Twenty years ago, while teaching in rural Indiana, I met an eighth grader named Marcus. He struck me as having unrefined potential; he wasn’t a particularly great student, or even a good student, but possessing something more than what was being taught and assessed. He was a natural leader and negotiator, his charisma won him the respect of his classmates and hinted at his true intelligence. What held him back was a world of challenges stacked against him that made daily life challenging.
Being an idealist, I hoped we as educators could help him live to his potential.
I approached the guidance counselor to ask if we could find Marcus a mentor for when he started high school, a teacher who could help put and keep him on the right track. I was dumbstruck when she responded, "He's one of the Smith boys, this is kind of his lot in life. We aren't going to change that." It was true his family’s name was synonymous with heartbreak, from struggles with addiction to run-ins with the law they were not a collection of success stories. But as an eighth grader he had resisted most of the vices that had claimed his family and was still optimistic about life. We just needed to support him before his window of opportunity closed forever.
Frustratingly, where I saw potential, others saw a lost cause.
Many years later, I wish I could say that Marcus broke through on his own, that he crafted the missing pieces from his chess set and began to play to his full potential, but he didn't. He didn’t even finish high school before yielding to the world of addiction and crime that had claimed his family.
I have thought of Marcus often in the years since we met and have never forgotten how his fate was cast before he even had a chance to impact it.
It is the Marcus’s of the world I hope to help with Dreamers and Doers.
At Dreamers and Doers, we seek children who have academic potential, but lack the support and conditions necessary to achieve it.
There is no secret formula to how we achieve our goal of helping a young life reach its potential; to help a child who isn’t afraid to dream and to do.
With the support of generous donors, we…
Our method for building dreams is not quick or easy, but is a fiscally intensive labor of love; it is a life-long commitment to providing real and lasting change.
The goal is that when a child leaves our care, they are a hardworking, compassionate person who possesses the skills necessary compete in the world, to be leaders in education, civics, business, or whatever field they choose and to live their dream to the fullest.
Our first four boys have been supported from elementary through college (along with some guidance beyond college) by a community of compassionate individuals who believed in them and our mission. As a result, the lives of these now young men, and their families have been profoundly changed.
Gleb joined us as an eleven-year-old in August 2007, and education has always been his top priority. He graduated summa cum laude from Bucknell University in 2017 with a degree in Finance. Upon graduation he exited the program to begin his finance career in Dallas. Gleb now serves as a board member of Dreamers and Doers where he hopes to help other kids have the same opportunity that he has enjoyed.
Max began with us at eleven-years-old. A victim of poverty and abuse, he matured to a fun-natured and responsible young man with a compassionate heart towards those less fortunate. Max is now in his junior year at Alma College, pursuing a double major in finance and economics.
Daniil was one of our youngest students, joining as a nine-year-old. As an only child, his single mother let her heart cross the ocean, so he could dream and achieve a better life not possible in Russia. A sophomore at Wittenberg University, he is pursuing a major in business management and a minor in finance.
Artemii (aka Tioma), younger brother of Max, joined us as a nine-year-old in 2011. He is now a high school student with a full slate of challenging courses, and a calendar filled with volunteer hours, work, and sports. He is looking forward to following in the footsteps of the older boys.
We are ready to support these boys and more, are you?
Dreamers and Doers is as much a business as it is a story, and like a story it can be difficult to understand if you start from the middle, so we've put together this video to catch you up to speed!
Dreamers and Doers is featured in our book Raising the KGB, the exciting tale of four Russian boys and Eric defying all the odds in pursuit of the American Dream.
For over ten years, Dreamers and Doers has been a labor of love. While our genesis was a mix of luck and hard work, our goal is to set ourselves on a path that will allow us to change more lives by offering more opportunities.
With the release of our book Raising the KGB, we hope to reach a broader audience, increase our network of supporters, and to impact more lives than ever before.
We view the first ten years not as a story in past tense, but the prologue to successes untold, and we invite you to come along for the ride.
23110 State Road 54 #270
Lutz, FL 33549
Dreamers and Doers impacts the world by seeking elementary age children from necessitous situations around the world and providing them a caring home, outstanding educational opportunities, and loving support through high school and beyond.
Dreamers and Doers
23110 State Road 54 #270
Lutz, FL 33549