A donation from United Credit Union will all but cover the financial needs of fulfilling a child’s dream through the Audrain County chapter of Dream Factory, said Trip Coordinator Valerie Lerch at a Tuesday check presentation at the credit union.
Employees of the credit union raised $3,000 for Audrain County chapter through staff fundraisers, such as Jeans Days in which staff members can make a small donation to wear jeans at work.
Dream Factory is a charitable organization, much like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where families with children who are critically ill or who have a chronic illness can have a dream fulfilled. This can range from a trip to the Kansas Speedway to a meet-and-greet with actor and professional wrestling star John Cena, or trips to Walt Disney World.
“I can get a hold of (the credit union) as soon as I know a dream, as soon as I get our book that shows where they’re wanting to go, what they’re wanting to do, I can send you all that information,” Lerch said about the donation.
Some requests take longer than others, Lerch said, and any donation is a big help. The Audrain County chapter meets each month on the third Tuesday at the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce and holds three to four fundraisers each year. The chapter serves throughout Northeast Missouri. “Excluding St. Louis and Columbia, we take Interstate 70 to U.S. 63 and we do that whole top portion of Missouri,” Lerch said.
While not all the Dream Factory funds stay in Audrain County, many fulfilled dreams come from Audrain County, and a majority of the membership is from Audrain County, Lerch said.
While the organization fulfills children’s dreams, it also helps parents get a break, too, said chapter President Helen Golden. Volunteers will look after the children for a couple nights so parents can do something on their own, she said.
“We are the largest volunteer dream granting organization in the United States,” Lerch said. “None of us get paid. We are a four-star (rated charity). We are higher (rated) than a lot of other charities that are out there.”
United Credit Union appreciates the work of Dream Factory volunteers and the work it takes to steer the organization, said credit union CEO Brent Sadler.
Lerch has volunteered with the local Dream Factory for approximately eight years, while Golden has served with the organization for 23, eight of which as its chapter president. There are also Dream factory chapters in Columbia, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Sedalia, St. Joseph and Kansas City.
“We appreciate you volunteering your time. It’s awesome,” Sadler said.
There is no feeling like presenting a dream to a family, Lerch said, adding you can see the appreciation on a family’s face and they are able to just take a breath and relax.
“When we go visit (a family), they are not aware when we finally grant the dream to them … (that) we give them spending money, too,” Golden said. “A lot of them aren’t aware of that.”
To contact the Audrain County Chapter, call 573-581-2417 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.