Pacific alumna’s charity supports local youth and families
“My heart is with the people. If I can help somebody, I know I am on the right track. If I can use my life of an example of hope, I know I am on the right track.” - Gwendolyn Dailey
Dailey attended University of the Pacific, graduating with a bachelor of arts in sociology with a minor in ethnic studies and earned her master of arts in education with a dual concentration in student affairs and educational organization, leadership, and administration. She is currently back at Pacific as a doctoral candidate for education, with a concentration in transformative action in education.
The Dome of Hope works with struggling students to provide holistic, individualized support. Dailey, a Stockton native, is embedded in the community and able to connect students with the help they need.
“We understand the community needs of those who do not know where to go and seek resources,” explained Dailey.
One reason Dailey feels like she can relate to the community’s needs because she has experienced similar struggles in her life. “When dropping out of high school, I thought it was the worst thing I could do. It has actually become an advantage,” allowing her to reach families that are missed by traditional support systems. “Other non-profits don’t know where the kids and parents are. I’ve been here over half a century. I can say, I know your mom, I know your grandmother”.
In an effort to reach more families, Dome of Hope works closely with the Stockton Unified school district. Dailey and her team have personal and professional experience to connect to their community.
“We have several students that were very disruptive and have behavior issues,” said Dailey. “Teachers didn’t know what to do. We stepped in and helped by becoming a partner in their education. We use a nontraditional approach and engage both the students and the parents.”
The Dome’s outreach includes children coming from illiterate families, who Dailey notes are often unable to communicate their needs. “If (parents) cannot read the paperwork sent home with their child, they cannot contribute to the success of their child.” Dome of Hope has helped reach out to low performing and illiterate children to “bridge the gaps so that (educators) can better understand the kids”.
Throughout founding the Dome of Hope in 1997, then registering as a 501c3 charitable organization the next year, Dailey’s vision for the organization remains clear. The Dome of Hope, as she explains, works to “holistically support the whole family. Once all of the family becomes engaged and literate, that is the success of the community.” The Dome focuses on tailoring education to the learning styles of students, for example rapping math facts. Dailey emphasizes “learning without judgement”.
“I’m here to show everyone, it doesn’t matter your race, your ethnicity, your age, your socioeconomic class. I have not done anything extraordinary, but I got hope. Live as an example of hope. A lot of people helped me and showed me how to give hope, so I want to show someone else how to give hope.” - Gwendolyn Dailey
The Dome of Hope has been impacted by COVID-19 and the loss of financial support that accompanied the pandemic. “We have a building, right in the heart of the center of Stockton. We are much needed there. The libraries are shut down. There is nothing around there that can support literacy or the families. We are there, we are essential.”
Dailey asks for community members to work with the Dome, “We need help, from educators and tutors coming in. We can help, but we are not equipped with the furniture (and technology) we need to support our programs."
“I want to keep our (Dome of Hope’s) doors open. For the ones that teachers cannot deal with, give them to us. Let us use our experience to help.” - Gwendolyn Dailey