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Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

September 14, 2005:

Jim Henderson ’87

Funding community service projects
Jim Henderson ’87 founded a class fund that helps classmates serve others in their own hometowns.

The Dream Fund: In preparation for the Class of 1987’s 15th reunion in 2002, James Henderson ’87 came up with a new idea for the class community service project. Many classes perform community service near Princeton over Reunions weekend, but Henderson had something else in mind: “Instead of physically doing a project, we would raise money to support good projects that class members are working on in their own communities.” With the support of then-reunion chair and now class president Michael DeBerry ’87, Henderson founded the Dream Fund, collecting $4,200 at Reunions and doling out $750 grants to three class members. Since then, two more class members have been awarded grants.

Among the grant recipients are Dana Benfer White ’87, executive director of WiredWoods in Waltham, Mass., a nonprofit organization helping at-risk youth deepen their understanding of technology; Robert Heilbronner ’87, who is active in Net Results Junior Tennis, an organization that offers troubled kids in Denver an hour of professional tennis instruction for every hour of literacy training or school-related mentoring they take after school; and William Dee Dockery ’87, who volunteers at St. Philip’s School and Community Center, which serves an economically underdeveloped part of Dallas. St. Philip’s used the Dream Fund donation to provide supplies for a health and wellness fair. Says Dockery: “The Dream Fund paid necessary operating expenses for the event, but the thing that pleased me the most about the donation was that it linked St. Philip’s to Princeton. St. Philip’s was understandably very proud of this recognition.”

Henderson, a tax attorney in Boston, had expected that class members would give once, at their 15th reunion, but he’s been surprised that contributions continue to come in three years later. To date, the fund has $9,000 in its coffers, and Henderson is calling on class members to send him new grant proposals by November 15 (

Although not hefty, the grants go a long way at community-based organizations — the type of projects the Dream Fund targets. Says Henderson, “For these smaller projects, a grant of $750 or $1,000 can make a big difference.”

By K.F.G.