‘It’s the people who have been life-changing’

The Kids’ Dreams motto is simple: “Making kids’ dreams come true … that’s what we do!”

Since Patricia and Alan Lebow founded the 501(c)3 charity in 2007, it has raised more than $1 million and helped hundreds of economically disadvantaged students from Palm Beach County’s Title 1 schools.

(Title 1 schools are those with a certain percent of students getting free or reduced-priced lunches. More than 60 percent of Palm Beach County schools are Title 1.)

Patricia Lebow and the Kids’ Dreams board sends one fundraising letter a year. “No gift is too small” to help Kids’ Dreams send students to camp, sponsor specific life-changing dreams (they sent one student to the island of Bonaire, to help her become a marine biologist), provide tuition grants for students to participate in the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, provide college scholarships or benefit from the endowed Alan Lebow Awards for Excellence in Shakespearean Performance, where students perform on the Kravis Center stage.

In addition, Kids’ Dreams treasurer Patrick DiSalvo has recently set up a scholarship through Kids’ Dreams in memory of his brother Tom, an artist. The scholarship will benefit a Title 1 student who plans to pursue higher education in the arts.

“Please help us change the life of a child in need,” Patricia Lebow writes in her yearly letter.

Here are two lives she and her group have changed … and a shoutout to every reader who is inspired to help others.

“Anybody can do what I did, anybody,” says Lebow. “If you say, ‘Hmmm, I’m having my 50th birthday, I’m going to impact a child’s life,’ you could give $50, $500 or $5,000. You could do something for a child in need. And what you do could open doors for them, and give them exposure to more in life. What you do could be the thing that lets them know: ‘I can make it.’”


From ‘autistic tendencies’ to helping establish libraries in South America

For years, teachers at Jessica’s small, private school in Lake Worth couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t read.

She was vivacious and bright, but she couldn’t follow the words, and finally, they diagnosed her with “autistic tendencies.”

They were wrong. Jessica had eye-tracking issues that were addressed with therapy as soon as she entered public school.

When she could finally read, she “fell in love with books,” says the recent Santaluces High School grad who’s now studying education at Florida Atlantic University.

She got so excited about reading that she worked with missionaries at her church to collect 2,900 books — enough for five libraries in Guyana, South America.

She plans to become a high school English teacher — and use her own life and the help she’s gotten from Kids’ Dreams to inspire others.

“As a teacher, my kids will learn from my own life lessons.”


She came here from Haiti at 8 … now she’s a lawyer, grateful for the ‘blessing’ of Kids’ Dreams

Merancia didn’t speak English when she came to West Palm Beach from Haiti in elementary school, but she was always “a go-getter” who “stayed in my own bubble and concentrated on my education … I didn’t get distracted by other things.”

Her focus and brains led her to Suncoast High’s International Baccalaureate program. After she graduated in 2009, she headed to the University of Florida — with financial help from Kids’ Dreams.

She graduated from law school at the University of the District of Columbia in May, and she plans to practice law in D.C.’s public utilities sector.

“Kids’ Dreams absolutely changed my life,” says Merancia, 27, who was mentored by board member Patrick DiSalvo throughout her college career. “The money always helps … but it’s the people who have been life-changing. They’ve been so supportive of me from the beginning.”

She met the “amazing” DiSalvo and Patricia Lebow her senior year of high school. “They continued to keep in touch with me, to see how I was doing.”

DiSalvo wrote a recommendation letter for Merancia before she took her bar exam.

“As I was writing that letter, it brought back seven years … time passes by very fast,” he says. “You meet these young, innocent kids, and seven years later, they’re ready to go out in the world to help other people.”

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