Monday, April 27, 2009

Cabrini Connections' Receives Some Much Needed Enhancements

For anybody who has ever visited the Cabrini Connections' site would hopefully agree that we have a pretty nice space for the work that we do with our students and volunteers. But this past weekend we received a helping hand with some program enhancements from volunteers for the Unicare Community Service Day!
Nearly 40 volunteers from all ages decided to get out the bed on a cool wet Saturday morning, and decided to spend their morning at Cabrini Connections taking on various enhancement projects. After a vary nice presentation from the project leader, Frank, and a brief address by President/CEO Dan Bassill and myself...the team rolled up their sleaves and went to work!

The large group broke up into several small teams and worked on a variety of projects. One group began working on building some cubby holes and a coat rack, while another team began working on putting together a health care shelf with a variety of information on future healthcare professions for our students. While those teams were taking on those projects we had another group working on cleaning all of the work desks that are used during tutoring/mentoring sessions, and we had another group working on organizing and expanding our library.

There was one group that got off to a rough start (smile). This group of ladies were suppose to be creating a curtain divider that can and will be used to divide the space into two parts so that we can utilize our space even more on any given night, but nearly all of the tools that they were suppose to use to complete this project were not delivered. This setback didn't deter them one bit. One of the group members drove home to get her sewing kit, other members of the group improvised by using paperclips instead of the required metal clamps, and instead of a PVC rod that was suppose to be the structure to hold the curtain up...the group creatively used rope to create this divider. I was truly impressed with the quick thinking and the creativity in which this group used.

In less than 5 hours this dedicated group of volunteers made nearly 20 enhancements to the Cabrini Connections' space! And besides the physical work that these volunteers provided, we all laughed, enjoyed each other's company, exchanged contact information, and agreed to meet up again at the Annual Jimmie Biggs Memorial Cabrini Connections Golf Benefit on July 16th. This is a true example of how volunteers like this keep programs like Cabrini Connections up and running. Not only did they volunteer their time to improve the program, many agreed to further support the program by attending a future event and/or making a general donation to the program.

WellPoint amd Uni Care, the Cabrini Connection, Tutor/Mentor Connection staff, students, and volunteers truly appreciate all that you have done for our program and we hope you will remain connected to our program!

Here is for the summer 2009

The weather is beginning to get warmer and the school year is almost done which means more people out on the street, especially teens. Every year many of Chicago Public Students are killed by violence majority of it being gun violence.Instead of hitting the streets why not find something that you enjoy doing to keep yourself busy and to stay out of trouble?

There are many summer programs that you can attend during the summer.There are summer camps, volunteer at places such as Cabrini Connections. Try to find a summer job, there isn't anything wrong with making a few bucks these days! Go to the beach, join a sports team, do some exercise, keeping yourself healthy and in shape is always great.Find something that not only do you enjoy doing but something that will keep you busy, help you stay positive, and will keep you out of trouble. No one likes to stay indoors in the summer granted were locked inside during the winter because of the freezing temperatures. Enjoy the summer by doing something fun, positive, enjoyable to yourself but at the same time something that is peaceful so that you are remaining out of trouble.

Remember to look at the board as well as the table to find job opportunities.Visit to apply for summer jobs thought the city. I encourage all volunteers to keep students updated if you know of any job opportunities, even if it is for the summer. Enjoy your summer and be safe!!!!
~Stephanie Rogers~

Cabrini Video wins award!

The Cabrini Connections video documentary, Cabrini Green, This is What I know: Our Lives, Our Truths, Our Stories, won the "Strongest Voice" award at the Raw Voices: Teens In the Media Arts festival this weekend!

Three of the students who worked on this project from 2006 until now, Kenneth, Jonathan, Kevin, along with Rebecca Parrish, the volunteer who led the project for the final two years, were there to accept the award.

Here is a link to more information about the Raw Voices program. Here is more information on Cabrini Connections Arts and Video Festival.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

NFL Prospect Supports Cabrini Connections

With this being one of the biggest weeks in his life, draft week, Tyrell Sutton took time out of his busy schedule to offer some words of encouragement to the Cabrini Connections' program participants on Wednesday evening. Tyrell's first stop when he entered the Cabrini Connections' program was to the computer lab to formally introduce himself to one of his biggest fans, Marquita Fisher. Mentor Kiera Kelly and Mentee Marquita Fisher attended Northwestern University's Spring Football game last Spring and due to the large number of other attendees Marquita was unable to get Tyrell's autograph after trying to nearly 45mins. Mr. Sutton had a continuous line of fans waiting to take a picture and get his autograph. So within the first 2 minutes of Tyrell's visit to the program he provided Marquita with an autograph and posed for a picture with one of his biggest fans, after she had waited for a year!

