of the NFL players, coaches, and other organization personnel really would like to be at home for the entire Thanksgiving day, but I'm confident that many more would love to be crowned Super Bowl champs when it is all said and done. And here at Cabrini Connections we have a similar goal in mind. We definitely would like to continue getting the necessary resources into the organization so that we can be a championship caliber organization, and whether its Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and whether we are in the office, working from home, or on 'vacation' with work on the mind...we are always looking to get one day better...even during the holiday season!

~Hope, Build, Believe, and Acheive~

Saturday, November 14, 2009

High School Selection Workshop

The Cabrini Connections' program continues to try to provide the resources needed to get our students on track to be in a career by the age of 25, but high school comes first! This morning nearly 20 parents, students, and mentors took part in a workshop where they learned the ins and outs of the entire high school selection process. School representatives, Sarah Regester and Lydia Nantwi were on-site to answer question, provide contact information, high school directories, and vital information that every middle school student, their parents, and their mentors should know about the process.

Some of the questions that were asked, "Has there ever been a student who applied for all of the selective enrollment schools and been denied?" And the answer was "Yes!" Mrs. Nantwi encouraged the parents/students to apply for a variety of schools to have as many options as possible. A student asked, "Can we visit the schools we like before high school?" And the answer was not only yes, but Mrs. Nantwi encouraged students, parents, and mentors to visit the schools they are thinking about to get a better feel for the school before making that important decision.

This nearly two hour workshop is just one of the many resources that the Cabrini Connections' program looks to provide those who are involved. The basis of everything that we do is really in the name...and that is connecting people to resources! And we are looking to continue providing these vital resources that over 500 students and over 800 volunteers have taken advantage of in Cabrini Connections over the year, but we need your help to continue this process. If you are in support of education and the advancement of people please make a small donation and/or share the "Cabrini Connections' Story" with others in your network!

Hope, Build, Believe, and Achieve

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Illini vs NU FUNdraising Challenge Press Release

Northwestern University and University of Illinois may be competitors on the football field, but they're competitors in the fundraising field too! Kurt Kittner (for U of I quarterback) and EL Da' Sheon Nix (former NU wide receiver) are currently running a competitive fundraiser on, and are encouraging their fellow alumni to donate!

Kurt Kittner serves on the board and EL Da' Sheon Nix is the Administrative Coordinator of Cabrini Connections, an organization that works to provide an organized framework that empowers and encourages volunteers to give their time, skills, and support in seeking life-changing solutions for children who live in an educationally, disadvantaged environment. "The competition between NU and Illinois on the football fields is the result of many men and women putting in many hours of training and hard work to be the best they can be," says Dan Bassill, director of Cabrini Connections. "When we get donors doing all they can to help nonprofits like [us], we'll be able to do much more to help kids overcome poverty and succeed in school and careers."

Between today and the NU vs. U of I game day (November 14, 2009), Kurt and his team of Ilini will be trying to raise more dollars than EL Da'Sheon and the other NU alums who are volunteers, donors and board members at Cabrini Connections. Other NU athletic alumni are already donating to the cause. Matt Ulrich, former Wildcat and Super Bowl Champion with the Indianapolis Colts, rallied over 85 people this past October to run the second annual Train With Ron Charity Hill Challenge. As a group they ran over 3,000 hills in one hour and raised $6,800 dollars in contributions for the organization. Billy Silva (former NU linebacker), Pat Durr (former NU linebacker), Jason Burke (former NU basketball player), and Sarah Walsh (former NU lacrosse player) have donated financially, while other former players are attending events and volunteering.

EL Da'Sheon and Kurt hope all of their alumni can find a way to contribute!

To give your donation money on the Northwestern side, go here:

Those supporting the Illini side should donate here:

Contact Information:Dan Bassill: Exec Director of Tutor/Mentor Cabrini Connections tutormentor2@earthlink.net312-492-9614

EL Da' Sheon Nix, Former WR Northwestern, Cabrini Staff member (Administrative Coordinator)

Kurt Kittner (Former QB of U of I, Cabrini Connections Board member)

By Leigh Johnston

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Coach and Player of the Week

From high school football all the way to the NFL, there are players and coaches who are recognized as being the 'best' for that game, that week, and for the overall season. These players and coaches are typically recognized for their play on the field during the big games and sometimes for their work off the field as well.

