Category Archives: teens

Babe Reminds Us that Anything is Possible

Left to right: Mark Evans, Andi Cooper, Sierra Noll, Makaela Cooper, Noah Youcheff, and Maddie Trimmer
Left to right: Mark Evans, Andi Cooper, Sierra Noll, Makaela Cooper, Noah Youcheff, and Maddie Trimmer

As Hilary Adams, Director of Artistic Programming prepares to stage, Babe, the Sheep-Pig, her very first show at DreamWrights, she reflects on the theme of the show and what she would like audiences to take away from it. Adams says, “I’d like people to feel uplifted by the central message of the show that you should not be limited by what the world thinks you can do. Trying new things, no matter your age, even if other people at first laugh at your attempts, is essential to continuing to grow as a person. Maybe, like Babe, you’ll discover a new talent or skill, or maybe you’ll make some new friends along the way.”

Discovering a new talent or skill? Making new friends along the way? Doing something you didn’t think was possible? This is what happens to people who enter the doors of DreamWrights. Babe, the Sheep-Pig reflects so many of the organization’s values.  Even the young actors recognize the life lessons that Babe teaches.  Thirteen year old Makaela Cooper and eleven year old Maddie Trimmer both play the part of sheep in the play. Makaela shares, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like. You can be whoever you want and say it however you want and do whatever you want.  It is a message that both Babe and DreamWrights has taught me.”  Maddie agrees, “DreamWrights gives you opportunities that you never thought you could have. You can be a sheep one play and a princess the next one.” Noah Youcheff, 12, who plays the part of Babe says, “The show has taught me that you can be whatever you want to be if you try hard enough.”

People of all ages will find humor, excitement, and poignancy in the show. Adams invites audiences to come along on the adventure, “There are a lot of fun action scenes combined with touching moments of connection between the characters as we go with Babe on his journey from a new arrival on the farm, to his big day as the first pig to participate in the Grand Challenge Sheep-dog Trials.”

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As a special event, audiences are invited to visit with micro pigs, Dyna and Opal prior to many of the Babe performances.  Dyna is micro mini pig. At around 30lbs., she is on the smaller side as some of these pigs grow to be 150lbs. She loves kids and attention and snuggling with her humans. Opal is an 8 month old Juliana micro pig. She knows her name, walks on a leash, and knows some basic commands (sit, come , spin).

Come to the DreamWrights farm show, Babe the Sheep-Pig, which opens Friday, February 10 and runs February 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, and 25 at 6:30 pm and February 11, 12, 19, and 26 at 2:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 717-848-8623. Advance seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved. General admission seats at the door cost $12.

Teens Invited to a Magical Night in Neverland

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(l to r) John Patterson, Paige Gross, Jonah Unger, Lilly Einsig

Seventeen year old Paige Gross has attended all of the teen dances at DreamWrights. She and her friends have enjoyed them so much that she decided to take matters into her own hands. “I was inspired and thought it’d be fun to plan this year’s Winter Ball. I was talking to Jonah one day and we started coming up with ideas, not seriously thinking about actually planning it. But the more we talked about it the more we realized we wanted to make our ideas a reality.” Paige’s friend, Jonah Unger, is planning it with her. Jonah says, “I thought it would be a good learning experience, as well as simply being fun.”

These two are taking the lead and with the help of a small group of friends, they are planning a winter dance with a Neverland theme just for teens. Paige explains, “I’ve always loved the fantasy element of the story and the world of Neverland. Winter is a magical season, with sparkling snow, twinkling lights, and something cheerful in the air. Winter has an enchanting element to it, and DreamWrights is a magical place that celebrates the youth in everyone. At DreamWrights, no one ever really grows up. Just like in Neverland.”

The evening promises lots of music, dancing, and merriment. Refreshments like root beer served in tankards and other themed surprises will abound. A peaceful space, known as the Treehouse, will be available with games and comfy chairs for teens who prefer a quieter, less crowded space in which to talk and have fun.

