Announcing Alumni Series Kick-Off: Where Are They Now?

Travel in time with us as we follow our alumni on their journeys after graduation and discover how An Achievable Dream made a positive impact on their lives. In this series, we will feature our alumni beginning with the very first graduating class of 2001 to highlight how they have manifested their Dreams. Also featured in this series are each graduating class’s sponsor to share their inspiration for supporting their class. Eric Heckstall kicks off our series, read more to learn about his life and accomplishments.

Tell us where you are, what you’re doing now, and the accomplishment or life milestones you’re most proud of!

I am still local, living in Hampton with my wife and three kids. My two oldest are students at the College of William and Mary and Norfolk State University. The youngest is entering the 3rd grade. I own a heating and air conditioning company that I started myself and now I have six employees.

What about An Achievable Dream do you feel most prepared you for the career and life you have now?

Throughout my childhood, An Achievable Dream helped me in many ways. They provided me with different opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. They instilled a positive mindset and morals at an early age that I still practice today in every aspect of my business and personal life.

What is next for you?

I plan on expanding my business from HVAC to building new construction homes, watching my kids become adults, and traveling more!

Continue reading to learn about why the very first graduating class sponsor from 2001, Buddy and Libby David, on behalf of the Franklin O. Blechman Memorial Trust, chose to invest in the Dream.

As a businessman and civic leader, Walter Segaloff understood how many disadvantaged children lived in our City, and how unprepared they were for success in education and in the world of work. Because Walter was a long-time close, personal friend, we talked with Walter about his plan to tackle this problem from the time he began to envision this program.

Walter believed that what others viewed as impossible could be achieved. He had the insight to imagine a program that could inspire these children to reach their potential. This vision began with giving children the security and confidence to dream, and skills they would need to achieve their dreams. He had the insight to establish a supportive yet challenging program that could transform these students into dreamers, hard workers and, eventually, highly successful adults.

Walter had the respect of the community that he had earned over the years and was able to rally it around a commitment to address this problem. Anyone who knew Walter understood that a program Walter conceived, managed, and micro-managed would achieve what it promised. He won the support of the Newport News School System and the financial support of the business and general community.

Years earlier, our family, along with the general support of the community, established the Franklin O. Blechman Memorial Trust to honor our patriarch and Walter’s mentor. It was the perfect vehicle to use to deliver on the promise of a college education for each Achievable Dream graduate. As pleased as we are to have sponsored the first class of graduates from An Achievable Dream, we are most proud of the impact this first class had on the program. The college promise was kept. Every graduate pursued this opportunity, setting the stage for the classes to follow. The achievements of those graduates, ranging from PhDs to professional degrees, inspired those who followed.

We are immensely proud to have been a part of this (and to have maintained our involvement). We are proud to be part of a community that enthusiastically continues to support the program. And, we are proud of the graduates of the first class who proved the point!

– Buddy and Libby David