“There is something special about helping people fulfill their last days on Earth by facilitating their last wish,” TGS student counselor Mr. Saul Ostroff said. “This is what ‘DreamCatchers’ do.”
The Gregory School’s chapter of the DreamCatchers Foundation was started this year by sisters Claire and Nora Harroun ‘23. “We are interested in caring for others and want to be involved in efforts that address mental well-being. DreamCatchers is a rare opportunity to do this by working directly with patients,” Nora explained.
This week, Agape Hospice honored TGS DreamCatcher Club members with an altruism award for their work with Cathy, a hospice patient, who had her final wish to visit the zoo and say goodbye to the animals granted by our students.
“The process to prepare for the zoo trip was lengthy, but rewarding” Nora said. After the club received notice of a zoo trip dream in December, they discussed it with the hospice volunteer coordinator, Pat Richter, and he agreed to help. The club then jumped into action, contacting a medical transportation company, making arrangements with the zoo, working with hospice staff to plan for a wheelchair and oxygen, and selecting a route that would allow Cathy to see all of her favorite animals while adhering to the timing allowed by the supplemental oxygen. Students received training in hospice procedures and held bake sales to cover the costs of the outing.
“I appreciate the connections I make with students and patients (through DreamCatchers),” Nora said. “Many of the patients are elderly, and I feel fortunate to learn about their life experiences, and hopefully bring them some comfort in their last days.”
The benefits of giving or serving without reciprocity, go beyond the connections made or the help provided to others, Mr. Ostroff explained. “When we are engaged with Cathy, our most recent hospice patient, we are our best selves, or as Dr. Bruce Perry would say, we are operating from our cortical region of our brain, our most empathetic self. In short, we are releasing dopamine for a natural high because of helping others.” He added, “One good deed inspires more good deeds and so DreamCatchers are making our community a little bit better, a little bit kinder, and more cooperative.”
Members of The Gregory School DreamCatchers Club are Nora Harroun ‘23, Claire Harroun ‘23, Caitlyn Saavedra ‘25, Kierra Harrison ‘25, Bobby McMahon ‘23, and Maddy Horowitz ‘23. The faculty advisors are school counselors Saul Ostroff and Ashley Hazan.