All of the teens involved in planning this project agree that York offers far too few events like this for their age group. They hope that kids new to DreamWrights attend as well as those who are familiar. One of the teen planners, Lilly Einsig, sums it up, “I think it’s nice to have events like this around because it gives young people in the area a chance to meet and enjoy a fun night together. Even if you don’t know anyone or have never been involved with DreamWrights before, don’t be afraid to come. It’s the perfect place to meet new people and make friends.”

This special evening, A Night in Neverland, is just for teens ages 13 – 17. Join us December 28 from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm at DreamWrights, 100 Carlisle Avenue, York. Tickets are $12.00 at the door. Dress is semi-formal and themed outfits are encouraged (pirate, fairy, lost boy, etc.). Refreshments will be served.

The Wizard of Oz is a Family Affair

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Billy (center) as a munchkin at age 11

This holiday season, DreamWrights invites families to enjoy The Wizard of Oz. And what’s better than watching this iconic adventure story with your family? Bringing the story to life with your family! Many DreamWrights crew and cast members are working to stage this show along with family members. It is a wonderful way to spend quality together time during the busy holiday season.

Billy Ferrell, who plays the Cowardly Lion remembers, “I have loved the Wizard of Oz since I was a child. I was fortunate to perform as a munchkin when I was 11 years old, and it has been a dream of mine to perform in it again since then. I never could have imagined performing in it alongside my daughters. We are making lifelong memories together.” The Ferrell girls can be seen onstage, Elizabeth and Rebecca as snowflakes and Julia as a Jitterbug.

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Billy Ferrell with his daughters

Like Billy and his three daughters, DreamWrights productions often draw talent from multiple generations of families. Families cooperating together as peers is a hallmark of DreamWrights. Guest Director Jaci Keagy explains, “This was my first experience working with a multi-generational cast and I LOVED it!” She adds, “Some are on stage, some are off, but everyone contributes to the show, and no one has to stay home!”

Billy agrees, “Where else can parents and children participate in activities together as peers? It’s an amazing experience to be a part of a creative process along-side my kids — to see them interact with other kids and adults and vice versa. The creative process of making a live theatrical production happen is valuable, but the life lessons and social experience are invaluable!”

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The Fraser Family

Kristen and Scott Fraser are in the show with their three kids. William and Anna are on costume crew while Sophie is on stage with her parents. Kristen says, “DreamWrights is the one place where my family can collaborate to create something great. This place is a second home to us.”

Fifteen year old Anna says that she is the envy of many of her friends, “My friends talk to me about this a lot. They will say, ‘Wow, I wish my family did these kinds of things together like your family does’ and ‘You guys are so lucky.’” Sixteen year old William agrees that doing a show all together is a great family experience. In fact, the Frasers have done so many shows together as a family at DreamWrights they can’t agree on exactly how many it has been. Twelve? Fourteen? But all agree when Sophie, a wise young lady of eleven, declares, “DreamWrights is the most amazing thing I ever do. It is the most fun.”

We invite you to see the Frasers and Ferrells in The Wizard of Oz. It runs December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17 at 6:30pm and December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 2:30pm. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 717-848-8623.

And why not join the fun yourself by rounding up your own family and auditioning for our next show, Babe, the Sheep-Pig?! Auditions will be held December 13 or 14 at 6:00pm. No prior experience necessary.

Announcing our 2017 Season Lineup and 20th Year Milestone

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Not only does 2017 offer what promises to be a highly entertaining year of theatrical programming for DreamWrights Center for Community Arts, but also marks the theatre’s 20th year anniversary. “2017 will be an exciting year for us at DreamWrights,” comments Ann Davis, DreamWrights’ Executive Director. “Especially for those of us who are founding members and have been involved since the beginning, it is great to see the organization grow and develop. Since the beginning, DreamWrights has been offering educational and mentorship opportunities across multiple generations, while constantly strengthening our reach and impact on the greater York community. The 2017 season is well positioned to continue this growth.”

