We were wrapping up our Plant Your Dreams event in partnership with The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success when a Board member came up and said, “I’m not sure what your expectations were, but by every measure I can see, this event was a success. It was inspiring to watch the kids plant their dreams and see the outpouring of support from volunteers and community.”
Our Worldmaker COO, who joined us from Minneapolis, added, “Blustery weather was no match for the generosity of spirit and open heartedness of the families, volunteers and supporters that turned an event into a celebration of community and connection.”
A celebration of community and connection – a beautiful description of the day! These comments highlighted how the warmth of a pure mission can most certainly overcome any cold winds. Curious how other team members experienced the event, I asked if they would like to share any recollections.
Several commented on the joy of listening to the music of the talented and creative Kevin Burt, including how he improvised a song about the children playing in front of him. Participants also talked about the beauty of The Big Apple Orchard – our event host that donated 60 Liberty apple trees for this project. The BBQ from Willie Ray’s Q Shack also earned rave reviews!
Dr. Ruth White, Founding Director of The AcademySPS, commented:
“The most memorable aspects of the Plant Your Dreams event for me included the coming together of families, the thoughtfulness of children, and the always perfect renditions of Kevin Burt! This coalescence made for a day that even sleet couldn’t ruin!”
Barb Smed, an event sponsor and volunteer, said:
My greatest inspiration was Dr. Ruth White’s vision and passion to help the Academy kids. I also was really inspired by Jimmy Scroggins’ story of where he came from and the power of dreaming big. He challenged the kids to keep pushing through the hard times and remember to enjoy the journey. This was an event where adults really showed up for the kids – and the kids could feel it!”
Rachel Laborde, Worldmaker Director of Advancement, shared:
“Plant Your Dreams reminded me of the power of community after witnessing the generosity of time, talents, and resources from those that gathered to support the students as they explored their own dreams. I watched children and teens interact with caring adults. You could see in their faces that they were taking comfort in being heard and knowing that they were surrounded by a community that would encourage them to follow their dreams.”
Christa Nelson from Epiphany volunteered at the Planting Station:
“One special family caught my eye, with 5 children ranging from 3 to 13 planting trees. They had all written down their dreams and with the help of their aunt, uncle, parent and siblings were as a team in a very worldmaking way helping to plant each other’s trees. When they got to the youngest, he danced in delight around his tree. Despite the cold, his mom walked the dirt around the tree to secure it with her bare feet. There is something grounding and restorative in working your hands and feet into the soil beneath you. Turns out this beautiful family came to us via a Tanzanian refugee camp. They moved to our community on the day of the Derecho. They said they had been questioning what on earth God’s plan for them was arriving in a place that within minutes resembled a war zone. In contrast, this day started with a cloudy forecast but resulted in rays of sunshine over their newly planted dreams. Restored hope and energy was in the air as new trees were planted — and watered with tears of joy by this thankful volunteer.”
My greatest memory centers on our goal of equipping students to envision a more positive future. The text I received from a parent of a biracial student (shared with permission) says it better than I could:
“So I’m sure you will hear so many people thank you and tell you how today was such a success but I want to tell you that today was the single best day I’ve had with [my daughter] in the last 3 years! Life got complicated a while back and [she] thought she wanted to leave home and she did – but last fall she finally came home and unfortunately she has really struggled with depression and especially social anxiety – but today she came out of her shell and she was happy and living in the moment and laughing and smiling ear to ear! Jimmy stood and talked with her for over 25 minutes and he has agreed to take her under his wing and already through just talking to him she is 100% more motivated than she woke up being today. I want you to know that today may have really been a turning point in my child’s life – and she came home from The Big Apple Orchard a new and better kid – with her hope for the future restored – so even if this is the only kid whose life was changed because of today I want to tell you thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you”
This is why we do what we do – and why it matters.
The Plant Your Dreams event was a great reminder that we can all bring sunshine to others, no matter the weather. Thank you to our generous sponsors, donors, volunteers, and supporters that helped create an environment to encourage young people to see new possibilities and bring forth a brighter future for themselves and for our world.
There is still time to help us grow dreams in our youth! Beyond the event, we are moving into the next steps of dream achievement and financial literacy activities for AcademySPS students. We thrive together.