Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dead Diamonds

We don’t have to ask ourselves why there are so many children being killed in Chicago, we know why. Poverty, poor education, lack of substantive opportunity, historically underserved communities. The only real question we have to ask is, what can I do about it? We have these untapped minds and bodies (throwaway children) going off with no direction, it’s no wonder why their life path often leads them to drugs, violence, imprisonment and sometimes premature death.
To me they, the neighborhoods, represent untapped diamond mines and our children are diamonds in the rough. The ones we read about in the paper I call Dead Diamonds. The is a lot of information currently online and in the paper about Blood Diamonds and the hardships faced in Africa over the mining and eventual theft of their natural resources. However the only time we talk about the hardships facing our children is when we read of another one dying senselessly and the other one who killed him.
Not too long ago, I came to the conclusion that something had to be done. I had already raised my children in quant Fairfax County, Virginia. I believe I made good choices in their rearing and it proved true as they transitioned into adulthood. My children are emotionally stable, mentally stable and successful in their careers. It is my estimation that what got them there were positive role models, real opportunities and access to technology. With that in mind, I set about trying to make a difference in other children’s lives. You all know the story, I came to Chicago, opened a technology center in an underserved community and engaged the youth and other disenfranchised citizens with information, training and technology that they would otherwise not have access to.
Although I was able to touch a few lives, as one man, I didn’t have the resources or time to make a big enough difference. I ran out of money and soon my store had to close. But during the time I was in business, I saw the results of my efforts flourish in the children who had an opportunity to see something different. My efforts pale in comparison to the years of work put in by one Dan Bassill. For over 30 years, Dan has championed the cause for tutors and mentors for “our” children. Dan is white and somewhat amazing. The programs he has put together, Cabrini Connections has impacted the lives of over 4000 children from Cabrini Greens and the surrounding area and Tutor/Mentor Connections has provided services and information to tens of thousands of children in poverty stricken communities. Cabrini Connections is were we run our tutoring and mentoring program and the Tutor/Mentor Connection has resources that support your own involvement in volunteer based tutoring/mentoring can provides valuable information for anyone interested in doing the same in Chicago, or in any other city in the world.
Please take the opportunity to consider what you can do in order to stop the flow of Dead Diamonds in our streets. Trust me, as one person, you can make a difference. We need your support, if you have time please consider volunteering some of it to Tutor and Mentor a child in your area or here. If you don’t have the time, consider giving a donation to one of the programs in your area or here. In lieu of either just give some consideration to the many children who are in trouble and need help. Talk to those you know who can help and ask them to give a hand up or even a handout.

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