With shows from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, to the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Hilary Adams, Director of Artistic Programming, says that this season will provide opportunities behind the scenes or on the stage for the seasoned DreamWrights participant as well as those thinking about trying something new. Adams explains, “We have comedies, dramas, and musicals. We have classic and modern text. On the technical side, we will be creating a diverse variety of theatrical worlds. We look forward to engaging the community and welcoming people to DreamWrights.”

This season, DreamWrights is proud to stage a world premiere by local playwright, Paige Hoke, Peter Pan and Mary or, the Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady, a prequel to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. For anyone familiar with Hoke or her work, this anticipated event promises to be popular for crew, cast, and audiences alike.

In addition, the 2017 season brings to life theatrical adaptations of books and films, including Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, family favorite, Babe the Sheep-Pig, and holiday staple, It’s a Wonderful Life. Adams reports, “In terms of education, adaptations provide an opportunity to experience a story in different forms. You could see the stage version first then work backwards, for example, watching the movie then reading the book, and then compare and contrast the differences between the various art forms.” She suggests this season provides plenty of inspiration for launching a reading club. “These adaptations would be fun to read and study. It would an excellent educational opportunity to look at an age appropriate theatrical adaptation, ask questions about the differences in the forms of the story, and then play with adapting a scene from the book or film to the stage.”

For summer time programming, DreamWrights’ Theatre Under the Trees brings Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew free to York County parks. Since 1998, Theatre Under the Trees has provided classic Shakespeare with a modern twist to fans and families.

DreamWrights 2017 season kicks off with Babe, the Sheep-Pig which runs February 10 – 26, followed by Pride and Prejudice (March 30 – April 1), Peter Pan and Wendy or, The Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady (May 5 – 21), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (June 22 – 25), The Taming Of the Shrew (July 21 – 29), The Mousetrap (August 11 – 20), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (October 6 – 22) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec 1 – 17). For further information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.dreamwrights.org.

Learning More than Just Lines at DreamWrights

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Katy Newton in 2007

Twenty-four year old Katy Newton says that DreamWrights was her first artistic endeavor in life. “It taught me how to use art to impact the community. It showed me how a large group of people can come together and produce something fun and entertaining! It taught me teamwork skills and respect for hard work.” After studying theatre and English in college, Katy went on to pursue a few art internships and now works in the art world at Whitney Museum of American Art.

Katy’s interest for theatre began in 1999 when she came to see DreamWrights’ production of Miracle on 34th Street. She remembers, “I was in first grade and my first ever crush was in the show! It was cool because we got to go to different rooms and walk around. All of the Christmas shows are special because the whole community comes out to see them and it’s a magical time of year.”

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Katy Newton (front) in The Clumsy Custard in 2002

Katy’s DreamWrights “career” began in 2002 with The Clumsy Custard when she was just nine years old. But she credits M*A*S*H (2007) and Welcome to the Monkey House (2008) as her favorites. “With M*A*S*H, I got to learn a lot of history about the Vietnam War as well as a few swing dancing moves. ”

A departure from the more traditional DreamWrights programming, Katy enjoyed Welcome to the Monkey House because of its unique take on four Kurt Vonnegut stories, complete with subtle societal messages. “It was one of the first DreamWrights teen shows, and was great to see literature brought to life on stage. The director, Jay Schmuck, was a lot of fun and the whole cast was great to work with because we were all about the same age.”

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Katy Newton (center front ) in M*A*S*H in 2007

Art appreciation, philanthropy, history, literature, dance moves, and life skills like teamwork and respect were all learning opportunities for Katy at DreamWrights during her formative years. Now that she’s a young adult, she finds that these experiences have benefited her in life and in her career. “Being able to improvise and adapt to different roles and fields of study is invaluable. Being able to use art as a way to give back to the community was one of the most important things I learned and is something I still try to do in my current career.”

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Katy Newton’s head shot for Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House in 2008

As for advice she gives to rising DreamWrights kids, Katy says, “Take chances; don’t second-guess yourself. Put yourself out there. Remember there is no timeline or correct way to do things — everyone goes at their own pace. It’s okay if you don’t have an idea of what you want to do when you grow up — nobody really does! You make it up as you go.”

