Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Resolutions!

Hello everybody! I hope everybody had a great Holiday and are gearing up for a fun and festive New Year's Celebration! I had a wonderful time back in Oregon, despite a couple of weather-related airline delays.

With a new year, comes new year's resolutions. My personal resolution is to get back into shape and run in the Chicago Marathon in October. My boyfriend, one of our best friends, and I are all going to run to raise money for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. I feel it's a great incentive to not only get into better shape but also to contribute to a cause that I feel very passionately about.

Speaking, of creative ways of donating to worthy causes - Facebook Causes is doing a wonderful job of making donations more exciting and fun. Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection is a Facebook Cause (you have to have a Facebook account to view the cause and donate) and we're currently trying to raise $2500 by January 8, 2009 in order to get a matching donation. I, myself have already donated $25 and encouarage everybody else to donate too to reach our goal. Currently we need $2415 to make our coal, so please take a little bit of time and give even a little bit of money so that we can continue to help at-risk youth succeed.

Another cool feature with Facebook Causes is the Birthday Cause. Next week is my birthday, and in lieu of gifts, I have asked all of my friends to donate to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection in order for us to reach our donation-matching goal.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Hello Everyone! I'm about to head out to go pick up my younger brother at the airport. We're heading home tomorrow for the week, but I hope to keep posting while on Winter Break.
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all about what a great time I had at the Sun-Times Judge Marovitz, Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth awards ceremony on Wednesday. It was so wonderful to see all the programs I've worked with for the past year-and-a-half being honored for the good work they do. I am also, so incredibly grateful for their generous donations to both Cabrini Connections and Tutor/Mentor Connection.

One of my favorite things about that night, though, was getting to talk to the other programs about the possibility of visiting them before the school-year end. After discussing with several of the board members of the Lawyers Lend-A-Hand Foundation, as well as other program leaders, about how we can make Tutor/Mentor Connection even better in 2009, I've decided to hopefully visit all of the programs listed before July 1st 2009. My goal is to not only see what the good work they do, but also to help them learn more about what Tutor/Mentor Connection can do to help them. I will also be asking their opinion on what they think Tutor/Mentor Connection needs to do in order for it to be even better. I'm very excited about the possibility of this.

Anyway, I wish everyone safe travels this Holiday Season and a very Happy and Restful Holidays!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Bridge Youth and Family Services, Holiday Benefit Concert tonight!

I'm always happy when I read about other tutoring and mentoring programs in the news. Amongst talk of the Illinois governor's troubles with the law and the failure to come to an agreement on a bailout for the three main automobile manufacturers, I was absolutely delighted to see one of the programs that I have worked closely with featured in the Chicago Tribune today, The Bridge Youth and Family Services in Palantine. The article discusses their wonderful work with youth with mental illness - which is a very important and often forgotten issue. What it neglected to mention is their Youth Advocacy program, which matches youth ages 7 to 15 with a mentor for at least one year. Their Youth Advocacy program is one of the many ways that The Bridge helps family in need. I'm also happy to highlight a program out in the suburbs, since there are many great programs in the suburbs, such as The Bridge that act as wonderful examples for programs throughout the world.

I also would like to take this moment say thank you to The Bridge's Mentor Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Dobrzynski, and the Supervisor of the Prevention and Volunteer Services at The Bridge, Nancy Kukankos for taking time out of their busy schedules to present a workshop at our November 2008 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on Evaluation Strategies. Their workshop got rave reviews and I so appreciate all the time and effort they put in to help other programs become better. I've put up this photo before, but it's one of my favorites of the conference. Liz is in the center and Nancy is on the right. Katherine Moone, the Program Director of another fantastic program, East Village Youth Program is on the left.

Also, don't forget. Tonight is our Holiday Benefit Concert! It's at Schuba's, 3159 N. Southport (corner of Southport and Belmont) from 6-9 pm. The concert features Trakan, The Howling Poppies, and Black Collar. Admission is $30 and includes one drink. Come ready to have fun and listen to some great music!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More exciting December Events!

I want to first of all thank everyone who came to the Krem event last Friday, December 5th. I know I had a lot of fun and I really appreciate all the efforts John Knight put into making the event a success. Thanks also to all of my friends who came as well (you know who you are) and lended support to a great cause!