Tyrell then took the time out to observe all that takes place in the program and introduce himself to several of the staff, volunteers, and students. But Tyrell, who knows the importance of education and focus, made an effort to not distract the mentors and mentees and they continued to work on important assignments for school and as the students worked towards obtaining summer jobs. Around 7:15pm we prepared for regularly scheduled announcements, and informed the entire group that we had a special guest speaker for the evening, Mr. Tyrell Sutton!
Following the regular announcements, Tyrell Sutton spent about 15-20 minutes addressing the group of interested students, volunteers, and staff. Tyrell, is Ohio's All-Time leading rusher, holds a numerous amount of Ohio and Northwestern University football records, who is patiently waiting to hear his name on NFL draft day Saturday, and who will become a Northwestern University alumni this June...talked about himself and football for only a short amount of time. Tyrell Sutton expressed to the students the importance of staying in school, getting an education, staying out of trouble, taking advantage of the Cabrini Connections' program and the resources in which we provide, and really making an effort to follow the lead of their mentors the majority of his speech.

Tyrell was asked who his mentor is, and without hesitation, Tyrell stated his older brother, mother, and grandmother as his mentors. Tyrell said, "Without them there would be no me!" Tyrell continued to answer questions and even stayed after the end of the session to sign autographs and speak to students and volunteers individually.

Cabrini Connections is truly grateful to have had the opportunity to have Mr. Tyrell Sutton visit our program and provide some words of advice to not just the students, but to all who attended the Cabrini Connections program last evening. With this being a week that can and will change his change his life forever, he took the time out to assist with changing the lives of Cabrini Connections participants through his words.

Thank you Tyrell and the entire Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection organization wishes you the best in your future endeavors!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cabrini Connections Alum stars in academics and football

Cabrini Connections received this email and photo today from one of our former volunteers:

I thought you would be interested to see Willie Hatcher in his college football debut. He is a Freshman at St.Francis College in Ft Wayne In. He red shirted his freshman season and is now looking to get some playing time in his sophomore year. More importantly his is determined to get at least a 3.2 gpa for the second semester. All this would not be possible without your program to provide a place to meet each week and an environment to focus on academics. Thanks a lot. Colin

Click here to see the photos that Colin sent.

Rivalry Game: Cabrini Connections vs. Chicago Summer

Nearly every team in the National Football League has a team that is considered a rival. The Cleveland Browns have the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chicago Bears have the Green Bay Packers, and the Dallas Cowboys have the Washington Redskins etc... These are games where the players, coaches, fans, and entire cities prepare in one way or another for what is considered, by many, as the most important game of the season, regardless of what the team's records are. These games are so important that, some would say that, the word hate may be used periodically to describe the opponent.

Preparation for these games is a little different than the preparation for any other game. True, the practices, the film session, and individual workouts are very similar, but the emotions fueled by the history and importance of the rivalry game, creates more intensity, focus, and a desire to come out victorious!

The Cabrini Connections organization, from top to bottom, has been preparing for our rivalry game for nearly 8 months now. Our rival is not another tutoring/mentoring organization, the rival that we have been preparing for is the Chicago summer. Out of all of the opponents that our players, coaches, and the entire Cabrini Connections' organization faces throughout the season this is one of the biggest and baddest teams that we face. Their team is filled with nice weather, a lot of free time for the youth, drugs, gang activity, lack of jobs and positive outlets for the youth, and their worst players are gun violence and their MVP is murder.

For the last couple of seasons, the Cabrini Connections' team has come out victorious in this game, but each season the game gets even harder to win and their team gets even worse players. So we have to do what we always do, and that is stay focused on our goals, be determined, work hard, and prepare as much as possible to come out a winner by September.

And this is how we have been preparing our players. Throughout the season our players have been working on their commitment to the organization by attending the practices(tutoring/mentoring sessions) on time and often, our players have been taking advantage of many of the resources that the organization has to offer (job opportunities posted on the board), our veterans (seniors) and captains (Youth Leadership Council) have setting the standards for the younger players, and the coaches have been leading by example all season long.

