Larry, 78, had always wanted to attend a music concert featuring his favorite rock singer, Jackson Browne. This year, his dream finally came true, thanks to an organization called Don’t Stop Dreamin’, in partnership with Do-It-For-the-Love, a nonprofit that supports attendance at live musical performances.
“I not only attend the Jackson Browne concert, I also got to meet him for about 15 minutes that night,” Larry says. “It was something special.”
The idea for Don’t Stop Dreamin’ was born in 2005 from a desire to provide meaning, fulfillment and fun to the lives of residents living in Quality Life Services nursing and personal care homes. For the first seven years, the program fulfilled a few resident dreams each year, surviving mostly on small profits generated through car washes and bake sales organized by its dedicated staff. But the desire to grow the program to positively impact more people was strong, so the organization applied for nonprofit status in 2011. In March 2012, the Internal Revenue Service designated Don’t Stop Dreamin’ as a charitable organization.
Today, Don’t Stop Dreamin’ is comprised of an executive director, a five-member volunteer board of directors and administrative coordinator, 12 Dream Ambassadors and countless supporters, partners and donors. The organization hosts three large fundraiser events per year that collectively welcome nearly 500 guests. Through the tireless work of DSD members, residents have enjoyed a fun day at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Rivers Casino; flown in helicopters, planes and hot air balloons; relaxed at spas and enjoyed delicious restaurant dining; celebrated 100th birthdays and significant wedding anniversaries; ridden on horses, UTVs, motorcycles and classic cars; and cheered on the Butler Blue Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Penguins and Steelers. They’ve fulfilled dreams of publishing books and earning honorary diplomas. Many residents are now connected to the Internet and their families by utilizing new Apple iPads and laptop computers provided by Don’t Stop Dreamin’. They’ve laughed, cried and had some of the best days of their lives.
Some of the dreams fulfilled are quite simple, like that of another local senior, George, who just wanted to enjoy a day of fishing at Lake Arthur. He was able to do so, courtesy of a very generous pontoon boat captain docked at the lake. Afterwards, George enjoyed dining at one of his favorite restaurants in Butler.
Don’t Stop Dreamin’ continues to fulfill individual resident dreams while simultaneously pursuing special programming opportunities, including a DREAM Chaser program with Slippery Rock University students and an Art Program at the Carnegie Museum of Art for residents with dementia—which involves collaboration with a local artist and is supported by the Richard G. Snyder Endowment for the Arts. Last summer, residents also enjoyed a historical presentation of Pullman Park and a Blue Sox game supported by a Butler Sam’s Club Community grant. Don’t Stop Dreamin’ is planning a spring kite-flying project in 2018 supported by First Energy Foundation.
Don’t Stop Dreamin’ also recently joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that encourages philanthropy and celebrates generosity worldwide. Occurring this past year on November 28, #GivingTuesday is held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and give back in impactful ways. Don’t Stop Dreamin’ partnered with #GivingTuesday and launching #GivingDREAMSDay as our way to encourage citizen and business involvement in supporting once-in-a-lifetime experiences for residents in Quality Life Services nursing and personal care homes. Last November, the Butler County Commissioners proclaimed #GivingTuesday across the county to encourage all citizens to join together to give back to the community in any way that is personally meaningful. “Wear Your Care” was the theme for #GivingDreamsDay and temporary hand tattoos were distributed for individuals to wear to show support.
Donations are now being accepted for this program. To help provide “the best day of my life” for Quality Life Services residents and fulfill meaningful dreams in 2018, call (724) 431-0770 or visit dontstopdreamin.org.
Featured photo caption: Don’t Stop Dreamin’ recipient Dan fulfills a dream of horseback riding.
Photo credit: All photos provided by Patricia L. Kirkpatrick
Don’t Stop Dreamin’ recipient Rick enjoys a day at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
George finally gets to fish at Lake Arthur.
Jim cheers on the Butler Blue Sox.
Don’t Stop Dreamin’ recipient Marc has his Steelers dream come true.