Monday, March 16, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes, one of our veteran mentors, has been working with youth at Cabrini Connections since 2002. He originally got involved through his friend Mike Jozwik, another one of our veteran tutors, with whom he was doing improv comedy at the time. Their troupe was known as Flambango and has performed all around Chicago including at Second City and The Apollo Theatre. Though Hayes eventually transitioned into a less active role, his partner in crime Mike Jozwik remains active in the troupe. Though they no longer perform comedy together in front of an audience, they recently took center stage at a slightly more serious event a couple weeks ago. The two Mikes, in an attempt to foster more camaraderie and collaboration among the mentors at Cabrini Connections, put together a mentor “Bull Session” that took place after tutoring on both Wednesday and Thursday nights. There they facilitated a ‘mentors-only’ round table discussion where they encouraged their fellow mentors to share effective strategies and resources that they have discovered or developed through their years of combined mentoring experience.

In his 5+ years with our organization, Mike has worked with 2 students, recent high school graduate Kevin Cordero and up and coming 8th grader, Christian Palacios who is occupying the student spotlight position this week. In fact, Mike’s mentoring must have played a role in Christian’s nearly perfect 985/1000 CPS selective enrollment score. Discussing the wide variety of subjects that he and Mike work on together, Christian explained “He’s good at everything!” During his tenure at Cabrini Connections, he has not only built strong relationships with his 2 mentees, but he also met and married his current wife, former Cabrini Connections tutor, Susan Avery!

In addition to mentoring Christian, Mike is also a member of the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection Executive Board where he serves as secretary, constantly trying to build resources for our organization and kids all over the city. With his law degree from Marquette University and work experience in fields ranging from litigation consulting to his current business development job with AIG commercial insurance, he has developed the skills and networks to be a tremendous force for Cabrini Connections.

In fact, thanks to Mike, over a dozen of our most active students had the opportunity to savor a free 8 course meal last week at one of the finest restaurants in the country, Charlie Trotter’s. Mike reached out to a friend and got us on the list to participate in the Charlie Trotter’s Excellence Program, which gave students a chance to learn more about the culinary arts, etiquette and of course enjoy a gourmet meal! About the experience Mike says “It was great! It was fun to see each student’s reaction to the courses,” which included such delicacies as steamed eel wrapped in banana leaves, poached quince and Pickering Pass Oysters. Needless to say, the students, volunteers and staff of Cabrini Connections are lucky to have such an experienced and dedicated mentor/board member in Mike Hayes! Keep up the great work.

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