MySweetWishList: Callier Center For Communication Disorders

According to Callier Center for Communication Disorders Executive Director Dr. Tom Campbell,

Tom Campbell*

“You probably know the song, ‘All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.’ Please bear with me for a refresher of the chorus:

‘All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth
‘My two front teeth
‘See my two front teeth
‘Gee, if I could only have my two front teeth
‘Then I could wish you, “Merry Christmas’

“As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I wondered, what if the lyric was ‘All I want for Christmas is the ability to hear and speak.’ It doesn’t have the same ring to it as the song, but I know that children who are deaf or hard of hearing feel this way.

“This holiday season, most of us will be able to hear and even sing Christmas carols and holiday songs. We will be able to hear and speak with family members and friends, as we gather at holiday parties. But not everyone is able to hear and speak, communicate with their loved ones, hear music and sing.

“To complicate matters, many insurance plans, even Medicaid, only partially cover the cost of audiology and speech-language services. Thus, many families cannot afford the clinical care necessary to treat a child who is deaf or hard of hearing. These families seek a place that will help them, but unfortunately many clinics across North Texas have stopped seeing patients with Medicaid. Where do these children go? The Callier Center.

“I am proud that the Callier Center has chosen differently. We are committed to transforming the lives of all patients regardless of their income level or insurance coverage. It is a privilege to serve those who are less fortunate, but we cannot do it without you.

“When you give to the Callier Center, you open the door for a family in need. We provide the expertise of audiologists and speech-language pathologists, leading-edge technology, research and care.

“The ability to hear and speak should be a given, but that is not always the case. You have the power to ensure that a family’s limited finances do not become a barrier to care. Will you open the door for someone in need today? Will you grant a child’s wish to hear and speak?

“Please give to the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.”

-By Dr. Tom Campbell, Callier Center for Communication Disorder executive director

* Photo provided by Callier Center for Communication Disorder

MySweetWishList: Christmas In The Park

According to Christmas In The Park Volunteer Nita Clark,

“My wish is to help the SM Wright Foundation achieve its goal of securing 15,000 toys, one for each child attending this year’s Christmas in the Park event on Saturday, December 16! We are closing in, but we can always use your donations:  http://www.smwrightfoundation.org/content/donate-today/ .

Nita and Clark Cullum*

“Christmas in the Park is an annual event serving tens of thousands of residents of Fair Park and South Dallas – an area of Dallas with very high unemployment and scarce infrastructure and support. Christmas in the Park has grown beyond giving a toy or a bike to each child, but now provides winter coats, mattresses for kids who have no bed, plus books, a job fair, a college fair, hot meals, groceries, clothing, bus passes, gift cards for Walmart and help with utilities payments. 

“The Rev. SM Wright II pulls this off every year through the help from volunteers, members of the South Dallas community and corporations and donors from the greater Dallas community. Please help by supporting the toy drive.  You can also help by volunteering at the event!  Just email [email protected] to register. Like any great Christmas party, it’s sometimes chaotic, but always fun!

“The Christmas in the Park event is the best opportunity of the year for the SM Wright Foundation to reach families in the Fair Park area for the first time. Once the Foundation makes contact with a family, it can bring the adults into the computer skills training program, and kids into the South Dallas Top of the Class Community Tutoring Center. The Foundation helps people throughout the year with various immediate needs- from food at the Operation Hope Food Center, to clothes to help with rising electric bills. Again this year, there is a college expo with a dozen representatives from area colleges present, a job fair, hot meal, gift cards and bus passes. Please join us in participating in this joyous and meaningful holiday event! Christmas in the Park happens on Saturday, December 16, at the Automobile Building in Fair Park.”

-Nita Clark, Christmas In The Park volunteer

* Photo credit: Dana Driensky

MySweetWishList: Dallas CASA

According to Dallas CASA Volunteer Manager Sandra Teter,

Sandra Teter*

“My wish for Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) this holiday season is that more community members will join me and serve as volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes and are in foster care or alternative placements.

“I joined CASA’s cadre of volunteers 20 years ago in 1997. Since then I have worked 24 different cases involving 47 children. I have always been pretty altruistic and when I found CASA I knew I had found my place.

“Though I have always been one to speak up, CASA gives my “voice” the ability to affect real immediate change.  As an advocate you have to ask the tough questions and the best decision is not always the easy one. These kids deserve someone that will really listen to them and go to bat for them to ensure their wellbeing. The healing that often occurs in whole families can make positive change for future generations.

“People tend to be afraid of volunteering at places like CASA because they worry about seeing things they do not want to see. The truth is these situations happen whether we see them or not. The toughest job out there is a Child Protective Services caseworker. They see the situations the children are removed from in real time. CASA is assigned after the children are in protective care and safe and it is time to pick up the pieces.

“CASA has taught me to be more compassionate and look at every side to a story. Every time I read a new case, I get angry. I have learned there are truly so many sides to every story. Many of the children’s parents have been victims themselves and are repeating learned behavior. Though we wish there was not a need for the process, the court’s intervention provides access to services such as counseling, drug and alcohol treatment and mental healthcare. I have gained perspective and balance as a CASA volunteer and feel I gain as much, if not more, than I give.

Dallas CASA*

“I hope you will join me on this walk as a Dallas CASA volunteer. As of Tuesday, November 7, 1,264 volunteer advocates have served 2,928 abused and neglected children in Dallas in 2017. The numbers are heartbreaking but the results are amazing.

