Monday, June 29, 2009

"Together We Can..."

Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connections is a volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring organization that depends heavily on caring, committed, and passionate volunteers to achieve our mission of helping at-risk Chicagoland youth enter college and careers by the age of 25. Many of the volunteers in our program take on the traditional role of being a tutor/mentor in a one-on-one relationship with a youth or take on a leadership role in one of our enrichment activities such as Tech, Writing, or Art Clubs. But there are a wide variety of ways in which YOU can get involved and begin contributing to the program, but more importantly to the success of all that are touched by the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection's organization.

Here are a few of the many roles that if filled would not only be greatly appreciated, but would strengthen our program a great deal.

*Volunteer Recruiter*

-Focus on establishing contacts to recruit volunteers as tutor/mentors, office support, committee members

-Recruitment of volunteers is on-going. However, extra effort will target a build-up of new volunteers for the start of the fall tutoring year.

-Contact volunteer/community affairs coordinator in July/August and request support• Associations - Union League Club, Chicago Bar Association, Young Executives Club, minority professional and business associations• Newslink, media placements• Tutor/Mentor Connection Volunteer Fair - annuallyMinority Recruiting. As part of the organization's policy of recruiting minorities into broad participation and leadership, a targeted effort aims at this group.

*Parent Committee Coordinator*

-Establish parent committee and involve parents on committees

-Invite to orientation in fall

-Establish a once-a-month parent briefing where activity calendars can be reviewed and parents can sign up for multiple events at one time

-Other activities the volunteer(s) might be responsible for include: recruit students, provide escort for those students who need it, support each other and the students and the program and give input to the program.

*Community Relations' Coordinator*

-Facilitate communication among area programs and to prepare a community calendar of events so that groups may support each other and reduce potential scheduling conflicts.

*School Committee Coordinator*

-Establish and maintain a communications link with schools where Cabrini Connection students are enrolled. This will develop two-way support for between the schools and our programs.

*Training Committee Coordinator*

-Responsible for fall Tutor, Student and Parent Orientations. Will also work with the Cabrini Connections staff to present in-service and seminars over the course of the year.

*Motivation/Incentive Committee Coordinator*

-Develop a recognition program for volunteers and students, working with the training and recruiting committees. Some suggested programs

-Develop Mantra/pledge for Cabrini Connections that includes values• Wall plaques to recognize students who recruit/get on honor roll

-Wall plaques to recognize volunteers who raise funds, recruit volunteers

-End of year certificates of achievement/attendance

-Special privileges for extra effort/achievement

-End of Year Dinner/special recognition events

*Student Recruitment Committee Coordinator*

-Responsible for recruiting new students, screening and assessing applicants, following up with parent permission forms.

-Work with the volunteer recruiting committee to try to maintain an enrollment balance between students and tutors.

If you are interested in taking on one of these roles OR if you are interested in learning more about other roles within the program, please feel free to contact Administrative Coordinator, EL Da' Sheon Nix at 312-492-9614 or visit our website (

Friday, June 26, 2009

What does it take?

El Da'Sheon Nix has been writing articles showing how great sports teams get that way because of the combined efforts of the team on the field, and the team in the front office, and the fans in the stands.

The image on this page shows the goal of Cabrini Connections, of helping transform the lives of the youth and volunteers who become part of this organization. Seems like a simple concept, right?

Yet every day there are numerous activities that good organizations need to do, ranging from those that support youth and volunteers, to those that raise money, and those that provide administrative oversight to the facility, the technology, and the paid and volunteer staff.

We have never had more than one or two full time Cabrini Connections staff to do this work. Nor have we had a secure stream of funding which was available every year to fuel our work and provide job security or retirement benefits for people who work here. Finally, while there is plenty of information to show how to create strong organizational structures, there is little information on how to make a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program have a live changing impact on its members.

