Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Showing impact

We feel the best way to judge the impact of Cabrini Connections is by the response of our teens and volunteers. If they show up each week and continue to participate from year to year, that show us we are providing a valuable service.

However, we're looking for other ways to show value and we post reports on the Stats page of the Cabrini Connections web site each week that anyone can review.

This Student Character Survey for 2009-10 has just been posted. It shows "strengths" of our students, which we feel the program helps enhance.

You can few three reports on the Cabrini Connections web site.

2009-2010 Student Satisfaction Survey Analysis Report

2009-2010 Volunteer Satisfaction Survey Analysis Report

2009-10 Student Character Report

As you view these reports and view the videos and blog articles we hope you will become a fan, and a supporter, providing your own time, talent and dollars to help us continue this work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Status of Cabrini Connections...

Last week during the tutoring/mentoring sessions we cut our regularly scheduled announcements and shared some pretty upsetting news. The staff, Volunteer Coordinators, member of the Youth Leadership Council, and Mike Hayes (veteran tutor/mentor and Board Member) took the time out to inform all that was present that the financial situation in the organization is at one of the worst places since the program started. This news was something that the staff and Board members have known and have been working towards fixing for months now, but following our November Staff Meeting, we decided that this was news that all in the program should be made aware of in hopes that everybody would be willing to rally together in an effort to obtain the necessary resources to keep the doors of Cabrini Connections' open.

In a small volunteer based non-profit program like Cabrini Connections, it is safe to say that we need everybody being willing to take ownership of the program and being willing to be advocates. With having 4 full time staff and 2 part time staff we can only do so much to get the word out, but with having nearly 80 current students and nearly 100 volunteers in the program that has the potential to reach thousands and thousands of people that may be interested in not only hearing the "Cabrini Connections' Story" but they may be willing to contribute to this story having more and more chapters.
Although we are going through some very tough times financially, I not only felt good leaving the center at the end of the sessions; as one of the leaders of the program...I felt proud of the positive response from both volunteers and students. We had a number of students and volunteers share ideas about ways in which to get the word out and we even had two Thursday night students kick off the FUNdraising Campaign by donating some cash themselves!!! There were tons of ideas thrown out and here are a few:
*Holiday Banquet
*Use the Cash for Gold service
*Phone raiser (donating used electronic devices)
*More people participating in writing grants
*Matching program from various companies
*Selling candy bars and other candy
*Various tournaments (ex. Flippy Cup)
*5K run/walk in Lincoln Park
*Talent show and Penny Jar
*Utilize various websites (Donors' Choose and Charity Navigator)
and MANY MANY more!!!

One of the basic ways in which everybody in the program can assist with getting the word out during the holidays is by using the annual Holiday Appeal letter that is located on the homepage of the website. We have made over 100 hard copies along with the request form, but we are encouraging all students, volunteers, and anybody else that is looking to assist with getting the word out, to personalize the letter by talking about your own personal experience in the program. And one of the easiest ways in which people can contribute is to donate online using this link.
Again, it is unfortunate that we had to share this news about the financial status of the program, but unless we get more and more people out being willing to share the "Cabrini Connections' Story" with those in their network in hopes that they will support...we will not be able to continue running this program that over 500 youth and over 800 volunteers have been a part of since 1993.

As the holiday season quickly approaches us there are many things to be thankful for and we believe there are many that can share stories about being thankful for being a part of the Cabrini Connections' program. Make an effort to share those stories. And many believe that "Tis the Season for Giving..." so hopefully you and others in your network will consider giving to a program that has meant so much to so many.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cabrini Connections' Students Are a Hit!!!

This past Tuesday 3 Cabrini Connections' students were standouts at the Red Shoe Review Silenct Auction at UIC. Victoria Rivera, Dominique Curtis, and Marquita Fisher shared their time and talents by performing some select poetry and spoken word at this event. All three of the students did an amazing job!!!

The event took place in a small intimate type of setting, but the energy from the students, the guests, and the hosts of the event was great. Jessica Grant and Namrata Shah not only did a great job with putting this silent auction together, the entire Cabrini Connections' program is thankful for these young ladies selecting Cabrini Connections as the organization where the proceeds from the event will go. There was food, beverages, art, entertainment, and an overall positive event.

The total amount that was brought in from the event has not yet been determined, but should be tallied up very soon. Whether the amount brought in is $100, $1,000, or $10,000...the entire Cabrini Connections' program is thankful and appreciative of the gesture from this group of students from UIC. Hopefully the presence and performances of the Cabrini Connections' students at this event will lead to the guests of the event becoming even more interested in the the program and will lead to further support in the future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Student's Ready to Showcase their Talent!!!

Dominique Curtis and Marquita Fisher are posing in the photo with Alexi Giannoullias just before President Obama spoke in Hyde Park

On Tuesday November 16th from 4-8pm Cabrini Connections will be teaming up with Namrata Shah and Jessica Grant of UIC's Red Shoes Review to host a benefit event. All of the details are listed here. The actual building location has been determined and the event will take place in Room 121 of the Burnham Hall building located on the East Campus of UIC (near the Morgan and Taylor St intersection). Please call 312-996-7000, and an operator can give directions to Burnham Hall.