But even with all that being said, it's going to take more to win this game. It's going to take continued effort from our players, coaches, and the organization...but its also going to take fan support. We need to not only pack the stands with our die-hard Cabrini Connections' fans, we are going to need resources from our fans and other supporters of the team. We need you to assist us with necessary funding needed to increase our resources such as supplies and maybe even another assistant coach, opportunities for our players such as summer jobs, we need our fans to promote this rivalry game and how important it is for our player's futures, and lastly we just need more financial support to keep our players, coaches, and the entire organization on a winning track.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Statistics Tell the Story...

First and foremost, I want to apologize to the faithful readers of these weekly sports' concept postings for the delay in this week's post. Instead of just writing about sports, I was actually back in Ohio last weekend playing in a charity basketball game at my local high school. And just like Cabrini Connections, the funds went to further the education of the youth. Now back to this week's sport's concept article...

Who says that stats aren't important in the NFL, or in any other sport for that matter?!?!? If stats were not important then people would not record stats such as rushing yards, yards after catch, interceptions in a season etc... True many current, past, and future NFL players play for the overall love for the game, but I think its safe to say that all players do care a LITTLE about either individual and/or team stats. And what makes these stats important in many people's eyes is that the statistics show visual proof that players, teams, and overall organizations are either doing very well or doing poorly.

Here at Cabrini Connections' our players, coaches, team, and overall organization play this sport for the overall love for the game as well. We love to see our players come in as rookies in the league, take advantage of every resource and every opportunity, put in the hard work, and become superstar veterans as they progress through this league. But I would not be an honest Head Coach if I said we don't look at the stats within our organization. And recently Assistant Coach, Vjekoslav Hlede, provided the media with a glimpse of some of the remarkable stats that the Cabrini Connection organization has posted in the last year (See Chart Above).

This chart tells the story that the Cabrini Connections' facilities are only getting more and more visits from fans, but the fans are staying a lot longer and looking at a lot more when they do come and visit! And we can proudly say that we are getting more fans supporting the players, coaches, and the overall Cabrini Connections' organization. THANK YOU!!!

And for those who had trouble understanding the lingo in this article....I will summarize briefly. The chart above was created by our eLearning and Technology Coordinator, Vjekoslave Hhlede and it shows that the Cabrini Connections website ( has been getting more visits, more page views, has less bounce rates, new visitors, and....those who do visit the website are staying a lot longer!!!
If it's true that statistics tell the story...then we can say that we are proud of our success. But this success would not be possible without the support of our fans and other supporters of the Cabrini Connections' program. So we thank YOU and encourage our fans to continue to support the players, coaches, and the overall organization by visiting Cabrini Connections' Fan's Lounge...and invite your friends!!!

Meet interns. Visit NU Ning group

While we share our stories through the blog articles you can read here, the Internet has many places where people meet. Thus, Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, is in many more places than 800 W. Huron, or on this blog page.

Visit the NU TutorMentor group and see how we're creating a network of Northwestern University students, faculty and alumni. Read about interns here and here.

Career Week Activities

During Spring Break several students visited companies where volunteers work. Read about this in Chris Warren's Blog.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

2nd Quarter Perfect Attendance Recognition

The Cabrini Connections tutoring/mentoring quarters closely relate to the grading periods that our students follow in their schools. Our 2nd Quarter, which we consider our Winter quarter, began on Jan 14, 2009 and just ended on March 26, 2009. And for anybody who has lived in an area in the world where it gets as cold as a Chicago winter will truly understand and appreciate the news that I am about to announce.

Through the cold, windy, snowy, and sometimes...below minus 10 degrees and blizzard conditions we had several of our students and volunteers made an effort to beat the elements and attend every scheduled tutoring/mentoring session during the 2nd quarter!!!

The STUDENTS that earned Perfect Attendance Recognition:

Gregory Hatchett

The VOLUNTEERS that earned Perfect Attendance Recognition:

Jen Jozwik

Mike Jozwik

Sarah Randag

We truly want to thank each and every student and volunteer who had perfect attendance during the 2nd quarter, and to all of the other students and volunteers who made an effort to attend the program throughout the entire quarter. As staff we truly appreciate your dedication and commitment to not just the program, but to putting yourself in a position to be something GREAT in life!

