“I’m a Dream Leader … I have to help people now.”
Despite the hard work of his single mother in raising J.L. and his siblings, J.L. experienced a difficult childhood. In order to ensure that his family always had enough to eat, J.L. would regularly shoplift. He was heading down the wrong path. That was until he attended his first Dream Leader Conference.
Dream Leader Conferences are programs created by Dreams for Kids in which at-risk youth and children with disabilities are brought together with their peers for the purpose of learning and helping others.
After opening up and sharing his difficulties at home during the Dream Leader Conference, J.L. began the process of becoming a true leader. In discussing his old practices of stealing, J.L. said, “I’m a Dream Leader now. That isn’t what a Dream Leader does. I have to help people now. There are so many people who need more than I do and I have to help them. I need to be a good example.”
Attending a Dream Leader Conference provided J.L. with a new worldview. Following the conference, J.L. went out and put on a fundraiser to help drill a well for a small African village. This well would provide fresh water for the villagers rather than having them walk six miles each day to get buckets of dirty water from a pond. Upon receiving the first dollar from his fundraiser, J.L. stared at the money in disbelief. It was real. J.L. realized he was a Dream Leader now, and he could truly help people in need.
J.L.’s experience with Dreams For Kids is relatively typical. Kelly, another attendee said of her experience, “In a sense, Dreams for Kids has given me special powers to make the world a better place… I can now put smiles on children’s’ faces, so I can put a proud smile on my face.”
It is not easy to put on Dream Leader events, and that is where the Investing In Communities innovative real estate model comes into play. In 2011, Michael Pink, a broker with MAP Real Estate, was asked to represent Urban Partnership Bank in a lease for its new downtown branch and offices. Pink got this assignment by pledging 15% of his commission to IIC, so that Urban Partnership Bank could provide funding for local charities of its choice. Through a random drawing, 15 different charities were chosen to receive different amounts of funding. In total, they received $42,000, including $5,000 for Dreams for Kids. (Read all about the drawing in IIC’s next blog post).
(Bill Lowry of Chicago Community Trust)
The impact of this $5,000 can be seen in different ways. The unrestricted funds could be viewed as helping fund two extra Dream Leader Conferences with 16 attendees each. Another way to view the donation is that the $5,000 provides an opportunity for 32 J.L.’s to mature. Thanks to Investing In Communities, and Urban Partnership Bank, and Pink, 32 at-risk and disabled youth will be given the opportunity to gain a whole new world view and begin to do good for the world.