Dreams for Kids has never let itself be tied down by one mission. They have grown and morphed as the needs of the community presented themselves. They work tirelessly for all children in need- both the underserved and the affluent. Their most recent endeavor has given me hope for this next generation. Let's set the not-for-profit world AND the business world on their ears with a new crop of leaders that see the value in successful, sustainable business models that give back to the community. I can't wait to see the fruits of their labors at work in our city and worldwide.
I'm an IBEW Local 134 electrician, I volunteered at our union hall for their christmas gift wrapping. It was a great time. I had so much that I invited family members and their friends, they also enjoyed themselves and looked forward to the event each year. I hope they will make arrangements to return to our hall in 2016 so that we can experience that joy of giving.
Tom Tuohy 12/16/2015
Thank you so much for your review and for volunteering at our event. We love our long history with IBEW and our long time at Local #134 Hall. We wish it was bigger! It is a great space, but as the event grew and the kids lined up, we had to move to the Broadway Armory to fit 2,000 people! We hope you can join us there this Saturday or some year in the future. Thanks again to you, your family and your friends!
What a great experience! I have volunteered for several Dreams for Kids events, including Extreme Recess and Holiday for Hope. It is so wonderful to see the smiles on every one's faces, kids and adults alike! Dreams for Kids really does great things for the community. I will be participating for years to come.
Tom Tuohy 12/16/2015
Thank you for your volunteer service and long term commitment~! It means the world!
I have volunteered for Dreams for Kids Holiday for Hope event . It's a great event because it brings everything about the holiday season to children who normally wouldn't be able to experience it. Everyone who works there is so passionate about their cause that its truly contagious. It's one organization that I will continue to volunteer for every year.
I have had both the pleasure volunteering with Dreams for Kids and being a part of the DFK team!!! I consider DFK my family and it is where I learned to give back to my community by helping at-risk, underprivileged youth in the Chicagoland area! I continue to be a part of the DFK team and utilize the skills I learned from this organization on a daily basis!!!
I have been involved with Dreams for Kids for many years. It's a great organization because everyone is extremely passionate about helping kids. I volunteer for both yearly events; The Holiday for Hope and Extreme Recess. Both of these events directly impact the lives of kids in need. Each year is better than the last!
I am not a rich person (financially) and I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. However, after being a volunteer for a Dreams for Kids (DFK) event called Holiday for Hope several years ago, I had decided to get more involved. I learned that not only does DFK provided children in the Chicago area with a holiday celebration they would not otherwise have due to poverty/low income or financially less fortunate, I had also learned they opened up another realm of charity to children with disabilities with events called Extreme Recess! This is where children with disabilities could water ski, snow ski, and a ton of other fun, outdoor activities that they would not have access to if it wasn’t for DFK’s! Since the first packing party event I attended, which prepares toy bags for the Holiday for Hope party, I have felt a strong connection and I have personally held yearly toy drives at my office, donated funds, volunteered at Texas Holdem fundraisers, volunteered at a Twin Lakes summer water sports and other fundraising events. There is nothing like this charity in all of Chicago as DREAMS FOR KIDS hold all kinds of events all year long, and there’s nothing like the smile on a child’s face that is result of Dreams For Kids.
I have had the honor of working with Dreams For Kids Extreme Recess for the past 4 years. DFK, Tom, Shelly and the rest of the staff are amazing. They provide so many people opportunities that kids would never dream of. It is so much fun to be a part of such a great day out on the lake making kids' dreams come true.
I volunteered with the Dreams For Kids, Inc. Extreme Water Ski event on July 30th, 2015. It was a great experience. It was very nice to see families enjoying the BBQ style event. There were many activities available to the families including adaptive water skiing, kayaking, fishing, and much more. The young lady I was working with especially enjoyed fishing! Everybody had a smile on their face the whole day, what a great experience!
Thanks Dreams for Kids for putting together an unforgettable event!
I volunteered at this year's Extreme Recess and it was a phenomenal experience. The event had many activities such as face painting, adaptive water-skiing, canoe rides, water slides, etc. The volunteers were all very accommodating and the happiness on the faces of the families/children was truly inspiring. This is an extraordinary organization and I look forward to volunteering for many events in the near future.
Dreams for Kids is a unique charity that is truly dedicated to helping special needs children and their families. I participated most recently in their "Extreme Recess" event. I was pleasantly surprised at what great lengths the charity (and all the volunteers that participated) went through to make the day special for the children and their families. I would highly recommend all levels of participation and support for DFK, from volunteering to donating, you simply know you're supporting a great organization.
