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The



DREAM Blog!

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DANVILLE, VERMONT - Our exploration of the Developmental Relationships Framework continues with a story from our Guided Mentoring program. This time we will examine the concept of Expanding Possibilities, a key element of the framework developed by Search Institute and utilized by DREAM mentors this Fall. The framework consists of five elements: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power, and Expand Possibilities. Each element offers actionable, relationship-building steps that contribute to healthy relationships between kids and the adults that support them. We’re exploring one at a time through the lens of a DREAMer and their experiences.


Expanding Possibilities is the subject of our story this time. According to Search Institute, a youth would understand that their adult was expanding their possibilities when:

  • They are inspired to see possibilities for their future.

  • They are exposed to new ideas, experiences, and places, broadening their horizons.

  • They are introduced to people who can help them grow, creating beneficial connections.


This story starts in the town of Danville, Vermont with a group of mentors from the Danville School. While they are the mentors, our Guided Mentoring program is multi-tiered, meaning there are multiple layers of mentorship designed into the program. Each mentor in the Guided Mentoring program has a Mentor Guide (who is often an AmeriCorps member as well). Along with our program staff, they guide the young adults attending our partner high schools, teaching them how to build relationships with an elementary-aged child and how to create positive, supportive experiences that supplement their time at home, school, and in extra-curricular activities. True to our mission, they are facilitating opportunities.


Gabrielle Tatoyian is one of our Mentor Guides who is serving at Danville School. She, along with Adrianna Watrobski (also a Mentor Guide), is supporting mentors for the second school year in a row. The two of them, together, have built relationships with many of the mentors already, but are deepening the connection while welcoming new mentors into their group. Last weekend they partnered with the DREAM mentors, participating in “Autumn on the Green,” a Danville community event similar to a farmer’s market or craft fair. The DREAMers joined over 100 other vendors operating a booth as a fundraiser for their upcoming activities with their mentees. The Danville DREAM mentors created homemade crafts like painted rocks with inspirational messages, sensory bottles, and themed signs and posters that they sold. In addition to creating their merchandise, the mentors operated the booth. They explained DREAM and Guided Mentoring to attendees, conversed with community members who stopped by to see what they were up to and sold their creations.


The booth was a hit, gaining popularity throughout the event as the most kid-friendly and a destination for a few minutes of fun. As Gabrielle and Adrianna reflected on the event, they were able to comprehend the experience the mentors were able to gain and their role. While many of the mentors were understandably timid when the project started, the fun they shared and the collaboration they engaged in while preparing for the event sparked inspiration. This was an event that was going to be fun in and of itself and it also led to insightful experiences for them and the elementary-aged mentees. The more they could sell, the more opportunities they would have for their next mentoring activity with their mentees. Additionally, this was a new experience for many of the mentors, so understanding they could work hard and earn some money to assist their community was eye-opening. The social nature of the event encouraged the mentors to socialize and share their experiences with pride, establish confidence, and expand their connections with their Mentor Guides and the community surrounding them.


The event was a success and Gabrielle and Adrianna were able to model Expanding Possibilities for the mentors, preparing the mentors to do the same for their mentees in the Spring. The whole process was a tremendous demonstration of the multi-tiered mentoring approach and the magic of our Guided Mentoring program.


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PHILADEPHIA, PA - In the pursuit of narrowing the opportunity gap for youth and families, The DREAM Program, has taken up a transformative mission that resonates deeply with the core values of AmeriCorps. By focusing on summer enrichment, adventure, after-school programs, mentorship, and community engagement, DREAM aims to provide a secure space for youth to grow and flourish.

Below, we explore how the philosophy of DREAM aligns with the values upheld by AmeriCorps, and the significant impact it has on both individuals and the community.


