I remember meeting Kim in ACT 101 summer program my first year at Bloomsburg University. There was something about Kim’s personality that I admire. I knew at that time she was going to do something great. Bloomsburg University set a foundation for students to be their best selves and prepared students to succeed post-graduation. Observing Kim’s success has been astonishing. I was honored that she took a moment to tell me about her program We DREAM. There are a lot of business ventures people can dedicate their time to in life. But it takes a special person to want to give back to the community and provide services to a younger generation and inspire them to have a better future.
I admire and appreciate what Kim is doing in her community. This amazing young lady is a Bloomsburg University Alumni and does not take her education for granted. This Philadephia native from West Oak Lane engages her time and energy in paving a path for students to know they too can be successful and that someone in the community cares about them. She is a school counselor for the Philadelphia school district and involves herself with students daily speaking life into their existence.
What inspired you to create We DREAM and how did you come up with the title?
KA: We DREAM stands for We Do Realize Every Adolescent Matters. This name was given to me by a creative friend who felt I had what it would take to make We DREAM blossom.
I was inspired to move forward with We DREAM because I felt the change the organization would make. I could taste the differences we could make, the collaboration we could create among other organization and how We DREAM could touch lives. My ambition goes up and down, but the passion in me wanting to contribute to our community, wanting to make a change, wanting to create opportunities for others inspires me to keep We DREAM going.
How did you to create an afterschool program, did you notice something was missing in the community?
KA: I recently worked as a School Counselor in a private alternative school for emotional support students. Every morning I did a required group “Guided Group Instruction” (GGI) with my middle school students who ranged from the ages of 12 to 15 years of age. We would discuss various topics from parenting, puberty, conflict resolution, peer mediation, violence in the community to absent fathers and mothers; throughout all of our conversations there was a lack of social skills among us all, a lack of love within, a sense of loneliness and a lot of pride.
I felt compelled to create an after-school program that would teach young men about social skills, something I could learn from as well. I wanted to teach these young men how to talk to each other, how to monitor our tone of voice and how to utilize “I Message”. Most crimes and or acts of violence are committed over a miscommunication.
I created a 16-week curriculum that highlighted a specific social skill each day, once we went over the social skill myself and the boys in the program would apply that social skill to real life examples in our own in school and at home.
How long does the after school program run?
KA: The after school program ran for one year, 8 weeks in the Fall and 8 weeks in the Spring. The Boys DREAM after school program took place at Southwest Leadership Academy. The Boys DREAM after-school program aims to empower young men through enhancing their social skills, encouraging healthy relationships, community service, and overall health. Our services are based on decreasing maladaptive behaviors in schools among youth while helping to cultivate socially responsible and productive young men. We also teach our young boys the value of being Dedicated, Respectful, Excellent, Accountable, and Motivated (DREAM).
We DREAM is actively creating a curriculum for the Boys DREAM after school program and will begin looking for a new home for the Boys DREAM After School Program.
How many children are in the after-school program?
KA: There were 11 boys in the after-school program
Do you do other programs during the school year, if so what are they?
KA: During the school year, I conduct a mentoring program titled TGIF stands for Thank Goodness I am Female! TGIF is a mentoring program which connects female alumni of color with incoming freshman female students of color allowing these students’ to be mentored through the critical first two years of college. Specifically, TGIF aims to help female students of color overcome academic, personal and transitional issues they face adjusting to college. TGIF takes place at Bloomsburg University which is my alum and all of the mentors’ alum.
The vision is to establish TGIF, an enriched, well-rounded mentoring program, at Bloomsburg University, then create several TGIF mentoring programs among various colleges and universities in the PA region, especially state institutions. Thus, Bloomsburg University is home and has helped shaped me into who I am today! We feel it is only right that Bloomsburg University is an inaugural institution where we would like TGIF to begin.
We DREAM is currently working on the We DREAM Summer Camp which will be for all boys ages 7 – 12 years of age.
What goals do you want to accomplish for students who participate in your
KA: The overall goal of We DREAM is for everyone partaking in a program within the We DREAM organization. Reach their highest potential and become change agents not only within themselves but also within the world. We DREAM exists to provide youth with the crucial tools needed to develop into productive young adults, communicating that WE believe they can achieve their DREAMS.
What are challenges do you face running a non-profit organization?
KA: Keeping the faith when you feel your back is against the wall. Rejecting the fear of stepping out on faith to take on unforeseen obstacles. Correctly putting a team together that shares your vision. Being proactive and staying consistent when the world is constantly changing. Being a non-profit in itself is a challenge with having to receive funding, finding non-traditional ways to fundraise, and brand your overall name.
What made you choose to do non-profit instead of a for-profit company?
KA: I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do things for the community and my passion for creating change lead me towards the non-profit. I have a craving for the youth! Through life experiences, whether they had been mines or experiences of family and friends, I felt providing developmental programs, activities and educational workshops for our youth to become actively involved could contribute to our culture and create a sense of community within.
Perhaps, We DREAM could be my job one day. We will see!
Running an organization can be difficult, how do you manage to spend time with family and run an organization?
KA: Life is about balance. I can say that We DREAM hasn’t taken me away from my family, I always incorporate my family into everything I do. I have a 5-year-old daughter name Kamiel who is my biggest motivation and also my accountability partner. Whether I am doing a Back 2 School Drive, Turkey Drive and/or random acts of community service Kamiel is most likely right by my side.
How can parents get their child/children involve with your program(s)?
KA: Visit the We DREAM website at wedreamdoyou.com, look at what we are doing and what we have to offer. Right now, we are actively seeking boys from the ages of 7 – 12 years of age to attend our First Annual We DREAM Summer Camp opening Summer 2018.
Honesty, we are just getting started – we will continue to have so much more to offer, one step at a time.
Community Convo: What dreams do you have? What do you want to accomplish? How has this interview inspired you?