Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Dare to Dream Program Helps Brighten Futures of Topekans

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Dare to Dream Program Helps Brighten Futures of Topekans

Article excerpt

For Jeanette Benson, daring to dream about a brighter future came only after some darker times in her past.

The vivacious 37-year-old said she was "very closed off" and "didn't trust anyone" before she participated in Topeka Rescue Mission-NET Reach's Dare to Dream inaugural class in April 2014.

"I didn't know what to expect," Benson said of the program that fosters personal development, financial literacy, health and wellness and goal-setting. An important component of the faith- based program is having mentors who offer encouragement for a variety of individual and family issues affected by poverty and substance abuse.

"I needed someone to help me say, 'You can do it,' " she said. "I had a very nice life at one point. I lost a part of me when I gave up a long time ago. Coming here, it was hope. It gave me hope."

Benson said the sense of belonging she feels from the NET Reach community and her fellow Dare to Dream alumni helps keep her and her family's lives on track.

"This is my program," she said. "I go here because people want to be here. We all want to succeed. We want to go places."

Benson said she is studying to become a registered nurse because of the confidence she has gained over the past 18 months. As a way to "give back" to the program that has helped her, she said she also wants to eventually become a Dare to Dream mentor herself, something that Robin Boudreau has been doing since April.

"I'm really glad that I did (become a mentor)," Boudreau said. "All I have is a lot of love. The people are amazing here. I knew this is where I wanted to be."

Boudreau, who recently moved back to Topeka after having lived in the San Diego area for the past 30 years, said the people who participate in the Dare to Dream program are "just like everybody else," people who have aspirations for a better life.

"Whether they're making a million dollars or one dollar, they're all the same people," she said. "They just need somebody to tell them that they're OK and that they don't stand alone. That's the big thing. We cheer them on, we prop them up, we try to help them any way we can. …

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