~Keep up the great work during the 3rd Quarter as well!!!~

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Career Day at Jack Morton

Today our students had an opportunity to visit one of our mentors, Shannon Murphy, a public relations and events planning manager for Jack Morton Worldwide as part of our Career Week. Taking full advantage of their spring break and their time off, Sean Mayfield, Savon Clark, Cierria Tharpe and Ce'Landria Tharpe got a chance to learn how to make money putting on events such as the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, throwing parties and spreading the word. Shannon's co-workers, particularly Jacque Patterson, VP, Director of Operations, were kind enough to take time out of their day to talk to our students about the business and how they got there. Although not all the students may be thinking about a career in public relations, having the staff tell them how they got to where they are now was very relevant. Hearing their stories of being unsure about what they wanted to do as their career or changing their minds about their career paths is something that all the youth could relate to.

The students got a chance to get a taste of the creative process of Jack Morton. They were given a scenario where The Boeing Company is trying to generate buzz about their new luxurious airplane and have invited journalists to an event at O'Hare airport to learn more about the new airplane. The students came up with ideas about what would take place during this event and presented them to Shannon, Jacque, and two other co-workers that joined us in the conference room including Larry Deutsch, the managing director of the Chicago location. They listened to the presentations and then talked to the students about the need to have passion in anything you do in order to succeed and be happy.

We at Cabrini Connections would like to extend our most hearfelt "Thank You" to Shannon Murphy and her co-workers at Jack Morton for being so accomodating and friendly as they gave our students a taste of what working at a global experiential marketing agency is like. Thanks again!


Graduation Awards for Cabrini Connections Seniors

One of the many great resources that Cabrini Connections’ provides the students that participate in the program is an ability to earn points and graduation dollars for every student who enters AND completes the program.

The amount a student earns is based on an accumulation of the points that the students earn while participating in the program. Students earn points for attendance, special projects, completed Weekly Reflection sheets, submitting report cards etc…

As seniors, the points students earn are converted to dollars which are awarded at the Annual Year End Dinner. At this time the conversion rate is ten cents per point. That can grow if we can find donors who will sponsor the Point Bank with an endowment.

Currently we have 5 seniors whom we expect to graduate in June. If these seniors can continue to actively participate in the weekly Wednesday or Thursday tutor/mentor sessions during the 3
rd quarter (April through May 2009) they will receive their respective graduation awards at the Year End Dinner on June 4th.

Students who have been part of Cabrini Connections since 7th grade, have earned quite a few points, so the pay out at graduation can be $500 or more. We're exploring ways to deposit this money directly in a bank account, and to have the bank add additional dollars. We'll have more details on this later.

If you have questions about the Graduation Awards and/or Point Bank, contact El Da'Sheon Nix. If you'd like to make a donation to support Cabrini Connections, use
this form.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Coming Together for a Common Cause...

All throughout the world of sports, not just the National Football League, there are players and entire organizations that put together various foundations and charity events that draw attention and the necessary resources for a particular cause. For example, the NFL Alumni host an annual golf benefit that works towards protecting the youth. Future NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis has the "Bus Stops Here" Foundation that works to improve the overall quality of life for troubled and underprivileged children by offering the opportunities to help them succeed in life. And I'm sure the list goes on and on about various former and current NFL players who do any and everything they can to "Give Back" to the youth so that they can have the necessary resources to reach all of their future goals and to be able to just have dreams.

The Cabrini Connections' organization followed a similar pattern this past weekend with a fundraiser that benefits youth that reside in and around the underprivileged and undereducated Cabrini Green housing projects. The event that our organization hosted was an Art and Film Festival that took place at the Palette and Chisel Saturday April 4th from 5-10pm, and YES it was an amazing event!!! There was food and beverages, raffle prizes, some fantastic art work that was created by several of our Cabrini Connections' players and Assistant Coaches in the Art Club, and a great documentary(Cabrini Green, This is What I know: Our Lives, Our Truths, Our Stories) that was put together by several of our current and alumni players and their position Coach (Rebecca Parrish) in our IYP Club.

It's a given that the art that the kids put together was extraordinary and the documentary that was displayed captured the hard work and dedication that the youth put into it, but the overall event, like many of the fundraisers that NFL players and organizations host, provided an opportunity for people to come together for a common cause AND discuss ways in which we all can do more. And throughout the year there are a variety of events, fundraisers, and causes that people make an effort to attend or find other ways to support.

The players, Assistant Coaches, Head Coach, and the General Manager would like to take the time out now to THANK each and every person who was a part of the event in one way or another! Your efforts definitely contributed to the overall success of this event! And for anybody who was unable to attend but would still like to 'Come Together for a Common Cause..." please make an effort to visit the donation section and help us raise more awareness and provide any and all of the necessary resources for our youth by submitting a donation.
~Thanks In Advance~