My daughter Alexis has been invited to many extreme recess events. This is a great organization because they know exactly what kids need to be whole. They want to have fun.be like other kids.Leave their disability behind. They are going to remember they snow skiied,water skiied,fished,played baseball.A time when they soard and were free! All their lives! What a gift.what an organization Thanks for making my girl a standout in the game of life.
You can’t make this stuff up!
DFK’s Extreme Recess at Twin Lakes, WI is a day of water sports, fishing, bouncy house, water slide, plenty of sunscreen and a great BBQ lunch.
Most of the children have never had the opportunity to participate in these activities. Going from a wheelchair to a water ski and speeding along at 40 mph – at first it’s fear but the kid in all comes out in seconds using the thumbs-up signal to go faster.
As a volunteer, every year I take home a fond story or two. This year it was Thais. Exiting the bus I asked this young lady of perhaps 12 what she wanted to do first – water ski? Tubing? Canoeing? Thais looked me in the eye and said "I want to fish - I have never fished before.” Are you sure you want to bait a hook with a slimy worm I asked? “Yes” is all she said with a smile while looking past me to see where the fishing pier was located.
Within minutes Thais had caught her first fish - a 4” bluegill. She ended up with about 9 catches, one being a 10” wide mouth. And that’s no fish story!
CROYA has had the honor of working with Dreams For Kids Extreme Recess for the past 4 years. DFK, Tom, Shelly and the rest of the staff are amazing. They provide so many people opportunities that kids would never dream of. It is so much fun to be a part of such a great day out on the lake making kids' dreams come true. The look on their faces when they get up on the water ski, tube, kayak, boat or fish is priceless!!!
A big thank you to Tom and your whole organization for a wonderful water ski day...our son, has been attending for many years and looks forward to the day. The word LOVE was shown all day, by the delightful, helpful Hosts, the food crew, the boat drivers and helpers in the water, the fishing volunteers, who made him feel so good, with every catch!! It was a relaxing day for the parents too, as our children were well taken care of by their Hosts. Thank you for giving these young people the opportunity to be like everyone else, if only for a day. He took home many stories and of course, a tattoo to show his friends!! Looking forward to next year...thank you
Our family just attended the Dreams for Kids Extreme Recess adaptive waterskiing event in Twin Lakes, WI and it was a blast!! Our son is not able to experience standing up to waterski so a few years ago, we were invited to attend a waterskiing event where our son waterskied FOR THE FIRST TIME! This was his third year to ski and he loved it so much he didn't want to leave until he got "one more chance" to ski!! All the selfless Dreams for Kids team and volunteers are so giving and want everyone to have a great time. It is so impressive how dedicated they are to bringing joy to those with disabilities and they don't stop there. They also are so helpful to the families and provide fun for every member. We really appreciate the generosity and hearts of all involved!
I have been involved for about 4 years with Dreams for Kids. It's a great organization in terms of volunteering because everyone is extremely passionate about helping kids. You will also be sure to have a great time volunteering because you can feel the joy and happiness you are bringing to kids, whether it be for kids with disabilities or at risk youth. It just makes the time fly-by every event that I volunteer for because you are constantly engaged in activities. The organization is also operated by stand-up quality people including founder Tom Tuohy, Shelly Gonsch and crew. I've met some great people who have become friends through the years.
Dreams For Kids directly makes an impact in the lives of kids in need. They replace charity with opportunity in the sense that they enable children to achieve goals by providing them with the tools to do so.
Several years back I started volunteering with Dreams For Kids. I have a sister with autism, and after I had done a couple of events with them, they invited her out to be a guest. We've had some amazing experiences, and done things neither of us thought possible!
This is one of the most hard working, down to earth, friendly and fun groups I've ever been a part of who make a direct impact in children's lives. I feel so grateful that me and my family are a part of it and we hope to continue our involvement with them for years to come. Highly recommended on all levels.
On July 31st, I attended my first Extreme Recess event. I was blown away on many levels. The day was very organized. There was a wealth of things for the kids to do and volunteers to help them. It was clear the kids and their families were overjoyed with the opportunity to experience activities they have never or rarely participate in. I was proud to be a part of it.
This was my family's second year at Extreme Recess and once again they did an amazing job! My entire family enjoyed the day but most of all my 8 year old with special needs. This organization does an exceptional job going beyond expectations in accommodating families with special needs children all you had to do was look at the faces of all the children participating and see the joy and what great work they were doing. This year my son decided to try the water skiing . The staff and volunteers were so patient and encouraging even though it took 30 min for him to work up the courage. After his ride he told everyone it was the best day off his life. Thank you so much for making that moment possible .
