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.