Designing Young Men

Sewing costumes in the theatre is not where you might expect to find boys. But eleven year old Daniel Perkins and thirteen year old Gianmarco Febres love the skills and experiences they are gaining while working on costume crew. Both of these bright and capable boys are putting their talents to work creating costumes for The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.

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Daniel Perkins (back) and Gianmarco Febres (front)

Gianmarco says he likes costumes equally to acting on stage. He was first on stage in 2013 for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow but he gave costuming a try earlier this year for Young King Arthur. He enjoyed it so much he’s doing it again now for The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. “I never thought about costumes that much until I actually got into costumes and then I realized it is really fun. Ironically I’m making a vest for my friend, and last time I made an apron thing for the same friend.”

This is Daniel’s first show in costumes but his second show at DreamWrights. He was previously on stage for The Secret Garden but now that he’s discovered how much fun costume crew is, he says he prefers it. “I would choose costumes over acting because actors have to memorize lines, blocking, and do quick costume changes. In costume crew you just have fun making the costumes.”

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Daniel sewing a costume

Daniel discloses that another reason he loves costume crew is because he likes being in charge of what the actors look like. “Even though many people think the actors are the best, the backstage crew honestly is. If it weren’t for the crew, the actors wouldn’t have anything. So that’s why I wanted to do costumes.”

Gianmarco says that thanks to his work in costumes he has discovered that he really likes to iron. “I like the heat of the iron best. I though t it was more complicated than it looks.” When asked about his favorite part of costume crew, Daniel emphatically answers, “Sewing! That is honestly my favorite part!” He credits DreamWrights and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit for teaching him this valuable skill. He explains, “Because now that I know how to sew, doors have opened up to me with opportunity. In school we had to make a costume for a project but now that I know how to sew it made it a lot easier.”

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Gianmarco working on the lining for his friend’s costume

Both boys agree that they enjoy theatre because it brings people together. Daniel says, “All these people you’ve never known before now you’re best friends.” Gianmarco adds, “What I like about it is that it connects the community. DreamWrights is a place that spawns more friendships than just in school and neighborhoods.”

Daniel recommends costume crew to anyone. “For someone who is hesitant about going into costumes, it might seem weird at first. But with all the skills you learn, later on you’ll appreciate that you learned them.”

The Art of the Theatrical Haunted House

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This fall at DreamWrights, hands-on classes will teach a variety of spooky theatre elements and techniques, including scene design, costume design, and special effects. Students will create the actual components for the first ever “DreamFrights” Haunted House held October 28 and 29. Classes are also offered for haunted makeup and freaky food fare.

In the scene design workshop, participants will create scary scenes through faux painting, set decorating, props creation, and special wall treatments. Costume design workshop participants will craft textile-based scene decorations as well as creepy costumes like hooded capes, goblins, ghosts and other clever creatures. For those interested in special effects, participants will construct sound and lighting cues for each scene and pathway and will utilize spooky background noises like a stormy night, haunted woods, bats, spiders and snakes.  In the Haunted Makeup class, learn to turn great looking people into creepy ghosts, ghouls, skeletons and zombies. The Freaky Food Fare workshop will explore ideas and creativity for making autumn and Halloween inspired food.

For the younger crowd, the Mini Musical: How to be a Pirate will bring out your inner scallywag through story and song. This workshop will culminate with a musical performance at the DreamFrights Haunted House on Saturday, October 29 at 2:30 pm.

All workshops run four Saturday mornings: October 1, 8, 15 and 22 from 9:00am-12:00pm and one Wednesday evening, October 26 6:00pm-8:00pm (with the exception of the Mini Musical). All workshops culminate with the DreamFrights Haunted House on October 28 and 29 where students will receive free admittance to the DreamFrights haunted house. More information can be found at http://www.dreamwrights.org/education/fall-2016-classes.

