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Is Day Dreaming Dead?

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Nov 18, 2015
by Mel Monkelis


These days, with social media and texting, it's a wonder some folks have time for anything else.  I often hear comments that today's young crowd cannot even socialize face-to-face, and would rather spend the evening at home in front of their own personal 60 inch wide monitor playing some mindless (War Lords, Witchcraft, etc.) video game. I'm here to tell you that I've run into different youth. Youth that are invested in their future, invested in social change, invested in being part of the solution and not simply complaining about the problems. We're involved with a group of students from the local colleges, Middle Schools and High Schools, who are fascinated by this new way to look at volunteering.

This is the second year now that the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County will be offering a Dream-Design-Create program. This program encourages youth to dream up a volunteer project that is not being done right now. Design this project around some focus issues, and then go out and actually create it with colleagues and friends.  The Dream-Design-Create program looks at volunteerism in a different light than what we're used to.  For the past 100 plus years, the volunteer model has been to let staff at a non-profit put out a list of tasks that need to be completed, then recruit people who want to do those tasks. This model works and is in use everywhere. But there might be another model out there…

A Different Approach to Volunteerism

A different approach to volunteerism is this: Ask a person what they would do if they could change something that needed attention, like a community need around an issue  (i.e., homelessness, tutoring, and more….). The Dreamer plans out their project, creates something that can be accomplished in 2-6 months.  That person also recruits friends and others to be a part of this endeavor.  Someone else supplies the funds for the materials.  This is exactly what the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County is proposing for a second year in a row. Last year, we gave out $5,000 and the results were outstanding, and can be seen here:

This year, we are giving away over $9,000.00. In addition, there are community needs that have been identified that are the new focus areas of the program.  We think folks can still dream….just dream within the boundaries of community needs.

These focus areas are:

  • Homelessness is an issue in Whatcom County.  Projects in this area should think of unique ways this issue can be highlighted so that more residents are aware of this issue and can help.
  • Disaster Preparedness means that all residents of Whatcom County should be prepared for a major disaster at work and at home. How will your project help in this area?
  • Tutors and Mentors are needed in our community by non-profits and by the schools. What will your project do to meet this need?
  • Environmental stewardship means caring for the environment in which we live, so that the next generation can enjoy the same things that we now enjoy.How will your project accomplish this?
  • Not all folks who need to use food banks can get to them.  How can your project address this?
  • Service Veterans have already given to this country, and now need your help in getting to monthly medical appointments. How can your project solve this need?


The whole point of this program is to deliver a message that young people have fantastic ideas, and if we simply let them implement these ideas, we will be well on our way to seeing these young adults turn into the future leaders of this country. Help this dream become a reality by sharing this with your sons, daughters, grandkids, neighbors, and anyone else you can think of.


Go to: and submit your idea.  Deadline to submit ideas is January 1, 2016.

----- Mel Monkelis, Volunteer Center of Whatcom County