The Atlanta Dream’s commitment to community engagement shone brightly during this year’s ‘Dreamsgiving’ last event at The Boyce L. Ansley School on Friday, Dec. 8.
The multipurpose room buzzed with energy as 15 enthusiastic staff members from various departments, along with Haley Jones, last year’s first-round pick and representative of the AP All-Rookie team, made the day a spectacular celebration of unity, laughter, and shared joy.
As 56 excited students gathered in front of the stage of the multipurpose room, a palpable mix of nervousness and anticipation filled the air. The Atlanta Dream volunteers, ranging from nearly every department in the organization, stood ready to engage the young audience in a day filled with activities, joy, and positive energy.
The atmosphere in the room shifted when Ray James, the Head of School, took the stage. With authority, he uttered three powerful words that resonated throughout the room, “power to people.” In a magical moment, the entire student body responded in unison, echoing, “we have the power.”
This exchange set the tone for a day centered around the empowering notion that collective strength can bring about positive change.
“Having kids unpack what it means to have power and to say we have the power. When I say power to the people I’m talking to them, and kids start to believe it.” James said.
Founded on the principles of providing education to children experiencing homelessness, The Boyce L. Ansley School serves as a beacon of hope for families navigating through challenging circumstances. The school’s commitment to offering a tuition-free, private education underscores the importance of providing stability and support during these critical phases of life.
Becky Mautner is the Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator and has been at the school for two and half years. The first time she stepped foot on the school was for a holiday party and instantly found a calling. Now in a full-time role with the school, Mautner truly understands the importance and impact the school is making on Atlanta families.
“They are the most resilient, strong and truly amazing kids, but more than that, they are like any other kid in the city. The only difference is their circumstance.” Mautner said.
As each Dream volunteer member was introduced, the students were split into groups, immersing themselves in various activities centered around basketball and the Dream. The vibrant energy in the room was contagious as Jones, the rising WNBA star, interacted with every student, adding a personal touch to the event.
To the delight of the students, Jones became the center of attention in a spirited game of “Duck, Duck, Goose”. Laughter filled the room as she good-naturedly participated, tapping heads and sharing in the infectious joy radiating from the children. The interactive nature of the activities brought the Dream representatives and students together, breaking down barriers and fostering genuine connections.
As the day progressed, the energy in the room reached new heights. Smiles and laughter echoed within the four walls, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and shared happiness. The anticipation soared as the aroma of pizza wafted through the air, intensifying the excitement among the children. The Dream staff, alongside students, gathered for a meal, creating a space for not only delicious food but also the exchange of smiles, stories, and laughter.
“We are so inspired by the remarkable staff and students at The Boyce Ansley School,” said Kelly Lee, the Director of Community Impact for the Dream. “Serving alongside these deserving, special children not only warms our hearts but also underscores the profound impact sports and community engagement can have on shaping a brighter future for every child.”
The combination of engaging activities, the presence of Jones, and the shared meal forged unforgettable connections between the Dream staff and the students. Beyond the games, the day became a memorable chapter in the lives of everyone involved, emphasizing the Dream’s dedication to leaving a lasting impact on the Atlanta community.
As ‘Dreamsgiving’ concluded, the organization had one final parting gift, giving every student a brand new uniform, play equipment and 500 packs of hot Cheetos and snacks. SCANA was the main sponsor of the ‘Dreamsgiving’ and donated $5,000, a portion of that went to buying snacks for the Boyce Annsley students for the remainder of the year.
The Dream’s engagement with the students of the Boyce Ansley School exemplifies their belief that, both on and off the court, the power of sports can bring people together and inspire positive change.