Friday, February 27, 2009

Words of Encouragement!!!

Thank you El Da'Sheon! Now if I could just get a little better w/ NBA players! Hey, I swear I'm much better on the football front :)
I think we are having a good year too and I also get a lot of compliments and just one this past Wednesday from Jen Woz on how quiet and controlled the program is and how much it is growing. Susan Nice has also commented to me what a great job you are doing and I wanted to pass that along to you. I can also comment on this since I've been involved for awhile and it is increasingly getting better and better- a lot to your commitment and your involvement.

I hope you know you are doing a GREAT job and I compliment you. These kids are very lucky to have you as their leader who will go the extra mile to help them have a great program. Thank you for making our jobs easier and always being accessible for any questions, concerns, comments we may have.
Have a nice weekend EL.

For anybody who has worked in non-profit or the social service field knows and understands that this is the type of 'payment' that means the most. When you hear that people enjoy the work that you do and you know that you are making a difference. This is what it is all about. Sacrificing your life in a way that it benefits others.
Thank you Tami, Jen, and Susan for all of the kind words. Know that without you and all of the things that you do...there is no me!

Kind Words from a former Cabrini Connections' Volunteer

Below is a comment posted on Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection President/CEO, Mr. Bassill's Facebook page by a former volunteer who was involved with tutoring in around 1990-1991. These are the types of endorsements that Mr. Bassill and the entire staff hope many are feeling.

"Dan: The years that I spent tutoring with your Cabrini Green program are among my most rewarding memories of the time when I first came of age in this city. I'll never forget how many dozens of newly graduated HBCU alumni made the trek over to the building every Monday and Tuesday night (and beyond) to tutor those kids, in every conceivable subject. It alwaysfloored me that many of those young black professionals came from as faraway as Naperville (Ill.). Glad to know the program is still in good hands,and thank you for reaching out."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The NFL and Cabrini Connections' Season are Year-round!

When people think of an NFL season, some may think that the season is from the Pre-Season games to the end of the Super Bowl festivities, but all true fans of the game know and understand that the real 'season' for an NFL organization last throughout the year with very few breaks in between.

Many people just see the games on tv, catch a summer workout or two, or watch all of the NFL commentators give all of the ins and outs of every organization, but what takes place behind the scenes throughout the year make all of those opportunities possible. The planning, preparation, hard work, numerous meetings and film session, and coaching clinics all take place when the cameras are not present in an effort to reach that ultimate goal of a Super Bowl win for the organization.

And here at Cabrini Connections we follow a very similar path. Our Super Bowl can be considered our Year End Dinner in June where our students, parents, volunteers, guests, donors, alums, and hopefully our incoming recruits all get together to not only celebrate a successful year in the program, but also to honor many of the people who made those successes throughout the year a reality.

That moment does not just on the day of, just like the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't show up at the Superbowl and just pick up their ring. In our program, it takes weekly commitment to the program, hard work while being present, taking advantage of the resources that are provided, researching the websites ( and, and remaining focus on those goals of graduating from high school, going on to college, and being in a career by the age of 25.

NFL teams and organizations understand the fact that to earn that Superbowl ring, you have to do just that...EARN. Nobody is just going to hand any team that ring. And here at Cabrini Connections we understand that nobody is just going to hand our players (students) a career, so they are going to have to continue to put in the work so they EARN their rings as well! But instead of that Superbowl ring, our players can and will be earning their high school and college class rings!!!

The coaches of the organization have to truly understand and believe in this concept in order for the players to buy into this idea. And one of the many ways that the coaches (staff and volunteers) can assist is this process is by joining in the planning throughout the year. Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection will be hosting our annual golf benefit on July 16th( This benefit is one of they many ways in which we assist our players with earning their rings. Funds that are brought in from this event and many others throughout the year, make the possibility of the players getting to the Superbowl a reality.