Thus, as we've tried to figure out how to make what we do work each year, we've also needed to try to find ways to recruit and keep one or two full time staff, as well as a variety of volunteer leaders. While Gena Schoen stayed with Cabrini Connections from 1993 to 2000, and helped build the structure we have today, no other leaders have come to us from the volunteer ranks, as Gena did (she was a tutor from 1989 till joining the CC staff), thus each new person who has had to build their understanding of the infrastructure support, while coaching the 70-80 pairs in the programs, and while trying to find money to pay the bills.

While we've attracted really talented people in to the lead coordinator role, they have had other opportunities that attracted them to other jobs after one or two years. Thus, building the organizational knowledge and experience that is needed to support the work of kids and volunteers has not been one of continuous growth over the past 8 years, but one where we're always in a steep learning curve.

What has helped offset this has been the growth of a core of veteran volunteers who have stayed with the program 3 or more years, serving as mentors to other volunteers and staff, and often serving as coordinators of the weekly tutoring sessions.

Because this high turnover of staff, and volunteers, is common in non profits, and youth serving organizations, I have created an on-line library of information that anyone from Cabrini Connections can draw from at any time. It's the knowledge and experience that I've gained from leading a tutor/mentor program since 1975. It's also the knowledge and experience of others who also lead tutor/mentor programs, in Chicago, and in other cities. This library is the Tutor/Mentor Connection

In many organizations, one or two people becomes an expert, and a resource or mentor for everyone else in the organization. I've had that role at Cabrini Connections since we started. However, since I've learned what I know by practical application over a 30 year period, it's not possible for me to sit down in a session, or even a series of sessions, and "train" someone else, or all of our volunteers, to know what I've learned, or to be able to apply that knowledge in the same way, for the same goals.

When the Internet became a tool, I started taking information from my mind, and from my file cabinets, and posting it on the T/MC web site. At the same time, I started posting links to other programs, and to research that I was reading that helped me understand what the challenges were that we and our teens face, and what some of the solutions might be, if we could find the volunteers and dollars and staff to implement those ideas.

While the knowledge of the T/MC was originally intended to support just Cabrini Connections, I've been networking and learning from leaders and peers in other programs since I first became a leader myself. Thus, the Internet has enabled me to share what we all know, with anyone who wants to find ways to help build the infrastructure needed to support kids and volunteers in programs like Cabrini Connections.

As we go through this summer into next fall, I hope a growing number of our volunteers will skim through the T/MC sites and begin to draw from that knowledge so that we have more ways to help our own teens and volunteers when school starts in September.

At the same time, I hope some of you will help me find additional volunteers, partners and donors, so we can organize and teach this information, the same way the school of Engineering or Law at a major university organizes its knowledge and teaches it to students every year.

As El Da'Sheon has written often, this is a team sport, and summer is not a time to vacation, but a time to do personal workouts and training so we can improve from year to year. I hope many members of the Cabrini Connections community, and the larger tutor/mentor community, will join me in this on-going learning, and in efforts to apply what we learn to the way we help kids.

If you'd like to meet with me for a tour of our on-line resources, or to talk about ways you might help, please call 312-492-9614

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

College Loan and Student Debt Problems?

The Cabrini Connections' program has been up and running for over 10 years and during that time there have been hundreds of former students AND volunteers who have become Cabrini Connections' alumni. One of our main goals in the program is to provide all students with the necessary resources to graduate from high school and to put themselves in a position to be in a job or career by the age of 25. If this model of success holds true, then it would suggest that many Cabrini Connections alums have graduated from high school and college and should be in or on their way to a job or career by that golden age of 25.

Even before the today's economic problems, there have been college students who have had to borrow more just to get into college, and have had to pay even more when leaving college. And with the Cabrini Connections' students and volunteers who have gone on to attend and graduate college, I'm sure that some if not many have or are going through a similar situation. Cabrini Connections is more than a program that assist 7th-12th grade youth while they are enrolled in the program; we hope that both student and volunteer alums will remain connected to the program and each other.