AmeriCorps: A Beacon of Service

With a shared commitment to community betterment, DREAM finds its philosophy closely intertwined with that of AmeriCorps. Both entities recognize the power of dedicated service in making a positive difference. AmeriCorps members, motivated by the desire to give back, work hand in hand with DREAM to provide mentorship, tutoring, and support to young minds, filling an essential role in the lives of children and families


Beyond Volunteerism: Building Connections and Making a Lasting Mark

The journey of AmeriCorps members within DREAM goes beyond mere volunteer work. Their impact extends into building meaningful connections with the youth they serve. It’s not just about spending time with these young individuals; it’s about establishing relationships, inspiring them to reach their fullest potential, and fostering their personal growth. These interactions serve as catalysts for change, instilling confidence and values that reverberate far beyond out-of-school hours.

AmeriCorps members engaged in DREAM share how the experience has inspired their own personal and professional growth. Many enter the program with the intention of gaining teaching and mentorship experience but find themselves undergoing a journey of self-discovery and skill development. Through the joy of witnessing youth grasp a new concept, overcome a challenge, or develop a sense of confidence, members discover the profound impact they can have on a young person’s life.


The collaboration between DREAM and AmeriCorps does not just impact individuals; it has a ripple effect on communities. As the youth involved in our programs learn and grow, they become active members of society who contribute positively. The mentorship and role modeling provided by AmeriCorps members expands the horizons of these young minds, helping them see beyond immediate challenges and envision a broadened future.

The partnership between DREAM and AmeriCorps is a testament to the power of service and dedication. As AmeriCorps members invest their time, energy, and passion into the lives of youth, they are sowing the seeds of change and transformation. The shared philosophy of these two entities brings forth a brighter, more inclusive future where youth thrive, families prosper, and communities flourish. As we celebrate the synergy between DREAM and AmeriCorps, we invite you to join this journey of empowerment, inspiration, and growth.


Go AmeriCorps! Let’s Keep Dreaming Together!


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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VT - Welcome to our Developmental Relationships Framework blog series. We will explore different elements of the framework, developed by Search Institute and utilized by DREAM mentors, Camp Counselors, Enrichment Coordinators, and staff to build deep, meaningful relationships with DREAM youth. The framework consists of five elements: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power, and Expand Possibilities. Each element offers actionable, relationship-building steps that contribute to healthy relationships between kids and the adults that support them. Each month, we will explore one element and tell a story of a DREAMer whose relationship was positively impacted by an adult utilizing an element of the framework.


This week we will focus on Express Care. According to Search Institute, a youth would understand their adult was expressing care if the adult:

  • Showed that they matter to them.

  • Was dependable and someone they could trust

  • Listened and really paid attention when they were together

  • Believed in them and made them feel known and valued

  • Was warm and showed them they enjoyed being with them

  • Encouraged them and praised them for their efforts and achievements


Our story starts with a 5-year-old mentee, Faith, from White River Junction, Vermont. It was Faith’s first summer participating in any of DREAM’s programs and she was signed up for Summer Enrichment, our program for mentees to bridge the gap in school over the summer and to DREAM while the Village Mentoring program takes a break. Our Summer Enrichment program offers mentees living in DREAM communities site-based activities designed to encourage competent, motivated readers, problem-solving, activities that develop healthy minds and bodies, and activities to unleash art and creative expression.


Faith had a continually difficult time each day starting the program and being picked up by DREAM staff. She would get upset very easily and needed a little extra love and care to make her days positive, fun, and successful. There was a specific moment where she was crying about not having her goggles for swimming which then made her upset that her mother was not present - she missed her mom. Julia and Erin, two of our Summer Enrichment Coordinators put their mentoring hats on and spent time with her. They listened to Faith as she talked about her feelings, and what was making her upset, and expressed belief in her that she was strong and resilient for joining us each day, away from her mom.


Julia and Erin’s actions directly displayed their care for Faith. She sat with both of them as they offered comfort and expressed how they cared and why they wanted her to participate with them. They listened and reflected back to Faith what they heard so she could comprehend that they really understood her feelings and why she was upset. This interaction laid the foundation of trust for the summer, as Julia and Erin continued to be present for Faith and expressed belief she could be independent and have fun at Summer Enrichment, even if her mom was not present.


The result: a fun and enriching summer for Faith and both our Enrichment Coordinators (Julia and Erin) and the potential of a durable, impactful, beneficial relationship for everyone!


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