In the Cabrini Connections' organization we recognize our players and coaches on a weekly basis very similar to the NFL. This recognition of players and coaches is called our "Student Spotlight" and our "Volunteer Spotlight." The Assistant Coach Bradley Troast and I, observe the game tape from the week, the tape of the practice sessions, and from comments from other players and coaches, we select our weekly standouts.

Coach Troast then contacts the players and coaches to set up an interview to get more information about the weekly stars. The interviews are either done over the phone or in person, and the players and coaches provide a brief bio, agree to take a picture, and provide some helpful tips to other players and coaches on how to be successful in their positions as well.

This week we are proud to annouce our Player of the Week: Nyshanell Freeman

and our Coach of the Week: Sarah Randag

The entire Cabrini Connections' organization would like to say congratulations to our Coach and Player of the Week for their hard work, determination, their leadership, and their play on and off the field!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"small details leads to BIG SUCCESS..."

For any football player, whether on the high school, collegiate, or NFL level knows that practices are more than just going over the offensive, defensive, and special team's plays. During those practices the word 'repetition' is thrown around week in and week out. Coaches sometimes make the players go over just one play 10 to 15 times, and its not because all coaches are mean, its more because great coaches know and understand that sometimes the smallest details in the execution of a play can lead to huge success during the game. This is why coaches push their players to the limit when they are fatigued in practice, during individual drills, team drills, and even during the film sessions and meetings, so they know how to execute and respond during the games. Mental errors such as false starts, holding calls, personal fouls, and even the inability to use proper technique can be the small details that could cost a team win in that big game.

And those small details on the football field can easily be transferred to the thinking in the Cabrini Connections' organization. We are in Week 7 of our 2009-2010 season and there have been small and big details that our players and coaches have been working on to ensure success on a weekly basis and for the overall year. Some of the small details that we continue to communicate to the players and coaches are cleaning up their workspace after use, no eating or drinking in the computer lab, and using headphones when listening to music on the computers. To some, these may seem like small and unimportant matters, but as the head coach I feel that these are very important factors to creating a top-notch organization.

At any point throughout the week, there could be fans, family members of both players and coaches, alumni, and donors who take out the time to visit our facility and it says a lot about our player, coaches, and the organization if the facilities are clean, organized, and in good condition. With us being a non-profit organization who definitely tries to preserve the resources we do have, eating and drinking in the computer lab could lead to a spill that could damage a computer or the spreading of germs during this cold and flu season. So by taking the necessary precautions of just not eating or drinking in the lab can and will prevent us taking a loss on a play. And using headphones is important cause it allows others to be able to share the space in the computer lab and not have to be distracted by others on the team. This simple step could prevent an disagreement, an augment, or even a player wanting to be traded to another organization.

These are just a few of the many small details that as a Head Coach we try to encourage repetition week in and week out so all players and coaches build these small details into their weekly habits on and off the field. And for any of these small details to becoming habit forming, the underlining factor is and will always be communication, communication, and communication!!!

So from the GM, front office, Head the Assistant Coaches, players, and even fans and donors...communication on what needs to be done and repetition on how to do it can and will turn those small details into BIG SUCCESS for the individuals as well as the entire Cabrini Connections' organization.

Monday, October 26, 2009

TWR Soldier Field Charity Hill Challenge and Cabrini Connections

Yesterday Matt "Chest" Ulrich who is a Northwestern University alum and a former NU and Indianapolis Colts' football player and the TWR organization, sponsored its 2nd annual Solider Field Charity Hill Challenge. The event was located at the sledding hill behind the southeast end zone of Soldier Field. The challenge consisted of participants running, walking, jogging up an down the sledding hill for about an hour. Last year they raised almost $8,000 for the Stephanie Burde Benefit Fund, and this year they raised money for Cabrini Connections, as many already know that we are an after school program allows these unprivileged kids to develop and work with adult professionals in the workplace to get hands on experience in a one-on-one setting. This prepares them to graduate from high school and college and be in a career by age 25, a feat statistically hard to achieve for these kids alone.

