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Work Hard, Play Passionately, Love NOLA, Dream Big: The Dream Big Foundation

Written by  InthekNOwla.com



(InthekNOwla) -- NEW ORLEANS | We recently had the great pleasure of speaking with New Orleans Saints Zach Strief (and of course Super Bowl Champion!) and his lovely wife Mandy about their organization, The Zach Strief Dream Big Foundation.

Originally from Ohio, Zach Strief began his love affair with New Orleans in 2006 when he was signed to the Saints and he quickly became part of our community. Even before being drafted into the NFL, however, Zach knew that he wanted to be involved in uplifting and giving back to the community. And what better community to start with than those of his new city, New Orleans. But this New Orleans community was not like any other. This community had just witnessed so much hardship just a year prior and was still in the process of mustering the strength to rebuild and renew. Nevertheless, Zach wasted no time in fulfilling his mission and with the help of his loving family, The Dream Big Foundation was born. Dream Big is committed to enriching the lives of children in our communities and to providing support and fighting for those who need it most.


He explained, “My mom helped me start Dream Big right away so we could get a head start on the many things we wanted to do. We started small initially and have grown a great deal since Mandy, my wife, took over operations of the foundation. Our first big fundraiser took place last year with the Big Night Out which benefitted Café Reconcile, a non-profit restaurant providing help and support to at-risk youth. At Dream Big, we like to work with kids that are in high school or just beyond it and are at that age where they can use a little guidance. That’s around the age that many people give up on some children. We also like to work with other groups that teach kids how to help themselves. And Café Reconcile fit that mold perfectly. It’s a chance for many kids to get some real world training and experience.”

Café Reconcile is located in Central City and began in 2001. Youth from at-risk communities partake in 8-week sessions where they learn life skills and receive job training in all facets of the restaurant industry. “Café Reconcile brings the kids in and gives them that sense of purpose that a lot of kids lose,” exclaimed Zach. “Café Reconcile gives the kids a direction and pairs that with people that very honestly care about the future of them. Some kids do more than one term in which they become the leaders. They also have the option of participating in an internship in which Café Reconcile has partnerships with other restaurants. Many of the kids have stayed beyond the scope of the internship to become employees. It’s been very rewarding for us,” said Zach.

Zach and Mandy have many other ventures and plans in store for The Dream Big Foundation, which include working with other local charities, and fundraising through benefits and T-shirt sales. In addition, they have a children’s Christmas event to benefit the Special Olympics in the works.

This year’s Big Night Out benefitting Café Reconcile is scheduled for September 30th and will feature silent and live auctions, live entertainment by MoJeaux, and big eats by over 20 different New Orleans restaurants. Tickets start at $40 and include an open bar, food, and all the above-mentioned amenities of a great night of charitable celebration. Corporate sponsorships and group rates are also available.

Get your tickets HERE!

InthekNOwla.com would like to thank Zach and Mandy for not only loving our city, but also for giving their time and energy to the renewal of New Orleans. You can learn more about the Dream Big Foundation online at www.DreamBigNOLA.com.

To purchase an “I Love Boys in Black and Gold” Shirt visit HERE. All proceeds benefit New Orleans charities.

In the words of the motto of The Dream Big Foundation, “Work Hard, Play Passionately, Love NOLA, Dream Big” and of course, WHO DAT!


Last modified on Wednesday, 22 September 2010
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