URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The fall season is truly underway and there are many local youth who are eager for what that brings. But there are also some wishing the days of teen gun violence would cease to exist. That’s why a non-profit is holding an annual festival to raise money for solutions.

DREAAM, or Driven to Reach Excellence and Academic Achievement for Males, is eager to host their annual “Dream Big!” Fall Festival, which also doubles as a fundraiser. Overall, the goal is to provide a positive, memorable experience for kids and their families. To help make that a reality, there will be pumpkin decorating, food trucks, and even performances by DREAAMERS as well. Something Marilyn Heinsohn, a DREAAM Achievement Coach, has helped behind the scenes on.

“Mr. Tracy has always said it’s about the community, it’s just about giving kids a chance to have a safe place where they’re loved. They can get the support they need. They can learn how to be self-confident and part of the community.”

But working with our youth is no foreign experience for Marilyn. She started as a volunteer for DREAAM in February 2021. Then, Tracy requested more of her expertise and positive presence with the kids to help with virtual learning for kindergartners. It was in September 2020 Tracy hired Marilyn full-time, allowing her to bring to fruition a festival that all families could enjoy. That’s taking place this Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Vineyard Church in Urbana.

If you attend the festival, you will also find artwork done by DREAAMERS, raffles, a photo booth and even a silent auction. But keep in mind, the money raised from this festival goes towards an effort to eradicate, or at least lessen, the recent teen gun violence. The next stage of that for the DREAAM organization is called “Hope for the Future” or “H4F,” is both a collaborative model for proactive violence prevention and systemic change. But your financial support is needed if not your attendance at the festival. Something Tracy Dace, DREAAM’s founder, says will benefit all.

“This festival is very important because it’s helping us build that path to hope, to violence prevention. To provide more in our community to increase hope. To have healing solutions that are community grounded, supported and based on evidence which is based on what our community needs.”

If families decide to meet those needs by attending the festival or donating, keep in mind that could lead to free or low-cost intervention, prevention and wellness services, along with more Saturday and evening, community pre-k and early childhood programming at DREAAM. Just another way to achieve victory over violence and give our kids chances at promising futures.

The annual festival will be taking place at 1500 North Lincoln Avenue in Urbana. There is no cost and all families and their children are welcome. If you want more information on this festival just click here ahead of Saturday. You can also donate in advance on their website by clicking here.

To learn more about the DREAAM organization itself, visit here.