UW Dream Project

May 14, 2014

Volunteering Matters – Congratulations Tressa Thomas!

Tressa Thomas was recently a 2014 recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award.  She is both a Dream Project Mentor and a High School Lead at Odyssey High School, and is en route to joining Tyreesha as a High School Lead at Chief Sealth next year!  

Tressa’s story is only one example of how mentorship can make a significant impact in the community. Thank you Tressa, and all of the other Dream Project Mentors, for your own commitment to making a difference in our students’ lives.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.”  -William James


What was most odd about stepping inside the white-pillared confines of Governor Jay Inslee’s mansion was knowing that someone lived there; a family in the modern world actually has a person that takes coats from their guests, houses pristine artwork commemorating the establishment of Washington State, and only uses off-white napkins. As one of 44 guests invited to the Governor’s home that warm April morning, I was not the only one that started tiptoeing across the thickly carpeted floor with a gaped mouth. My fellow Volunteer Service Award winners all maintained a humble countenance combined with subtle grins. One award winner was over 100-years-old while the youngest was 16. They were all different, yet universally interesting and kind.

After thirty minutes of sipping juice that tasted far better than the kind that comes from cartoons and nibbling mini quiches, the award recipients and their guests were ushered into a seating area. The Governor and his wife joined us shortly and spoke of the history of the award and expressed their gratitude toward Washington State for historically fostering a large volunteering community.  We were called up individually, handed a certificate, and sandwiched between Governor Inslee and his wife for a slightly awkward picture (that ultimately served to satisfy my inner, star-struck, third grade girl).


Later that evening, the same group of volunteers and I were shuffled onto Safeco field, creating a half circle around the mound. As a tribute to the volunteers of Washington State, they announced our names and with what program we served: we even had our faces plastered up on the big screen. It was admittedly rather thrilling to have your nose suddenly 1 by 2 feet tall.

The event in total was extremely humbling, and I was honored to be a part of it.  Starting only this past fall as a first quarter Dream Project mentor and transitioning to the role of High School Lead in the winter and spring quarters, no one was more surprised than myself to be invited to such a ceremony. It was incredible to have the chance to represent The Dream Project and all that we work toward; I only wish all of the High School Leads and staff could have been with me on that field, as I could never do my work without their unwavering guidance and support.

What was most memorable of all, was the 30-second conversation I had with Governor Inslee and his wife. As I stepped up to claim my certificate and pose for our picture, Inslee said, “Hey, we know you. We know the Dream Team,” and winked. It seems that the influence of Dream Project has spread far beyond the confines of Seattle and into Washington State. His comment left me grinning during the camera flash that followed, and left wondering just how far The Dream Project could go in the years to come.