Here is some very helpful information for any Cabrini Connections' student and/or volunteer alumni who may be facing debt problems. But as the Administrative Coordinator of the program I would like to assist current Cabrini Connections' members with the prevention of debt problems and assist alums with getting out debt, but I will need a little assistance. If there were a person or a company that has expertise in this area and would be willing to share some helpful tips, tools, and techniques to our current participants, alumni, and community members that could be a service that would not only be greatly appreciated, but beneficial to all who attends.

We have a great space to host financial workshops, lectures, or meetings throughout the summer and during the school year. And with the state of the current economy and with debt being a situation that many people can relate to, if this type of service was made available it could work wonders the Cabrini Connections' family.
Please don't hesitate to contact Cabrini Connections if you can or know someone who can assist with providing this service.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cabrini Connections host O.T.A.'s (Organized Team Activities)

I apologize for the delay in the 'Sport's Concepts' blog articles, but it's back and I think this one will be a good one!

Every NFL, College, and I'm almost 100% sure that every high school football team hosts what are called O.T.A.'s. Organized Team Activities are various training and workout activities that typically take place in the football team's 'off-season' and are considered to be VOLUNTARY. But for anybody who has played the game of football on any one of those levels knows that even though the O.T.A.'s are considered voluntary, it's almost a must that each and every player 'volunteer' their time.

O.T.A.'s can consist of running workouts, speed and agility drills, 7 on 7 drills, strength workouts in the weight room, and individual and team film sessions. All of these activities are intended to not only assist the individual player with becoming the best football player they can be, but these voluntary workouts assist with team building, dedication and commitment to each other and the overall program, and ultimately better preparation for a successful season. The veterans and superstars attend and lead these sessions to show their leadership and to teach the younger players and the rookies the ropes. And its almost cardinal sin for any rookie or young player to not attend every O.T.A. session. Great players, teams, and programs don't become great during the season; the time spent during the off-season, during those hot summer days on the field, in the weight room, and in the film room is where greatness takes shape.

Last Thursday, the Cabrini Connections' program conducted a session very similar one that an NFL organization would conduct. The General Manager, Head Coach, and Assistant Coaches hosted an O.T.A. session titled Volunteer Appreciation Night show our appreciation to the coaches who work directly with our players and directly and indirectly are the key to the overall success of the program. The Volunteer Appreciation Night was an 1 1/2 hour O.T.A. session that consisted of an full ice cream sundae bar and a discussion about the ups and downs of this season and ways to have an even better season next year. The type of Organized Team Activity needed to have a top notch program in which we put our players (students) in the best possible situation to become successful.

As the Head Coach, I think we had a great session and was able to discuss a lot of helpful information that I feel will contribute to even greater success next season. But although this was a voluntary session the numbers were not nearly where they could have been. We have nearly 80 coaches(tutor/mentors) in the program and there were only 4 that attended the session. There was an email reminder that was sent out earlier in the week and it asked all coaches to say if they were IN or OUT, and out of nearly 80 coaches, again there were 4 who attended, about 13 who communicated they couldn't make it, and the rest were 'no call-no show.'

Again, Cabrini Connections', just like the NFL's O.T.A.'s are voluntary, but a player, a team, nor can an organization can be successful or even put themselves in a position for a championship without each and every member of the team making the necessary sacrifices in the off-season.

~ONLY Together....Can We Go From good to GREAT!~

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Marquice Cole and the New York Jets Support Cabrini Connections

In today's economy where it's getting tougher and tougher for non-profit organizations and other businesses stay above water, the New York Jets are stepping up in their support of Cabrini Connections. On July 16th the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection organization will be hosting our annual Jimmy Biggs Memorial Golf Benefit at the Highland Park Country Club. This is and has been one of our biggest fundraising events for years, and we are hoping this event assists us with getting the necessary funds and resources needed to continue to provide the services for the Cabrini Connections' youth and volunteers.

