On July 6th, 2009, my first day at Cabrini Connections, the first day of the 2009 Edgewood College Experience, I was greeted by three students: Savon Clark, Sean Mayfield, and Charles Hill. They welcomed me with open arms and we clicked right away. At that point, I had no idea how great of an experience working at Cabrini Connections would be and how much I would get to know these three young men and so many others over the course of 132 tutoring sessions, 19 Youth Leadership Council meetings, eight college visits, and more.
Two years later, here I am again with Savon, Sean, and Charles (above) at the 2011 Edgewood College Experience. They are juniors in high school now. Sadly, however, where they once welcomed me in, they are now seeing me off. Yesterday, July 15th, 2011, was my last day at Cabrini Connections. I was laid off due to the organization's continued financial struggles. Over the last 20 pay periods dating back to September 2010, the staff has been paid in-full and on-time only six times. Next week's Golf Benefit could make or break the organization.
While it has been a tough year and I am sad to see it end like this, I am proud of our accomplishments and I know I personally have learned a lot from everyone I worked with at Cabrini Connections - especially my "partner in crime" EL Da' Sheon Nix. Together, we led a program that won awards from the Department of Family & Support Services Youth Division in 2009 and 2010 for being the best mentoring program funded by the City of Chicago and we had five seniors graduate this year who are all headed to college in the fall. Not too bad, eh?
Thank you all for keeping track of the program on my blog (I had 5228 absolute unique visitors!) and thank you for reading all of my stories (This is my 217th blog post!). I hope they made you smile, and laugh, and think, and reflect. Major cities like Chicago will always have thousands of youth in need of educational and financial assistance. A tutoring and mentoring program like Cabrini Connections can change a young person's life. I've seen it happen. Please continue to support nonprofits like this one with your time and dollars. We are all a part of the solution. One love.