Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Long Time No Post!

It's official, I'm the worst blogger ever. Actually, I have a very good excuse for not posting any blog posts as of the past 6 weeks. At the end of November, our program coordinator left Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection for a different position and for the meanwhile, I've been working on finding her replacement. This has been no easy feat, as we had over 100 applicants for the position and from that 100, I conducted around 30 phone interviews. The good thing is that we have many candidates with wonderful qualifications and who were extremely personable on the phone. I look forward to meeting them in person starting next week. Even though only one person will get the job, our goal is for all of the people who applied to maintain contact in some way with Cabrini Connections.

One of the ways that we're introducing is to be a part of our May Tutor/Mentor Conference, which will be held Thursday May 29th and Friday May 30th at Northwestern Law School in Downtown Chicago. For the first time at this conference, we will be having a Jobs Table where people can find out about jobs in tutoring and mentoring non-profits and will be able to submit resumes. This is yet another step in linking tutoring and mentoring organizations in Chicago together and to raise awareness about tutoring ane mentoring as a whole.

As for the Fellowship side, we had our first seminar since Winter Break. It was very interesting, Walter Boyd from the organization Protestants for the Common Good spoke to us about the difficulties of being an ex-offender and the oppoprtunities that they will have. Stemming off of the meeting we had this fall with people from the North Lawndale Employment Network, which helps ex-offenders find jobs, we were finally able to meet ex-offenders and here there stories about the tragedies and triumphs of being ex-offenders.

I'm glad we had this seminar because recently I had been thinking about how difficult it is to turn certain people's lives around. This came from two things: one was an article in the Chicago Tribune updating readers on the lives of the three ex-offenders featured in a previous article who were trying to turn their lives around by working at a beeswax company called Sweet Beginnings, run by the North Lawndale Employment Network. The more recent article featured how the three ex-offenders have all fallen back into the prison system and are no longer with Sweet Beginnings. As someone who is working in the realm of social justice it is disheartening to hear how these men who had so many possibilities to turn their lives around, but didn't because it was too easy to go back to the streets.

The other recent incident that made me take pause was in a conversation with two of our students about whether selling drugs is a viable form of employment if all else fails. I gave many of the standard arguments: the amount of jail time for selling drugs, the severity of drug-related offenses in our legal system, the difficulty of getting back to a normal life once you have been behind bars - something that I'm sure the two ex-offenders would echo. I became frustrated when they told me that "I just don't understand" (for obvious reasons.) When I posed this dilemma to Mr. Boyd during our seminar, he told me that all of the things I told them were perfect and that for a lot of young people, the only thing you can do is to counteract the negatives of easy money from the streets, with the positives of a good education, maintaining family and friends, and the possibility of an even more lucrative and good-for-society type of job. Which reminded me why I work for Cabrini Connections in the first place.

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Nicole's article illustrates how important it is to help kids in poverty get the education, inspiration and aspirations they need to go through school the right way, on their first try. Kids who drop out, get pregnant, get in trouble with the law, get into gangs, etc. all have a more difficult time getting their lives back on track once they reach their 20s and 30s.

Building a Pipeline to Careers, starting with kids in elementary school, is the goal of Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and there will be hundreds of jobs and career opportunities in Chicago and in other cities if we can build business support and investment in this strategy.

Read about this at

Bring a group to the May conference and build this into yoru own organization's vision.