“There are more children who need advocates. Dallas CASA is currently able to provide advocates for three out of four children in need. As proud as we are all of that, it is the child without an advocate I can not stop thinking about. These children deserve our care and attention, not just during the holidays but year round.

“The first step is to go to an information session at Dallas CASA.

“New volunteer information sessions are offered weekly, go to DallasCASA.org to register.”

-By Sandra Teter, Dallas CASA volunteer manager

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA

MySweetWishList: Wilkinson Center

Jane Shouse*

According to Wilkinson Center Volunteer Jane Shouse,

“As a Wilkinson Center volunteer for many years, I’ve come to understand how deeply felt the desire to have seasonal traditions, the kind most of us take for granted, is for families who struggle day to day with poverty.  Their children dream of Santa, toys and treats of the season, and parents look forward to special times, shared meals and the happiness that comes from celebrating together. Yet for many of these families, the holiday season also represents a time of hardship. Even small amounts of generosity during the holiday season can make an inspiring impact on these families’ holidays and carry meaning we may not realize.

“The Wilkinson Center’s holiday wish, easily fulfilled by an individual, group or business, is for food pantry items to fulfill families’ needs for holiday meals, specifically baskets with a frozen turkey and your choice of fixings.

“Turkey baskets given to Wilkinson Center clients mean much more than providing food or a doing a good deed; these baskets lift their load, not only for the tangible contents, but also because of what they represent. They provide families with the ability to celebrate in a manner that they look forward to all year.

Wilkinson Center*

“Your help in fulfilling these wishes enables Wilkinson Center to make this season happier for one Dallas family of 2,600 families that the Center serves. Please join us in making holiday dreams come true in your community.

“For more information on how to help the Wilkinson Center this holiday season, please contact Teresa Norton at [email protected], or visit our website at www.wilkinsoncenter.org.”

– By Jane Shouse, Wilkinson Center Volunteer

* Graphic and photo provided by Wilkinson Center

MySweetWishList: SPCA OF Texas

According to SPCA Of Texas Volunteer Janice Anderson,

Janice Anderson*

“My wish is that all animal lovers include the SPCA of Texas in their will and estate plans. Leave a legacy and give to one of the best non-profits in our community.”

“When my husband Bill and I moved to McKinney from Tennessee 17 years ago, it wasn’t long before we discovered the SPCA of Texas McKinney facility just around the corner from our home on Stacy Road.

“We loved to stop by and see the pups and we quickly learned about all the great work the SPCA of Texas does throughout North Texas.

 “We have been donors since 2005 and have adopted six dogs from the McKinney shelter over the years. About a year ago we decided to make a future commitment by including the SPCA of Texas in our estate plans.

SPCA of Texas*

“We wanted this to be our legacy to help the SPCA of Texas continue their important work, and (as Legacy Society members) knowing that our pups will be taken care of if something happens to us, is very comforting.

“It was also my dream to become an SPCA of Texas volunteer after retiring. I began my labor of love as a McKinney volunteer last fall.

“For Bill and me, the SPCA of Texas is where our love is.

“The SPCA of Texas is the leading animal welfare organization in North Texas. Founded in 1938, the non-profit operates two shelters, three spay/neuter clinics and an animal rescue center, all located in Dallas and Collin Counties, and maintains a team of animal cruelty investigators who respond to thousands of calls in seven North Texas counties. The SPCA of Texas is not affiliated with any other entity and does not receive general operating funds from the City of Dallas, State of Texas, federal government or any other national humane organization. The SPCA of Texas is dedicated to providing every animal exceptional care and a loving home. 

“To learn more about how you can leave a legacy to the SPCA of Texas, please contact Eunice Nicholson at [email protected] or 214.461.5166.”

-By Janice Anderson, SPCA of Texas volunteer

* Photo and graphic provided by SPCA of Texas

MySweetWishList: Readers 2 Leaders

Norma Nelson*

According to Readers 2 Leaders Executive Director Norma Nelson,

“My holiday wish is for all third graders in Dallas County to receive the early literacy skills they need to succeed! I’d like to introduce you to three Readers 2 Leaders students: Catalina, Fernanda and Alaina go to different schools, but they have something in common: they all dream of helping others in the healthcare field. Maybe they will become doctors, nurses, or medical researchers! Like all kids, they have big dreams.

“The road from career dress up day at Readers 2 Leaders’ Summer Camp to advanced medical training will be long no matter what, but together we can make it smoother. We know that 2 out of 3 economically disadvantaged children are not reading on grade level by 4th grade, and that makes them six times less likely to graduate from high school, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Imagine if only one of the sweet girls in this photo made it to college! We can’t let that happen.

“At Readers 2 Leaders, children get help learning to read on grade level so they are prepared for the challenges they face on the way to fulfilling their dreams. At R2L, we know that literacy isn’t the only thing kids need to make things go right, but it’s just about the first thing that must! When you support Readers 2 Leaders, you’re helping literacy go right for kids.

Readers 2 Leaders*

“Also, students in Readers 2 Leaders’ programs are making great progress! They gain an average of a year and a half of reading skills in just one year, and 94% of this year’s summer campers did not experience the “summer slide”– in fact, they gained 3.5 months of skills!

“I hope that you will consider donating to Readers 2 Leaders this holiday season.