Chicago's own Marquice Cole spearheaded the support from his New York Jet teammates. Marquice Cole who was a standout player at Northwestern University as a lock down defensive back, fearless special teams player, and considered by many as one of the fastest football players in the country, is fulfilling his dreams of playing in the NFL as a member of the New York Jets. On his official visit to Northwestern University we had an opportunity to hang out and have been pretty good friends since that initial meeting.

Being a Chicago native and a former resident of the Cabrini Green community as a youth, he put himself on the right track to become a graduate of Northwestern University. Mr. Cole not only understands the the many obstacles that youth face in Chicago's inner-city, Mr. Cole also understands the hard work, dedication, commitment, and the importance of getting an education that is needed to reach the many goals that youth have.

After a brief conversation with "Quice" via facebook, I was telling him about the Cabrini Connections' program and our annual golf benefit that is quickly approaching, and asked if he would be willing to support in some way. Quice, who remembered his days a Cabrin Green youth, without hesitation, responded with "Yes!" In less than 24 hours Mr. Cole not only got a football and autographed it himself, he was able to get autographs from 'basically the whole team' and delivered the football to the Cabrini Connections' program last evening. The New York Jets include players such as Linebacker Vernon Gholston, shutdown DB Lito Sheppard, 1st round draft pick and potential NFL Rookie of the Year Mark Sanchez QB from USC, and of course Marquice Cole!

The Cabrini Connections' staff truly thanks and appreciates the support from Marquice Cole and the entire New York Jets' organization of the annual Jimmy Biggs Memorial Golf Benefit and the CC, T/MC as a whole. While some people do great things for their hometown and earn the 'key to the city,' Marquice already has the 'card of NU' and with his continued support of Cabrini Connections and other tutor/mentor programs in the city of Chicago he may one day earn the 'key to the city' as well.

Charles Hill: Student Reflection

First year student, Charles Hill reflected on year at Cabrini Connections through the our Student and Volunteer History and Tracking System (SVHATS) and I wanted to share this Cabrini Connections' supporters!The Year end dinner was great, I was not expecting to get ""Most Motivated"" award and since this was my first time there,I would love to experience this again next year. I plan on doing more things around Cabrini and to help Cabrini Connections, i'm planning on working more on guitar, maybe next year i'll even play a song. Nice work for Savon Clark a close friend of mine for winning the Jimmy Biggs award. Also Ana Tate who seems great at singing, I think she would be a great help for a singer when I start a band. Also EL Da' Sheon, Chris Warren, Jen King, my tutor Szu Han, you are the ones who have influenced me the most in winning the award for most motivated, without your help in the program I wouldn't be as motivated as I am now. I'd probably be lazy.So I want to say thanks for everything.Anyways, I've had a great experience this first year at Cabrini Connections and I plan on going there for a very long time. Until next we meet, I shall be taking my leave. Good Luck Cabrini Connections staff, mentees, and mentors.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2009 Super Bowl Champion, Pittsburgh Steelers, Support Cabrini Connections

As the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection organization prepares for one of our biggest fundraisers of the year, several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers lend a helping hand. On July 16, 2009 we will be hosting our Annual Jimmy Biggs Memorial Golf Benefit at the Highland Park Country Club. After a fun-filled day of golf, the group will then head in-doors for the evening events that will include dinner, cocktails, and a silent auction that will be filled with a variety of great items.

This year we are proud to announce that members of the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers have added their support to this year's golf benefit. #79 Trai Essex, of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former Northwestern University star, provided a football out of his personal collection and got several of his teammates to autograph the football to support the Cabrini Connections' program. In October of 2008, I attended a charity event hosted by former Pittsburgh Steeler Alan Faneca at the Jerome Bettis Grille 36, which is owned by former NFL Great, Jerome Bettis.