This week we have another fun-draising event (oh dear, my apologies for the terrible pun). This Friday, December 12th, Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection is having a Holiday Benefit Concert at Schuba's Harmony Grill, 3159 N. Southport, from 6-9pm. The bands include Trakan, led by our GIS and Mapping Coordinator, Mike Trakan , The Howling Poppies, featuring our Assistant Program Coordinator and 2008-2009 NUPIP Fellow, Chris Warren, on drums, and Black Collar, local, Chicago hip-hop group. Chris, Mike, and our Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator, Cassina Sanders have been working tirelessly to make this concert a success. It's $30 for three hours of great music (I've seen both Trakan and The Howling Poppies in concert and they're awesome! And, I'm not just saying that because I work with them).

And just a note as your dedicated Tutor/Mentor Connection Research and Networking Coordinator to programs looking for creative ways to make money- a benefit concert is a great way to make money, especially if you have talented employees such as we do:)

If you would like to donate, but can't come, you still can do that! Just go to our PayPal page, and make your donation. I'm sooo excited about the Holiday Benefit Concert and even if you can just come for an hour, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December brings fun events to help out at-risk youth!

One of the things that I always stress in the three volunteer recruitment panel discussions that I've had at the last three conferences is that you need to make the tutoring and mentoring experience fun. It's one thing to be able to attract volunteers, but it's another to keep volunteers coming back year after year. Volunteering as a tutor and/or mentor can be one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do. (Read Chris's blog by the way, for a great story about one of our volunteers, Joe Alvorsen, who I think exemplifies what a great opportunity being a volunteer tutor/mentor can be). However, it can also be tough when despite all your efforts, your student is not wanting to pay attention, make an effort, or even show up. That's why it's always a good idea to have events where volunteers can get together and have fun.

It's an even better thing when you can make fun events like bar nights into fundraisers like we had back in October with Martini Madness or in April with the bar night at Schuba's. And even better yet, is when a volunteer will take the initiative and organize the fundraiser on their own volition. That's what John Knight, a first year volunteer tutor/mentor has set up a bar night this Friday, December 5th at Krem, which is at 1750 N. Clark St., on the corner of Clark and Lincoln.

As the Tutor/Mentor Connection Research and Networking Coordinator, I love to share best business practice ideas with other programs who ask for help. Often they have to do with how to train volunteers, recruit kids, and evaluate success. But, I've also heard from a lot of programs who are wanting to know about fundraising ideas. What has been working out pretty well for us is encouraging our own volunteers to help us fundraise. In helping out other programs, I often encourage them to make the volunteer tutoring and mentoring experience a fun one. But, I now will especially encourage programs to encourage their own volunteers to help fundraise and organize events such as the one we're having this Friday.

So, if you're interested in having fun and having the money you will probably spend otherwise on drinks go to a good cause, come to Krem, this Friday, December 5th from 8-10:30pm, 1750 N. Clark St. Admission is $35 for all you can drink or eat .

Details soon about our benefit concert, next week at Schuba's.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Join the Tutor/Mentor Connection Event Planning Committee!

Hello everyone! I hope you had a pleasant and restful Thanksgiving weekend.

It's always nice for the staff at Cabrini Connections to tell you what a great time we had at the November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. However, I think it's especially rewarding, when I read the comments on the conference evaluations and see what the people who attended thought of the conference. Here are just a couple of the comments:

“Great conference! I learned a great deal today!”

“I feel the workshops were all beneficial to my program. The individuals who I met, I hope we truly are able to collaborate. The Field Museum was a beautiful location.”

“I did the most networking I’ve ever done at this conference. You’ve done a great job in nourishing that.”

As the Tutor/Mentor Connection Research and Networking Coordinator, part of my job is to make sure that we have good customer service. One of the ways I hope to build on these positive and enthusiastic comments is to create a Tutor/Mentor Connection Event Planning Committee. The response was very positive at the conference, and I already have a couple of people interested in making Tutor/Mentor Connection work for them (because that's what Tutor/Mentor Connection is really all about), who have signed up for the conference committee. If you are interested in having a say in what Tutor/Mentor Connection does for you, leave me a comment!