Catalina, Fernanda and Alaina*

“Your support helps children like Catalina, Fernanda and Alaina get the early literacy skills they desperately need. You can connect with Readers 2 Leaders by donating, attending a tour or volunteering to read with a child in our program. Thank you for helping children in our community achieve their dreams!”

– By Norma Nelson, Readers 2 Leaders Executive Director

* Photo provided by Readers 2 Leaders

MySweetWishList: Perot Museum Of Nature And Science

Julie Diaz*

According to Perot Museum of Nature and Science Chief Advancement Officer Julie Diaz,

“The Perot Museum celebrates its 5th birthday this December!

“We are grateful for the support of the North Texas community, which has allowed us to serve 5.5 million people since our opening in 2012 and enabled us to fulfill our mission of ‘inspiring minds through nature and science.’

“Our wish this holiday season is to give the gift of discovery to North Texas families who might not otherwise have the means to visit. A contribution in support of the Perot Museum’s Financial Aid Program – which gives over 100,000 school children from all over North Texas the opportunity to experience the Museum’s amaze-your-brain fun and learning – would be meaningful!

Perot Museum of Nature and Science*

“Your gift to this program is a great way to help us spark curiosity in the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators. Our goal is to distribute $500,000 in financial aid this year – you can help make that possible! Check it out here. For more info, call 214.756.5808.

-By Julie Diaz, Perot Museum of Nature and Science Chief Advancement Officer

* Photo provided by Perot Museum of Nature and Science

MySweetWishList: Educational First Steps

According to Educational First Steps Board Member and Chief Secret Santa Coordinator Jennifer Mosle,

Jennifer Mosle*

Educational First Steps*

“Everyone likes a Secret Santa! Educational First Steps does the extraordinary: transforming low income childcare centers in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods into nationally accredited early learning centers that serve thousands of children in North Texas. Our ‘one wish’ for this holiday season is to help grant a Secret Santa wish for each of the centers that have worked over a three-year period to reach national accreditation – that would be 53 wishes! 

“You see, these centers are so financially strapped they can’t afford vans to transport the children, shade structures for the playground, playground equipment, or even that new stove for the kitchen where they cook up to three meals a day for the children in their care while their parents work. 

“We hope you will decide to be an Educational First Steps Secret Santa and grant a wish for one of our deserving accredited centers.

“Wishes are available in three Secret Santa levels:

  • “$5,000 – will get a Gold Star on our Holiday Tree and 10 books donated to the center in your name
  • “$2,500 – will get a Silver Star on our Holiday Tree and 8 books donated to the center in your name.
  • “$1,000 – will get a White Star on our Holiday Tree and 5 books donated to the center in your name

Educational First Steps*

“Monetary or in-kind gifts like those mentioned above will make a lasting, meaningful gift to these centers that will allow them to create safe and nurturing learning environments for generations of children.

“To become a Secret Santa for Educational First Steps, simply visit www.educationalfirststeps.org or contact Educational First Steps Senior Development Director Judy Schecter at 214.824.7940. Thank you!”

-By Jennifer Mosle, Educational First Steps Board Member and Chief Secret Santa Coordinator

* Photo provided by Educational First Steps

MySweetWishList: Community Partners Of Dallas Toy Drive

According to Community Partners of Dallas CEO/President Paige McDaniel,

Community Partners of Dallas’ annual Toy Drive is now underway!  I wish for the community to help us in providing more than 12,000 holiday gifts for abused and neglected children in the care of Child Protective Services. CPD is accepting donations of new toys through Friday, December 8.

This year we have received 1,000 more wish requests for abused and neglected children in Dallas County, and need the support of the community to ensure that every one is filled. We can send you 2 wishes, 20 wishes or 200 – all donations are welcome!

Paige McDaniel*

Community Partners of Dallas’ Toy Drive is unique in that the wishes are brought to the agency by CPS caseworkers on behalf of the children in their care, and those same caseworkers will have the wonderful opportunity to deliver the gifts personally. For many of the children, these might be the only gifts they receive, and for some the first holiday gift they have ever been given.

A significant need this year is gift cards, valued at $25 or more, for the teens we serve.  Gift cards from retailers such as Target, Wal-mart, Bath & Body Works, Forever21, GameStop, Academy, Old Navy, Ulta and Best Buy are always appreciated as every teen should have the experience of shopping and selecting something for themselves.  As well, popular wishes for kids of all ages include Paw Patrol toys, African American Dolls, Sophia the First toys, Batman, Spiderman, learning toys for toddlers, bath and body gift sets, anything from Disney’s Frozen, light up toys, MP3 players, LEGO Sets, remote control cars, toddler push toys, tablets, LeapFrog toys and basketballs/footballs/soccer balls.

Toys and gift cards can be provided by companies, churches, scout troops, business offices, or individuals. Organizations and individuals can also organize a new toy drive for the undesignated toy collection used to serve additional children who come into CPS’ protective care after the wish list deadline and to fill wishes not selected by donors.

All gifts should be new and not wrapped. Toys must be delivered to the Community Partners of Dallas’ Toy Drive Warehouse at the Peacock Alley Warehouse located at 2050 Postal Way, Dallas, Texas 75212, no later than 3:00 p.m. on Friday, December 8.  For more information on participating in the Toy Drive or for warehouse hours, contact Corinne Karp, 214.624.7588 or visit www.communitypartnersdallas.org.”

