The Blue Wagon
Alumni Newsletter – April 2012
Inside This Issue Amuse Bouche & Announcements Meet the Alumni Council - Frieda Arenos Meet the Board of Directors – Neil Groberg Birchwood Holds Kickball Fundraiser DREAM Doppelgängers
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AMUSE BOUCHE By Adam Goldfarb, Alumni Council President As we reach the end of the school year, I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming another class of new DREAM graduates to the Alumni Organization! If this is your first time reading our Alumni newsletter, please know that it’s our way of keeping you informed and connected to the program to which you devoted so much time, energy, and passion. And like all things DREAM, it's the product of a bunch of dedicated folks banding together to effect change and have a little fun in the process. If you'd like to contribute ideas or content, go ahead and contact me and I'll put you in touch with our editor, Brian Bensch. Also, new Alums: you've probably received the coveted yellow ALUMNI t-shirt by now. Cherish it. Enjoy the looks of envy from younger DREAMers as you show off your DREAM pride. And thanks for helping us continue to build and grow along with DREAM. The DREAMin's only just begun, Adam Goldfarb DREAM Alumni Council President 2012-2014 email@example.com
New Alumni show off their proud new schwag.
1. Camp DREAM is still looking for volunteers to spend a week at Camp this summer! In light of DREAM’s budget constraints this year, dozens of bright-eyed kiddos are going to depend on Alumni DREAMers like you to ensure they have the summer of their lives. In addition to the Volunteer Counselor positions each week, Camp DREAM is also looking to fill a few paid summer job openings in both Boston and Vermont. Check out the Summer Jobs page @ http://www.dreamprogram.org/resources/jobs.htm, and email Ashleigh@dreamprogram.org if you have questions. 2. Vote Today! All DREAM Alumni should have received an email this week announcing the candidates for the first ever Governing Bodies Initiative Head (GBIH). This elected member will become a full voting member of both the DREAM Alumni Council and the DREAM Board of Directors. The GBIH will be elected at large by the Alumni Organization and will serve a 2-year term, from April 2012 through April 2014. The primary responsibility of the GBIH will be to enhance communication between the Alumni Council and the Board by sharing updates, ideas, and opinions with each party, both verbally and in writing. Refer to the email for statements from the nominated candidates (A.J. LeGaye, Julia Risk, and Brian Bensch), and visit the link below to place your votes by Monday, April 30th! CLICK HERE TO VOTE 3. DREAM is still looking to hire our first ever Boston Regional Director. The Boston-based Regional Director will take the lead in driving DREAM’s mission in the Greater Boston Area, including growing our reach and deepening our impact. For more information, please see the full job description at http://dreamprogram.org/resources/BostonRD_11-12_final.pdf. If you have questions or are ready to submit a resume and letter of interest, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the Alumni Council By Frieda Arenos, Alumni Appeal Leader 1. Who am I? Name - Frieda Arenos Age – 25 Hometown - Delmar, NY Current Residence - Burlington, VT College - University of Vermont, 2008 DREAM Local Program - Elm Street Favorite Disney Character - Wall-E 2. Why did you originally join DREAM in college? I was intrigued by the yellow and blue DREAM t-shirts that I saw all over UVM campus. Once I found out that DREAM was a mentoring organization I signed up immediately because I had always wanted to be a mentor. I was lucky enough to grow up having mentors as a child, and I wanted to share what I had learned with others who were in need of a good friend. 3. What are you doing now? (Work, school, etc.) Are you volunteering outside of your job? Currently, I work for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in his Burlington office. I am the Vermont Constituent Affairs Coordinator. Anytime someone contacts our office by mail, phone or in-person, I figure out the best way to address their concerns. If they want to see a piece of legislation passed, I tell the Senator; if they need help accessing federal services, I help them obtain the necessary resources to do so. I also help work with the press and social media aspects of the Senator’s office by compiling daily news briefs and notifying the press team of important Vermont issues. Additionally, I help constituents obtain White House tours and flags flown over the Capitol. I also volunteer outside of work regularly. I still connect with my DREAM mentee weekly. I also read to a little girl once a week through the Everybody Wins Literacy Program at Edmunds Elementary School. I am a member of Chabad at UVM where I organize events with the students and weekly Shabbos dinners. I stay involved periodically with various organizations connected with the United Way. Recently, I helped run the Women Helping Battered Women’s annual Zumbathon which brought in 68 instructors from all over Northern Vermont and New York, and helped raise over $30,000 for education on domestic violence. For the past year since the spring and Hurricane Irene flooding, I have worked to revamp the Burlington sailing center and Lake Champlain waterfront as well as flood recovery zones throughout Southern Vermont. In the summers, I volunteer with the Burlington Concert Band, which brings classical music to the Burlington waterfront. We also play for senior homes throughout the North End and on Church Street for children and families. 4. Are you where you thought you would be this many years out of college? What are your “next step” plans? When I was in college I did not plan for the next steps after graduation. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, but unfortunately college ended very quickly and at that point, I found myself sort of scared to jump out into the real world. I originally thought I would have finished the Peace Corps by now and starting working in an organization defined by the United Nations or USAID to bring peace crossculturally around the world. My life took a different turn rather and I instead jumped on the political bandwagon. Whereas I love what I do, the Peace Corps is still a goal of mine and I would like to eventually get deeper into a field that includes more writing, research and conflict resolution education that expands global learning and cross-culturally acceptance.