Below are a few of the poetic pieces that several of the Cabrini Connections' students will be showcasing at this event. Please take the time to read their work and hopefully their words and feelings will encourage you to make and effort to come out and be a part of this event or support the overall project from afar.

If you can't attend but would like to support this event, please make an online donation here

By: Dominique Curtis

Mommy, mommy. Mommy
I call out for you but you don’t hear
Mommy, mommy, mommy
I am filled with so much fear

Mommy, mommy, mommy
I touch you but you don’t feel
Mommy, mommy, mommy
I’m telling you I need you

Where are you mommy?
I don’t know why you’re leaving me
I’m looking at you
But you pretend you don’t see

Mommy how could you do this to me
Don’t you understand I am you’re other part
Mommy you don’t understand
Mommy you have no heart

You were not ready for me
That I understand
But what about what I was ready for
Mommy what about my plans

Who will speak up for those who can’t?
Who will be the voice for those without?
Who will hear the cry’s of the baby?
Who will see the tears of the child?

I see for those that are invisible
I stay for those who everyone leaves
I stand for those who can’t walk
I talk for those with no voice

(95%), are done as a means of birth control
Number of abortions per day: Approximately 126,000

It all starts at home
By: Dominique Curtis

Killing and dying, abusing and abused, raped, hurt and fill with the pain

It all starts at home when mommy tells you, you ain’t s***
And how much she hates you and regrets you
It all starts at home when daddy hits you and beats you
When he breaks you up inside and out
It all starts when hell is the place you call home

The problem is that homes are broken and no one’s listening and no one’s learning
You see everyday we see people lost to the streets
Gun shots missing and piercing the innocence of child
But you see we don’t change because we have become immune to it
The gun shots and deaths have become common nature

See but this starts at home
It starts with the little girl who was raped and abused when she was young
So when boys only wanted her for her body she didn’t know that this was wrong
And when she ended up pregnant at 15
She raised her child while she was still a child herself
And you see she still didn’t understand right from wrong
So she raised her baby girl the same way her mother raised her
Teaching her that her biggest power is between her legs
And that if a man hit her it was ok just deal with it
And the cycle just continues of young girls abused and raped
Blind to the problem in their situation

And see this starts at home
It starts with the little boy that was raised in a home where momma smoked and daddy drank
And daddy was the man he looked up to and followed behind
And so when daddy hit momma it was fine
And he was taught the only way to be a man and be define is by clutching a nine and committing crimes
And so when he got a girlfriend he didn’t see a problem with putting his foot on her face when she didn’t do what he said
Because this is what he was taught and how he was led
And the cycle continues of little boys not knowing how to be man
Blind to the problem in their situation

So you see the problem is
The respect we are being taught is turned and spun
Boys defined by tattoos and guns
Girls walking around with babies like hand bags and accessories
We have babies raising babies
Bad parents raising kids to be bad parents
And so we see kids killing kids and then we become kids killing kids because we don’t know any other way
See when we know better we do better but all we know is our hearts and souls
Which we were taught was define by our body and how many men we slept with
And our guns and how many people we kill
And so we can not change our future until we correct our past

We were never taught that our brain is the best thing to fight with
And our true potential lies in us not with what we have
Our true talents are not material things
And our true beauty is inside

So we need examples of good parents we need teachers
And I think you should have to take a class before you can be a mother
I think you should be a man before you can be a father
Because I find it painful to see the babies beautiful faces
Being brutally beaten and disgraced

See I think it should all start at home
When mommy gives you hugs and kisses
And daddy tells you he loves you
And this makes you feel so special
When your house is finally a place you can call home

I'm From...
By: Marquita Fisher (Quita)

I’m from Chicago and Cabrini Green
Where you hear gun shots
I’m from phony and backstabbing a** friends
Wanting to love and hate

I’m from home to home
Living with my friends
I’m from kids getting raped and beat
Police not doing s***

I from going home and hearing about girl X
I know yall heard about it
How she was raped, beat, and got poisoned

All on the news and on TV
Police lying saying they gone find them

I’m from don’t do that cousin please
To shut up and don’t say s***
I’m from my so called family
Where was they when he touched me

I’m from my so called daddy
Not being there for me
I’m from my mother walking out on me
And I have no place to go

I’m from Bam! A slap to my face
Blood dripping from my lip
I’m from mother sitting there
And not saying s***.

I’m from moving in with my auntie
And Kiera being there for me
I’m from seeing Kiera on Wednesday’s
In our laughter and goofiness

I’m from a place I could call home now
My auntie staying by my side
I’m from a better life now
Sleeping very safely

I’m from get up and get ready for school
6:00 got to get to get up
I’m from “have a good day at school
And be good”

I’m from “Marquita come in the house to eat”
Grandma’s cooking on a Sunday
I’m from who I don’t know?

Friday, November 05, 2010


"Good evening? How are you all doing today," (in the voice of a 7 year old)? "I AM ORLANDO CEASAR!" (in the voice that could be compared to the roar of a lion. This week the Cabrini Connections' program was honored to have Motivational Speaker, Orlando Ceasar, come in to share a little of his history and his life story, but a lot of how the students, volunteers, and staff can reach their many goals in life.