-By Paige McDaniel, Community Partners of Dallas CEO

* Photo provided by Community Partners of Dallas

2017 MySweetWishList Starts Monday!

MySweetCharity

After recovering from the Cowboy loss and using Tums as Thanksgiving supper chasers, it’s time to start marching into the official holiday season. In addition to pulling out the holidays decorations from the attic, heading to Sandone for the tree and sending greeting cards, the annual MySweetWishList series will kick into place Monday.

It’s a marvelous opportunity to help those whose needs are great. They’re not wishing for an XPhone or a new Mercedes. Rather, they are parents who are going to have to explain to their kids that Santa is going to have to take a pass this year. It’s the homeless and elderly, whose feast is going to be meager at best. It’s animals that will have concrete floors or wired cages to sleep in without a blanket or toy.

So, if you have room on your holiday shopping list, consider adding one or two more from those with wishes. You’ll not only make others happy, your accountant will be positively giddy about the deduction around April 15.

And even if your wallet is emptied out already, consider just reading the wishes. You may just learn about services, organizations and people that make this community great.

On the other hand, if you are in need, you just might find a resource to help you through the days ahead.  

MySweetWishList: MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

North Texas’ nonprofit old timers and newcomers made their wishes known in the MySweetWishList series for the past weeks.

Hopefully, you had time to check one, two or all of them out. And just maybe you were able to come through for one of them.

At MySweetCharity we have a wish, too. It is that if you couldn’t make one of the nonprofit’s wishes come true immediately, you’ll keep them in mind in the year ahead.

North Texas generosity is legendary for providing nonprofits with the resources to support those in need and to improve the community. While the challenges may seem never to end, there is an incredible number of dedicated people who tirelessly work in the trenches to make North Texas arise to the occasion.

Thank you for your consideration.

MySweetWishList: C.C. Young

According to C. C. Young Vice President of Development Sharon Ballew,

Sharon Ballew (File photo)

“My wish this holiday season is that the community will join together and participate in the 2nd Annual Carry the Torch 5K and Fun Run on Friday, March 3, benefiting the C. C. Young Cares program. The program provides flash frozen, heart-healthy meals to seniors in in need throughout the Dallas Metroplex, and every race registration fee helps to fund this mission.

“The race will begin at the beautiful C. C. Young campus overlooking White Rock Lake, at 6:00 p.m. and the route will feature sloping inclines, turns and scenic views. All runners also will receive a swag bag for participating in the race including a race shirt, glow kit and medals for all 5K finishers. Following the run, the after party will feature food trucks, vendors, a DJ and more. Awards will also be given in age group categories and for Overall and Masters Male and Female Finishers.

“To register yourself or a team online, please visit www.CarryTheTorchRun.com.  

“Please join me in supporting seniors in need by pledging to run in C. C. Young’s Carry The Torch 5K and Fun Run this March!”

-By Sharon Ballew, C. C. Young vice president of development

MySweetWishList: AIDS Services Of Dallas

According to AIDS Services of Dallas CEO Don Maison,

AIDS Services of Dallas*

“As the saying goes, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” Now imagine not having a home for the holidays – or any time of the year. No place for shelter, for warmth, for safety, for a hot meal. Our holiday wish is to provide a home for the 122 economically disadvantaged individuals living with HIV/AIDS who have been on our waiting list year after year.

AIDS Services of Dallas (ASD) provides quality, affordable, service-enriched housing, food, transportation and support services for 225 men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. The largest organization in Texas providing these kind of services and shelter, we currently have four facilities and are ready to grow in 2017. We are now raising much-needed funds to build a new housing structure to provide additional homes for residents.

“2017 will be ASD’s 30th Anniversary. Help us make it an iconic year with your donation by clicking here, or visit www.aidsdallas.org to learn more about our organization.

“Wishing you the happiest holiday season.”

-By Don Maison, AIDS Services of Dallas president and CEO

* Graphic courtesy of AIDS Services of Dallas

MySweetWishList: Dallas CASA

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director and President Kathleen LaValle,

Kathleen LaValle (File photo)

“Sixteen-year-old Daniella grew up in a chaotic environment filled with drinking, domestic violence, poverty and hopelessness. Up to 16 people lived in her tiny, wood-frame house at one time.

“Daniella was removed from home after her mother was arrested for driving drunk with Daniella’s four siblings in the car. No family members in Dallas were able to care for the child, but a cousin in Oklahoma agreed to take in the defiant and angry young woman. Removed from home, separated from her siblings, in desperate need of anger counseling, living in a new town with family she barely knew and attending a new school, Daniella felt abandoned and disconnected.

“But while Daniella felt forgotten in Oklahoma, Dallas CASA never forgot about her.

“Daniella’s Dallas CASA volunteer, Marie, visited the child often, driving to Oklahoma monthly for more than a year to stay connected. Daniella and Marie spoke often by phone, and Marie kept Daniella’s Dallas-based Child Protective Services caseworker up to date.

“Dallas CASA’s wish this Christmas is for gas cards and airline miles so no children have to go without a CASA to speak for them.

“Due to Dallas’ lack of adequate foster homes and residential treatment centers, up to 40%

of Dallas children are placed in protective care outside the county. A child might be placed in Houston, Lubbock or El Paso, but decisions made about that child still happen in a Dallas courtroom. And many of the children placed in distant locations are teenagers in the permanent custody of CPS and living in treatment centers, some of the most vulnerable children we serve. Almost half the children our volunteers serve are living in long-term foster care.

