***This post was created a few weeks ago, but was "saved to draft" and was never published...I'm new to blogging...don't judge***
On May 19 and 20, Tutor/Mentor Connections hosted its bi-annual conference in Matteson, IL. Leading up to the conference, I did not know what to expect or how it would look like, but I was optimistic about a good turnout. I was not disappointed. The conference itself was much larger than I had anticipated, and everyone I met during those two days were very excited about participating and were very open to discussing their own organizations and about how to improve on what they do. The conference itself consisted of multiple rooms with workshops being held by organizational leaders from a variety of backgrounds, and featured a wide variety of topics ranging from how to utilize online media to better your organization, to legal issues surrounding Illinois tax laws, to alternative methods to engage children in tutoring/mentoring programs. I personally enjoyed the workshops that I attended, and highly recommend anyone who is interested in becoming involved in tutor/mentor programs as an organizer or even as a volunteer, to participate in these conferences.
At lunch on the second day, I sat with a group of individuals who were discussing the struggles that face non-profits working with children, sharing stories about behaviors that the children displayed, and educating a young woman about where to send her resume and about whom to contact to get her foot in the door. This young woman was interested in getting involved in the field of working with children from under-privileged backgrounds in Chicago. I began realizing that this was in part, what the conference was all about: spreading information between leaders from multiple organizations, and sharing that information with people who want to make a difference. Who knows, perhaps that young woman will start up an organization that will go on to help many children in need, all because she was given an opportunity to network at this conference. Every story has that moment where the individual became informed and got their foot in the door, and this conference was definitely a great breeding ground for those moments to occur.
Apart from all the great things that occurred at the conference, I must ask one question, why does it have to take place at a conference? To put it more simply, why can't this exchange of information and ideas occur on a daily basis through sites such as this one? Over the past few months, I have come to realize the value of this massive amount of information that Tutor/Mentor Connections shares through their websites, but the discussion regarding this information needs to occur more frequently and needs to involve leaders and future leaders to be able to make an impact on a large scale. I encourage anyone reading this to spend a moment reading through some of the discussion topics and to contribute in any way that they can to keep the conversation alive. Whether it is as a comment or just bringing up the conversation at the dinner table or at lunch with your co-workers, spreading the information about the importance of tutor/mentor programs in the fight against poverty and crime is the foundation for change.