Written by Kevin Purvis, Founder of Boulder Running Project
Volunteer work is unique in its ability to improve the lives of those being helped as well as the helper. We go through life oscillating between needing a hand and being able to lend one. The key is finding something you’re passionate about and getting involved.
I’m passionate about making the world a better place for future generations. I believe I can do that best by working with kids with limited opportunities. Fortunately, I’ve found an organization that does just that: the “I Have A Dream” Foundation of Boulder County.
I Have A Dream provides academic, cultural, and mentoring assistance to reduce high school dropout rates of underprivileged kids. “I Have A Dream” is unique because their assistance isn’t for a few weeks, months, or a year; the program provides aid throughout a youth’s schooling. In some cases, that’s an 11-year commitment. This long-term approach is a big part of why I wanted to get involved. I feel fortunate to have grown up with many positive role models. From my home life to athletics, I was supported and guided in my development. “I Have A Dream” is giving me an opportunity to pass along those experiences.
I started volunteering with I Have A Dream this year and am continually impressed with the difference they’re making. I, along with a group of elite-level runners, visit the 4th grade cohort at Thunder Valley K-8 to support their programming and share our love of running with the kids. Most volunteer opportunities start with the desire to help and end up with both parties being better for it. Our experience has been no different. Every trip allows for a deepening of current relationships and an opportunity for new ones.
Our first trip centered on the students’ Dreamer Scholar Olympics program. The kids were learning about the Olympics and we were able to bring two former Olympians, Kathy Butler and Maor Tiyouri, in to speak. We were amazed at the interest level and engagement of the kids. Not only did they quietly listen but the follow up questions were very thoughtful. Once of the benefit of I Have A Dream’s long-term program and my regular commitment is the impact of trips like these is evident for months. Each time I visit with the students, a question or two comes up from that discussion and it’s a reminder of how kids process what they hear.
One of my favorite things is the “circle” at the end of their sessions. The kids have an opportunity to respectfully address disagreements, express thanks, or send someone well wishes. Their genuine responses have really stuck with me. Runner Becca Evans and I visited two days before Becca was racing in Arizona. During circle, one Dreamer Scholar thanked Becca and me for our visit and another wished Becca good luck in her race. The first question on our next visit was about how Becca did in her race. It was a great example of selfless thinking. We hope the kids get as much out of our visits as we do.
“Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” -Les Brown
Editor’s Note: There are many ways to get involved in volunteering. For a local listing, visit Boulder County’s website.