DREAMS ARE POSSIBLE
Dreams Are Possible is a community program that has transformed a vacant first floor of an 1880’s neighborhood grocery store into a training center for low-income women where they can learn basic skills so they can determine whether they wish to pursue a career in the building trades.
The Dreams are Possible Training Center is the brainchild of Mary Campbell, a retired social work faculty from Normal, and Feli Sebastian, a psychologist from Bloomington.
"We work on efforts to give people a better opportunity for job security and housing," Campbell said. "We focus on women who are working hard but can't make ends meet. If you invest in women, you invest in their children and their communities."
Women who are struggling financially in McLean County frequently are single mothers who work jobs that don't pay well. The idea of Dreams are Possible is to provide the women with hands-on experience so they acquire skills in using various tools as well as exposure to a variety of fields so the women can determine whether they want to apply for apprenticeship programs to become plumbers, sheet metal workers, laborers, electricians or carpenters or transfer to Heartland Community College in their Ready to Work Programs. Women can be truck drivers, welders, and brick layers, as well, and all of these fields are actively seeking to recruit women and pay a living wage.
"All those fields pay way better and have benefits," Campbell said. "Women traditionally don't think about those fields." Dreams Are Possible helps expose the women to new opportunities and prepare them for future employment.
If mothers work jobs that pay better, they would only have to work one job, which means they would have more time to spend with their children, which would be beneficial for their children and community, Campbell and Sebastian said.
"This is a way to help kids in our community by helping their parents," Campbell said.
Using private donations and volunteers, they transformed the first floor of the building into a training lab, computer room, classroom, play area for children and a kitchenette.
Now that the building is completely renovated and classes are being offered, there is ongoing need for financial support to provide the instructor for the classes and the staff who helps the women to address all the barriers that may keep them from being successful going forward.
More information about Dreams Are Possible is found on their Facebook page.
Illinois Prairie Community Foundation serves as fiscal sponsor for Dreams Are Possible. If you would like to support these efforts to improve the lives of women in our community, please donate online by clicking on the Donate button below. If you prefer to make a donation in another manner, click here for information.