Alberta Dreams is a non-profit organization that aims to create amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences for children in Alberta between the ages of 3 and 18 who are dealing with severe chronic or life-threatening medical conditions. We spoke with Executive Director Reuel Thomas to learn more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Alberta Dreams believes that the fulfilment of a Dream has the power to positively impact a child and their family’s mental, and emotional well-being by bringing them JOY, giving them HOPE, and INSPIRING them to Dream beyond the often harsh realities of life with severe chronic or life-threatening medical illness. We do this by creating amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences for children in Alberta between the ages of 3 and 18 who are dealing with a severe chronic or life-threatening medical illness.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Alberta Dreams is the only wish-granting organization in Alberta dedicated exclusively to children with severe chronic or life-threatening medical conditions. While most wish-granting organizations support children with critical or life-threatening illnesses, Alberta Dreams believes fulfilling a dream helps foster resilience, creating memories that transcend the mental, emotional, personal and often financial challenges faced by our Dreams children and families.
When did you start/join it?
What made you want to get involved?
I believe the work that the organization does is so very important but was largely unknown by the majority of Albertans, myself included prior to 2023. I also appreciated the Board’s vision to grow the reach and impact of the organization as well as the challenge of undertaking a rebrand of an organization that has such a rich history and corporate goodwill. The balance needed to pivot to a growth mindset while remaining respectful of history, and the duality needed to grow fast and slow to ensure sustainability over time is one that excited me professionally.
What was the situation like when you started?
The Board was undertaking a wholesale change in the organization with retirements in a number of key roles both at the board and executive levels while navigating the organization through the post-Covid world. Completed 7, 1, & 8 Dreams in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively. Operationally we only had one other full-time employee in charge of events, we were implementing new systems, trying to run previously announced events with legacy sponsors, donors and volunteers with a clear mandate from the Board to change the name of the organization from The Rainbow Society of Alberta and grow our provincial presence and impact.
How has it changed since?
We now have a full team: Alecia our Fairy Godmother (Program Manager) / Medical Liaison, Amy our Community Dreams Connector (Events and Volunteer Orchestrator), Cody our Fund Development Manager and myself. Launched the new name and logo in May 2023, adopted new CRM and financial management systems, launched a new website and social media channels, increased completed Dreams by over 220%, increased the number of Dreams approved by 200%, increased the number of referrals by over 20%, increased revenues of our golf tournament by 17%, participated in events that engaged over 17,000 Albertans, engaged over 200 volunteer hours by over 60 volunteers.
What more needs to be done?
Lots more still needs to be done to improve the number of Albertans who know, love and support Alberta Dreams and what we do. Additionally, we will continue to grow the number of Dreams that we are able to fulfil and as a result, we will need to grow our corporate partnerships, sponsors and donors to ensure we can keep up with the growing costs of fulfilling these Dreams. We are also always looking for dedicated volunteers to assist with many aspects of fulfilling our mission. Volunteers, donors, sponsors, third-party events that align with our values of Joy, Hope and Inspiration are going to be crucial to our success as we go forward.
How can our readers help?
Donate, volunteer their time, share our mission and vision with like-minded individuals in their social network, participate/sponsor in one of our events, organize corporate challenges/events that support Alberta Dreams or simply share our contact with families, friends or colleagues who have children facing severe chronic or life-threatening medical illnesses.
Do you have any events coming up?
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Wolfe Pack Warriors Foundation does an incredible job of supporting other local charities and should be highlighted for their great work. Additionally. we’d like to give the folks at Cerebral Palsy Alberta a shoutout for the incredible work they do.