This year, we celebrated someone who has shown extraordinary dedication, creativity, and compassion in their role as a mentor. Since November 2018, Marie has been a guiding light for her mentee, Odalis aka ‘Odi’, in the Elk Cohort. Meeting at least twice a month, Marie’s commitment to fostering a strong mentor-mentee relationship has been unwavering. She consistently communicates with the “I Have A Dream” Foundation staff, providing updates on their activities and demonstrating her proactive approach and genuine interest in Odi’s well-being.

Marie’s creativity in organizing enjoyable and enriching activities for the match is truly remarkable. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Marie managed to keep their engagement alive through virtual platforms. From making dream catchers and popcorn chains to baking frosted cupcakes over Zoom, Marie ensured that their interactions were not only entertaining but also promoted creativity and skill development. Their bond flourished as they participated in various activities like attending local theater productions, trying new restaurants, hiking, and doing arts and crafts. One particularly notable experience was when Marie supported Odi’s entrepreneurial spirit in starting a dog-watching business at 12 years old. Marie arranged for Odi’s first “gig” and guided her through conversations about marketing, customer needs, and balancing school with business.

The impact of Marie’s mentorship on Odi’s personal growth and development has been profound. Odi, now 14 years old and in high school, has blossomed into a responsible and mature student, actively participating in her school’s theater program and other activities. Marie’s involvement in Odi’s life has created a nurturing environment where Odi could explore new experiences and build meaningful connections. Whether it’s skating, kickboxing, or just sharing unplanned laughs, Marie and Odi’s unique bond is a testament to the power of mentorship. In light of her consistent dedication, creativity, and positive influence, it is with great pleasure that we honor Marie Vicek with the Lori Canova Leadership and Recognition Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award. Congratulations, Marie, and thank you for making such a significant difference in Odi’s life and in our community!