By Rachel Kytonen
A local non-profit organization’s goal is to make the wishes and dreams of area youth come true.
Jennifer Ryan, who has been volunteering in Isanti County since her early 20s, has recently started a non-profit organization, Wishes and Dreams Foundation.
“I came up with the name Wishes & Dreams because so many people have a wish or dream and I wanted my foundation to be the one that turned those wishes and dreams into realities; just like how my dream of having a nonprofit to help people turned into a reality,” Ryan said. “I would look at the different programs and wonder why certain people were turned away when they needed help, or why weren’t the programs adding more options to help people.”
Ryan said for years she would write down ideas, and last year she put her ideas to action after sitting with a group of parents at a sporting event and hearing them discuss how the economy has impacted their families.
She heard the parents talk about how their children wouldn’t be able to participate in sports anymore, and how others were having trouble putting food on the table, and buying school supplies and clothes for their kids children.
“After I brain-stormed and designed my program, I gave a few people a call and asked them what they thought,” Ryan said. “They were excited, and kept saying there was nothing like this out there.”
Ryan said a local attorney was gracious enough to review her paperwork for free, and local teen Eli Dukart volunteered to launch the website and do all the IT work for the program.
Ryan said her three young children and herself collected cans to pay for the filing fees, and then submitted the paperwork to the IRS and it was accepted. The Wishes and Dreams Foundation is an official 501c3 non-profit organization.
“One thing that sets us aside from others is nobody is paid in our Foundation and everyone volunteers their time,” Ryan said. “I believe the money or gifts being donated need to go to where it was intended. We are also trying to reach out to the working poor, those living paycheck to paycheck but still living in poverty. I have reached out to some of the teachers in the area and asked them to let me know if they know of any students this winter that are in need of winter clothes, or shoes etc., because there are kids out there going without and I want to help them. The teachers were thrilled. I was told by one teacher that every year she gets a couple of kids that don’t have boots or winter jackets, and she goes out and purchases them, because she knows the families are struggling and she can’t bare to see the kids going without.”
Wishes & Dreams Foundation has several programs
• The Foundation’s Wish Ambassadors not only represent the Foundation, but they represent the state. They go out and volunteer anywhere they can and lend a hand up and make a difference. They are also on the look out for the unspoken heroes who may need a little help themselves.
• Dare To Dream program is a program where people can contact them and they will help to make a kids’ dream come true. The Foundation is looking for those unspoken heroes that are out there making a difference in the lives of others. So far the Foundation has granted two dreams.
• The Wish Warehouse will stock clothes, household supplies, toys for the holidays and formal wear. The Formal Wear option is to help kids who want to go to prom or a special formal event but they don’t have means to purchase the things needed.
• The Foundation has grants to help people with homeless prevention, crisis food needs. It also has a scholarship program to help kids with early education, extracurricular educational activities, extracurricular sports, performing arts, science, etc.
Holiday pageant, fundraiser
The first ever Wishes & Dreams Foundation ‘Dare To Dream Holiday Pageant and Talent Show Fundraiser’ and holiday gift drop off, will be held at Spectacular Events in Isanti Nov. 19.
Ever since the Foundation mentioned online about the foundation fundraiser and what it intends to do with the money, Ryan said she has been contacted by people all over the United States asking how their child can participate. She has also been being contacted by businesses around the world that want to donate prizes, and contacted by a person who runs a nationwide televised pageant series.
Ryan explained the Pageant and Talent Show is open to boys and girls ages 0-19, and everyone that participates will receive a sash and crown. There will also be many contestant prizes handed out, as well as door prizes to spectators. Ryan said she has also been approached by a dress designer who has donated pageant dresses to be awarded.
How to help
If you aren’t able to attend the Nov. 19 fundraiser, but still want to help, you can donate funds via mail or paypal or drop of gifts for those ages 0-19.
“I think people forget that no matter how old a kid is, it still hurts when you don’t have something on that special day,” Ryan said. “People sometimes forget how poverty or financial hardship effects teens. I am shocked at how fast the word got out about my fundraiser and how people want to help make it a success.”
For more information on the Wishes & Dreams Foundation visit www.wishesdreamsfoundation.org or you can find them on Facebook.