You know you have done a great job when you see the faces of the kids that go skiing, tubing, or fishing for the very first time. It is a great day for all involved.
I would recommend a recruiter assigned to each boat that would go out and get the boats filled so more kids and their families get involved and we can serve more kids quicker. This is what I did for Mike H.'s boat in the afternoon. The fishing slowed down in the afternoon. I think we could have recruited a little better for that activity as well. I think it moved things along with Mike's boat and got more people rides. Thanks for a special day.
My son & I attended the Extreme Recess last week for the first time. He had a blast! My 12 year old son has special needs, so there aren't many extra curricular activities available for him, so anytime I hear of one we are all over it. What a great event! Everyone was so attentive, pleasant, patient, friendly & most important excepting. What a great event! I'd like to thank everyone involved in this event , especially our helper Ryan for the day. This to me was a success, my son had a smile the entire day & a pleasant sleep on the ride home.
For 1 day every year, me & my Joe are on vacation & we are lucky to spend our vacation within the the family Tom Toughy -created through "Dreams For Kids" & "Extreme Recess"
For 1 amazing day me & my 10 yr old son Joe are surrounded by total acceptance & help & comfort & fun & adventure.
For 1 amazing day a year we are at ease.
To see my son experience the joy & pride of water sports, navigating the BBQ buffet with his "friend / volunteer", waiting his turn & actually helping another child is beyond thrilling.
Joe is a very sassy, smart, funny kid with autism. & like every family welcomed to Extreme Recess we have our challenges.
Autism if brutal & hard & my son is an amazing kid. & My son's father is dead & my son's life is hard. & we go to Extreme Recess & land in the most amazing place!
1 day a year at Extreme Recess:
Total acceptance, positive peer models - seeing father's & adult males "showing up" & high fiving & cheering my son!
& Joe seeing the pleasure of doing & giving to others & so lucky to be on the receiving end of so much generosity!
P.S. To our volunteer Ciara - THANK YOU! You are amazing & patient & kind & we will not soon forget!
We had 6 fantastic hours @ Extrreme Recess hosted by Dreams for kids.
6 fantastic hours that were better than a 7 day vacation.
NEVER have my child & I been welcome & cared for by such an incredible staff.
To most children / familes a day @ the beach is exactly what is implied. A day @ the beach. Although my son & I have been to many beaches, our true & first day @ the beach, was with Extreme Recess hosted by Dreams for Kids Twin Lakes WI 2012.
& We are looking forward to Extreme Recess 2013
I was honored to be a part of the Dreams for Kids team for two months. They have a very welcoming and great team who are dedicated to service. Even though my internship with them has ended, I am certain that I have made long life friends and family and I will continue to work with them from wherever life takes me. Having attended Extreme Recess for the first time, I was touched by how happy and carefree the kids with disabilities were. It was great to see them enjoy the day and appreciate the simple joys life has to offer with no limitations. I come from Zambia where there are a lot of people who are in need of help. Seeing the work that Dreams for Kids is doing in reaching out was inspiring for me to start Holiday for Hope in my country. I learnt ways in which I can reach out to the community for help and Tom told me even if only one child shows up, I shouldn't lose hope but work towards a better turn out the next time and as I will be 'changing the world one person at a time'.
There are a lot of ways to spend your life. Many are absorbed with self-importance. Others like Tom Tuohy and Dreams for Kids are absorbed with significance - with making a real difference in this world, one kid at a time. Tom founded Dreams for Kids in Chicago in 1989 and his vision continues to be realized every day in the lives of thousands and thousands of at-risk youth. Dreams for Kids is uniquely powerful and effective because it focuses on giving our most challenged population, those who are disadvantaged for any reason, a hand up rather than a hand out. By teaching them social entrepreneurship skills, these at-risk youth move from being victims to being solutions, active agents for positive change in their communities and in the world. While others treat the symptoms of poverty, disability, disadvantage and yes, even affluence, Tom and DFK treat the real causes. DFK is a world changer. Amid all the challenges we face in this world, none is more significant than creating hope for our at risk youth. They are everywhere, and sadly, the problem is getting worse, not better. We owe them better. They do not want our charity, they want our love, our respect and they want an opportunity for a better future. This is a noble journey - it is life giving and life changing for anyone who will join hands with us. Take a hand up, give a hand up. Make a difference. Come join us and be changed in the significance!
