Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cabrini Connections Bake Sale - How do you get Volunteers and students more involved?

This past Saturday, on Halloween, Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection hosted a bake sale organized by one of our students, Melissa Young, and her tutor/mentor, Elena Lugo. At the beginning of this school year, when there was a distinct possibility that Cabrini Connections would not be able to stay open through the 2009-2010 school year, students, volunteer and staff came up with ways to raise money. I raised money by running the Chicago Marathon (which is still live and taking donations through January 1st, 2010!) El Da'Sheon Nix, our administrative coordinator, and Kurt Kittner, one of our board memebers, created a Northwestern-University of Illinois Challenge to see which universities alumni could raise more money before the Northwestern-UofI football game. Mike Trakan, our GIS and Mapping Coordinator hosted a mapathon. We also had the TRW hill challenge, hosted by a former Northwestern football teammate of El's - Matt Ulrich, which raised over $6000 at last count.

While we truly appreciate everybody's efforts in fundraising for our organization, we were especially impressed that one of our students decided to take the initiative and organize a fundraiser herself. Melissa decided that she was going to host a bake sale on Halloween. She got the word out to our volunteers, students, and staff through SVHATS and we had many volunteer tutor/mentors and friends of Cabrini Connections bring in delicious baked goods. My boyfriend Nick and I helped out, but most of the organizing that day was done by Melissa and Elena. We also had nine of our students help out by standing on Chicago Ave. And Halsted St. holding signs beckoning people to come into Cabrini Connections and buy delicious baked goods. The bake sale was a great success! People were coming in off the street as well as buying baked goods while they were in their cars, stopped at the stop light. Also, many of our friends and volunteers came in to buy the baked goods as well. Overall, we raised $328, which was a lot more than we had expected to raise. Hopefully other students will take Melissa's initiative and organize fundraisers of their own.

In the coming month, we will have more fundraisers hosted by volunteers. On Sunday November 22nd, one of our volunteer tutor/mentors, Sarah Randag (also in our volunteer spotlight this week!) will be hosting a wine-tasting for Cabrini Connections at Cellar Rat Wine Cellar. Only 15 spots are left and it's $25 admission to find about wines that go well with turkey and other Thanksgiving food staples. During the holidays, one of our college zone volunteers, Stephanie Rogers, will be hosting a card-writing fundraiser by sending holiday cards written to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. For each card sent, $1 will be donated to Cabrini Connections.

Volunteers can be a great source of other services than tutoring and mentoring and fundraising as well. At our November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, Timothy Hogan, of the Royal Order of Experience Design will be doing the lunchtime keynote on Thurday November 19th. He was once a volunteer tutor and mentor but had to stop due to being too busy with his job. However, he did stay in touch with the Tutor/Mentor Connection through our monthly newsletter. Mr. Hogan realized that he could volunteer in a different way - by using his expertise in technology to help rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Connection website. He also has helped recruit other volunteers as well to help tutoring and mentoring programs with their technology needs. This is the perfect example of how volunteers can help out non-profits not just by volunteering directly with the service they provide (such as being tutors and mentors at organizations such as ours), but also by offering their professional expertise in technology, accounting, legal advice and much more. As Mr. Hogan demonstrates, even if you can't help out once a week as a volunteer tutor/mentor, there are still a variety of ways that you can help at-risk youth succeed simply by offering your professional skills to a grateful organization.

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