“Marie visited Daniella frequently in Oklahoma, observing the teenager settle into life with her cousin, her cousin’s husband and their two young children. She helped Daniella understand her cousin’s curfew and rules about who she could hang out with, both new concepts to Daniella. She made sure Daniella saw a psychiatrist regularly. Marie helped Daniella get an identification card and her school records transferred to Oklahoma. Marie facilitated contact with Daniella’s younger siblings, all living in foster care. And when Daniella’s parents’ rights were terminated by the court leaving Daniella in the permanent custody of CPS, Marie helped Daniella talk through her options. Should she consider being adopted? Or plan to age out of foster care? What did she want her future to look like?

“While living with her cousin, Daniella chose to attend a local vocational high school for healthcare professions and got a job at a fast food restaurant three afternoons a week. For the first time in her life, she had money to spend on herself, a home free of addictions and violence and hope for her future. Consistent love and care gave Daniella clarity for her future, stripping away her anger and defiance and replacing it with a caring heart and a big smile.

Dallas CASA*

“Today, Daniella, at 17, has been adopted by her cousin, giving her permanency before adulthood. CASA attended the adoption and sent photos to CPS afterward. Daniella is considering going to college for nursing, something Marie has encouraged with a visit to a local college with a strong nursing program. Marie even called friends in Dallas who could offer Daniella advice on different nursing degrees and the salary she could expect.

“Daniella was forced to grow up fast, but with Marie by her side, a permanent place to call home and a strong plan for her future things look bright. Dallas CASA’s wish this holiday season is that no child ever feels forgotten. With gas cards and airline miles and airline gift cards, we can ensure our volunteers can travel as far as they need to so all children know they are important and valuable.

“For more information on donating, contact Becca Leonard at [email protected] or 214.827.8961.”

-By Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA executive director and president

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA

MySweetWishList: Cars For Kids

According to Cars for Kids COO Malcolm Wentworth,

“My wish is for everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season and for all our students to come back to school after the holidays ready to continue their journey. We need your help more than ever in order to help make this journey a success. Our ask is simple, donate your old vehicle in any condition to Texans Can Cars for Kids. We have our own staff that take care of the entire process.  We can pick up the vehicle for free and at a time that is convenient for you. Our tow drivers will provide you with a temporary receipt or we can email you one. We auction your vehicle at our Dallas car dealership and get you the highest possible tax deduction based on the sale of the vehicle at our auction.

Santa Tow*

“Our auctions are open to the public so we get the highest possible value for your vehicle and we have auctions every Saturday, with the exceptions of a couple holidays. Our dealership is located at 7100 Marvin D. Love Freeway, Dallas 75237. 

“You will receive a minimum of $500 tax deduction regardless of the condition of the vehicle. We are an IRS approved 501(c)3 organization. Your donation will help Local kids get back in school and you are helping save their lives because the kids are learning how to read and think for themselves. Texans Can Academies (TM) graduated 1,904 students this past school year. 

Cars For Kids mural*

“With your help we can do even more with two new schools we opened four months ago. My staff is here to help you with the process and we can take all donations up until 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2016, if you want to take advantage of the tax donation for this year. Remember to ‘Write off the Car, Not the Kid®.’”

-By Malcolm Wentworth, Cars for Kids COO

* Graphic and photo provided by Cars For Kids

MySweetWishList: CancerBlows

According to Ryan Anthony Foundation Co-Founder Niki Anthony,

Ryan and Niki Anthony (File photo)

CancerBlows was meant to be a once-in-as-life time musical event bringing together legendary trumpet players in a special concert and after party. The event sold out and raised substantial money for Multiple Myeloma patients and research via the Ryan Anthony Foundation.

“My husband, Ryan Anthony, principal trumpet of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 2008, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at age 43 in 2012. Thanks to aggressive and ongoing treatment, Ryan is in remission.  But, our passion to eradicate the disease is still strong.

“We are so fortunate to have a second CancerBlows scheduled for May of 2017 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. We are anticipating 1,800 guests who will enjoy a performance with such headliners as Doc Severinson, Arturo Sandoval, the Canadian Brass and Dave Matthews Band trumpeter Rashawn Ross in addition to fifteen other legends.

CancerBlows*

“During this holiday season, we are so grateful to the have the endorsement of philanthropists Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger who have brought tremendous resources to our efforts being spearheaded by Chairs D’Andra Simmons-Lock and Jeremy Lock with Co-Chairs Anne and Steve Stodghill.

“My wish is that everyone who has been affected by this dreaded disease finds the treatment, hope and eventual cure that is on the horizon. Proceeds from CancerBlows will directly benefit individuals in the Dallas area.  In the meantime, please make plans to join us for this important fund-raising event on May 10. Visit cancerblows.com for more information.”

-By Niki Anthony, Ryan Anthony Foundation co-found

* Graphic provided by CancerBlows

MySweetWishList: Homeward Bound

According to Homeward Bound Executive Director Douglas Denton,

Douglas Denton*

“Homeward Bound, Inc., a nonprofit Dallas drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center, is asking for support for its share of the costs of a training for and presentation of a free storytelling program at the Bath House Cultural Center on the evening of Friday, January 6. Clients and former clients who have been coached by professional storytellers will be sharing snippets of their life stories for a public performance at the Bath House. This is an exceptional opportunity for our clients to tell their healing stories. We would appreciate financial help with the production and have been awarded a Texas Commission on the Arts grant for this program. We have an ongoing gofundme campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/homeward-bound-storytellers to cover these costs.

