Friday, December 31, 2010

Make a Move

It's the last day of 2010 and we've had a great year at Cabrini Connections. My favorite moments include the Year-End Dinner, our college visit to Northwestern University, and our recognition by the City of Chicago as the top mentoring program. Thank you all for reading my stories. I wrote 117 blog posts this year and I always get comments from friends and family members who say they've read them. I consider you a part of Cabrini Connections' extended family and I appreciate you keeping us in your thoughts.

If you would like to make a year-end financial contribution to the organization, you can do so on my fundraising page here: I'm raising money to help cover one month's rent at our tutoring center in 2011. It takes $5300 a month just to keep the doors open, but what goes on inside those doors is priceless. If you haven't seen my walkthrough video before, I've included it below.

Happy New Year to you and yours. See you in 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

All in a day's work

Last Thursday, EL Da' Sheon and I attended a Delegate Agency Meeting & Recognition Luncheon for the City of Chicago Department of Family & Support Services Youth Division. You may remember, last year we won an award "For Outstanding Performance in Youth Development." Well, this year, we were honored again, "For Outstanding Performance in Youth Opportunities." Of all the programs funded by the city for mentoring, we are the best! Thank you to every student, volunteer, staff member, board member, and donor for making this possible. I hope you will continue to support us as we go for a three-peat in 2011!

On Thursday night, we held our last tutor/mentor session of the quarter. It was an "open" session for the holidays, meaning students could bring food and play games if they chose to, or continue working as usual. Attendance continues to be fantastic and both students and volunteers finished at over 85% for the quarter. (Our goal is 80%.) Listen to holiday messages from our students below.

A parent called at the end of the night to warn her daughter about a shooting in Cabrini Green on Cambridge Avenue where they live. Two fellow students ended up walking her from our center to the area. A policeman had to walk her the rest of the way to her house. It is stunning to think that someone was being shot at on the other side of the bridge while we were celebrating the holidays at 800 W. Huron. It is a sad reminder of why programs like Cabrini Connections are still needed in this area and in high-poverty areas around Chicago. Mike Trakan's recent series of maps does a good job of picturing this situation. I recommend viewing them on his blog here.

Thanks for reading. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Student Spotlight: Carmenlita Jackson

Carmenlita Jackson is 16-years-old. She says she was “weird as a kid” and has “made people laugh” all the way from pre-school. At her graduation, when they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she jokingly said, “a mommy.” Her mother and grandmother in the audience laughed and rolled their eyes.

Presently, Carmenlita attends Dunbar Vocational Career Academy in the Douglas community area. As a freshman, she didn’t like it too much; as a sophomore, she was an honor roll student; and now, as a junior, she says it’s hard again, “but I’m going to get through.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

Youth Leadership Council Meeting 12/2/10

Youth Leadership Council held its second meeting of 2010-2011 on Thursday, December 2nd. Two projects were on the agenda: creating a suggestion box and stuffing holiday mailing envelopes. Cierria volunteered to take the lead on the suggestion box, which is intended to be a place where students and volunteers can anonymously suggest, criticize, or praise programs and policies of Cabrini Connections. Cierria created the box after the meeting, during her tutoring session. It is now located on top of the supply cabinet.

For the bulk of the meeting, Cierria, Savon, Melissa, and I stuffed, labeled, and stamped envelopes for our 2010 Holiday Appeal. We had a great assembly line system allowing us to get several hundred envelopes put together, which were later sealed and mailed by a volunteer during the session. Thank you to all the Youth Leadership Council members for helping out during this labor-intensive meeting. At the next and final meeting of Fall 2010 on Thursday, December 16th, we will decide on a group project for winter quarter and begin planning.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Student Spotlight: Cierria Tharpe

17-year-old Cierria Tharpe is a senior at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center. This is her SIXTH year at Cabrini Connections and she has been with the same mentor, Diana Restrepo, the entire time. “She listens to me,” says Cierria. “I can go to her and tell her anything. She’s like family to me.” It sounds like their relationship has grown to a great place, which is now especially useful because Cierria is going through the college admissions process.

“I’m ready for college,” she says, “but I’m in that phase where I don’t think I can get in.” Cierria was on the honor roll in grammar school, but she wishes she had done better in high school. Her recommendation for students headed to high school is: “Don’t loose focus… Get your work done or you’re going to make it even harder on yourself.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Lindsay Devick Richardson

Lindsay Devick Richardson was born in Downers Grove, a western suburb of Chicago, as the youngest of three girls. She went to small elementary and middle schools (about 60 people in each), but she went to a huge high school (600-700 people)! She says high school was a lot of fun, she was big into sports (volleyball, track, and gymnastics), and it was nice to feel a part of something.

Next, Lindsay ventured to a school with more than 20,000 people: The University of Tennessee. “I wanted to try something different than my little bubble,” she says. It took a long time for Lindsay to figure out her major, but eventually she chose journalism. (Read: You don’t have to know what you want to be right now!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reader contest

Cabrini Connections continues to have its best fall quarter in some time. Last year, attendance for students and volunteers the week after Thanksgiving was 71%. Can you guess what it was this year?

Leave your guess as a comment and the person who's closest before Friday will win two free AMC Movie Theatre passes!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Miles! You are the winner! The correct answer was 89.4%. 67 out of 77 students and 77 out of 84 volunteers attended sessions and clubs in Week 11.