Many students across campus are spending their Fridays inspiring youth to grow, learn and “dream”.
Directed through Recreation, Education, Adventure and Mentoring (DREAM) is a nonprofit community made up of local and college students, according to the program’s website.
DREAM came to UVM in 2001 after the program was founded at Dartmouth College in 1999, according to the site.
UVM’s chapter originally partnered with kids who live in the Elm Street Apartments in Winooski. The group later expanded in 2005 to include Franklin, Street, according to the site.
DREAM’s development director, Sandy Mervak said the organization is getting ready to launch a new chapter with the Salmon Run Apartments on Riverside Avenue.
“This is a very diverse neighborhood and would allow students to break out of the college bubble,” Mervak said. “They will be recruiting mentors very aggressively to help with the new expansion.”
DREAM’s core is the mentoring program where they partner college students with a student, Mervak said.
Mentors and mentees participate in group events every Friday and are also encouraged to meet one on one other times during the week.
“We help out a lot with school work,” junior Stephanie Burrows said. “My mentee was struggling in school and she has been progressively improving as we have been working. It has been really rewarding to see.”
Burrow said mentors plan events which range from tutoring to fun outings around the area, depending on the interest of the child. Children may start at age five, and can stay in the program until they graduate from high school.
Junior Lauren Tom said the most memorable experience she’s was on Halloween. “All the kids will dress up for a party in crazy costumes and we’ll have them bobbing for apples and take them trick or treating at night,” she said. “The kids are always really excited that they get to go trick or treating in Burlington.”
DREAM also has a summer program called “Camp DREAM” that is offered at no cost for children interested, Mervak said.
“The camp offers boating and hiking among other various activities that would be offered at a traditional summer camp that a higher income family would afford,” he said.
In the next few years, Mervak said that DREAM Program Inc. hopes to expand to Hartford, Conn. and Washington, D.C.
“The sky is the limit,” he said. “We often say that DREAM is too good not to share.”