From the left: Homeward Bound audience member, Homeward Bound audience member and Peggy and Gene Helmick-Richardson*

“Behind the scenes are Gene and Peggy Helmick-Richardson of Dallas, the Twice Upon a Time Storytellers. They have been on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Arts Roster since 2003.

“The Helmick-Richardsons believe in Homeward Bound’s cause as well as the therapeutic power of storytelling. Together, they have been presenting their stories to our residential clients for more than 20 years as volunteers. In addition to their usual weekly schedule in our HIV-positive unit, the Helmick-Richardsons have been working with our clients for months, helping them to polish their stories and selecting the tellers for the Bath House program.

“’Our ultimate goal is to not only assist storytelling program participants in crafting their own stories to further their personal healing but to also reach out to others wanting to break the bonds of addiction or to have a deeper understanding of what addiction truly means,’ Peggy explains.

“Note that the audience will be limited to adults only, due to adult subject matter and language. Thank you for your support.”

-By Douglas Denton, Homeward Bound executive director

* Photos provided by Homeward Bound

MySweetWishList: Interfaith Family Services

According to Interfaith Family Services’ Board of Directors Chair Ashley Blanchette,

Ashley Blanchette*

“As the chair of Interfaith Family Services’ Board of Directors and as a mom, I was shocked to learn that Dallas now leads the nation in child poverty.  While many of us are blessed to enjoy a warm meal, a bed to call our own and the knowledge our children will have gifts to open during the holiday season, this is not the case for many Dallas families.  My wish is for the community to help us provide our families, who recently experienced homelessness, a joyous and memorable holiday with some of the basic comforts needed to thrive. Many families don’t have access to items that you and I might not think twice about, including warm coats or shoes, as they come to us from incredibly difficult situations, such as fleeing domestic violence or living in a car. Through your donation, Interfaith will be able to provide our families with essential items, including a hot Christmas dinner, which we plan to enjoy with our families this month. The season of giving is all about appreciating what we have and helping others who are in need of a ‘hand up’ this holiday!

Interfaith Family Services*

“Thanks to a number of organizations and individuals, Interfaith will provide each family with a Christmas tree, holiday décor, gifts and more. Though gifts and toys are a blessing to have, many families are still in need of everyday necessities. My hope is that our community can contribute to making this holiday season less stressful for families in Interfaith’s program.  Below is a breakdown of how each donation will directly benefit a family.

  • “$25 — Give one child a new pair of shoes
  • “$50 — Give one child a warm winter coat
  • “$100 — Give a family a holiday dinner
  • “$250 — Give a family a very Merry Christmas

“As members of the community, we have the great privilege of being able to serve the working poor and provide their children with a meaningful Christmas. To all the wonderful MySweetCharity readers out there, God Bless and I hope you enjoy the holidays!

“For more information on Interfaith Family Services and how to participate in the holiday giving, contact Ashley Agnew at 469.828.1805, or visit www.interfaithdallas.org.”

-By Ashley Blanchette, Interfaith Family Services board of directors chair

* Graphic and photo provided by Interfaith Family Services

MySweetWishList: The Senior Source

According to The Senior Source‘s President and CEO Cortney M. Nicolato, CPHIT,

Cortney Nicolato*

“This year, The Senior Source has assisted, protected and connected nearly 35,000 older adults in North Texas. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day in the US, our wish is to work together to raise awareness about aging issues and give all older adults here in Dallas to tools they need to not just survive, but Thrive. To do this, we must first draw attention to the struggles seniors in our community, and across the nation, are facing.

 “More than 20,000 older adults in the city of Dallas alone live below the poverty line and nearly that same amount live barely above that line. More and more older adults seek to live independently, but many do not have the means or resources to do so. Additionally, we are seeing an influx of elder abuse – emotional, physical and financial. Just last year alone, older adults lost $36 billion dollars to financial exploitation, frauds and scams.

“The Senior Source works to give seniors access to a better quality of life. A great example of this is one of our amazing clients, Ms. Julie. Ms. Julie suffered a stroke in her 50s, which required her to leave her job and therefore she lost her income. She lives in her childhood home, in West Dallas, which was in dire need of repair.  The ceilings had caved in, instances of mold were a daily sight, bursting pipes in the winter were a given, and fences were so broken that stray dogs would roam into her yard regularly. No one should live like this, but unfortunately many older adults in our community do.

“Her pastor recommended she call The Senior Source, and we immediately jumped into action. We helped Ms. Julie with her budget and finances, and we worked with the city to get her home rebuilt through the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Program. This is one of the thousands of stories that illustrates how The Senior Source has helped some of the most vulnerable in our community.  To see Ms. Julie’s full story, see our YouTube video.

“As 2016 comes to a close, and we reflect on our many blessings, we hope you will consider a gift to The Senior Source to allow us to help lift even more older adults out of poverty, to work to end elder abuse and neglect, and to ensure that everyone has access to critical services. Also, help us raise awareness by referring an older adult in need to us, introducing someone to our Agency and consider giving of your time to volunteer.  Check out the variety of ways you can give back at www.theseniorsource.org or call 214.823.5700.  With your support, we can make 2017 brighter for a generation who has given so much to us.”

