Saturday, April 18, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Abers

22 year old Michael Abers is our youngest mentor at Cabrini Connections, he’s also been one of our most motivated and enthusiastic. Coming to Northwestern University from sunny Ft Lauderdale, Florida, he knew immediately that he wanted to get involved in the lives of at-risk inner city youth. He had participated in a youth tutoring program through his high school, Pinecrest School, known as Breakthrough. During his involvement with this program he tutored/mentored a middle schooler named Jessie, which turned him on to the idea of making a difference in a child’s life through youth tutoring and mentoring. Thus when he came to Chicago to study biochemistry, he also got involved in a handful of community service groups on Northwestern’s campus. In fact, upon arrival to Chicago he had the idea of starting a youth tutoring program in Cabrini-Green, which he had heard was a very high need area, and after doing a little research, Michael was pleased to discover that there were already organizations like ours putting his idea into action.

Seeking to make a difference, Michael spread the word about our organization at the fall activities fair and sought to put together a vanload of students who would volunteer weekly at Cabrini Connections. After a couple months of frustration, being matched up with a student with very erratic attendance, he was paired up with Aarion Woods, who attends Von Steuben Magnet School. They have been working together ever since, building a trusting and supportive relationship. Recently they have been focusing on ACT prep, since Aarion is a Junior and will be taking the ACT in less than a month. Michael has been making his own worksheets and creating lesson plans to work on with Aarion to introduce new concepts and review old ones, always giving Aarion something to take home and work on between sessions. Working with Michael has inspired Aarion to enroll in a free supplemental ACT prep course led by Cabrini Connections Volunteer Thomas Reuter. Michael is convinced that Aarion will be well-prepared come test-time and that his primary obstacle will be his lack of confidence, which they are working to address.

By the way Michael and Aarion have been able to get to know each other and quickly build a constructive mentoring relationship, it’s clear that Michael has a knack for working with youth. Fortunately, his postgraduate plans involve going to medical school to study pediatric neurology. In the meantime we’re glad that he’s decided to share his talents with Cabrini Connections, which he calls “is a great program with great facilities, good resources, good mentors and tutors, good people running the program and good students.” Thanks Michael for all you do and keep up the great work!

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