Please make effort join in some of the 'behind the scenes' processes that take place throughout the Cabrini Connections' season, so where the cameras are back on, the tutor/mentor connection commentators are giving the ins and outs on the various programs, and the games are ready to be played...our players, our team, our Cabrini Connections' program is well prepared to remain a contender for the title!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2 Separate Programs equal 1

The Cabrini Connections and Jobs for Youth (Chicago) programs are two separate programs but are very closely related. Cabrini Connections' President/CEO, Dan Bassill has inked in the goal which is to provide youth with the resources and tools needed in order to be in a career by the age of 25. There is A LOT that needs to be in place for that goal to become a reality. The youth have to make a commitment to the program, take advantage of the resources that are given and provide resources for others to take advantage of, and take their academics seriously etc...And we are confident in the fact that if the students can follow those needed steps on a consistent basis then they can and will be in a career by the age of 25, and this where Cabrini Connections and a program like Jobs for Youth relate.
At Cabrini Connections we could be considered the first step on this road to a career. The students are learning how to be responsible, respectful, hardworking, commitment, and many of the other soft-skills needed no matter what career choice the students are looking to pursue, but it takes more than just that. In the February issue "Youth today" I had the opportunity to learn a little more about the CEO of Jobs for Youth (Chicago) Robert Barnett and how his organization provides job opportunities for low-income families.
I have never met Mr. Barnett and I have never been to the Jobs for Youth Agency, but the work that we do and the work that Mr. Barnett does go hand in hand. Cabrini Connections is working on building life skills, Jobs for Youth works on building job skills, and Cabrini Connections and Jobs for Youth together....assists with the overall attainment of careers for any and all that participant in the programs.

Partnership Appreciation Breakfast

This morning Jenner Academy of the Arts, a K-8 grammar school in the heart of Cabrini Green, hosted a Partnership Appreciation Breakfast to honor the various programs, agencies and community groups that support them in their quest to help kids from the neighborhood develop into intelligent, motivated leaders of tomorrow. We were extended a special invitation for the special role Cabrini Connections has played in helping keep kids from the neighborhood off the streets and engaged in productive enrichment activities both at our center and in the community.

This was a particular treat to attend because so many of our students attend Jenner and personally participated in the banquet. From Malik's powerful drumming with the Jenner Drum Team, to Gary and Kenyale cheerfully greeting everyone at the door, it was great to see the kids outside of our center, in their element at school. After thanking each organization personally, Principle Woodson turned over the floor to a handful of students, who expressed their appreciation for all the various ways in which programs like ours help Jenner's students.

After helping myself to a generous plateful of lox, quiche, shrimp cocktail and other foods I don't usually eat for breakfast, I was able to connect with some folks at my table, including Philip Jackson, the founder of the Black Star Project, a 12 year old organization committed to eliminating the racial achievement gap. I will be visiting their Bronzeville center tomorrow and meeting with him as they train a couple dozen marines to work with youth and facilitate tutoring programming through the parent and student leadership development curricula that they implement in schools across Chicago. I will report more about The Black Star Project soon in my blog after I learn more during tomorrow's visit. So stay tuned!


Bringing the "Dream" to Black History Month (3rd Place Student Entries)

I'm sure millions of people around the world made an effort to watch Barack Obama address Congress last night. President Obama talked about how the stimulus package can and will be a solution to many of the problems that are facing not only our economy, but our schools, families, and our overall moral.

One of the many topics that he touched on that stuck out to me was his introduction of the little girl who submitted the 'letter' about her and her classmates at her school and how they are not 'quitters.' I apologize for not remembering her name, but I do know and understand what that letter meant and how so many other students throughout the world could have written a similar letter.

Continuing with this series that I started yesterday showcasing the Cabrini Connections' students who participated in our "I Have a Dream" project I thought it was fitting to mention President Obama's reference to the young girl who was present at the Address last night, and how that letter could be replaced with these two letters from our 2 students who tied for 3rd place in the our contest.
~Dreams do Come True~
I HAVE A DREAM- Barack Obama and Martin Luther King

Hi! My name is Ashanti Anderson. Although I’m a young lady, there are lots of things I find that’s unfair in America. I’ve been at Jenner Academy of the Arts since kindergarten. Although my teachers try their best to give me a good education, I’m not allowed to bring my hard cover books home. The soft cover books really do not help me because in my soft cover math book there are no examples. The book always just tells me what problems to solve. I have the same problems with my Science book, but instead the questions are on a sheet of paper.

The best place for me to study is in my home because there are no distractions from my peers. I need my hard cover books to study. If I don’t have my books at home my guardian will not be able to help me without any material. I think the reason why I can’t bring my books home is because if something happens to any of the books the school will not have enough money to replace them. I hope Obama puts more money into things more important like my school.