-By Cortney M. Nicolato, CPHIT, The Senior Source’s president and CEO

MySweetWishList: Boys And Girls Clubs Of Greater Dallas

According to Boys And Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas Chair Gerald Louviere,

Barb and Gerald Louviere*

At Boys And Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, we have many wishes. All of which are centered on the thousands of 6-18-year-old youth served by the organization. Every day our 17 Club locations open their doors to over 1,800 youth after school, providing them with a hot meal, help with homework and quality programming. Our wish is to see more students in impoverished communities move their tassels from the right to the left in May of 2017. We wish to send more first-generation college students off with scholarships and care packages. We wish to provide high school seniors, who have no desire to go to college, with a plan and skills to prepare them for the workforce. However, our greatest wish, is that you will continue to support our efforts to ensure every child has a safe place to go after school.

Boys And Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas*

Valencia Campbell*

“’It gave me a place to go. My mom was a single mother after my dad passed when I was 12 and I never wanted to be a burden on her. Every week when I was able to go to the Club, I was able to just be a kid. I didn’t have to worry about making sure my mom was okay. I was just able to be Valencia and be a kid,’ said Boys And Girls Club Alumna, Valencia Campbell. Valencia graduated from University of Texas at Austin in May 2015 and is currently attending Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. She credits the Club for surrounding her with peers who were going to college and mentors who could tell her about the college experience. ‘It gave me a vision of myself that I was able to walk into.’

“Boys And Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas has a holistic approach to youth development, providing programming focused on the mind, body and soul of a child. Our three core areas include: Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles and Good Character And Citizenship.

Boys And Girls Club of Greater Dallas*

“Our final wish is that you will support us in our mission to empower dreams, awaken passion, and inspire hope within Dallas youth. Invest in great futures today by donating online at www.bgcdallas.org/donate or contacting our VP of Advancement, Laura Brown, at 214.821.2950, ext. 732.

-By Gerald Louviere, Chairman of the Board of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas

* Photos provided by Boys And Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas

MySweetWishList: Girl Scouts Of Northeast Texas

Jennifer Bartkowski*

According to Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO Jennifer Bartkowski,

“The holidays always evoke a spirit of gratitude for the simple things in life with which we’ve been blessed. I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to join extra-curricular activities that helped me explore the world around me at a young age. I was able to go to college and pursue a career. Many girls in our community, however, are not. Their dreams often fall short not because of the lack of desire, or lack of financial aid, but because they simply haven’t been given the opportunity to even see the possibilities available to them.

“Girls need to hear at a young age that they are smart, their ideas are valid and they can accomplish big things in life. They need opportunities to see who they can become by connecting with women who are industry leaders and by giving them the chance to experience career possibilities outside of their neighborhood footprint.   

“Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas serves more than 26,000 girls in our community. Our mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. We’re building girls into leaders in their schools, communities and future careers.

Young creative Girl Scouts*

“But did you know that 86% of the girls we serve are from low to moderate income families? Accessibility to opportunities that can have a profound impact on a child’s future are limited. That’s why we’re committed to providing girls relevant 21st century experiences that are free or low-cost. 

“Girls in Girl Scouts today are learning computer coding, getting hands-on experiences in the STEM industry, connecting with female career mentors, exploring nature at our STEM Center of Excellence, building their confidence through our leadership programs, challenging their fears through outdoor adventures and more.

Girl Scouts at STEM Center of Excellence*

“We need public support to help make these opportunities possible to even more girls. We know that girls who participate in Girl Scouts are more likely to advocate for themselves and others, are less likely to bystanders, are more likely to stand up for their ideas, self-identify as leaders and take on leadership roles, are more financially literate, negotiate for themselves, and set ambitious goals for their future.

“These are attributes parents want to instill in their girls and that employers aspire to attain in their workforce. They’re also critical to positively impacting the culture of our society.

“My holiday wish is that girls throughout our community would be given opportunities to try. Girls need access to opportunities that allow them to take smart risks in safe spaces. They need a chance to build their courage, find their confidence and grow into leaders who think critically and can step up to make a difference. Learn more and connect with us as a volunteer or donor at gsnetx.org.”

-By Jennifer Bartkowski, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO

* Photos provided by Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas

MySweetWishList: Trinity River Mission

According to Trinity River Mission parent Edith Diaz,

“In an area like West Dallas, home to the county juvenile detention center, third highest teen birth rate in Dallas County, and “cradle-to-prison pipeline” stigma, there can be a lot to worry about for a parent like me.

Trinity River Mission*

“But the first time I walked through Trinity River Mission’s (TRM) doors, I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time: hope.

  • “Hope that my sons, Andrew and Alexander, won’t end up like other West Dallas students who fall prey to the alcohol, drugs, and gangs in our community.
  • “Comfort in knowing my sons are in the safest place they could be: their [second] home.
  • “Faith that TRM and the treasured support received from MySweetCharity and its readers are playing an important part in my sons’ journeys to become the successful adults they deserve to be.

“At TRM, over 550 at-risk K-12th grade youth just like my sons are receiving the daily academic, personal, and social-emotional support they need to graduate, pursue post-secondary education, and end the cycle of generational poverty that plagues West Dallas.

