Act of Kindness
DREAM Fund is a helping hand to all of us in advertising, media and public relations. It was created from humble beginnings in the early 1990’s by a single act of kindness. Our founder and CEO, Shirley Ward, wanted to help her friend and advertising colleague, Peggy Lark, who needed financial assistance for a heart transplant. Shirley organized a picnic to help raise money, and Peggy was absolutely amazed at how people who didn’t even know her came together in support of her quest for a heart.
Unfortunately, Peggy lost her battle before she could get her transplant, but that fundraiser was the seed that Shirley nurtured into an annual event that eventually blossomed into what we know today as DREAM Fund. DREAM stands for Dedicating Resources to Employees of Advertising and Media, and has grown to include Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Christy had a career working in traffic at a TV station and suddenly found herself diagnosed with a brain tumor and in very quickly deteriorating health, which put huge emotional and financial strains on her family. DREAM Fund immediately stepped in to help with medical supplies and other needs during her transition to hospice care so that the family could spend those precious last moments with her, free from those burdens and distractions.
Jared, a copywriter, was paralyzed from the neck down from a diving accident. After extensive physical therapy, he was returning to work with much different circumstances and needs. DREAM Fund provided a special van and wheelchair to aid him in getting back to work and on with life. Jared later shared, “When it seemed everything else took forever, DREAM Fund got the van very quickly and really came through for me."
Then there is Mary, a highly-involved member of the Dallas media community for many years who found herself facing melanoma cancer treatment that drained her physically and emotionally. Mary had no family in Dallas and didn’t really want to ask for help, but DREAM Fund organized volunteers to assist her with rides to chemo treatments, help around the house and regular walks around the block. After receiving this outpouring of support along with funds to help with insurance costs, Mary said, “DREAM Fund quite literally saved my life.”
There are too many stories to tell about those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey that took an enormous toll on many advertising professionals in New Orleans, Houston and surrounding areas, leaving them without groceries, a place to stay, or funds to pay their insurance deductibles. The DREAM Fund philanthropy committee called an emergency meeting and was able to get resources into people’s hands within two days, and in some cases directly deposited into their bank accounts due to the fact that there was no mail service at the time.
We all have seen others in need - a co-worker, friend or family member - and we don’t know where to begin to help. And as you read these stories, they are a reminder that even though we can be instruments of help and healing today, we just as well could be the ones in need tomorrow.
Bridging the Gap Between Crisis and New Normal
So how do you get help to a colleague in need? Usually, it starts with a simple email, text or Facebook message asking, “Have you heard?” or “How can we help this person?” DREAM Fund board members quickly jump into action to let those in need know that someone cares. It may just be a card, flowers, a phone call, or a meal, but each case is vetted by following the carefully crafted bylaws of the organization. “It can get very emotional at times, and these guidelines are here to protect our hearts," says Teresa Novak, Executive Director of DREAM Fund. “It is nice to know that as we give our time and talent to this industry, all you have to do to receive assistance is be an employee. No membership, no dues, no strict, rigorous red tape and paperwork.”
Give Time. Give Treasure. Give Hope.
Since 1991, DREAM Fund has gifted nearly $2 million. This generosity has left a dent in the current funds and there is need to replenish. The average case costs $8,500, and there are several ways to support the cause. You can make a tax-deductible donation and dedicate time, talent, and other resources to a variety of events that benefit DREAM Fund throughout the year.
Night in Monte Carlo, its largest event, is filled with casino fun, entertainment and live and silent auctions. There is also the popular Chilanthropy, a chili cook-off that includes fun for the whole family.
The next event is the 20th annual DSVC (Dallas Society of Visual Communications) DREAM Drive Golf Tournament on May 4th at Bear Creek Golf Club. Don’t worry if you’re not a golfer. This year you can also participate in a Corn Hole Tournament! Register and get tickets here or visit the DREAM Fund website or Facebook page.
Whether donating money, volunteering to serve or attending an associated event, DREAM Fund is an opportunity for you to have an immediate impact on people around you. Kathy Sparks, the current President, wants everyone to know, “This charity is for everyone involved in the industry and we ask that you please spread the word, tell others, invite DREAM Fund to come speak at company events, get educated and get involved." She shared a quote from Proverbs 3:27, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to act."
Leaving a Legacy
All those involved and interviewed for this story are filled with passion for supporting this cause. Even Shirley, when asked what she is most proud of with DREAM Fund, said, “I am extremely grateful for all the volunteers, board members and donors who have put their heart and soul into this cause and helped so many people. It really is a legacy that will continue for many years because of their dedication." Be a part of the DREAM!