After a surprising diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and suffering a minor stroke, La’Dreamer Lark found herself struggling to keep up with the costs and demands of everyday life while she was unable to work. Without her friends, family and community, she wouldn’t have been able to continue moving forward, especially while caring for her daughter, Daisy. La’Dreamer wanted to do something for others who faced similar circumstances and didn’t have the support system she did, so in 2018, The La’Dreamer & Daisy Helping Hands Foundation was created.
La’Dreamer founded the organization with her daughter, and together they lead volunteers in making a positive impact on their community by providing resources, assistance and donations to people in need. They offer various volunteer opportunities, like food drives and clothing donations to tutoring and mentorship programs. Not only does the Lark family provide immediate relief to those facing hardships, but they also strive to address the underlying causes of societal issues. So far, they’ve helped more than 500 children annually for the past five years.
What inspires you to volunteer?
The La’Dreamer & Daisy Helping Hands Foundation was founded in 2018, and we became an actual nonprofit in 2020. In 2018 we hosted our first annual back-to-school event, where we gave away maybe 50 to 75 backpacks to the community. The purpose and the reason behind me starting the organization is because, in 2017, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — which is a nerve disease — and in 2018, I had a mini stroke. Of course, I was out of work for some time. I worked for Northwell Health, which still employs me as a project manager. But then I was out of work and unable to care for my daughter, and my family and friends helped out with assisting in purchasing her needs and different things of that sort. I was kind of like in a funk and didn’t know what to do. Then I thought to myself, people might not be suffering from M.S., but could be with something worse and they might not be able to care for a kid. That’s why I started The La’Dreamer & Daisy Helping Hands Foundation.
Tell us about your volunteer roles with La’Dreamer & Daisy Helping Hands Foundation Inc.
For the most part, we serve underserved communities, like people living in poverty, those unable to provide for their day-to-day essentials. Our biggest event each and every year is our back-to-school event. Last year we gave away 200 backpacks and were able to increase the number of backpacks given to the kids in the community than previous years.
We had a basketball tournament, and it was extremely nice. The majority of our events take place on holidays. So, for Christmas, we did Christmas stuff in Harlem where we had brunch with Santa Claus. Throughout everything, we still give away things needed for the community whether it’s providing them with food or clothing, especially for the migrants who always need donated clothes.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
The organization has been able to help the community and everyone has been so appreciative. The other day when I went to donate some clothes to the migrants in my community, they were literally fighting over the clothes. Anything that you have to offer makes people so appreciative and thankful. So, that’s like the heart of it: being to help the community.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
Honestly, it is to be thankful for what you have. Because there’s always someone out there that is less fortunate than you are, so there are always teachable moments for both my daughter and me. Just be appreciative for what you have, whether it’s big or small, and be thankful for the people that surround you and are willing to help as well.
Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?
Like I tell people all the time, if it’s something that’s within your heart, just do it. If it’s in your heart, you will need to get going. You’re going to have ups and downs, it comes with the territory you know, but just keep moving forward. And just try your best. Something is better than nothing.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
For the most part, I don’t mind that people know about my M.S. We opened up our organization in 2018. I didn’t let it discourage me one bit or let it stop me. I kept going. So that could be a takeaway for them.
Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.
So actually, we just had a mental health event. It was very successful. It took place January 19 at the National Action Network. But other than that, we have our annual easter egg hunt for Easter, and I’m super duper excited about that. We usually have maybe 200 to 250 kids in the community come out. Beyond games, we have a DJ with music and entertainment. This year, I want to spice it up with fake money that’ll be a part of a carnival style themed event. So, that’s something that I’m looking forward to again this year
Do you want to make a difference in your community like La’Dreamer & Daisy? Find local volunteer opportunities.