BE the change that you want to see in the world! I know of no other organization that better exemplifies this leadership way of life better than Tom Tuohy and Dreams for Kids. I was first exposed to Dreams for Kids through Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN), a world class organization of leaders from diverse backgrounds motivated to change the world by leading lives of significance. I witnessed first hand the power of Tom's work during an emotional presentation by some of Tom's Dream Leaders, and the experience changed my life. Dreams for Kids is about noble innovation with purpose - creating change one child at a time, one life at a time, and being transformed yourself during the process. Amid all the challenges of the world, none is more difficult or important than creating hopeful change for our "at-risk" youth. They are everywhere among us - stricken by poverty. disability, affluence (higher percentage of substance abuse anxiety depression and suicide among affluent children than their inner city peers), and yes, the children of active military personnel - 2 million and counting. It is simply unsustainable for the future of the world to have that future arrive unhealthy, unskilled, uneducated or not alive to see it. Through Dreams for Kids, I know of one answer to these challenges that really works. I have seen it. I have met it. And I have shed tears for these children. They are waiting to be the solution instead of the problem. They do not want charity. They want opportunity. The opportunity to be the change. During this crazy political season that seems to bring out the worst in us, I invite you to take an intentional excursion - spend a little time with Tom Tuohy and Dreams for Kids. Visit his website at dreamsforkids.org. Make a donation. Make a difference. You will feel better about yourself and take a step toward BEING the change we so desperately need in this world!
There are no words to adequately express my gratitude for Dreams for Kids. My son Matthew has so many fears which Dreams for Kids and its wonderful volunteers have helped to overcome. Still, the fear of going down a snow mountain was not only great but very much justified. Therefore, I was dumbfounded when he kept insisting that he wanted to do it, and on regular skis no less. Naturally we were all careful. Dreams for Kids volunteer Dave took Matthew on the smallest of the bunny hills and he alone went down the slope with Matthew. If you could see the stars in Matthew's eyes, it was a magical moment. They did it a few times but Matthew was not satisfied and insisted on going on a bigger hill, and so they did, two volunteers at that time. I must say I absolutely adore Dave, he kept taking Matthew up the slopes so many times, and it is hard for me to stop Matthew from having fun. Finally they all tired and when thought safe to let go of Matthew, they started talking. Matthew jumped at this opportunity and pushed himself to glide in the direction of a small slope. OMG, I ran after him thinking he'd be afraid. He was not, he was elated. Everybody stood stunned. It was a moment I will never forget. Of course he did not know how to take turns so I had to help, but let me tell you, this sight is so fresh in my mind as if it just happened. For days and weeks afterward Matthew begged me to go skiing again. There is no doubt we will be at the next skiing event and expect that Matthew will surprise as all.
Thank you, thank you, and again thank you. If it weren't for Dreams for Kids my son would never know he could ski, water ski, climb rocks, and many other physical pursuits he so enjoyed that Dreams for Kids staff made possible for him.
A Proud Mom to Matthew
My son has been an active member of Dream for kids for about 9 years now. He was born with a physical disability and I’m so grateful for this organization for giving us hope.
We were accepted with open arms and my son has gained the confidence he needs to become an active member of his High School. My son has taken part in both the Water Ski and Snow Ski . His disability has never been an issue and he is able to take part in sports like any other child his age. I fully support and have great gratitude for all the work Dream for Kids has done to help children with exceptionalities!
Dreams for Kids, Inc. allowed my 8 year old daughter the opportunity to ski both on water and snow for the first time a couple years ago. They made Jaiden's dreams become a reality. I cannot put into words what it feels like when you see your child out of her wheelchair, flying down a snow hill smiling and screaming in excitement from ear to ear. I cannot describe to you in words that feeling, I only tears of joy. This was a dream I didn't know would ever be possible when I heard the diagnosis of cerebral palsy years ago.
Seeing a boat pier full of empty wheelchairs and watching those children in tubes and water skis pulled behind boats are all dreams becoming real. Dreams for Kids, Inc. events are a highlight for my family every single year and with every event. On the day of the events, it is the few times all year that my daughter and our family forget about cerebral palsy.
Dreams for Kids, Inc. is a truly amazing organization, making dreams happen is what they do. They also help children of all ages and disabilities believe in themselves. Dreams really can come true and this organization is proof of that.
Dreams for Kids is a wonderful organization that teaches at risk youth(students who suffer from poverty, depression, or lack of family involvement ) valuable career and life skills that will allow them to live healthier, more financially stable lives and stay away from gangs, drugs, and poverty. With skills in financial management, writing, and fundraising, these students not only have increased knowledge of how to succeed in the real world, but also learn how to support their communities by understanding how they can give back and help others in need
Dreams for Kids is an amazing organization that provides opportunities for children who need it the most. They focus on what the child CAN do, rather than what they cannot do. The positive environment throughout the organization inspires everyone involved to be the best they can be.