I was out in Pittsburgh visiting my friend and former teammate Trai Essex, for the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants, and at the charity event I was informing Trai about what I do here in Chicago at Cabrini Connections. And following the conversation Trai provided me with an autographed football and we discussed how the football would be used to benefit the Cabrini Connections' program and youth that participate in the program. After further conversation I decided one of the best ways to use this donation would be to include it as a silent auction item for the next Jimmy Biggs Memorial Golf Benefit. The football has autographs from the following players: #86 Hines Ward, #83 Heath Miller, #79 Trai Essex, #78 Max Starks, #99 Brett Keisel, and about 7 other key members of the Super Bowl Champion team!!!

The Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection organization would like to thank Mr. Trai Essex and the entire Pittsburgh Steeler organization for their support of our program and the 2009 Jimmy Biggs Memorial Golf Benefit!!

You don't have to be a NFL player or a Super Bowl Champion to support the golf benefit. You can support the golf benefit and the Cabrini Connections' program by becoming a sponsor, registering a 4some to come golf, you can register as an individual golfer, attend the evening events, donate a silent auction item, or simply by donating to the organization.

Monday, June 08, 2009

2009 Year End Dinner!!!!

The Cabrini Connections' staff could not have asked for a better ending to the 2008-2009 tutoring/mentoring year! Last Thursday we hosted our annual Year End Dinner, and it was a GREAT event! Not only was the event an overall success, thanks to everyone who came out to support and be a part of the celebration we had a record breaking 200+ in attendance!!!

I want to take the time out right now to thank every student, staff, volunteer, parent/guardian, board member, donor, and guest who made the event possible...and successful! Thank you!

The event started a little different from previous years by starting off with the dinner. As the guests ate and chatted with those around them, we officially kicked off the event with a documentary Cabrini Connections that was a project of the Youth Leadership Council. This documentary not only captured the essence of what Cabrini Connections is all about, but it was a great start to a great event.

Following the documentary, Year End Dinner Coordinator, Courtland Madock and the student emcees led us into the heart of the night. We heard from two of the MANY Cabrini Connections' alumni, Kenneth Chatman and Jonathan Summers. Although both were lost for words at times as they spoke, we appreciate their commitment and dedication to the program and thank them for being willing to share their "Cabrini Connections' story" with us.

Next we had 8th grader, Ashaunti Roby, who came up and shared a very emotional poem that provided the group with a glimpse of her personal feelings and why she is the strong young woman that she is today! The Writing Club Coordinator (Jen King) and students...and even Dan got into the mix and shared a skit with the crowd. They did a great job and they received a very big applause for their work. Lastly, 6th grader, Ana Tate blessed the crowd with a very inspirational song and Yolanda Hyles, Breonca Hyles, Cierria Tharpe, and Shante Sanders ended the performances with a very nice dance performance.

Following the alumni and the student, several parents who expressed their thoughts about the program and how the program has not only affected their children, but the family as a whole. Mr. Clark (father of Savon Clark), Ms. Rhodes (mother of De'Sean Hale), Ms. Wright (mother of Arden Harris), and Asaca Fisher (aunt of Marquita Fisher) all had nothing but kind words to say about the program, the staff, and how the Cabrini Connections' program is a needed and wanted program for students and family members alike.

Following the speeches, the Cabrini Connections' 2009 graduating class received their Senior Graduation Dollars and a very special gift of a 2008-2009 Year Book. The seniors and their mentors received the very first copies of the year book. The Art Club got into the action as well by raffling off some of the many art pieces that the students have been working on the last couple of months. There were students, parents, board members, volunteers, and many other people who had lucky raffle tickets and received some great art work!

