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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
ACACIA Frathernity recognizes T/MC leader
By tutormentor2 @ 1:58 PM :: 8910 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Testimonials to tutoring/mentoring, Volunteering and Service
 
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"I am an Acacian. I am Proud of it."
Alumnus spotlight - Dan Bassill, Illinois Wesleyan '65

Dan Bassill, IWU '65That's a pledge I took in 1964 when I joined the Acacia Fraternity at Illinois Wesleyan. Through four years of college my participation in this fraternity helped me mature as a leader, and helped me expand my ideas of social justice and the way we can influence what happens in the world. I've stayed connected to the fraternity ever since and when I formed Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, two of my fraternity brothers were there to help me.

One helped me with the legal documents of becoming a non profit, and introduced me to Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, who came to speak to our kids in spring of 1993. Judge Marovitz became the catalyst for starting the Lend a Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Foundation in late 1993. This group has grown to become a major funder and advocate for volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring in Chicago.

Another helped me build a relationship with the PR firm of Public Communications Inc. During the summer of 1993 PCD helped me build the strategy for the T/MC, then from 1994 to 2002 they were the pro bono PR partner helping us communicate this strategy through the media.

Since 1993 we've been supported by many other members of the Acacia Fraternity of IWU and one was even a volunteer, resulting in one of our students attending and graduating from IWU in 2003. More than $50,000 has been contributed by these fraternity brothers and their family members, making this a commitment of time, talent and dollars.

Dan Bassill has a big goal: Every kid who walks through his door will be in a career of their choice by age 25.

ON TUTOR/MENTOR CONNECTION:
  • The program has its roots in a tutoring program for elementary school students started by Montgomery Ward, the retailer whose headquarters were adjacent to Cabrini Green, in 1965.  Bassill was an employee, and volunteered in the program, eventually becoming the leader in 1975. Cabrini Connections was formed in 1992, as an organization to serve students from 7th to 12th grade. The program now serves about 80 kids a year, with nearly 100 volunteers from all around the city. In addition to tutoring and mentoring, they also offer arts, writing, and video projects, as well as college and career counseling.
  • While we started this program in 1993 to serve 7th to 12th grade teens, its roots extend back to 1965 when a small group of Montgomery Ward employees began to provide tutoring/mentoring to 2nd to 6th grade Cabrini Green kids one night each week. I joined that program in 1973 and became its leader in 1975. From 1975 to 1992, more than 3,000 kids and 3,000 volunteers were engaged for one to 25 consecutive years.
  • We started Cabrini Connections in 1993 with seven volunteers and 5 7th to 9th grade teens and since then, more than 480 teens have participated from one to 7 consecutive years, along with more than 650 volunteers. These people are the most directly connected to the T/MC and what it does. Some of these volunteers helped us create the T/MC. They continue to help raise the money it takes to operate the T/MC and Cabrini Connections.
  • One of the things we've learned is how difficult it is to motivate/discipline/reward people for taking the time to document what they do. This has been made more difficult by not having the funding to staff this project consistently since 2000 to innovate the enhancements that might have made it easier or more rewarding for people to document.
ON SOCIAL NETWORKING:
  • There are so many different tools emerging that it's impossible to keep up, thus, you've mentioned many things that I'm not aware of. I'm not a techy person myself. I see concepts and see innovative ways to use them. However, until I find people with time/talent to put these ideas to work, they just remain good ideas.
  • I think the growth of these social network circles creates a different problem and potential. There are more and more places where people can go to network and get information, while the time to learn and network online still is limited by a 24 hour day, and the other priorities that people have. Thus, if we're trying to draw on the wisdom of crowds, we're first going to need to figure a way to attract large numbers of people to places where we can draw upon this wisdom.
  • Based on the current trend there will be dozens, or thousands, of places where you can go to network, learn, make a donation, be a volunteer, etc.
  • It will be a challenge for people to figure out which SN sites are the most productive.  Those who provide ways to do this may be the leaders in the next stage of the growth of social networks. I predict a fierce competition among hosts, for the limited participation time that is available.  I fear that this will benefit those who have the ability to innovate and the resources to put ideas in to actions.
Join Acacia Online!
Digital CommunicationsHave you found Acacia online yet?  You can find us on Facebook (over 1200 members!), LinkedIn (career networking with over 500 alumni), YouTube, even Twitter!  While you're catching up with old brothers and getting the latest news, please take a few minutes to update your membership record online.

The size and accuracy of our membership database grows every week, but we need you to play your part!  Update your inf
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