Dreams for Kids is a fantastic non-profit! I participated with them during this last summer. At every single event I helped out with the kids always left with giggles and grinning from ear to ear. Dreams for Kids truly makes a difference in children's lives.
The Norm Van Lier Scholarship Fund is an extremely proud supporter of the Dreams for Kids' Dream Leaders program on the South Side of Chicago. The Program has a brilliant curriculum that is very effective and profoundly transformative in the lives of the participants. Dream Leaders teaches the kids that they have great value, that they are important, and that they can help others. I am so grateful that I was made aware of this organization, as it does exactly the kind of work with kids that my husband believed in so strongly.
I met Tom in March, 2010 and was very impressed with his leadership, his work and passion for Dreams For Kids. In April, 2011, I invited Tom as a thought leader for the Chicago Chapter of the COO Forum following Tom's visit to the White House to meet with the President to honor the Blackhawks for their Stanley Cup! The topic of Tom's presentation was "Strategic Social Entrepreneurship--Values and Opportunities". The feedback from COO Forum members was so positive that I invited Tom again in May of this year to be our thought leader on "Social Enterprise: The End of Charity". Two of Tom's Dream Leaders, Cortez Alexander and Richard Babatunde were included at the meeting and invited to speak and tell their stories at our annual social event that followed the meeting. Comments from the members who attended included:
"Thank you for bringing these inspirations into my life...this is a reminder of what commitment can achieve and how much more we can each do to influence outcomes"; "You gave us a great deal to think about in terms of our own personal contribution to society and the critical need to be positive role models for children"; "Thanks for the experience this evening, what fine young men even though it left me with a feeling of inadequacy in terms of what I may leave as a legacy on this planet. Can only strive to do more, inspired by their example"; "Thank you for the inspiring talk and for meeting two great men. When I got back to my office, both my partner and I talked about the evening and we feel strongly that we would like to help out in some way. Please let me know how both of us can become involved in the program either as a volunteer or raising donations"; and last but certainly not least: "Thank you for a great inspirational presentation. I felt more compelled than ever to make a difference the next few days. The world is a better place due to your efforts." The bottom line for me personally is that I feel fortunate to have such an inspirational colleague and friend in my life.
I met Tom and DFK about 2 years ago, initially as a consultant. What blew me away was the stories behind the DFK "story", equally touching. Highly recommend reading Tom's book, "Changing the World, one person at a Time". Because the impact is really all about the lives they touch and change for a lifetime. The Dream Leaders program (social enterprise curriculum for at risk youth) is the differentiator for me. The ability to inspire at-risk youth, many at the poverty line themselves to look beyond and realize that they have the ability to transform the lives of those even less fortunate. While the program certainly develops skills and experiences not normally found in classroom, more importantly it creates better human beings. That's powerful.
The Chicago District of the United States Tennis Association is honored to work with Dreams For Kids. With a shared passion to create opportunities and support children of all backgrounds, the CDTA is proud to work closely with Dreams for Kids. This past August, we partnered to run a Tennis Festival for over 100 children. These children had never played the sport before. With excited kids, even more energetic volunteers, these children had an incredible afternoon on the campus of University of Chicago. All walked away with a racquet and possibly a new passion! Dreams For Kids makes it possible for children to go beyond the walls of their community to meet new kids, learn unique skills, and create a pathway for their future that might have seem impossible. Dreams For Kids truly makes dreams into realities for thousands of kids. Keep going Dreams For Kids and thank you for including us in the fun!
Few companies or organizations act more or with more nobel motives than Dreams For Kids. DFK was a phenomenal fit for me because its mission aligned with my passion: spread opportunity to all children of all backgrounds, race, creed, ability... and allow them to fearlessly pursue their dreams. I am incredibly fortunate to have grown up in a cohesive, close, and objectively well off family. Because of this I have enjoyed my childhood very much; and I know that every kid in the world deserves the chance to also greatly enjoy their youth through support and the provision of opportunities that can lead them to succeed and follow their dreams later in life. This is Dreams For Kids: the national-award-winning Dream Leaders program that provides at-risk youth with the opportunities to help others while teaching critical thinking and business skills and encouraging college attendance; or the countless programs like Extreme Recess that allows many youth with disabilities their first chance to participate in sports and learn lessons that athletics instill; or providing children in nearly 100 countries with their first real Christmas celebration (and it is quite a celebration). It was an incredible experience working and seeing real results and as rewarding a summer as I will ever have. Few missions are more pure or admirable than DFK's looking to provide equal opportunities and support to all youth of the world; and I could not be more proud to say I was a part of it.