NYC's Night to Dream - Sueños 2019
In 1995, a group of students from Dartmouth went abroad to Carbarete, in the Dominican Republic. Initially, they were planning to volunteer in the local public schools for just a semester; but after experiencing one of the poorest educational systems in Latin America, the volunteers decided to establish the Dream Project, which is committed to bringing positive changes for Dominican children.
Today, this non-profit organization has developed into 27 Dream communities, and it has achieved great success by helping more than 9,000 youth across the country. A large part of this success is attributed to the contributors who make generous donations during events such as the annual Sueños benefit, where 100% of the funds go directly towards the Dream Project to help disadvantaged students in the Dominican Republic.
Sueños, a beautiful Spanish word for dreams, is Dream Project’s most important annual benefit. This year, Sueños 2019 was held at The Mezzanine in Manhattan, where philanthropists, volunteers and celebrities in the US are brought together to support and turn the dreams into reality.
The event was kicked off with an open bar and the network carpet full of celebrities such as Lenny Santos, Taye Diggs, Dascha Polanco, Brandon Neiderauer, Doug Wimbish, Adriano Espaillat, Albania Rosario, and Chef Kelvin. Some of the guests published their own books for children, and the others are making significant contributions in their own ways.
The venue was warmed up by the Beat Bobby Flay winner Chef Kelvin. He performed a culinary demonstration of Dominican food while telling the story of his first time trying beef tartare. He made everyone laugh, and he enabled the guests to live a moment in the Dominican Republic by bringing its exquisite culinary flavors to New York.
Among all the activities, my favorite was the music performance by the Dream Machata Academy Band formed by students travelling all the way from the Dominican Republic. Although they were not born in a community with the best education system and resources, their passion for learning and advancing was expressed through the beautiful sounds of the instruments, and it was for sure a legendary show not to be missed.
It had been an unparalleled evening for me. Seeing people across the country gather together to discuss and bring positive changes for Dominican children allowed me to see the hope underneath the dilemma. Yes we saw poverty, but this night full of food, music, and culture that made us realize that it was possible and meaningful to help close the cycle of poverty in the Dominican Republic. Personally, I learned that there are many ways to involve ourselves to charity. In addition to donation, there are million other ways to make contributions. We can listen, propose valuable advice, help raise social awareness, or simply dance and laugh with the children.