Mission Moment: How Does DREAM Help You?

BY: Jennifer Horan, Regional Director

Every March the DREAM development team enters a season we lovingly refer to as, “Grantpocalypse,” a 1-2 month period in late spring when our calendars are filled with multiple grant application due dates. During this time, my over-caffeinated brain is humming with qualitative data, program outcomes and various other evaluative measurements demonstrating the impact of our mission to prospective funders. What these statistics don’t measure, though, are those random and beautiful “mission moments” that help validate why we do what we do.

Recently, on a blustery February Friday, our Program Director, Jay MacFadgen, walked up the block to Beckett Gardens Apartments to visit the mentors and kids during programming. Inside he found Temple mentor, Zena and her mentee, Nolen. The two were face to face, engrossed in conversation and sucking on lollipops. Jay took his phone out to take a picture, but decided to record a video instead. His question for Nolen was simple…”tell me why you like DREAM.” This was his response…

Nolen wasn’t prompted, and we weren’t fishing for a sound bite. He spoke with the unrestrained honesty of a child when asked how he really felt about DREAM, about the mentors, about his Zena. In the end, this is what we call a mission moment. It’s a simple yet poignant reminder that our work isn’t validated by statistics or grant awards, but by an 8-year old boy whose day is better because we’re in it.

Ice Skating and the Art of Learning

BY: SAM MIHELICH – Program Empowerment Director

Our Cecil B Moore site took upon themselves a challenge at the beginning of the year. They decided that they wanted to get off-site at least once each month. They’ve been on the college campus, to the zoo, and more, always having new experiences to look forward to and chances to learn. This last Friday we went ice skating, and we saw how mentoring and learning work in tandem!

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Aboard the Broad Street Line, Sean (left) whispers to the ear of Will (right), a Temple University mentor serving our DREAM site at Cecil B. Moore

The confidence of a kid learning a new skill is incredible. One of the boys started off shaky, hugging the rink’s wall for the first 15 minutes. By the time we were done, he was skating in circles. I went to tell Sean how proud I was of his improvement, to which he responded with, “Yeah. I know.” and then continued to talk about how excited he was about sliding around on the ice. To Sean, this wasn’t a question. He knew that he could improve and he gave it his all, confident in himself and the mentors to help him learn.

When a young person has support to try new experiences, they flourish. Our mentors and kids have grown through these monthly trips, and it’s been so cool to hear them talk about the relationships they’ve built while learning new things!