When junior Kiran Bengard heard that there was a way to help terminally ill hospice patients in her community, she could not wait to get involved.
After having the opportunity to talk to the founder of the organization, Caitlin Crommett, Bengard started the DreamCatchers club at Thousand Oaks High School, which is just a chapter of the Hospice DreamCatchers foundation.
“She gave me her email and I contacted her. Then I started [the club] here because it’s such a cool thing to do,” Bengard said.
The purpose of DreamCatchers is to grant the final wishes of hospice patients in our community.
“Hospice DreamCatcher Foundation, Inc. (“DreamCatchers”) is dedicated to fulfilling final Dreams of hospice patients through chapters run by youth in high school or college, emphasizing intergenerational connection,” it says on the foundation’s website.
The TOHS club generally meets every Wednesday in Mr. Corbett’s classroom.
In DreamCatchers club, students fundraise and reach out to their community to grant hospice patients their last request.
“We’re paired with a hospice location and they give us patients. We get dream request forms and from there we fundraise and try to get donations in order to grant these dreams for these patients,” Bengard said.
As it is the club’s first year, they are still working to get the funding to grant their first two wishes. Everyone has different dreams they want fulfilled, but they are all equally important to the patients.
“One of our patients wants to fly his daughter and daughter-in-law in from Alabama and Maryland, so we’re trying to do that,” Bengard said. “Another one wants model racecar posters and a model racecar that he can play with.”
The work the members of DreamCatchers do touches the hearts of patients and their families.
“We help them have something to look forward to,” Maddie Feltner, the club’s treasurer, said. “My favorite part is talking to the family of the hospice patients because they are all super appreciative and supportive of our club.”
Bengard noted that one of her favorite parts of working with DreamCatchers is talking to the patient’s families and seeing what a difference they are making.
“I remember I called one of the patient’s family members and she started crying on the phone because she was so grateful for it,” Bengard said. “There’s a lot of other organizations that help other types of people to grant their dreams, but hospice patients don’t have a lot for them and so I feel like it’s really important.”
However, granting patient’s desires is not as easy as wishing on a star. It takes a lot of going out and working with others to get funding. After working all year, the club has made about 900 dollars from different fundraisers.
“We have a Go Fund Me and have gotten 77 dollars from that. Also, we did a restaurant night, which only brought in 33 dollars,” Bengard said. “We got a bunch of money from a hospice silent auction. There were a bunch of people there that support them, and we sold dreamcatchers there for 10 dollars each because we hand made them. We got a ton of money from that.”
As well as raising money, the club reaches out to many businesses to see if they can help to make the dreams happen. They have contacted businesses like Hobby Lobby to help with the model racecar and different airlines to help get plane tickets. While Bengard commented that none of the businesses have been willing to help yet, she says that she’s not going to give up.
Going out and talking to other businesses has also helped club members learn to work with different people and businesses.
“It’s prepared me for life outside of high school because I’ve had to email different people, and it teaches me to work with money and budget things,” Bengard said.
Overall, Bengard says that she thinks it is very important to help people in our community and recommends getting involved to anyone.
“I feel like there is so many clubs that people just join for college to say they were in it, but for me this club is so much more than that. I’ve put so much time and effort into this because I think it’s a really important thing,” Bengard said. “Any student can join this club, and I’m willing to work with anyone who wants to help out.”