This year would have been the 10th anniversary of the Dream Project’s first holiday dinner fundraiser, which helped raise scholarship funds for our four original scholars in 2010. However, due to COVID-19 safety concerns and gathering restrictions, we opted for a virtual fundraiser in lieu of the traditional in-person event. This celebration, entitled “5 Golden Days of Giving,” featured video messages from scholars, supporters, and the Dream Project community, an online auction, and a live webinar.
Congressman Don Beyer from Virginia’s 8th district kicked off the week with a short video message. In this message, he thanks the Dream Project and its supporters for their contributions to the community and pledges to fight for legislation with a path to citizenship for Dreamers.
Hear from Congressman Beyer here: https://youtu.be/pXDtn_tbl24
Next, we released a video highlighting Arij and Parishay, siblings from Pakistan and two of our Dream Project scholars. Arij and Parishay tell their stories about coming to the United States and struggling with their undocumented status to access a college education. Thanks to their resilience, passion, and mutual support, Arij is now a junior at the University of Virginia and Parishay a senior at George Mason University, both with big plans to change the world.
Learn more about Arij here: https://youtu.be/yfNCqPgXH10
Learn more about Parishay here: https://youtu.be/ABNnobc4ocI
The week continued with videos from Dream Project founders: Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, chair of the Board of Directors since the organization’s inception in 2010, and Hareth, one of our original scholars and now an alumnus of Northern Virginia Community College, Trinity Washington University, and the Catholic University of America. In her interview, Dr. Violand-Sanchez tells how she came to the United States from Bolivia and established a reputation as an immigrant rights advocate in the Arlington community. She also discusses the establishing the Dream Project and the organization’s future. Hareth dives further into her personal struggles as an undocumented student, the Dream Project’s founding, and the sense of community she found within the organization.
Watch Dr. Emma’s interview with Greg Hamilton from Arlington Magazine here: https://youtu.be/7rmMeeH29Tg
Meet Hareth here: https://youtu.be/pgIGQR4YGhk
For the fourth day of the campaign, our videos featured Executive Director Lizzette Arias and members of the Dream Project Parents’ Committee. Lizzette described her personal journey as an undocumented student, how she got involved with the Dream Project, changes the organization has seen over the years, and plans for the future. The Parents’ Committee discussed their fundraising work, collaborative volunteering environment, and the impact the organization has had on their own goals and dreams.
Get to know Lizzette in her interview with Greg Hamilton from Arlington Magazine here: https://youtu.be/40pCLFV_cLI
Learn more about the Parents’ Committee here: https://youtu.be/O7-LRtb7_tU
Finally, our “5 Golden Days of Giving” culminated in a live webinar hosted via YouTube, the closest we could get to celebrating in person. The event’s MC, Dream Project scholar Darwin, kept the evening lively with his upbeat attitude and refreshing narration. He opened with an original spoken-word poem entitled “Unheard No More,” then passed the virtual mic to Lizzette, who thanked the organization’s investors and supporters.
Next, Darwin presented our Dreamscape video, which featured storytelling art produced by Dream Project mentees. Following the video, we heard from Khulegen, one of the mentees attending Washington-Liberty High School in Arlington. Khulegen told his story about coming to the United States after being abandoned by his father and finding familial strength in his relationship with his mother.
After Khulegen, Virginia senator Mark Warner came on to congratulate the Dream Project on our 10th anniversary and praise our organization’s mission. Then, Ricardo, another one of our scholars, sang his own rendition of Elvis’s “White Christmas” with a Spanish twist. Later, Carlos, the Dream Project’s Program Assistant, oversaw a game of Kahoot for attendees. Congratulations to the winners Robin and Walter Tejada, Julia Walters, and Justine Springberg for their knowledge of the organization’s history and other random trivia.
At the end, Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez reflected on the organization’s history and thanked our supporters again, and Ricardo wrapped up the evening with holiday classic “Feliz Navidad.” All in all, with the ongoing virtual auction featured items donated by Dream Project parents and friends, we were able to raise over $200,00. Many thanks again to those that have supported the Dream Project since our first holiday dinner 10 years ago. We miss you all a lot and hope we can celebrate together again soon!