Orlando Ceasar was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago and said that his mother was on the "11 by 30 plan" saying that his mother and father had 11 children by the age of 30. Mr. Ceasar did an amazing job of talking about his youth and the ways in which he used his mind, the values he learned, poetry, and determination to assist him with becoming a very successful man.

One of the activities that he used during his presentation was a decision making tool that ANYBODY can use by using the word KNOW. He asked the group to come up with words that can be produced by using the 4 letters of the word KNOW. A few of the many were the words: won, ok, on, ko, now, ow and several others. Then students shouted out some of the decisions that they will have to make in life. Some students said, picking a college, picking a career, who to date, where will they live when they get older etc... Mr. Ceasar took the words from the word KNOW and explained how these words can be used for all of the Cabrini Connections youth and anybody else that have a decision to make.

He asked how much do you KNOW about the decision you have to make? What are the pros and cons of your decision. Who do you know that is in the career you want to be in, at the college that you want to attend, or how much do you know about the girl or guy that you like. Then asked what does it look like when you WON? He encouraged the group to envision success! He told the students they have to be ON at all times, and said that "when you are ON at all times there will be people there for you, doors will be open, and good things will happen because you are ON." He asked the group what are you doing NOW to reach the goals that you have in life, "You can't say you want to be a doctor in the future, if you are not willing to take the proper steps now to reach that goal." Another word he used was the word NO. He told the group that at some point in your life you are going to have to tell your friends, your family, and even yourself NO in order to reach your goals. Lastly he told the students that life can K.O. you if you are not prepared, so make sure to take advantage of resources and prepare for life.

The entire Cabrini Connections' program would like to thank Mr. Orlando Ceasar for taking out time out of his busy week, driving a couple of hours in traffic and bad weather, and volunteering his time to share some knowledge, insight, and helpful tips so that not just the students of the program but for the entire audience can be successful in life!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Benefit Event for Cabrini Connections.

The Red Shoes Review, UIC's Undergraduate literary journal, invites you to attend its first-ever silent auction. The event will showcase local works of art both students and artists in the larger community. The night will also feature musical and spoken-word performances. All proceeds from the night will benefit Cabrini Connections, a local mentoring organization that promotes higher education and creativity to inner-city youth. Students from Cabrini Connections will attend as special guests of the night. This is a great opportunity to meet and network with other. So we hope you join us for a night of great artwork, performances, and free snacks!

This event is being presented by Namrata Shah and Jessica Grant. These young ladies visited the program last year and helped students, volunteers, and staff in various ways. They have put this event together and decided to "give back" to the program from the positive experience they had while being here at Cabrini Connections. And everyone knows that "Once in Cabrini Connections...Always in Cabrini Connections!" For more information, or to make a donation of artwork for the silent auction, contact us at uic.redshoes@gmail.com

This event will take place on Tuesday November 16th from 4-8pm on the UIC campus. Official building location will be in Room 121 of the Burnham Hall building located on the East Campus of UIC (near the Morgan and Taylor St intersection).

Prospective students that will be showcasing their talent at this event will be Cabrini Connections' senior Victoria Rivera (Lincoln Park High School), junior Marquita Fisher, and new sophomore student, Dominique "Di Di" Curtis. Both student attend the Global Citizenship Experience. Hopefully you will make an effort to attend and show your support...and bring a friend or two!!!

Cabrini Connections' was Buzzing on a Monday Night

Most people who know about Cabrini Connections, know that the tutoring/mentoring sessions take place on Wednesday and Thursday from 6-8pm. But there is so much more taking place throughout the week that may go unnoticed. On Monday and Tuesday evenings we host several Enrichment Clubs and we also provide the opportunity for mentor/mentee pairs meet due to changes in their normal schedule.

On Mondays we offer an Art Club and a Video and Filmmaker's Club from 5:30-7pm, on Tuesday we offer a Tech Club from 6-7pm, and on Wednesday before the actual session we offer a Writing Club from 5-6pm. All of our clubs have dedicated and committed volunteer (and staff) leaders that teach the youth a variety of skills that could lead to current jobs/intern opportunities, and maybe even a future career.

Last night we had a lot of activity in the center with the clubs working hard, but we also had several Wednesday and Thursday night pairs working hard on a variety of academic and career based work. There were nearly 30 people present last night all working in various ways towards similar goals. And of the goals that was and is usually always universal here in the program, and that is the goals of learning something new, learning positive habits, and expanding your network.

We are an academic based program in the sense that each student should be bringing work each and every week to the program. But we are more of a program that looks to build and enhance the soft skills and positive habits to that any student that joins are program are prepared with the skill necessary pursue any career in the future.

But whether its a buzzing Monday night, quieter Tuesday night, or a packed house on Wednesday and Thursday nights....none of this can be made possible without the necessary resources. So instead of considering making a donation, consider making an investment. Invest in the future of our students today, who can and will be the leaders of tomorrow!

PS: PLEASE...if you read this article please post a comment or just let me know we have people actually reading these blog posts. Thanks SO MUCH!