Martin Luther King made a change that Obama needs to finish. Martin Luther King made the rights for Blacks and Whites to get along. Although it’s not as bad as it was before Martin Luther King stepped up, it’s not great. Martin Luther King said his “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963. There has been 46 years since he has done this great thing, but more change has to come. I hope in the next 4 years Obama brings the Whites and the Blacks together more because he said he was going to make a change.

Ashanti Anderson
Ashaunti Roby Jan. 29.2009
I Have a Dream…
Dear Mr. Obama and his legislative committee:

My name is Ashaunti Roby and I am completing my 8th grade year at Newberry Academy. During my 13 years in life I’ve been faced with many community problems. I thought these problems could never be solved, but now you, Mr. Obama, have showed me that the sky is the limit and anything is possible.

It has been brought to my attention that change has come to America. Now that Mr. Obama is our first African American president, doors have been opened and dark hallways have been lit for many people. Also, in my community I’ve been faced with problems like gang violence, unemployment, high taxes, and global warming.

Gang violence is a huge problem in the community today. People are getting killed left and right for these unnecessary reasons. There are drive-by-shootings, gang wars, and people getting jumped and beat up for having their hat tilt to the wrong side. Innocent youngsters are dying and getting hurt for something they did not cause or have any notice of. The solution is getting these “wanna-be-gangsters” off the streets. Provide more programs for them to be doing something more productive. After-school programs only go up to 13-14 years of age then just drop kids off out on the streets. There has to be a better way to go about this.

Unemployment has a lot to do with problems in the community. My father is unemployed and is dying to get a job. Although he didn’t finish high school and just recently got out of jail, he’s a changed man and a really nice person. He wants to help and provide for his family too. He doesn’t want a nice high paying career, but a job with minimum pay that would put clothes on our backs and food on the table. I believe he’s very intelligent and has learned from his mistake. The point I am trying to make is there should be jobs for the unemployed so people are able to get out of debt, pay child support, or pay off bills. I know half of the people I’m talking about are accountable for the reasons they can’t get a job but things would be so much easier if we all could just cut them some slack.

High taxes have been a big problem in the year of 2008 now coming into 2009. The government’s bad decisions caused this financial crisis that is affecting the whole country. We all are in dept now, and tax prices are rising because of things we have no control over. In Chicago, people have to move out of the city because they can’t afford to live in a high priced city. If houses or apartments are available the living conditions are very poor. We live in the worst way possible just because of taxes. Also, gas prices are a big problem too. Now, we are at the point where we can’t even afford a full tank of gas all the time. We are now in this economic downfall which no one can survive from. Everyone is suffering from it and can’t beat it. That’s a problem; again I don’t have a solution for it.
In conclusion, Mr. Obama, I believe change has come to America. You have shown the country and the world: yes we will, yes we can, and yes we did!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bringing the "Dream" to Black History Month (Entries 1, 2, & 3 )

The months of January and February have not just been monumental but truly historic with the recognition of Dr. King and with Barack Obama becoming the first African American President in the country's history, and with February being Black History month. Several Cabrini Connections' students, with the assistance of mentors and staff, stepped up and took of an opportunity to share their "Dreams" as well.

As mentioned previously the students had the opportunity to take part in the "I Have a Dream" project where they were asked to submit either a written or an audio/video piece sharing their dreams and how the Barack Obama and the new Administration could assist them with making their dreams come true.

This contest took place in January and the students have already been recognized for all of their hard work on this project. Now we would like to share with you the entries that the students provided. The picture that accompanies this article is actually a picture Yolanda Hyles' entry of her Barack Obama poster board. And her project, along with all of the other student entries have been posted inside of the Cabrini Connections' center for all to enjoy.

~Dreams Do Come True~


January 27, 2009

Dear President Barack Obama,

There are a lot of things that I would like you to change in America today. First I would like you to stop the war in Iraq immediately because the only thing that it is doing is hurting our economy as a nation. Not to long ago, Mayor Daley of Chicago (my hometown) had to cut back on budgets and didn’t plow over the side streets. I live on a side street and it’s hard for my parents to drive out onto the main street without worrying about ice making the car slip, and cause an accident. Daley cut back because Chicago is broke right now. This is one way on how the economy is hurting me now so please stop the war in Iraq.

Next, I would like for you to now make it a law that all people can vote because right now it is an amendment to the constitution. This would benefit us greatly as a nation.

