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Doors to Dream is a South Carolina based non-profit organization whose mission is to develop programs in Charleston that breakdown barriers for vulnerable children and youth under constant systemic oppression or “moment in time” situations of tragedy, to open doors and unify our city.
“Life’s Most Persistent and Urgent question is- What are you doing for others?”- Martin Luther King, Jr. 1957
Doors to Dream envisions a community here in Charleston where answering this question empowers people and gives hope in the face of challenging and devastating circumstances, rather than leaving people feeling helpless and more withdrawn.
The function of our organization is to build relationships, assess needs, create programs, provide resources and ideally come alongside people to create lasting impact. In the moment when a young child is diagnosed with cancer, or loses a parent, we want to enter in and bring joy through building a clubhouse or creating a customized celebration of childhood just for them. In the face of pervasive systemic oppression that creates disparities in access to education, employment, upward mobility and beyond, we seek to work from the inside out. We will empower the children and youth through programs specifically designed to improve resiliency, initiative, and to increase their opportunities for lasting and important employment. We will seek to disciple each student, open doors for them and change the path they are on. Partnering with individual community members, businesses, churches, and corporations will be an important method to create unity within the community at large, and we strongly believe that mobilizing volunteers and inspiring them to give in this way will showcase the heart of our city and inspire other cities to follow suit.
Doors To Dream evolved out of one woman’s mission to make the “why” more important than the “what”.
Confronted with the magnitude of needs worldwide, the reality that inaction never yields positive change ignited the fire behind the vision to not just be her own personal difference maker but to inspire others to be agents for change. Committed to seeing this vision to fruition, Hope Caldwell set her sights on making community service projects accessible to large groups attending conferences, meetings, and/or retreats.
The “why” expanded as Hope and her team began looking at the “who”, “what”, and “how” of integrating community service into these events and beyond. Researching local non-profits led to an extensive list with varied needs. Doors to Dream chose to target a few local children’s organizations first, and soon partnered with Camp Happy Days, a Charleston based organization improving the lives of children and their families facing pediatric cancer. At Camp Happy days, “kids can be kids again as they have fun and gain confidence; what cancer takes away, Camp Happy Days helps give back.” The Doors to Dream team engaged in collaborative development sessions, completing a needs analysis of the journey that families facing pediatric cancer typically sojourn, as well as the needs of the potential groups of people engaging in the community service project.
Bridging this gap birthed the “Clubhouse Challenge” where teams of 10-12 persons alongside the family, work together to build a “mini-house” fashioned after a Charleston single family house, complete with flower box and personalized name plate. The magic happens in the making of these houses into homes. The smiles and confidence on the children’s faces, the shouts of glee, and giggles of excitement enhance the musical score of live music, hammering, and drilling, while participants work together with growing inspiration to work hard without complaint or any personal gain. With heads held high, standing tall, these children look to a future that includes a new open door, one that cancer doesn’t close, for they can step inside and imagine and play without abandon, providing lasting memories for their siblings and parents alike.
In its first year in establishment, Doors to Dream has left a mark and opened doors for everyone they partner with as well as leaving its doors open to ways to continue revolutionizing the ways we look at community service at the corporate, community and personal levels. Partnering with KLHGroup, a socially responsible meeting and event resource firm, Doors to Dream has executed its events with sophisticated finesse, beautifully integrating comfort and accessibility for all individuals involved, completing a complicated project, and creating memories to last a lifetime. Logan Marks and his team at “Quality of Marks” provided the exceptional blueprint and carpentry skills to launch this project and make the clubhouse challenge a full reality. And the blooming partnership with Lowe’s Home improvement has already proved invaluable to deliver clubhouses from the build site to their final destinations. This type of “pay it forward” mentality is building a momentum behind Doors to Dream's vision and releasing us of the limits we sometimes too quickly put on our own potential and capacity for making a difference.
For a glimpse into a Doors To Dream Experience, check out the case study for our boy Trenton
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