Ice Cream for a Dream: Trinity College graduate inspires teens through cold treats

Connecticut Families

HARTFORD – It looks like an ordinary ice cream truck providing refreshment on a warm day, but, the driver has more on his mind.

“Someone told me that they wanted to be a pilot,” says Matt Rivera.

The truck is actually a vehicle for change. The treat is a cold spark for conversation.

“This is Ice Cream for a Dream,” says Rivera, a Bronx native. “We truly do believe there’s power especially in communities such as Hartford to be asking our young children what their dreams are.”

When he was a student at Trinity College, Rivera was the co-president of the Men of Color Alliance and formed a relationship with the founder of The Dream Support Network, which he says changed his life.

“I was one of the most negative people I knew growing up,” he says, noting that he flipped this attitude around. He knows others can, too.

“It’s amazing to see how a lot of kids, when I ask them the question, ‘What is your dream,’ they’ll kinda step back a bit and say, ‘Wait, my dream,'” he explains.

Recently, some were hesitant. Others jumped in at Hartford High School.

“I said my dream was to be in the music industry because I love to sing and I have a beautiful voice, people tell me,” says 18-year-old Ayanna.

“Nobody has ever asked me what my dream is, so it felt good,” says 16-year-old Jadieo.

“I want to go to CCSU because they have a lot of courses for electrical engineering,” says Jaquin, who is also 16. “I was told I wasn’t going to do much with my life, so, I proved people wrong by taking my honors classes and doing what I do.”

“I love when adults come up to the truck because they don’t have people asking them those sorts of questions,” says Rivera who, at 22 years old, thinks a lot about his future, hoping to become a motivational speaker. “My dream today is to give a sold-out speech in Madison Square Garden.”

For now, he’ll continue to canvas these roads, doling out and soaking in positivity with the idea that the spoken word pulse vision equals power.

“I believe when you take one step in the direction of your dreams, who knows what’s going to happen after that,” says Rivera.

The ice cream truck doesn’t just make magic in Hartford; it travels all around the state.

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