Dream Quest History

Dream Quest is a grassroots organization. It was created by the community which it serves, and is supported by that community. Our mission is to provide youth with vocational and creative opportunities to imagine and build their dreams.  

Dream Quest was inspired by the site of teenagers sitting forlornly on the sidewalk in front of the gas station day after day. Gary Barker, owner of Northcoast Auto, was living in Willow Creek and was inspired to action. He contacted a friend and asked him to put a dream board together, which led to our first meeting on August 30, 2000.

For the next several months we met frequently, sculpting our vision, mission statement, goals and objectives. We decided on the official name “Willow Creek Youth Partnership” with “Dream Quest” as our project name. In June, 2001, we submitted applications to the CA Secretary of State, CA State Franchise Tax Board and IRS to become a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The Willow Creek Youth Partnership/Dream Quest Founding Board Members were Gary & Pam Barker, Rudy Breuning, Tamara Jenkinson-Parish, Trish Oakes, Merv George Jr. and Carol Tonkin-Newell.

Gary had held an annual Golf Tournament fundraiser for three years prior to Dream Quest’s creation, which benefitted the Willow Creek Fire Department and then the Willow Creek China Flat Museum. $4,000 had been set aside, which, combined with a $10,000 start-up grant from Humboldt Area Foundation formed our starting capital. Our original plan was to build a teen center, but after looking at potential sites we decided to rent a space so we would be able to offer services much sooner. The space next door to the Willow Creek Post Office became available and we excitedly signed a lease with Roger and Nancy Brown, who contributed a significant discount. Our furnishing included donated office furniture, sofa, and coffee table, plus borrowed folding tables and chairs. We purchased a few new items like a first aid kit and tool box, and paid for shipping for used computers were donated. Dream Quest hours were weekdays 3:00-6:00 pm. Programs were launched based on community needs and resources, including the After-School Program (2001), Music Lessons (2001), Golf (2002), Rafting & Outdoor Activities (2002), River Safety Day (2003), Swim lessons (2005), Ballet (2005). More programs were added as the years passed. There were numerous projects including murals, a 911 Tree Memorial, and totem pole. Dream Quest began selling holiday floral arrangements as a fundraiser and fresh bouquets on a weekly basis (2003). The DQ Thrift Store began as an after-school project (2004) in the front office. The “little store that could” began to grow and, after some deliberation we knocked out a wall, and later still knocked out a second wall. The store and youth center co-existed in the same space until we rented the space next door (2011) and began operating the two spaces separately.

The Annual Northcoast Auto Golf Tournament (commonly known as Gary’s Tournament) was one of the best golf tournaments in the county, and our primary source of income. The enthusiasm and support of community members and businesses was overwhelming. More than once we were moved to tears by their heartfelt generosity. The tournament was held at Bigfoot Golf and Country Club (2002-2008), and at Baywood Golf & Country Club (2009-2012.) Wisdom of Women (WOW) was formed in 2011 and held small fundraising events.

In addition to the Golf Tournaments and ongoing Thrift Store, Dream Quest has conducted numerous fundraisers, received cash donations, and benefited from multiple grants from outstanding organizations through the years. Dream Quest became the StepUP Youth Program Operator for Eastern Humboldt County (2014). Dream Quest continues to grow, and strives to provide opportunities for local youth.