Meet the Alumni Council – Cont’d 5. What prompted you to consider joining the Alumni Council? After college, I took a long break from DREAM. I stayed in touch with my mentee, but I needed some time to reinvigorate my ideas for change and growth in the Program. After a few years, really I just missed DREAM. I missed being involved in the planning and organization of programs that impacted the children and families I so cared about while in college. It felt strange that I had spent most of my college career working so closely and intently on goals for the various DREAM Programs, all to just stop once school ended. It just felt too far away for comfort so I contacted our former Alumni Council President and begged him to get involved (Thanks AJ!). It was for sure the right decision because we really do make an impact on people’s lives while involved in this organization. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, or seem like it, we ARE changing lives everyday. 6. What is your position on the Alumni Council? What does that mean on a day-to-day basis? I am the Alumni Appeal Leader for the DREAM Alumni Council. My job entails organizing the annual Alumni Appeal, a fundraiser based on pure Alumni support. Every Spring, an Alumni Appeal Committee is formed under the direction of the Alumni Appeal Leader. Together, with the help of the central DREAM office and board, we brainstorm ways to make giving fun and easy for Alumni. It is a really enlightening role. I am continually inspired by the everlasting dedication of DREAM Alumni. The energy and enthusiasm we all found contagious in college is still very much alive in our Alumni network. If anyone reading this is at all interested in being involved in this very fun, awesome, incredible team of dedicated volunteers, please feel free to contact me so I can get you involved in the 2012 Alumni Appeal! 7. What is your favorite memory of DREAM from when you were in college? My best memory from DREAM: After spending weeks tagging along with DREAM mentor/mentee pairs, I was finally ready to meet my own mentee, Kristen Vincent. At a mere 7 years old, she was the epitome of spirit and energy. When she got out of the car to come meet me on Redstone campus at UVM for our first DREAM “date”, I said -- “Hi, my name is Frieda. I am going to be your new mentor. What would you like to do today?” to which Kristen replied -- “Let’s run!” Off she took down the field at a high speed like a flash of light. I quickly followed her and for the next two hours, we ran around campus together. She would stop periodically to look back at me to make sure I was still behind her. She would then smile and continue running. We circled the entire campus two or three times and when it was nearly dark we went back to Redstone. Just before she got back in the car to go home, she encased me in a giant, trusting bear hug. She then looked up at me and said, “I’m so glad you’re my mentor. Can’t wait until we see each other again!” Kristen is my friend, my sister and oftentimes, MY mentor. I will never forget this very special moment. I have watched her grow and thrive as an incredible young woman. I could not proud of her, and happy that she walked into my life! 8. Where do you envision DREAM will be next year? In five years? In ten years? I envision DREAM expanding to more schools within the next five years. I feel like there will be programs throughout New England and New York and possibly even Washington, DC. I would really like to see DREAM expand nationwide because the unique energy it brings to subsidized developments is in my opinion the key to making real positive change to the lives of disadvantaged youth. I would also like to see DREAM get deeper into the school districts and help students get vocational training so that if they do not make it to college for some reason, they have skills that will help them obtain successful jobs.