No matter what dollar amount came in, I feel as though the event was a huge success. There was great weather, no major injuries, over 50 participants, and the opportunity for people to not only get a great workout but also the opportunity to learn more about the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection organization. There were many who took part in the event because of the invite that they received, but it made it even better when they could actually get more information about who and where their donations will be going.

TWR asked for a minimum donation of $25 dollars that included the hill workout and a complimentary t-shirt, but they also encouraged participants to find sponsors to raise additional money. Although the TWR Soldier Field Charity Hill Challenge is over, the challenges of getting the necessary resources to keep this program up an running goes on. If you missed the event on Sunday, but would still like to contribute to a great cause you can do that here.

The entire Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Organization thanks Matt Ulrich, TWR Fitness, and everybody who contributed to the success of the event. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recruiting STAR Players!

In the NFL, there are many star players who have exceptional talent that they contribute to the team that can contribute to the overall success of their selective teams. You have unbelievable players with unbelievable talent such as Peyton Manning, Randi Moss, Nick Roach, and Orlando Pace in the NFL. But many people don't dig deep enough to see exactly how these players got to the organizations that they work for.

Behind the scenes of every organization there are scouts and a team of people in the front office whose job it is to bring in those franchise type of players that can and will hopefully lead their team to the championship year in and year out...creating what many call a dynasty. To any organization these people are a crucial piece of the pie when it comes to creating a dynasty. They spend hours studying tape, taking numerous trips locating talent, networking and socializing with others in the business to find that 1 guy who could be the difference maker to their team.

At Cabrini Connections we are looking for those franchise type of players as well, but the specific positions that we are scouting and recruiting for is the Donor position. We have great coaches, a great front office, a pretty nice facility, and some outstanding players in other positions, but the donor position is what we are looking for and need in order to become a dynasty.

We need someone who can step up and not only make big plays on a consistant basis, but a player who can lead others in the position to play to the best of their ability. And we are also looking for the starters in the donor position to assist us with our recruiting of other donors for this position. Just like in the NFL, we are looking high and low, using technology, making phone calls, taking trips, networking with other scouts, and really using any and all of our resources to find some donors to lead our team not only to a winning season and a conference title, but donors who can and will put us and keep us on the top of this tutoring/mentoring league.

If you are person who can and will step up and take on this position we would love to get you a workout with our team, and hopefully get you a roster spot. Provide your combine times here. And if you don't feel that you have the necessary talent to fill the position but have the skills to be top notch scout for us who knows or can connect us to those type of players, that is just as helpful to our organization.

There are MANY MANY people out there that can become stars at this position on our team...we just have to find them and get them to sign with us!

Monday, October 19, 2009

How the Workplace and Its Employees Can Support Youth

Last Thursday I had the opportunity of visiting Northrop Grumman to tell the "Cabrini Connections' Story" to their employees during lunchtime as part of their Employees Charity Organization (E.C.H.O). During that time, I along with representatives from nearly 15 other organizations, shared information about our programs, our history, our plans for the future, and how the employees of Northrop Grumman can assist Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection by becoming volunteers, advocates, and donors; and it was a great experience.

Hopefully the people that I had the opportunity to meet with and share the story with will take the information and say "what can I do to make sure these stories continue?" And the answer that I would provide is simple; Northrop Grumman and its employees can assist in continuing these stories by taking advantage of the E.C.H.O. program and start or continue making contributions to the ECHO fund through payroll deductions. Employees are able to support a wide variety of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations throughout the United States and abroad. Northrop Grumman pays all administrative costs, ensuring that 100% of employees’ donations go directly to our organization.

