Thursday, December 18, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: Carl Hurdlik

Carl Hurdlik, this week’s volunteer in the spotlight, is a true veteran volunteer. In fact, he’s been with Cabrini Connections longer than any other volunteer or employee except Cabrini Connections Founder and CEO, Dan Bassill! Throughout his past 10 years mentoring Cabrini Green youth, he’s been able to develop mentoring relationships with a handful of youth, helping them avoid common pitfalls and keeping them on the right tracks to success and careers. He’s obviously picked up a few things during his last decade of youth work, and this experience makes him a valuable resource to his fellow mentors. He constantly goes the extra mile to assist Cabrini Connections staff, volunteers and other students by enthusiastically participating in our programming. For example, this past weekend, he not only came out to our holiday benefit concert on Friday night, but was at our center bright and early Saturday morning to help out with our 7th and 8th grade high school information session.

Carl’s dedication to youth extends beyond the walls of Cabrini Connections. He works for the Chicago Public Schools as a Community Relations Coordinator, informing schools, parents, churches and community groups about ways they can collaborate with CPS to create a better, more nurturing learning communities for their children. In fact, he recently put together a community forum at Skinner Elementary, where we were able to get the word out to the local community about our programs and hopefully recruit some new kids! He took this more administrative position after beginning his career as a teacher and originally got involved in mentoring youth to get more direct contact with students he enjoyed so much as a teacher.

Carl has been mentoring Romel Newell, a 9th grader at Noble St. Charter School since he was in the 7th grade. Throughout the past 3 years they have developed a great relationship, seeing each other often outside of tutoring sessions. Carl has also made an effort to reach out to Romel’s family, with whom he talks at least once a week, just to see how things are going. His relationship with Romel’s family began a few years ago when Carl chaperoned a trip to Ireland with Romel’s older sister, Tatianna, who was also a student at Cabrini Connections.

It is clear that Carl takes his mentoring role seriously, he says “I treasure the one-on-one mentoring relationship. I’m not a parent, but it gives me a taste, especially as I’ve moved into the mentoring role.” Working in the Chicago Public School system, Carl knows how at-risk youth from communities like Cabrini Green are used to adults falling in and out of their lives; for this reason he strongly encourages his fellow tutors to “always consider your responsibility and commitment to these kids before starting a relationship because many of these kids already have so little consistency in their lives to begin with.” In the end however, he is hopeful that others find “the satisfaction of volunteering and believing you are making even a small difference” as rewarding as he does and that for this reason, programs like Cabrini Connections will continue to make a difference and flourish despite all adversity!

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