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Dreambuilders is a 16-week program that culminates in a graduation ceremony in the presence of coaches, family and friends. Each graduate writes a reflection, which is on display at the celebration and presented below. 


Four months ago, my life was very chaotic and overall full of uncertainty. I was highly stressed daily, possibly about to lose my job, daycare was unreliable, and the bills were starting to pile up. I started to feel defeated. At that time I received a flyer about the Dream Builders program and at first glance I had a negative thought like, “I probably will not get picked and nothing ever works out for me.”  I applied anyways and was very excited when I received a call and was offered a spot. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

While in the program there was one on one coaching and with the help of Dawn, I was able to sit down and set goals that I had wanted to accomplish. Her positive thoughts and constant encouragement kept me motivated and gave me a positive outlook on things. She helped me in seeing that success has no time limit and pushed me to get over my fears.  

Parent time was such an honor to be in the presence of Yolanda Jones. Her energy is so amazing and contagious. I learned new parenting techniques and skills to help me have better outcomes in my household and most importantly I learned the importance of self-care and staying grounded. Every week she had different parenting skills and advice that I was able to apply to my daily life and was able to utilize them during the activities at PACT time. I learned new things about my kids each week which opened my eyes to how much they are constantly evolving. She is a true inspiration and she has helped me along my journey with all her great advice positive uplifting. Her class has helped me be a better me, and a more patient and calm parent. I am forever grateful.  

The goals that I set for myself was to get back into school to finish my nursing degree to better my future and I love helping people. I also set a goal to get physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. Today I currently working and taking a class at PVCC towards my nursing degree. I find ways to do something for me every day without the guilt and love it. I have lost a total of 22 pounds since the beginning of the program and have gained more energy and confidence to go outside my comfort zone. The Dreambuilders program has truly been a blessing for me and my kids and I’m so happy that I was able to be a part of such a great program.  I see nothing but great things in the future. Thank you to all of the coaches for help and support.  


Joining the Dreambuilders Program has impacted my life in so many ways. This program has allowed me to step back and make some personal changes. I feel that I have accomplished a lot of my goals. However, I faced many challenges. I had childcare issues which interfered with my job.  

I was able to get another job and I am an assistant at a daycare center. I also wanted to gain my certificate in Early Childhood Education.  I applied for financial aid so I would be able to attend classes at PVCC. However, there were issues with my FAFSA and after calling the FAFSA Helpdesk numerous times, I continued to get the run around. I utilized my funds to pay for my class. During this time, I enrolled at PVCC in hopes to earn my Early Childhood Certificate. I am currently taking an introduction course. I also was in an accident, had vehicle issues due to accident, and housing issues. Despite it all, I tried to remain focus on my goals.  

During my time in the Dreambuilders program, I also learned different ways to parent and positive ways to interact with my children. I also learned ways to be able to connect with my children one on one.  This has been a positive experience and my family, and I would like to thank Dreambuilders teachers for having us.  


My name is Allexis. I’m a public housing resident. I entered the Dreambuilders Program with little to no knowledge. Not knowing what I wanted to do, and not knowing how this program would benefit me in any way. But I took a stab at it and stuck it out. 

I met some new people with some good energy in the process.  It was a few times where I couldn’t attend, but I made sure that I was still there still via Zoom. I took ALOT of useful knowledge from this program. I would like to thank Yolonda because I know it isn’t going to be an overnight process, but you helped me manage emotions with my children, you also helped with the whole gentle parenting. Ms. Sarah, so sweet, soft, and gentle with my children. We appreciate you for always filling our home with such good energy. Oh and Ms. Dawn, I can’t forget you. I appreciate you for helping me search a for a car. It’s been a headache, but you refuse to let me give up until I find a car. 

I want to thank City of promise for putting this whole organization together for myself and others. 


I feel that Dreambuilders was a good experience for my children and me. During this time, my goals were paying off debt, getting my learner’s, improving my health, and motivating my children to reach their goals. I was able to pay off one fine for my reinstatement fee and am currently looking into other fines that are hindering me from taking my learner’s test. I have started to eat healthy and exercise.  I also utilize this time to study and prepare to take my learner’s test. I studied the book and took numerous practice quizzes online.  

My children and I also benefited from PACT Time. During PACT Time we got to engage together while participating in different activities. My oldest son accomplished his goal by graduating from High School and his CATEC program. He would like to pursue a career in auto mechanics. My youngest son is speaking more clearly and able to verbalize his thoughts better.  My youngest is getting better with potty training and has a desire to learn. He loves books.  

I have learned a lot since starting this program. I learned the importance of self-care and that it is a necessity to take time out for myself. I also learned ways to manage my emotions.  

During this time, I learned to remain focused on my goals despite any obstacles that come my way. I learned not to give up on myself. I’ve made progress and I have gained confidence to keep moving forward.  


My goals when I first started the Dreambuilders program was getting my son into daycare and finding a job that would be more than just getting by. I wanted better! While being in this program I faced a few challenges. Getting my son to sit and focus during PACT Time, figuring out which career I really wanted to do, waiting to hear back from resources like Network2work and DCSE for subsidized childcare were few of the challenges that I faced. 

Childcare was my biggest setback as a single parent. With an average cost of daycare in Virginia being about 1,200 per month, I couldn’t afford that by myself. I applied for subsidized childcare twice. I finally got accepted. I started reaching out to daycares that best fit us. Now the hard part is finding a daycare that has space for my son. Luckily my son can start school next year.  My son also improved during PACT Time.  

At first, I had all these ideas about what I thought I might be good at. Still, I wasn’t sure.  I sat down and thought about all the things I wanted to be as a child. Lawyer…no, doctor…no, child psychologist…no.  I love some of the qualities of each of those professions but just not all. I have a voice to stand up for people. I like to help others and I love working with kids. I decided to take classes to become a teacher’s assistant.


Although, my dream goal is to mentor young kids, a teacher’s assistant will be my first steppingstone to get there. I feel that I now know which direction to go in and feel that my path is becoming clearer. During this time, I have discovered more about myself. I am a learner, still learning and a dream builder making my dreams a reality.  

Dreambuilder Graduation Dawn.jpg

Dawn Lawson 
Family Empowerment Coach

Each one of these participants entered this program with a desire to learn, grow and to achieve their personal goals. Regardless of any fear or personal struggle, they each took a chance on themselves and embarked on this new journey. 


During this time, they experienced personal challenges and barriers that served as roadblocks between them and their goals. They had their fair share of disappointments, were told no, and were given the run around. However, they did not quit but displayed perseverance. They showed inner strength and embodied what empowerment really means.


Although this program is officially coming to an end, it does not mean that their journey is done. During this time, they utilized their time to plant seeds they can invest for a better future for themselves and their children. 

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