Adventures to Dreams Enrichment (AtDE) was founded in by “Ms. Sheila” Grantham, a former pre-school owner, director, early childhood educator, and mentor. While teaching, a student expressed that he and his siblings weren’t allowed to play outside on the weekends because of the dangers in their neighborhood.
Ms. Sheila listened to his words and put a plan into action! Ms. Sheila is an innovative community leader with a strong passion for exposing youth to experiences that transcend their norms. She thought, “I must do something to expose these kids to a positive environment on the weekends!”
Ms. Sheila began AtDE with her own savings, and has been able to grow and sustain the program with the help of donations along the way.
2016 - 2017
In January 2016, Ms. Sheila reached out to Joe Corso, Garden Director at Long Beach Organic, in order to acquire garden plots to launch AtDE’s gardening activities. She was determined to get the program in full swing, and did so, once Joe approved her request. That same year, Ms. Sheila was a recipient of the Villager Award for Making A Difference in the community.
In 2017, Ms. Sheila became an honorary member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (CSULB) for her commitment to the ideals of scholarship, leadership, and service to the community.
In December 2018, Ms. Sheila was faced with the decision of closing AtDE because the program had grown to 25 kids, and her savings were exhausted. In late January, she received a grant from Whole Kids Foundation/Garden Grant program, and an anonymous donor, which was enough to continue operations. In 2019, Ms. Sheila dreamed BIG, and deployed a strategy to accommodate growing program needs. Her goal was to revitalize a local park in Long Beach, CA by developing a safe, functional green space for ATDE youth, and the surrounding community by partnering with Long Beach City Parks and Recreation. She envisioned a space with multiple gardening plots, an outdoor kitchen, a play area, restrooms, a storage area, and a small office. The new space would allow ATDE to engage more youth, volunteers, and surrounding communities and employ students from local colleges. With more food production, ATDE youth could continue to take it home, and host food drives and farmer’s markets to increase community access to healthy and affordable produce.
Ms. Sheila is a California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) alumna, and she formed strong connections with several campus organizations who consistently volunteer their time with ATDE, proving time after time, that giving back is very important. She also connected with some Long Beach sustainability organizations like Long Beach Fresh and Long Beach Organic, both organizations that believe in improving access to locally-grown, seasonal and sustainably grown food in Long Beach. Additionally, Ms. Sheila became a member of The Nonprofit Partnership, in order to build the capacity of ATDE, so it could continue to make positive change in the community.
In January, Ms. Sheila was a recipient of the Long Beach Hero award which honors local unsung heroes. Amidst the COVID–19 pandemic, Ms. Sheila continued executing her plans to expand Adventures to Dreams, and relocate operations from a shared space (South 40 Community Garden), to its own space, at a Long Beach community park. In February, her plans manifested into reality when she formed a partnership with the City of Long Beach Parks and Recreation. She was granted 10,000 sq ft. of land at Drake-Chavez Greenbelt Park (District 1) in order to build a youth garden and hands-on activity center. The garden development was delayed as COVID – 19 quarantine/stay in place orders were put in place statewide. In June, the Adventure team launched a campaign to raise funds for land development. The first items on the list consisted of a fence to secure the land and shipping container to house supplies and equipment. The team’s efforts resulted in $12k in monetary donations which covered 3/4 of fence installation, along with garden supplies and equipment donated by Lowe’s, Store #785, and amazing volunteers have helped build garden beds and assist our youth with planting and maintaining the garden.
AtDE kicked off at its new location with its second Summer cooking camp. The program is CDC/COVID–19 approved to operate and the team is following the safety guidelines necessary to stay in compliance.
In 2021, Ms. Sheila focused on acquiring grant funding and other necessary resources to complete the garden development, and secure operation resources. She also reached out to form more partnerships with organizations that have an interest in youth development, engagement, and empowerment, especially when it comes to healthy outcomes, and the potential for them to become productive members of society. With the hard work of Ms. Sheila and Vivi, Adventures to Dreams Enrichment was able to secure a significant grant/blessing from Chick-Fil-A.
AtDE kicked off in January with a Garden Bed day. Parent and community volunteers came out to build more garden beds.
In April, Ms. Sheila was a recipient of Chick-Fil-A’s True Inspiration award, Hunger category. She and a few team members traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a business conference and celebrate her achievement at an awards ceremony held at the Delta Flight Museum.
Upon returning, Ms. Sheila was back in full swing for the “Girls Just Wanna Fun” event, a special ATDE girls day event hosted by volunteer Natalie Hale. The girls enjoyed a fun day engaging in art, creating charcuterie platters, and they listened to Monica English, a performing artist and the reigning Miss California Regency International. English, who came from the foster care system, spoke on overcoming life situations and believing in yourself.
In May, ATDE hosted an interactive STEAM Camp sponsored by Partners of Parks, TABC Toyota, and Chick-fil-A. Some of the sessions were led by Shared Science. Youth built model planes, cooked nachos with solar power, and constructed Lego gear robots.
In June, ATDE held its annual fundraiser with a “Jazz in the Garden” theme. The vibe was upbeat with Jim Fisk’s Jazztet performing live. There were garden tours, delicious food prepared by local chefs and Ms. Sheila, games, jewelry making, and lots fun, fellowship and laughter. Ms. Sheila is always grateful for the support AtDE receives because it helps continue the mission and it allows for the organization to grow and positively impact more youth. The “Let’s Hear It for the Boys” day was a fun filled day in which the boys created tye dyed shirts, built a windmill, and skateboarded with Skatedogs. ATDE held two community food drives in June and July. In addition to giving away fresh produce from the garden, they partnered with the Foodbank of Southern California to distribute groceries other necessities to those in need. The Summer Art Camp launched in July. The youth were exposed to multiple art forms including, painting, drawing, and ceramics.