About DreamFrights Haunted House

On October 28th and 29th DreamWrights opens the doors of DreamFrights – its first ever Haunted House fundraiser. A team of creative minds are stewing up a theatrically frightful event that has modified fright factor levels from mild to menacing. Tickets are $10 per person and are available online at http://www.dreamwrights.org/fund-raising-event/special-events through October 27th at 4pm or at the door. Drop in any time Friday, Oct. 28th 7:00-9:00 pm (Menacing) or Saturday, Oct. 29 2:00-4:00 pm (Mild), 4:30-6:30 pm (Medium), 7:00-9:00 pm (Menacing). Suggested fear level guidelines: Mild – under age 7, Medium – 12 and under, Menacing – 13 and up.

Summer at DreamWrights

Meredith Singleton is embarking on her senior year at York Suburban High School. She is the President of the Trojan Theatre Club, plays violin with the York Youth Symphony Orchestra, sings with the York County Honors Choir, and represented her school last year at Regional Chorus. Her busy school and activity schedule doesn’t permit her to get involved at DreamWrights during the school year but for the past three summers, Meredith has participated with DreamWrights’ Shakespeare program, Theatre Under the Trees.

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Also this summer, she added something additional to her resume: Teen Camp Counselor.

As a rising senior, Meredith knows that she needs to soon decide what she will do after high school. With her interest in theatre, she decided to volunteer as a teen counselor at four DreamWrights summer camps. She explains, “I’ve been looking at colleges but I had no idea what I wanted to go into. Now I have a better idea.” Never having worked in a classroom before, Meredith confirmed her interest in teaching and theatre and recently has narrowed her college search to schools offering theatre arts and either early education, music education, and/or museum studies.

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Meredith remembers, “I liked working with the kids. It was a lot of fun. I had a good experience doing stuff with them.” DreamWrights’ Summer Camp Coordinator, Hannah Kohler recognizes that she has a knack for working with younger kids in a theater environment, “I was very impressed with her work ethic. She is very proactive and I could always count on her to ask about the next thing. At times I have to tell her to go home.”

Calm and effective, Meredith was exposed to a variety of age ranges of campers. She loved that she could really see a difference in the campers from the time they arrived on the first day to when they performed on the last. “When I was working with the really little kids, there was this one girl who was so shy she didn’t want to talk to anyone. She was crying the first day when her mother dropped her off. But then on the last day she actually got up on stage to do her thing. I was so proud of her. “

DreamWrights is lucky Meredith decided to spend so much of her summer at the theatre. The only regret she has now is having more time during the school year to participate at DreamWrights. “That’s the one thing I regret about my busy schedule. If I had the opportunity to, I definitely would do more.”

The Billets Leave their Legacy to Help Ensure DreamWrights’ Future

Tommy Billet says it all began with his theatrical wife, Carmen. More than ten years ago, she discovered DreamWrights as an outlet for their grandson, Jacob. Tommy remembers, “Jake has been in 16 or 17 productions since he was 8 or 9.” He will soon be 16 and has been involved with every aspect of the productions: onstage, props, stage management, even sound and lights. “Jake grew up here. When he walks in the doors of DreamWrights, he’s home.”

Leave a Legacy

It was important for Tommy and Carmen to make sure that Jacob has that second home to turn to not only for himself, but for other kids like Jacob as well. That’s why the Billets chose to leave their legacy with DreamWrights’ Lasting Dreams Legacy Society, a member of Leave a Legacy York County. Tommy explains, “We decided we wanted this perpetuated. We have a strong commitment to DreamWrights and feel it is a worthwhile program. So after we’re passed there is that legacy.”

In his will, Tommy has arranged for a portion of his estate to be left to DreamWrights, a portion to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the rest to his grandchildren. Tommy laughs, “I’ve been eating oysters out of that bay for well over 60 years. I figure it is time to give back to them too.” But Tommy says that DreamWrights is a part of that whole picture “simply because it was good for our grandson and it was pretty good for us too. I enjoy coming here and seeing the children grow physically and mentally and just blossom. It’s a program worth supporting.”

