Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: John Knight

This week Cabrini Connections is excited to put our volunteer extraordinaire John Knight, in our volunteer spotlight. Since joining us earlier this year, besides being a fantastic mentor for his student Darius, John has thrown himself 110% behind our organization, helping draw all sorts of necessary resources to our program, volunteers, dollars and even some clocks and mugs that help to keep us both caffeinated and on time! This past Friday, John threw a benefit party at Krem, a Lincoln Park nightspot, that made us a considerable amount of money, while at the same time getting the word out about our organization! In addition, as soon as John started here as a tutor, he brought 2 friends into the fold as well, Mira Miller and Levan Williams, with whom he has started a Monday night tutoring session.

John traces his desire to help develop at-risk youth to his upbringing. Both his parents, growing up in the south, had a deep sense of unity with others and a profound desire to help others in need. From his commitment to his mentee Darius as well as Cabrini Connections, it is clear that he has taken these lessons to heart. In fact, this is not the first time that John has mentored at-risk youth. During his college years at Butler University, where he played Wide Receiver on the football team, his fraternity emphasized 3 core values: brotherhood, scholarship and service. For the service component, John did everything from mentor youth at a local school, Short Ridge Academy, to assisting at a halfway house. However, in determining a particular moment that inspired him to really get involved with youth, he points to a series of weekly reading comprehension sessions he got involved in with the Butler Black Student Union. Here, he met with a single student every Saturday for a half-day to develop both reading and life skills. It was here that he realized the impact of a one-on-one mentoring relationship. He worked with this child, who was very shy and socially isolated from the rest of his classmates, to develop self-confidence along with his reading skills and most importantly, was able to see marked improvement as the weeks went by.

Here at Cabrini Connections, John has been working with his student Darius, a very intelligent individual, to develop similar skills. For instance they have been working on defining short and long term goals and working steadily to achieve them. They have been working together on improving Darius’ reading and writing skills so that Darius will have a better chance to enter Lane Tech College Prep, a competitive area magnet school. As a former college football player and member of the highest ranked flag football team in the country, Sudden Impact, John is also in a unique position to help Darius balance his academic concerns with his desire to play high school football.

When he’s not spending time with Darius, John is a pharmaceutical sales rep for Novartis, where he has worked for the past 4 years. He decided to specialize in hypertension drugs after seeing the impact of high blood pressure on his family members and seeing how certain drugs on the market can greatly improve the quality of life of those who suffer from hypertension. In fact, if everyone were as committed to the success of our youth as John, everyone’s blood pressure around here at Cabrini Connections would probably be significantly lower! Thanks John and keep up the great work!

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