The last thing I would want you to change is the environment plan so that the people wouldn’t have to rely on the oil that comes out of the earth. This will help the nation because it will cause even more harm to the earth’s ozone layer which results in overall heating of the Earth.

Thank you Mr. President and I appreciate you reading this letter.
Savon Clark


January.28, 2009
Dear President Obama,

I am a sophomore attending Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago, Illinois. In the past year 34 of my fellow students have been killed and so many kids I can’t even count have dropped out already. These facts make me feel disappointed because they are wasting their lives being on the streets. In order to fix this problem, I think there should be programs motivating kids to stay in school.

These after school programs for young adults and children would give them a place to go after school. Young adults need these programs because the percentage of kids being killed on the streets is rapidly increasing, especially in my hometown Chicago, Illinois.

I think after school programs should include programs such as: music, sports, dancing, tutoring, writing, college prep, and test prep. These programs would be effective because they will keep kids off the streets, motivate them to have higher grades, and give them a higher feeling of involvement in their school.

Much like high school sports, I think the programs should have a minimum grade requirement in order to motivate kids to keep their grades high. While I would like the program to be free I realize that may be difficult, so the program could charge a small, reasonable fee. For students who cannot afford the fee they could pay a lower charge.

Some kids will voluntarily come to the program but for other kids who are not as motivated to come, the program could offer prizes for regular attendance and participating in programs.

These programs would help the city of Chicago by decreasing the number of high school dropouts and deaths. I think it would be very beneficial to all the Chicago Public Schools’ students. Thank you for all you have done in representing Chicago so well and inspiring me to reach for better things for all of Chicago.

Imann Mitchell

Friday, February 20, 2009

LaJuan Garcia: Reflections of a Volunteer (entry 2)

Friday February 13, 2009 (Wrap up Day)

There isn’t a job at Cabrini Connections that doesn’t mean something. I spent my Friday afternoon making sure every student and volunteer had a file. It’s definitely important in keeping track of the students and volunteers because every student and volunteer in the program is worth that attention. I also took the time to water some plants; a job that seems simple, but actually has great meaning at Cabrini Connections. The plants I watered were planted by some of the students who took part in the annual EdgeWood College 'Experience' and maintaining them is just one way to show the kids that what they do at Cabrini Connections is special and meaningful. I look forward in learning more about the students in the program.

Here is a video of the students, volunteers, and our special guests from Edgewood College. The Edgewood College 'Experience' is a 3 day adventure where Tom Holub and his graduate students from Edgewood College provides small and big group activities, a scavenger hunt, special field trips, and GREAT food for the youth here at Cabrini Connections.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Charlie Trotter ‘Experience’ - March 10th

Thanks to Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor and Board member Mike Hayes, over a dozen of the Cabrini Connections’ students will have the opportunity to not only get a great meal, but the group will also learn more about a career in Culinary Arts at the exclusive Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant. This event is scheduled to take place on March 10th and include 14-16 students and a few adult chaperons.

The event will be open to our Seniors and Juniors first and then the members in our clubs (Art, Tech, and Writing Clubs) will be offered the opportunity if space is available.

Contact El Da'Sheon Nix if you'd like to participate.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The GM, Head Coach, and players make the news!

Anybody who knows and understands sports, knows that the media plays a HUGE role in keeping the public informed about whats is going on in the sports' world. There are radio shows, tv shows (Sportscenter), newspapers etc...that keeps everyone up to date on the latest and greatest sports related news. Media is the main reason why sports' figures become 'household names.'

The Cabrini Connections' program and the members that make up the program are working towards being a 'household' name as well. We would love for everybody to see the hard work, dedication, committment of the players and coaches that are a part of the program that leads to success. And with the help of the media, just like in the NFL, we will hopefully work towards that goal.

We got one step closer last week. Just like after a big game, or any game, in the NFL the media swarms the players and coaches on the field, in the locker rooms, and fill the press conferences. Last Thursday Cabrini Connections was fortunate to have the media present and several members of the team were interviewed.

Please take the time out to read the article that was published as a result of the interviews.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Cabrini Connections' Poem...

Give it up for Cabrini! By: Stephanie Rogers 2-12-09

I found myself walking down the street smiling because I was on my way to Cabrini.

I get to do what I enjoy most of all and that is helping others in any way possible.

I hear some of the things that the youth say and I laugh because I too once said the same thing.

There are some days where it can be crazy but it's alright because as a part of Cabrini we can always come to some type of conclusion.

