Last week I was fortunate to be able to give back to the community through volunteering. I don’t think I have volunteered enough since I served in the Peace Corps in Madagascar as a Community Health Volunteer. One of these days, I will blog about that experience.

Closer to home in Boulder, I recently discovered “I Have a Dream” (IHAD) Foundation of Boulder County. An educational 501(c)3 that provides a unique long-term, drop-out prevention program, as well as college and career preparation, for low-income, at-risk youth in Boulder County, Colorado. Their mission is to “motivate and empower children from low-income communities to reach their education and career goals by providing a long-term program of mentoring, tutoring, enrichment, and tuition assistance for higher education.” Cool stuff, right? Modeled after the National “I Have a Dream” chapter (based in NYC), IHAD Boulder was established in 1990.

I am so excited to be volunteering my photography skills with IHAD. Last week I photographed their event for the Pioneer Class graduation. I still get chills when I think back to the evening and the amazing kids and sponsors I met and stories I heard. WOW! More than once, I had to put down my camera and wipe away the tears. In just a couple of hours, the Dreamers (nickname for the graduating class), the family who sponsored their graduating class, and the volunteers and staff who helped them achieve their graduation goals reached in and touched my heart. They all inspired me to race viciously after my own goals and know anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Thank you IHAD, Dreamers and all those involved in this special event for including me into this incredible community.

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation -Lionsgate Gatehouse

Just a few Dreamers pondering what's next!

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation - Lionsgate Gatehouse

I love how proud this mother is of her son's accomplishments. So cool!

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation-Lionsgate Gatehouse

The woman on the left is part of the family who sponsored the pioneer class. As a gift the family gave each of the graduates a book of images and stories from their experience. The graduate on the left is not Tweeting, she is reading a speech she wrote reflecting on her IHAD experience. I am pretty sure I was crying at this point.

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation - Lionsgate Gatehouse

IHAD graduating Pioneer Class, their sponsors, IHAD staff and AmeriCorps volunteers celebrating their success.

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation - Lionsgate Gatehouse

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation - Lionsgate Gatehouse

This pretty much sums up the the excitement and emotion of the evening.

Boulder Event Photography IHAD Boulder Pioneer Class graduation-Lionsgate Gatehouse

Many congratulations to the Pioneer Class of Dreamers! This is just the beginning of the future you created for yourself.