“When you’re a stepmom like me (or any parent), raising your kids is not always easy. I came into my sons’ lives when they were still quite young (ages 4 and 6). But there are things that happened earlier in their lives that still bring them pain today. Personal experiences that continue to affect my sons emotionally, socially, and even academically. The kind of deep-seeded pain from people who were supposed to love and take care of them but, in the end, just let them down.

“But because of TRM, MySweetCharity and readers like you, I have hope.

“Because of TRM and readers like you, my son, Andrew, now receives the targeted one-on-one academic support and tools he needs to conquer his ADHD, improve his focus, and develop his social skills.

“Because of TRM and readers like you, my son, Alexander, runs home from school in excitement because he actually can understand his math lessons now.

“Because of TRM and readers like YOU, I know that, even though I can’t erase the pain from my kids’ past — no matter how much I wish I could – there are people like you who teach my kids that they are loved, that they are worth investing in, and that they can achieve their dreams.

“And you make that possible.

“This holiday season, I hope you’ll join me in supporting TRM’s special Holiday Hope campaign for TRM students and families.

Hope Family collage*

“As you can imagine, the holiday season can be a difficult and intense time for TRM families, filled with many hopes and wishes deemed seemingly impossible: The Ortiz Family wishes they could make their kids’ Christmas wish come true: to have a real Christmas tree. The Garza Family hopes one day to own their own home. The Mota Family wishes they knew how they were going to pay for their kids to go college.

“But, with your support, we can make some of those wishes come true and give TRM families that extra reminder that hope, faith, and love do exist in this world. And that, even in our darkest times, something good may be just around the corner.

“There are two ways you can get involved:

  1. “Give the gift of hope at www.TrinityRiverMission.org/donate. Your gift in any amount will provide immediate and critically-needed academic, personal, and social-emotional support for 550+ students and their families who are striving every day to keep their hope alive.
  2. “Send a special message of hope to TRM students and families like my own using this special holiday card, found here OR send Dolores Sosa Green, TRM’s CEO, an email at [email protected].

“This message will be displayed at TRM for all families to see, reminding them day in and day out that people like you care about them.

“On behalf of my husband, sons, and entire TRM Family, thank you and Happy Holidays!”

-By Edith Diaz, Trinity River Mission parent

MySweetWishList: Spark!

According to Spark! President and CEO Beverly Davis,

Spark! is a non-profit organization on a mission to ignite the Spark of creativity inherent in all children. Since opening its doors in June 2015, Spark! has served more than 7,500 children, 45 percent from low income homes.

By the age of 16, children decide if they are creative or not. If they identify as a creative individual, they have higher self-esteem, better problem-solving skills and go further in their education. Through creative programming and play in a fully immersive creative environment, Spark! helps children, in second grade through high school, understand their full creative potential. Here is one story that illustrates the impact Spark! is making on young minds.

Spark!*

In April 2015, Spark! celebrated World Creativity and Innovation Week and invited 24 students from Communities in Schools to experience creative immersion during the first-ever Spark! field trip. These students experimented with recycled art by designing and painting hubcaps that would later be installed on a wavy bridge made of car hoods.

Spark! officially opened the week of June 9. That week, two students from Communities and Schools came back to Spark! a second time. One young lady found the hubcap she painted was hanging from the bridge, and she quickly began showing it to her friends. The confidence she gained from spending time at Spark! is precisely the result that these programs strive to produce. “It’s really amazing to know that a hubcap can be made into art and that my experience could be so great,” she said.

Give the gift of creativity this year, with a membership to Spark! This new, affordable membership program offers unique incentives including birthday party discounts and tickets to VIP events. Members will enjoy unlimited visits to the learning environment during public hours. No matter which level you choose, your membership becomes an even better value with each visit. Packages range from $75-$2,500 per year.

Through memberships and donations, you’ll help further the mission of igniting the creativity inherent in more than 6,000 North Texas children in 2017.

Visit www.Sparkdallas.org/memberships, call 214-421-7727 or email [email protected] for more information.

-By Beverly Davis, Spark! president and CEO

* Graphic provided by Spark!

MySweetWishList: New Friends New Life

According to New Friends New Life Executive Director Kelly Cruse,

Kelly Cruse*

“My wish is that Dallas will become a city free of human trafficking! The Dallas sex trade is a $99-million enterprise, and I wish for this to be fully eradicated.

“I wish for an end to the entrapment of our most vulnerable girls and women into this horrific crime. The average age of entry into the American sex trade is only 13 years old.

“I wish for the continued growth and success of New Friends New Life as this team bravely stands on the front lines each day to restore and empower formerly trafficked girls and sexually exploited women and their children.

“I wish for the increased sharing of the manKINDness curriculum in local schools to educate the next generation of young men on how to properly respect and value women and themselves, and to encourage them to become part of the solution.

“I wish for more companies to stand up and join the No Harm Network and publicly state that they will maintain efforts that protect teen girls and women from the harm of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“I wish for a sold out New Friends New Life luncheon on Wednesday, May 10, to ensure we have the necessary funds to deliver current and expanded services to survivors in our community.

“And I wish that anyone passionate about joining this important mission acts now by donating time or resources to stand with the team at New Friends New Life as we say ‘not our girls, not our city!’ www.newfriendsnewlife.org.”

-By Kelly Cruse, New Friends New Life executive director

* Photo provided by New Friends New Life