Although I was put in a rough situation when my student decided to leave I kept my head high and faith strong that EL could have another volunteer position for me.

Now look, I am one of the coordinators for the College Zone for both Wednesday and Thursday nights.

I enjoy it because I get to see what every student is like.

I must give my thanks to EL, Chris, as well as Nicole for allowing me to stick around.

To the students and volunteers who have allowed me to work with them always know that I am here to help you out!

Take Care!~Stephanie Rogers~

LaJuan Garcia: Reflections of a Volunteer (entry 1)

LaJuan Garcia is very new to the Cabrini Connections' program and in her volunteer role she will be assisting the students, volunteers, staff, and the overall program with working towards the mission and the goals of the organization. LaJuan will be sharing her experiences with this reflection series. Through these entries, you will all get a better understanding of the value of a tutoring/mentoring program such as Cabrini Connections...through the eyes of a new volunteer.
Wednesday February 11, 2009 (Wednesday tutoring/mentoring session)
"There are kids with bright futures. I have seen this personally at Cabrini Connections Tutor and Mentor Program. It’s amazing how many kids in this program are dedicated to and enthusiastic about their education. I was really inspired. The kids spend about an hour and a half doing their homework alongside and with the help of their tutors and mentors. I had the privilege of working with a young lady by the name of Jessica who showed motivation and was dedicated to doing her homework. Although having friends in the program Jessica remained focused on her studies and even when it was time to go she made sure to finish the work she started. It is extremely gratifying to me to know that I was able to help Jessica but even more meaningful that she accepted my help. I hope I made an impact on Jessica enough for her to return to the program because I definitely saw the potential in her."

~Lajuan Garcia~

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Want to win a volunteer vacation?

For those who volunteer there are numourous reasons why you volunteer your time, knowledge, services, and expertise. And programs such as Cabrini Connections truly appreciated each and every volunteer who contributes to the overall success of the program. Thank You!

Here is one of the many ways that our volunteers and any other volunteer can be rewarded for their generosity. Please take the time out to read this information and hopefully YOU will be the one who earns this trip.

~Good Luck~

Commit to Change win a trip to the New Orleans Jazz Fest (Deadline Feb 12th)Tell us how YOU will commit to bringing about change in your neighborhood, community, or nation by February 12th for a chance to win a $250 Network for Good Card or the grand prize - a volunteer vacation with Hands on Network that includes tickets to JazzFest in New Orleans! Also, don't forget to check out our Q with our Inauguration ticket winner and see video footage from his experience .

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Right Players Make up the PERFECT Huddle

In nearly every football organization from little leagues all the way to the NFL, each and every team has players that play certain positions. You have a quarterback, linebackers, safeties, tight-ends etc... and when the coach puts those 11 players out on the field, each and every positioned player are expected to complete their roles and responsibilities for the overall success of the team.

The image that has been added to this article has 'conference' in the middle with various businesses, organizations, and/or components that contribute to the overall success of a conferences such as the Tutor/Mentor Networking and Leadership Conference ( In relation to the football concepts we will say that a conference is the play and all of those components that surround the conference are the players that can lead to a positive gain on the play or a tackle for loss.

Just like in any football organization, the players don't learn a play on the first day of practice and perfect that play that day. The players go through repetitions week in and week out so that when the play is called in the game all of the players know the importance of their role to the success of the overall play.

The next game, the Tutor/Mentor Networking and Leadership Conference, is scheduled for May 28th and May 29th which gives each and every player (from Mentoring, Youth Development, Extended Learning Opportunities, School based programs etc...) in the huddle enough time to to huddle up and to know, practice, understand, and master their role to the overall success of the TEAM in this game.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Arthur Stephens Jr. Memorial

Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection lost a friend and leader when Arthur Stephens, Jr. passed away on Jan. 25, 2009 at the age of 86. Arthur was one of seven volunteers who helped create this organization in November of 1992. He served on the Board of Directors and on the Advisory Council from 1993 until leaving this life to serve on a higher level.

View photos and read quotes from the memorial service held last Saturday. If any of those who knew Arthur would like to add their own testimonials please post them as comments here, or in a section I've set up on our Facebook page.

Arthur was a friend, a leader, and an encourager. Without his help we might never have been able to start this organization. Many have benefited because of the role he played.

Thank you Arthur. We'll miss you.