The West Orange Dream Center is inviting locals to attend the inaugural Dream Big fundraiser dinner on Saturday, Nov. 5.
The fundraiser aims to raise $150,000 to help offset the costs of the building, programming and everything the organization does with funds for items such as coffee, electricity, rent, supplies and food.
Rainey McFadden, director of the West Orange Dream Center, said at the end of the night, he believes his only word will be “wow.”
“We are developing one-on-one and community personal relationships as if we are family, to change the mindset for future hope and dreams,” McFadden said. “These relationships are what inspire me. This great night will be the stamp of great partnerships, bringing one community and many centers to be one voice for West Orange, Winter Garden and beyond.”
More than 250 people have been invited to attend the fundraiser, including prominent community figures, local business owners, city officials and media personnel.
Carol Vereb, programs director and former director of the center, has been with the organization since 2019.
“The Dream Center is blessed to be here,” Vereb said. “We want to make an impact on Winter Garden, which is why we invited city officials and the media team. Our hope is that in their conversations, if they come across someone in need, they can direct them our way for help. We’re not expecting anything. The purpose is to see, hear and learn our mission. We’re excited to be part of a community that seems to be so close knit.”
Ninety-nine percent of the center is run by volunteers; the idea for the fundraiser was prompted by the increased need for funds.
“It costs money to keep things running,” Vereb said. “We’ve had some great supporters who have been by us along the way, and they continue to do so. But this event is to help us continue the mission that we feel so called to do. We just want to love on the community in a special way and to let them know how happy we are to be here and to be serving in their home.”
The VIP room will open an hour before the start of the event with charcuterie supplied by local small business The Modern Host.
For the main dinner, the Dream Center has partnered with John Rivers from Four Rivers to supply guests with two carving stations, a full buffet and staff to accompany the selections.
A smooth jazz band will be playing during dinner, provided by Family Church, and The First Academy student volunteers will help with event set-up and service during dinner.
Two raffle tickets will be available. The first will be $10 for a “Basket of Winter Garden” and the second will be $100 for a week’s stay at a three-bedroom condo in Cocoa Beach.
Although some of the activities will be a surprise, Vereb shared several board members will speak. The keynote speaker will be Bishop Sylvester Robinson, of Love Fellowship Church. Robinson is the co-founder of the Jobs Partnership of Florida and serves on the board of directors as the chairman emeritus.
Vereb said Robinson’s message will inspire everyone no matter where they are in their life.
“All of this is not just to make the people who visit us better, but also to get someone in their court,” she said. “Someone who’s going to believe in the people and encourage them and show support to them. Whatever it is, we want to be on their side to show them we’re here. We want to transform lives. When we find a hurt, we want to heal it, when we find a need we want to fill it.”
ABOUT THE DREAM CENTER
The Dream Center serves as a resource center focused on providing support to those affected by homelessness, hunger and the lack of education through residential and community outreach programs.
The nonprofit’s mission is to “connect broken people to a community of support by providing free resources and services that address immediate and long-term needs in the areas of homelessness, hunger, poverty, addiction, abuse, education and human trafficking.”
The center offers a multitude of programs, including GED classes, foster family assistance with One More Child, outreach, where teams visit the homes of single moms and widows in east Winter Garden and minister to their needs, and a free coffee shop.
Other programs include GriefShare, adult literacy classes, Jobs Partnership, Eight Waves, a food pantry, women’s counseling, Sprinkles of Joy, a caretaker support group; Crafting for a Cause, to benefit the community and make friends; and a men’s fellowship called Linkmen Lunch, a free lunch for all men focused on fellowship, worship and testimony.
In addition, the Mobile Dental Unit will return to the Dream Center Jan. 16-20, 2023, to supply free dental care for those without insurance.
Vereb said the center does not want to take away from other nonprofit organizations in the area, but instead work together to enhance the community.
“The Christian Service Center feeds people and does a food pantry, Matthew’s Hope works with the homeless, Shepherd’s Hope does medical care, but what we found was lacking in the community was educational programs,” Vereb said. “That’s what we wanted to focus on. All our programming is free.”
In the future, Vereb said her hope is that the programming at the Dream Center will continue on for years to come.
“I hope that everyone who comes through our doors leaves feeling blessed,” she said. “More loved than when they came in. And to know there’s a team of people here who are going to support them no matter what they’re going through. We are a community that cares about each other.”