We ended the night on a very positive note, several students earned some much deserved awards.
Most Motivated:
Charles Hill and Dominique Dobbs
Most Improved:
Ashanti Anderson and Marquita Fisher

Best Overall Academic Achievement:
Marcus Burks and LaFaye Garth

Jimmy Biggs Citizenship Award:
Savon Clark and Yolanda Hyles

Everybody who made the night and the program possible were recognized and 1st year volunteer Mike Ozmeral was recognized for his fundraising efforts throughout the year. And Mike showed that he truly cares about the program by donating his prize of a gym membership back to the organization as a silent auction item for the annual golf benefit.

We closed with President/CEO and myself not only discussing some of the year's highlights and what it took to make the 2008-2009 a success, but we discussed what it will take to make the next year and the following years be successful as well. We need everybody who is and who could be a part of the Cabrini Connections' family to step up and contribute to the program. From the students, parents, staff, volunteers, donors, board members, to other program supports; we are going to need an even bigger effort from everybody involved to have continued success!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

NFL Player and Current NU Alum Supports Cabrini Connections!

The Cabrini Connections' program is always looking to share the Cabrini Connections' story in hopes that others will take an interest in what we are doing here and then ask the question "How can I get involved?"

Less than an hour ago I posted a new status encouraging people to attend and/or support the 2009 Year End Dinner. Within minutes of posting that comment former Northwestern University and NFL football player...and my first roommate at Northwestern, Austin King replied to the comment that I posted:

"Shank, hey I think I will come to your dinner this week... I would like to see you and the organization. I will be gone here and there for the next couple of months, but I would love to start doing what Zak does starting in August or September. Holla at your boy."

I want to thank Austin King for being willing to support the Cabrini Connections' program...and maybe more importantly, the youth that benefit from the program! Hopefully others will follow Austin's example.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Upcoming 2009 Year End Dinner

Thursday June 4th, the Cabrini Connections' program will be hosting our annual Year End Dinner event! This is an event that takes place at the end of every tutoring/mentoring year that brings together students, alumni, potential students, mentors, staff and donors together and their guests, for an evening filled with food, entertainment and celebration of another great year at Cabrini Connections. Courtland Madock, who was the Volunteer in the Spotlight during the last week of our official tutoring/mentoring sessions, along with her Year-End Dinner Committee have put together what will we hope will be a truly memorable night and will provide the momentum needed for the summer and a successful 2009-2010 year!

The Year End Dinner is an event for those are, have, or would like to be a part of the program, and is a great opportunity to meet many of the people who make this program what it is. The 2008 Year End Dinner truly great and I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite program events of the year! The event is not only filled with the people who make the program possible, but the event is filled with so much emotion it really lets you know how much this program means to so many people. And as the Administrative Coordinator of the program it reassures me that we are making a difference in the lives of those who are connected to the program.

And this year's event should be as fun and as powerful as the previous ones. There will be students serving as MCs, there will be parents speaking, volunteers speaking, staff speaking, alumni speaking, entertainment from the youth, and much much more that the 2009 Year End dinner!!! Another special treat is our Youth Leadership Council will premiere a short documentary about the history of Cabrini Connections, shot with the assistance of professional videographers Matt Lauterbach and Dinesh Sabu. The theme of this year's dinner and the 2009-2010 tutoring/mentoring year is "Hope, Build, Believe, and Achieve."

If you would like to be a part of what will should be a GREAT night, you can easily RSVP online here, so please join us. The dinner will be taking place at the Cornerstone Academy banquet facility, which is located at 1111 N Wells. Dinner will last from 5:30-8 and those over 21 will continue the night at Spoon, located across the street at 1240 N Wells St. Hope to see you there!

For More information about the Year End Dinner visit the website.

*pictures from the 2008 event*

Savon Clark: Working For Cabrini Connections

Well, some of you have seen me do “work” around Cabrini Connections, like putting the little trash cans into the big dumpster cans or something like that, and are probably wondering why I am doing it. Well lets go back to November when the Youth Leadership Council was assembled. I was voted on to the council along with 5 other people, and out of the six of us I was the only one who could represent Cabrini connections at the Region 2 meetings every month. So every since the elections in November, I have been to a Clean and Green event and to the Health Fair with region 2, (which were great events). Region 2 has also given the representatives an opportunity to earn a stipend, but the one condition was that we had to work 5 hours every week at our agencies (or for me that would be Cabrini Connections). That is only a part of the reason why I am “working” around Cabrini Connections.