But Northrop Grumman is not the only place of business that can assist in supporting programs like Cabrini Connections. During this time of the year especially, the campaign for workplace giving and overall volunteerism is at a peak, and there are many organizations that take part in promoting workplace giving and charitable donations to its employees.

As a leader of one of these non-profit organizations I think it is great that organizations are encouraging the employees to 'get involved,' and I'm sure many people who are in similar positions as myself would love the opportunity to visit these places of business to again tell the story about our program and all that we do. From Northrop Grumman, to the Postal Service, to public transit companies...there are a variety of career fields, businesses, and organizations that have the potential of setting up opportunities for non-profit leaders to come in and provide information to the employees. And give those who truly care about helping youth, tutoring/mentoring, or those who just love to give back some tips on where and how they can do just that.

Although this is the time that the workplace giving campaign and the promotion for this movement peaks, youth and the programs that provide resources for these youth need resources throughout the year. So make an effort to not only get involved and support now, find ways to continue to support now and in the future. From the youth and as a leader of Cabrini Connections, your support is not only appreciated but it goes a long way!

"Hope, Build, Believe, and Achieve"

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2009-2010 Cabrini Connections' Captains

Year in and year out in the NFL, there are those players on the team who step into leadership positions because of their play on the field, but also because of they way they conduct themselves off of the field. They serve as role models, subjects of inspiration, and in many cases the 'faces of the organization." And this is just an informal role that these players take, but there is a formal process in which these players are officially selected to be the Team Captains. And if you look closely on game day you will see these leaders because they wear the letter C on their jerseys, and if you catch the pre-game activities you will see the leaders walking to the middle of the field to complete the coin toss procedure before the game begins.

At Cabrini Connections, for the 2009-2010 season, we have just selected our Captains!!! This year we have 6 captains that will be leading our team for the season. Returning to the ranks of captain for the second year in the row are:

De'Sean Hale 12th grader at Wells fifth year in the program

Sean Mayfield 9th grader at Rauner third year in the program

and Savon Clark 9th grader at Lindblom third year in the program who also is our student representative for the entire Region 2(our conference)
And joining the returning captains will be:

Ashaunti Roby 9th grader at Providence St. Mel third year in the program

Victoria Rivera 11th grader at Lincoln Park fourth year in the program

and rookie to the program Israel Dosie7th grader at Andersen first year in the program.

The Youth Leadership Council will meet bi-weekly to discuss policies and procedures at Cabrini Connections. The Council may influence field trip destinations, the tutoring schedule, the points system, and more. They will also devise strategies to increase youth involvement and attendance (particularly in Winter months). And what makes this accomplishment for these 6 students even more special is that they were voted into the position by the coaches (volunteers) and their teammates (other students). We are truly excited to have these 6 students as our chosen leaders for this year and we hope that they can rally the entire team, organization, and the fans into truly believing in the team concept and lead us into victory this season.

Congratulations goes out to Savon, Israel, DeSean, Sean, Ashaunti, and Victoria on being selected as the 2009-2010 Captains of the Cabrini Connections' team!!! Instead of seeing the patch with the letter C in the NFL that signals Captain, these 6 players will have "CC" on their Jersey to represent the leaders of Cabrini Connections.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicago Bears Star and Cabrini Connections' Fan Nick Roach, Set's Great Example for Youth

This past week, NU alum and Chicago Bear's Linebacker Nick Roach, had a spectacular game versus the Seattle Seahawks. Roach who has stepped into the starting Middle Linebacker role after injuries to Brian Urlacher and Hunter Hillenmeyer early in the season, has stepped up in a huge way. Series after series Nick continued to make key plays that eventually contributed to a Chicago Bear's win.
Nick Roach had a great game on the field, but his determination, hard work, and dedication is setting a great example for his fans, especially the Cabrini Connections' youth off the field. Nick Roach attended the Jimmie Biggs Memorial Golf Benefit in July and interacted and engaged with many of the Cabrini Connections' students, staff, volunteers, and guests/supporters of the program, but Nick spent a lot of his time sitting and talking with Savon Clark. Savon is a 9th grader in the program and has dreams of becoming a football player just like Nick. They sat and talked over dinner and Nick not only answered questions that Savon had about school, football, and life, Nick provided Savon with some helpful tips on how he can reach any and all of his goals.

