In 2017, Jody Dow took a risk to follow her dream.
With some funding and faith from North Point Church leadership, Dow launched Springfield Dream Center to provide food, afterschool care and diapers to local families in need.
“When we opened the Dream Center, it was just me and eight very brave interns who signed up for ‘other duties as required,’” says Dow, executive director of the nonprofit in north Springfield. “Four-and-a-half years later, we are finding what we are good at, meeting the needs of our community and creating partnerships that truly move Springfield forward.”
With a staff of 20 employees and around 50-60 weekly volunteers, the Dream Center serves roughly 150 families per week through its various programs.
Springfield Dream Center programs support families in fulfilling their dreams, breaking poverty cycles and creating stability within their homes. The nonprofit’s goal is to create a positive community environment for the children it serves.
Dow never planned to become a leader. She says she just wanted to be a servant of her community and help others. Along her career journey, she noticed a lack of encouraging voices in the world and decided to become one herself.
“I wanted to be a leader who cared my way to leadership, who found influence not from control, but kindness,” Dow says. “I have lots of room for improvement, but I would like to think that I’ve been leading my teams with encouragement and kindness.”
Dow has worked for North Point Church since the beginning of her professional career. She began in student ministry in 2010, then moved to community outreach before opening the Springfield Dream Center in 2017.
The team at the Dream Center recently created the DC Academy, a trauma-informed, free afterschool program focusing on building kids’ social and emotional skills.
“This past school year, we were able to see students regulating their emotions, choosing healthy reactions and making noticeable strides in their personal growth,” Dow says.
Dow says she is able to do what she loves because other people were willing to help her along the way, and she tries to build that culture into the Dream Center. The staff learn from each other, recognizing the different skills and talents each person has.
Outside of the Dream Center, Dow has served on the advisory board for Care to Learn, the leadership team for Convoy of Hope’s Day of Hope events and Prosper Springfield’s Equity and Prosperity Committee. “I truly believe that when we invest in others, we all grow and win,” Dow says.
In 2019, Dow and her husband, Chuck, launched 417 Pros, a networking group for business owners and professionals in the Springfield area. As a mentor, she has met with new members to help them learn the basics of networking and prepare them for the journey ahead.
Through North Point Church and the Dream Center, Dow hopes to connect community members with meaningful volunteer opportunities. She also participates in many of those opportunities, trying to model behavior for her family and community.
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