This month we are honored to participate in a #GivingTuesday storytelling campaign called My Giving Story. This digital campaign is an opportunity for our supporters both in the education community and beyond to share why they participate in the DreamWakers mission, and in turn, offers DreamWakers a new platform through which to fundraise during the most generous time of the year. The Giving Tuesday and My Giving Story missions encourage social media users to mobilize their networks to give back to meaningful organizations, and inspire others to do the same. Because DreamWakers’ mission is largely based upon using technology to develop lasting connections, this storytelling digital campaign is the ideal opportunity to spread the word about our mission and impact.
Here are some of the My Giving Story submissions already sent in from our extraordinary community members. We hope you will join us by submitting your own #MyGivingStory about your experience with DreamWakers using the instructions at the bottom of this article.
Fadesola Ojeikere, DreamWakers DreamTeacher Fellow
My name is Fade Ojeikere, but to my students my name is Mr. O. After I graduated from Seton Hall University in 2014 I joined Teach for America to become an educator in Newark, NJ. I had no idea what I had in store for me. Like how much love my students would show one another when a peer from their neighborhood had lost their life due to gun violence. Or how much love my students would show one another when they won their first soccer game. When they lost their first soccer game. When they found out that their reading levels were two grade levels below. When they worked their butts off to jump three grade levels in one year. My students, all of the ones I have had the pleasure of standing in front of, many of them had dreams but they were limited. Until DreamWakers came along, they never knew what else was out there. They didn’t know that being a CNN reporter IS possible, that being the adviser to a President IS possible, that being a diplomat IS possible, that being an entrepreneur that starts their own app IS possible. DreamWakers even helped take my class to DC to visit the White House and Capitol Hill after their DreamSpeaker extended an invitation. This gave my kids the experience of a lifetime. Thanks to DreamWakers, my students are constantly meeting leaders who look like them and who have had many of the same experiences as them. DreamWakers is the spark that lights the fire in the bellies of my students!
To read more about the inspiring field trip to Washington, D.C., please click here for a first-hand account written by DreamWakers Co-Founder and CEO, Monica Gray Logothetis.
Maurice Owens, DreamWakers 2017 Speaker of the Year
My name is Maurice Owens and I’m originally from the Bronx, New York. I have had the honor of working with DreamWakers as a career speaker, and want to share why this experience has meant so much to me. I speak with students through DreamWakers because I understand what it means to silently search for inspiration and purpose in a world of limited ladders; growing up in a community where resources are scarce and survival is your first priority. As I look back on the inspirational mentors I had growing up in the Bronx, during my 10 years of active duty service in the United States Air Force, and my eight years of working for the Executive Office of the President of the United States; I know that mentors and access to mentors is crucial to one’s success. DreamWakers fills that void! In many cases, the sentences of belief in me and where I was headed shared with me by my mentors verbally — when coupled with my work ethic, matched by my imagination and belief in myself despite setbacks and disappointments — resulted in the birth of unimaginable opportunities for me then and speaks directly to my reality now! My connection to DreamWakers is a result of having graduated from college and going on to travel to more than 40 countries since — in direct contradiction to what is expected of a young black male in the United States. I work with DreamWakers to provide the dedication fuel. I have to share my story, and I hope it inspires others to do the same. My DreamWakers wish and duty is to inspire young people along the way, as I continue to navigate my career — simple as that!
