Chasing Dreams: A Community Effort

In an earlier blog entry, I wrote about meeting a young woman whose dream is to design for Barbie.  She’d learned that a fashion educational institute in California would be a great place to begin. She had investigated it to the point that she knew she’d need $40,000 a year for tuition and costs (which doesn’t include room and board).  barbie

I’ve thought of her often, and wanted to reach out to the school–FIDM (Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising)–and talked with an admissions counselor about Dana’s dream.  She asked that I have Dana call her and they could discuss how she might get an education there that would allow her to live her dream.  When I got off the phone, I was STOKED!


Helping other people realize they can pursue their dreams, helping people remove the obstacles that stand between them and the one thing that incites their passion, is something that gives me pure joy.  That satisfaction I got from reaching out to help reminded me of my work at the Crisis Intervention Center years ago.

I was a single mother working multiple jobs and taking care of my daughter, and still I volunteered at the Crisis Center as a paraprofessional telephone counselor.  (Note: Some people asked why I worked at the Crisis Center and I never understood the question until now.  What I now realize they were asking is “Why when you have to work so much and so hard do you STILL do volunteer work?”  Honestly, it was what I did and the thought of quitting something from which I gleaned so much satisfaction never occurred to me.  But I digress.)

One afternoon I got a call from an angry young woman who was stressed about her son’s surgeries.  Her son had a muscular problem with his legs and he walked on his tip-toes all the time, so he couldn’t walk independently, even though he was two years old.  I made the mistake of saying to her, “I know how hard that is for you,” in response to something she said.

She suddenly snapped at me.  “You don’t know anything!  You’ll take calls for an hour or two and go home to your big fine house.  So tell me–what DO you understand?”  It was a challenge and she wanted answers.  Her tone said that she was angry that I had attempted to identify with her, when in her mind, there was no way I could begin to understand.

I quietly answered her, “I know how it is to carry a walker, a diaper bag, a purse, and a 2-year-old, 30-pound kid–and to try not to resent it when your friends’ children walk at 9 months old.  I know how it is to return every gift you receive to the store because you need the money.  I know how it is to beg the light company, the water company and the phone company to please please please don’t suspend your service, just give you another day or two. I know how it is for your employer to write you up for absenteeism because you’ve been off at the hospital. And I know how it is to spend every hour of your vacation time at Vanderbilt Hospital.”

I stopped speaking and heard only silence for about 30 seconds and then only a whisper, “How do you know?”

I softly replied, “You’re not the only single mother with a handicapped child.”

The call was a quite lengthy one, and she shared with me that her dream was to be a camera operation for television.

This woman was the first person I remember really sharing her dream with me, and the first person I was able to help with it.  You see, I had been taking some acting classes and we did some filming at the local community access television station.  I had learned that they offered classes in operating television cameras, the control booth, and the operations of a television studio.  And I had learned that she could take those classes and volunteer on projects in order to get the experience she’d need to apply for a job at a television station.

Years later, the director of the Crisis Center was doing a television appearance and after the show as approached by a young woman who asked, “Does Peggy still work at the Crisis Center?”  The lady went on to share that she’d called the Crisis Center once and the conversation changed her life.  She’d become a television camera operator.  She didn’t have the money to attend school, but she did get the training and experience she needed to accomplish her dream.

What did I learn from that?  I learned that sometimes Chasing Dreams takes a community effort.



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