I'm unsure if Mr. Roach took advantage of any tutoring/mentoring program like Cabrini Connections on his road to the NFL, but I'm a 100% he had a network of people (mentors) assisting him through throughout his life; providing him with advice, making themselves available when he had questions or concerns, and just supporting him and the decisions he made. And this is exactly what we are trying to provide the youth here at Cabrini Connections so they too can reach their goals, dreams, and aspirations like Nick Roach.

Nick, keep up the great work and please continue to show the youth that are looking up to you how hard work, dedications, commitment, and determination pays off!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Veterans on the Team Step Up!

The NFL is not only filled with veteran players and coaches, but league leaders in the NFL are led into successful seasons by the veterans who take on leadership roles on the team. Because of their experience, knowledge, and because of ability to lead on and off of the field, these players and coaches are respected by rookies, players and coaches from other teams, and NFL fans around the world. Veterans such as Tom Brady, Brett Farve, Orlando Pace, Bill Belichick, and many other NFL veterans who have and continue to make their mark in this profession are what some consider to be the pillars of their respective organizations...and to the National Football League as a whole.

The Cabrini Connections' organization has many different veterans that put themselves in leadership positions in our program by using the same strategies as some of the NFL greats. They work on their consistency and dedication to the program, they lead by example in and outside of the program, and they step up and rise to the occasion where the organization needs someone to make a big play.

And we have 3 veterans on the team who have done just that...stepped up! First, I would like to highlight veteran Cabrini Connections' player, Melissa Young. Melissa is a 10th grader and has been in the program for over 2 years. In our program, just like many other program, obtaining the necessary resources to keep the program up and running has been a struggle, and Melissa has stepped up and provided an opportunity to help out our program financially. Two weeks ago, Melissa provided the Head Coach and the Program Coordinator with an idea for a Bake Sale on Halloween Day where all the proceeds will go to the Cabrini Connections' organization. Not only did Melissa sit down and put together an official plan for this event, she has already been putting together a small committee to ensure success of her project. Her project is called "Halloween Trick or Treat Bake Sale" and it will take place at Cabrini Connections on Halloween Day from 12-2:30pm.

Two of our veteran coaches have stepped up as well to assist in the fundraising efforts. Art Club Coordinator, Jacqueline Shay, and veteran tutor/mentor Sarah Randag are taking the lead on a couple of projects on their own.

Jackie, who has been a serving as a Art Club Position's Coach for over 3 years, is in the process of launching a Cabrini Connections Phoneraiser. This project is asking for people to donate used cell phones, inkjets, laptops/notebook computers, ipods, digital cameras, and digital video cameras to the Cabrini Connections program so that we can turn the items in. In return the program will receive financial compensation for the donated items. We are hoping to launch this project in the upcoming weeks.

Sarah Randag, who has been in the program for over 2 years is working towards putting together a Wine Tasting Fundraiser for the program. Sarah is teaming up with the owner of the Cellar Rat Wine Shop here in Chicago, to host a Wine Tasting Fundraiser at that the shop's location on Sunday November 22nd from 5:30-7:30. This event will be open to the first 35 people who RSVP and pay the $25 fee. The Cellar Rat Wine Shop is located at 1811 W. North Ave and more information about this event will be provided in the near future or contact EL Da' Sheon at 312-492-9614.

As the Head Coach of the Cabrini Connections' organization I would like to give a big "pat on the back" to Melissa, Jackie, and Sarah for stepping up and making BIG TIME plays for our team. My hope is that they continue to perform at a high level and that others on the team will follow their lead. We are a team with a lot of history and a lot of pride, and it will take many more on the team stepping up for us to have continued success on our road to a record breaking season and future success.