Valencia Angles, DreamWakers 2017 Teacher of the Year
My name is Valencia Angles and I am from Cedar Bluff, Virginia. I am a gifted resource teacher for Tazewell County Public Schools, responsible for eight schools grades K-12. I have partnered with DreamWakers to expose my students to the world, to interact with professionals representing various careers and hailing from different backgrounds. Tazewell County is located in rural southwest Virginia. It was established 1799. Initially, it was an agricultural area and a gateway to the west. However, upon the discovery of the rich coalfields, the focus changed and the area became dependent upon the coal industry. With the decline of coal production and those peripheral industries, there has been a distinct reduction in opportunities for my children to expand their horizons. If not for DreamWakers, the likelihood of my students interacting with the professionals they provide would be small. Accordingly, exposing my children to enrichment activities that will accentuate their aspirations is challenging for a myriad of reasons. Transporting children to activities and events is not only financially restrictive, but is also problematic with respect to the loss of the children’s instructional needs to travel to museum or academia. As we all know, establishing sound foundations to build young lives and careers is not a chance event. DreamWakers brings highly qualified professionals from various vocations and avocations directly into our schools. Students do not have to travel these long distances, missing an entire day of instruction, to meet people who share their interests. Through DreamWakers, my students have experienced dynamic, enthusiastic, caring individuals who have inspired them to feel free to explore new career goals. Students cannot be what they do not see, and cannot interpret what they do not know exists. Thanks to DreamWakers, my students are able to speak comfortably with adults. They have honed their listening skills and from that, they have developed the ability to formulate questions and inquires based on the information they hear. Their exposure to these heroes (and yes they are heroes for devoting their time to children) has exponentially inspired and motivated my students to achieve and accomplish. When I began my teaching career 39 years ago, I had no idea that something such as DreamWakers would exist. Imagine what the future holds for our students in the next 39 years. I am greatly honored and excited to have the opportunity to bring DreamWakers to my school and to my students. It has opened the universe to all of us.
Gaurav Ahuja, Member, DreamWakers Advisory Council and 2016 Volunteer of the Year
My name is Gaurav and I am a venture capital investor in NYC. I have had the honor of serving for two years on the DreamWakers Advisory Council. I was introduced to DreamWakers two years ago and became enamored with its mission, drive, and impact on students. Their mission — to introduce students in high need schools across our country to different career paths and professional passions — is something that speaks to me on a personal level. My parents immigrated to the country just before I was born and I understand the difficulties in starting over in a new country. Fortunately, I got to watch my parents live out their version of the American Dream and “make it.” While this was a result of their incredible work ethic, I also know that there was more than just work ethic at play — there was a large tilt in fate in favor of our family as well. I continue to support DreamWakers because I see this organization serving as that tilt in fate in the lives of so many students, and doing its part to improve their future chances of success.
Sharon Waskow, DreamWakers Curriculum Development Adviser and 2017 Volunteer of the Year
Working with DreamWakers has been rewarding and exciting. I’m Sharon Waskow, a New York City resident, who recently completed a 35 year career as an educator. In the early years, I taught high school English and Reading and moved on to spend the bulk of my career as a middle school librarian. When I retired, I looked for meaningful ways to use my skills to help kids. I feel so lucky that DreamWakers accepted my offer to write lesson plans, develop an educational game, and curate resources to extend learning for the students in the DreamWakers network. So why do I volunteer my time with DreamWakers? I do it for teachers who go the extra mile to find unique opportunities to expose students to career possibilities. I have deep respect for all teachers who do the daily, hard work to prepare students to realize their dreams. I support DreamWakers for students who work hard, and remain positive and open to what life has to offer, and for our extraordinary network of career speakers, who with grace and generosity give their time to help kids create a vision for their future. Their personal stories bring valuable real world exposure to students who need it most. Finally, I support DreamWakers because of the team of people who work here. Their female founders, who launched this terrific idea and continue to pour their energy into nurturing its growth. I have learned so much from you. My wish for anyone reading this: consider collaborating with some smart young people, whether at DreamWakers or another organization of your choosing. You will improve your technology skills, become more efficient, and learn important lessons about kindness and optimism.
Teachers, to apply to bring DreamWakers into your classroom, click here.
Speakers, to virtually volunteer in a classroom, click here.
To submit your #MyGivingStory in support of DreamWakers, please follow the below instructions and email [email protected] with any questions.
- Go to http://mygivingstory.givingtuesday.org/ and click on “Submit Your Story”
- Fill out your demographic information
- Fill out organization information (DreamWakers, www.dreamwakers.org, New York, New York, 10022)
- Click on “essay” and fill in your story!