The main reason why I am doing this work is because it is a good feeling when you have the chance to make an impact, not only in your program, but in the region that your program participates in... it's amazing!!!

Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference

On May 28th-29th the Tutor/Mentor Connection side of the organization held it's 30th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference at Northwestern University's Law School. For those who have never attended or who don't know what this event is all about, this event that takes place in May and November is really an opportunity for people who truly care about the importance and need of tutor/mentor programs to come together to share ideas, techniques, skills, and resources to enhance our own knowledge and our respective programs, businesses, and organizations. The event was filled with great workshops, panel discussions, keynote speakers, and formal and informal conversations that can and will hopefully lead future partnerships and collaborations.

Hopefully throughout this week attendees will be debriefing about their experience at the conference and will be sharing their own stories through various face to face conversations, emails, and through blog articles so that the power of the conference can be felt even by those who could not attend.

I personally felt really good after walking out of the conference! Unfortunately, I was unable to attend every workshop and I'm sure I did not have a personal conversation with every person who was present, but the people that I was able to connect with and the workshops I did attend I feel very good about.

Thursday morning's keynote speaker, Jeffery Fields, kicked off the conference in a big way. Just his personal story alone of growing up in Humbolt Park and living in an abusive household and going on to now having a successful life after having two of his brothers killed not only caught the attention of every person in the audience, but provided me with even greater hope that each and every student in the Cabrini Connections can succeed in life.

Following the keynote speaker I had the opportunity to start attending the various workshops that were provided. The workshops I selected were because I either felt that I could obtain information that we could benefit from having in our organization or because I felt that I was not as knowledgeable in a certain area and felt that I could strengthen my skills professionally by attending that particular workshop. And that is exactly what took place. There is not one person in this field or this world that knows everything, but at the Leadership and Networking Conference we have the opportunity to get information that we may not have, connect with people we may not already know, and use this opportunity to all get the valuable information needed to become even better professionals.

On Friday I not only had the opportunity attend the Media Panel that started the day and again visit some of the workshops that were provided, I had the pleasure of actually sitting on a panel. Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection's Board Members Steve Miller and Kurt Kittner(former NFL quarterback), former Northwestern University football players Chasda Martin and Torri Stuckey, and myself provided the "Engaging Athletes, Business Leaders, and Celebrities as Advocates for Volunteer-Based Tutor/Mentor Programs" panel discussion. This panel discussion was really not intended to share football stories and stats and/or our accomplishments in athletics, we discussed how we all used resources such as tutor/mentor programs, sports, and even just a positive role model in our school or neighborhood to assist us all to getting to our respective professions today. We then provided information on how those who attended the panel can not only connect with other athletes but how these athletes can help them in their respective programs.

Unfortunately, I had to depart the conference following the panel discussion, but I'm 100% sure that the remainder of the day was again filled with resourceful workshops and speakers. Although the Leadership and Networking Conference was a great opportunity for people to all come together and share information and ideas, it's what take place in between this conference and the next that will determine how successful and useful this opportunity was. Are people not only taking information back to their respective places of business and sharing the information that was obtained at the conference to those in their networks; hopefully attendees are building upon the relationships that were established as a result of the conference.

Over the weekend and throughout this week I will not only be sharing my experiences such as what I'm doing now in this blog, but I will be following up on any and all of the individual conversations I had with those that I met at the event. And hopefully as a result of attending the May 2009 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference I can grow professionally and as a leader of the Cabrini Connections' program, and I can continue to assist others with their efforts, in their programs, businesses, and organizations as well.
~See You ALL in November~