Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Make 2011 a Year of Serving Others

Happy New Year!! 2011 has officially started as has National Mentoring Month!

Among the most common New Year's Resolutions in the U.S. is to volunteer to help others, which is obviously a laudable goal. It is wonderful that many many people are making the resolution this year to help those in their community--in the form of both time and dollars to programs and organizations they find valuable.

Yet as we all know, sometimes our intentions to make big changes in our lives drop off a few weeks into a new year. I was reminded of this fact yesterday when meeting a friend for coffee. The usually packed Starbucks I went to was nearly empty. When I commented on this fact to the barista, he noted: "Yeah, people always make New Years Resolutions against their coffee addictions. We'll get busy again around March."

It is ironic that the patterns at at a nonprofit like T/MC are kind of the reverse of Starbucks. People tend to give to us more around the holiday season and near the first of the year when they are focused on what is "good for them and good for the community," and then the donations let up in the months after. Similarly, while we start out each year with the best of intentions for positive changes, we often fall back into old patterns after a few weeks. I hope those of us who resolve to volunteer and invest in our communities in 2011 will stand by these goals for the entire year.

As you can see from this calendar of events made by T/MC, tutoring and mentoring programs operate based around a similar annual calendar of events throughout the year. Programs need ongoing support all year round to keep operating. You can see an animated version of this calendar on the Tutor/Mentor Institute site.

To kick off 2011, I've created a calendar of international, national, and local events that might serve as reminders and reasons to support your community tutoring/mentoring programs throughout the year. Add these events to your calendar as reminders of opportunities to join with others across the country and world to volunteer your time, give a monetary donation, or show your support for tutoring and mentoring programs in your community. I hope keeping these dates in mind will enable us all to have a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2011.

ALSO: For those who have New Year's Resolutions related to bettering your health, read this report on the Health Benefits of Volunteering.

Resolve to Do Good in 2011:


National Mentoring Month:
Find a program in your neighborhood (click here if outside of the greater Chicago area), then visit the program's website. After you learn more or find a program you can see is doing good, commit to becoming a volunteer or give a donation!
January 17:
MLK, JR. Day of Service: Join with thousands of other Americans in a day of community service.
January 25: Thank A Mentor Day:
Post a message of gratitude to your personal mentors!

African American History Month: The 2011 theme is 'African Americans and the Civil War.'
February 14: Valentine's Day:
Read about 14 Charitable Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day.
February 21: President's Day:
Learn about those recognized by the President's Volunteer Service Award and keep track of your personal volunteer hours.


Women's History Month:
See how mentors are giving girls a model for success in Chicago.
March Madness:
Get in the spirit of the Big Dance while supporting Cabrini Connections with Cabrini Madness!
March 2: Read Across America Day:
The National Education Association calls for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult today--a great reason to become a mentor!!!


National Child Abuse Prevention Month:
Support mentoring organizations that work to provide nurturing adults role models in the lives of kids.
April 10-16: National Volunteer Week 2011:
April 18: Tax Day:
Admittedly, this day is not usually cause for celebration. But be sure to make tax exempt donations to 501 (c) 3 non-profits (Shameless plug: Our tax ID is 36-3893431 and
donations are greatly appreciated!)

National Foster Care Month:
Find opportunities to mentor youth in foster care
Older Americans Month: Read about the Benefits of Community Service for Senior Citizens
Spring Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference: Help us make sure that this event on our calendar comes to fruition in 2011. Join the online conference planning forum and become a conference sponsor!
May 8: Mother's Day:
Give a donation to help kids in honor of your mom!
May 30: Memorial Day: Honor lost loved ones through a life of service, and learn about how returning veterans are engaging as community service leaders in their communities.
May 31: World No Tobacco Day:
Read the abstract of this study to learn how substance abuse goes down amongst lower income adolescents who are in a mentoring relationship with an older adult.


Tutor/Mentor Programs Ending for the 2010-2011 Year:
Celebrate along with programs for their work with kids during the 2010-2011 school year. Be sure to look out for Cabrini Connection's Year End Dinner as well as similar celebration ceremonies throughout the country.
School's Out for Summer!:
Find opportunities to help in programs mentoring youth and keeping kids engaged and learning during the summer months (check out Camp of Dreams for one such program!)
June 19: Father's Day:
Honor your dad through a donation or through your service to a tutoring/mentoring program.


July 4: Independence Day:
Celebrate our country by investing in its future! Visit Volunteering in America to learn about civic engagement in the U.S. and let it inspire you to volunteer in your community.
Jimmy Bigg's Memorial Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection Golf Benefit: (date TBA): Don't miss this fun opportunity to tee up and support our work with Chicago's youth!


Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment Campaign:
In preparation for the start of their 2011-2012 season, tutoring and mentoring programs all over the country are recruiting volunteers. It's the perfect time to find a program and become a volunteer tutor or mentor! Also look out for fun ways to support programs while drawing visibility to these organizations through events like Tutor/Mentor Jam.
August 12: International Youth Day This day recognizes the efforts of youth in improving global society while encouraging youth to become increasing involved in service work. Invest in the futures of youth by becoming a mentor role model, an academic tutor, or giving generously to a program serving these kids.


School Begins and Tutor/Mentor Programs Begin!:
Find a program and get involved as a volunteer, donor, or business supporter.
September 11:
National Day of Service and Remembrance: Make a difference on 9/11 by exploring charitable causes that need your help.
September 15-October 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month:
Explore tutoring and mentoring programs that focus on Latino youth in Chicago or other cities like Casa Central.


October 2: International Day of Nonviolence:
In honor of Gandhi's birthday, this day calls for nonviolence in all communities. Read Dan Bassill's articles on stopping youth violence through mentoring programs for at-risk youth.
Martini Madness: (date TBD):
Raise your glass to the work of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection at this annual fundraiser event!


Fall 2011 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference:
Help us make sure that this event on our calendar comes to fruition in 2011. Join the online conference planning forum and become a conference sponsor!
November 6-12: Tutor/Mentor Week in Chicago:
In 1994, then Mayor Richard M. Daley officially proclaimed this as Tutor/Mentor Week as a means to call attention to the good work tutor/mentor programs are doing. Learn about the history of this campaign and become involved!
November 16:
GIS Day: Support Mapping Solutions and the use of innovative mapping technologies to connect adults and ideas to inner-city kids.
November 24: Thanksgiving:
Give a thanksgiving gift to a program helping youth!

Year End Holiday Giving Drives:
During this season, programs all over the city are calling upon the generosity of their donors. Please give what you can!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for pulling this list together. Each of these National events offers the opportunity for people in different cities to organize events that use the national media to draw more attention, volunteers and donors to local programs. This represents millions of dollars of potential advertising for each city, if we can learn to harness it effectively, and point it to programs in all neighborhoods, not just the few programs that have the most visible brand names or who are supported by celebrity leaders. In Chicago the maps and Program Locator hosted by the Tutor/Mentor Connection make it possible for volunteers and donors to learn about programs throughout the region, and to see where there are voids that need to be filled by new programs.

    Each year these events will repeat. If local networks work to draw this attention to the programs in their city , the impact of these campaigns will grow from year to year and help every program get volunteers and donors and keep them growing in their own involvement.