Tommy Billet Lasting Dreams Legacy Society pin turned into ring

Sadly, Carmen Billet passed away last April. Tommy remembers, “We were honored with a DreamWrights’ Lasting Dreams Legacy pin in January when we came to see The Secret Garden. That was the last time my wife was out. And it made her day.” Tommy has since had the pin made into a ring that he wears proudly. It is a comfort to him to know that his affairs are in order and places like DreamWrights and the oysters in the Chesapeake Bay will live on for others to enjoy for years to come.

DreamWrights Benefits from Two Unsuspecting Role Models

When they learned about DreamWrights’ Capital Campaign, it was eleven year old Maddie Trimmer’s and fourteen year old Sophie Nicholson’s natural inclination to jump right in to help in any way they could. Maddie remembers her parents discussing the campaign, “I heard them talking about how they were going to donate some money and I said, ‘Well, can I donate some money too?’” So Maddie began doing odd jobs around her mother’s office for some extra cash.

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Mom Gina Trimmer explains, “DreamWrights is so near and dear to her heart. That it is what comes first. It’s natural for her. When we talked about doing the capital campaign, she said, ‘Well what can I do?!’ Our mouths dropped and it touched us to know that she wanted to give to something. To help.”

Sophie is no stranger to philanthropy. This will be the fifth summer of hosting her lemonade stand to raise money for the non-profits that she believes in. But this recent contribution to the capital campaign was in addition to her annual lemonade stand donation. To earn the extra cash, she picked up some jobs like cat sitting and washing the dog. When she earns money, she divides her earnings into save, spend, and donate. She says she saves up the donate money until she decides what she wants to do with it. “And then we were going to the kickoff event,” she says. She knew the timing was right.

“When I gave money to DreamWrights’ Capital Campaign it made me feel good. I felt like I was helping because DreamWrights is kind of like my second home. It felt exciting for me that we’re getting to contribute to what’s going to happen [with the construction] and how cool that’s going to make DreamWrights with the re-do-al,” Sophie says with a giggle, knowing that she just made up her own word, just like Director Diane.

Maddie interjects, “I hope this place gets more people and opens up a lot more and that people fall in love with it like we did. It is a place that’s really special to a lot of people because you can be yourself and it doesn’t really matter. You don’t get judged. I felt good inside [to give] because it is a place that I really love.”

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“I hope this campaign will help DreamWrights get more recognized,” Sophie anticipates. “This is so big. There were a lot of people who don’t come to DreamWrights who came to that kickoff event. I really hope that maybe they’ll be like, ‘Oh! This is a really cool place and I can help make it better.’ I hope more people will be drawn to the welcoming and loving family of DreamWrights.”

When it is pointed out to the girls that they are role models for not only other kids, but also adults and community members who might not realize the importance of supporting non-profits that they believe in, both girls were dumbfounded. They never thought of themselves as role models. After a few minutes of thinking about it, Sophie humbly comments, “I’ve given before but I never thought about the fact that I could influence someone else to do something of the same.” Maddie modestly agrees, “I didn’t realize that, wow, I might be a role model for some total stranger.”

Although these girls were not the largest donors, they understand that every dollar counts. Sophie nails it, “It doesn’t matter whether it is a dollar or a thousand. You are making a difference. Every step is a closer step to the goal. Even a dollar – that’s stepping closer to where DreamWrights wants to be. It doesn’t matter what you give.” She’s absolutely right. Every amount helps and, even better, there is something about giving that makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you’re part of a larger community working towards a common goal.

Maddie adds, “You are contributing to a great place that could change someone’s life any day. You could be a role model too. It doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are. Whatever you are… it’s just… you count!”

About DreamWrights’ Capital Campaign
On July 1, DreamWrights kicked off the public phase of its $2.5 million Capital Campaign. This campaign will allow DreamWrights to make the investments necessary to increase the reach of its special programs and provide accessibility to all. The capital project will achieve two strategic goals: to grow programs and audience and to revitalize our landmark, historic building. Community support is essential in helping DreamWrights reach its $2.5 million goal.