Meet the DREAM Board of Directors By Neil Groberg 1. Who am I? Name – Neil Groberg Age – Young at Heart Hometown – New York City Current Residence – Burlington Vermont College – Wharton School University of Pennsylvania B.S. In Economics 1975; Post-Graduate - Hofstra Law School J.D. 1979 DREAM Local Program – Champlain, UVM, St. Michael’s Favorite Disney Character – Donald Duck- I have no idea why other than I love his voice. 2. Besides sitting on the DREAM Board, what is your primary occupation? Amidst my career as an employment lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, facilitator, teacher and trainer, I have endeavored to actively participate in a variety of socially conscious organizations. I served on the Board of the Independent Day School in Middlefield Connecticut; was on the Board and served for a time as Vice President of Cheshire Interfaith Housing (a localized and independent organization similar to Habitat for Humanity) and was on the Board of and was Chair of the Social Action committee of Temple Beth David in Cheshire Connecticut. As well as spending a lot of my free time doing work for the DREAM Board, I am currently on the Steering Committee of Burlington Vermont’s Ward 6 Neighborhood Planning Assembly. 3. How long have you been on the DREAM Board? What was the path that led to you joining the Board? My daughter Becky attended Champlain College, was an active DREAM member, and is an enthusiastic alumnus. I remembered Becky’s love for DREAM and how she helped her mentee while maturing herself because of DREAM. With the DREAM enthusiasm contagious and its value obvious, it seemed only fitting, therefore, that after moving from Connecticut to Burlington in 2008, I would be interested in investing time to DREAM. I joined the Board in the Fall 2010. 4. In your own words, what exactly does the Board do on a day-to-day basis? What is your role? The Board rigorously follows the Carver model of Board governance. Simply put, we set policy for the incredibly hard working staff and approve the budget. Perhaps more importantly, the Board exists to represent and speak for those the organization serves - the DREAM stakeholders. It is the responsibility of each Board member to stay abreast of DREAM’s activities and to accurately represent the children, parents, mentors, and alumni involved in the program. To more effectively engage stakeholders, Board members are each assigned a “Stakeholder Ambassadors” role. Each ambassador reaches out to a group of stakeholders to talk DREAM and get their perspectives on DREAM’s impact and challenges. I am one of the ambassadors to the mentor stakeholders. The mentor ambassadors annually evaluate how the mentors, staff and Board are doing regarding the adopted policies related to the mentors. I am also the Chair of the Board’s recruitment committee. Being on the Board is fun, challenging and requires a good commitment of time that is completely worthwhile. We are looking for new Board members and anyone interested should contact me at email@example.com.
Meet the DREAM Board – Continued 5. What is your proudest DREAM moment? There are many, but the one that stands out is when Mike Loner was talking to me about something else and suddenly said, “Neil, I think you really get DREAM, would you be interested in joining the Board?” Also, surviving a “camping experience” at Camp DREAM last summer, one of the rare times I have ever slept in a sleeping bag, ranks right up there. 6. What do you hope to achieve or contribute during your time on the Board? I believe I have and will continue to provide a dedicated unique perspective to the Board. I contribute my years of work experience, dedicated commitment to social action, and an ability to enunciate ideas, often contrarian, while still being a team member. 7. Where do you envision DREAM will be next year? In five years? In ten years? DREAM is growing! New housing project/college mentor affiliations are beginning or have just started in Vermont and the Boston area. The strategic plan is to put DREAM in three new cities in the next five years. I am convinced that with the appropriate resources DREAM could be a nationwide organization, perhaps not in 10 years, but certainly in 20. 8. How do you think Alumni and current mentors can best support DREAM’s mission? Alumni and current mentors can best support DREAM by remaining committed to the core DREAM values, such as contagious energy, responsibility to community, and the importance of every child. Additionally, word of mouth is huge, and so speaking about DREAM with friends, family and colleagues is vital. Of course, we wish the government would provide more funding (which sadly is rarely the case anymore for community nonprofits). But with such decisions out of our control, financial contributions from Alumni to DREAM are very much appreciated, but only to the degree you can afford.
Birchwood Holds Kickball Fundraiser By Sandy Mervak, Development Director The Birchwood / Champlain College DREAM program was recently selected to participate in Champlain's Activate Campus Thinking Week through the Center for Service and Civic Engagement. A whole day was dedicated to promoting DREAM around campus, and the schedule included games, food, and lots of fun! The culminating event for the day was a kickball tournament that pitted Champlain faculty against Birchwood mentees and DREAM staff members. At the end of the friendly competition, the mentees prevailed!