IHADLA 25th Anniversary and Watts Program 18 Inauguration
It was a magical celebration, full of laughter and tears. The mayor motivated and inspired, the police chief shared life lessons, and the Superintendent of LAUSD provided words of guidance. Seventy eager smiles behind the podium, however, showed what the day was really about — this day was their day.
On September 12th, we at the I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles welcomed 70 new children into our family. The third-grade class at 99th Street Elementary School in Watts is the 18th class of children that we have sponsored since our start here in Los Angeles in 1987.
The celebration of these new Dreamers marked our 25th anniversary as a foundation in Los Angeles, and the smiles on the faces of these new students provided a perfect snapshot of the reason Eugene Lang began the original “I Have a Dream” Foundation in New York over thirty years ago. “It’s about the Dreamers,” says IHADLA Executive Director Katy Garretson. “This celebration is for them – to inspire them, to motivate them, to let them know that the community and the foundation are behind them.” After the celebration, there was no doubt that the entire community was, in fact, behind these students. The auditorium was full of parents, teachers, uniformed police officers, city and county officials, IHADLA supporters, and community members who came to meet these kids and give them hope for their future and hope in themselves. When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took the stage, he spoke directly to the students. “Do you believe in you?” he asked. Seventy reassuring shouts of “I believe in me!” echoed back. This is what we hope the students will carry with them through their ten-year educational journey — reassuring shouts of belief in themselves and shouts of hope for their future.“You can’t realize your dreams if you don’t feel like you have any hope of achieving them,” says Garretson. “To make that hope part of their reality is what we’re trying to do.” This year, the dream of college and a brighter future is a reality for these 70 Los Angeles kids in Watts. IHADLA made a commitment to its new Dreamers to stay with them for the ten-year journey — to provide them with not only hope, but with after-school and summer programs, academic, cultural and emotional support, college field trips and speakers who will inspire dreams, and everything is topped off with a scholarship to college or vocational school, wherever dreams may lead.
We now ask for the support of our fellow Angelenos in helping the children of our communities achieve their dreams. We are currently completing the funding for our newest group of Dreamers – and it was just made easier by an anonymous donor who has made the pledge to MATCH any other five-year pledge! For instance, if you were to donate the cost of sponsoring a Dreamer through the entire program, 25k, over a five year period at 5k per year, you would actually be sponsoring TWO Dreamers! Any type of pledge is welcome, of course, whether it’s a single donation, a monthly deduction from your credit card, or a five-year pledge. It all makes a difference to a child.
Finally, please share our story and our mission. We want our neighbors throughout the city to know that the “I Have a Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles is out here creating dreams in our community. Tell a friend.