Semester in Review: The First 4 Months of Brighter Dawns Revisited
The start of a new year is a time to reflect on the year past, even as we look forward to a fresh start in the new one. For Brighter Dawns, this means recalling all of the progress we have made, as well as the difficulties we have faced, in the months since our founding in September. All of those involved have devoted incredible amounts of time and energy toward this project, and in the short time since we began, we have all learned a great deal about operating a non-profit organization.
Shortly after the beginning of classes at Wesleyan University in September 2010, Tasmiha Khan organized the first meeting of Brighter Dawns, in which she discussed her experiences working on diabetes treatment in Ward 12 of Khulna, Bangladesh during the summer. She explained her intention to develop a non-profit whose work would in some way improve health in the community where her diabetes work had been conducted. By the end of the month, Khan, with support from several of her peers, had decided to raise money to provide clean water and sanitation supplies to the community through an organization which she named Brighter Dawns.
With a new-found name and purpose, the group became an official student organization at Wesleyan, and began to recruit members from the student body. As the student group expanded and several early meetings were held, Khan meanwhile found professional contacts who would become the Board of Directors of the organization.
At the end of October, Khan and several other key figures in Brighter Dawns attended the Do Something conference in New York City, where they interacted with other young people who had started their own non-profit organizations. The Brighter Dawns representatives gained experience explaining and promoting their mission to others, and developed important business connections that will support the group in future activities.
The first Snack Pack fundraiser, held in early November, was designed by Lindsay Kenney, who was inspired by a trail-mix treat invented by her high school teacher. Following Kenney’s directions, a team of volunteers assembled over 100 bags of the mix, which were sold the following day in the Science and Olin Memorial Libraries. The sale was highly successful, not only in terms of the funds that were raised, but also as the first opportunity to spread interest in Brighter Dawns’ mission.
A second Snack Pack sale was held later in November in the Patricelli ’92 Theater, and afterward the group began planning more versatile fundraisers. The first of their plans, the Gingerbread House Contest, was set for the first weekend of December. Wesleyan’s food service supplier, Bon Appetit, generously donated the gingerbread dough and icing, and lent their kitchen space and equipment to Brighter Dawns’ baking volunteers. The event, which lasted for most of the day, attracted hundreds of participants and spectators, as teams of students built and decorated their gingerbread houses. The creativity and enthusiasm of the participants generated an atmosphere of merriment throughout the Usdan University Center. At the end of the day, the fruits of the teams’ labors were lined up on tables, and several members of Bon Appetit’s staff served as the contest’s judges, performing the tough task of choosing a winner from the row of gorgeous creations.
The final event of the year was a screening of “Slumdog Millionaire,” held on a Friday night in the Tishler Hall in Exley Science Center. Haveli’s restaurant in downtown Middletown kindly provided a variety of appetizers for the event. Unfortunately, the event was only marginally successful as a fundraiser, as most students chose other forms of entertainment that evening, which was the celebrated last day of classes for the semester. Still, for those who attended, the movie provided an exciting story of a fictional slum dweller’s success in life and love, creating lighthearted parallels to Brighter Dawns’ mission of helping impoverished communities.
In mid-December, a group of students who had been deeply involved in Brighter Dawns throughout the semester held a small executive meeting, in which the future goals and organization of Brighter Dawns were considered. This team finalized the structure of the group’s leadership, and brainstormed ideas for fundraisers to be held in the spring semester.
Although at times the process has been rough, and our undertakings have been less successful than we had hoped, we have all come a long way in a brief amount of time. To all those who have supported us in our work thus far, thank you for your donations, time, and encouragement. Have a Happy New Year, and be on the lookout for future Brighter Dawns events in the next semester!