Wildenthal Gift, Cheryl Pollman’s Award And Sons Of Serendip Highlighted VMLC’s “Wings Of Spring” At The Perot

A lot of fellas probably would have made plans for Monday, April 4, to head home, get in some comfy clothes, and settle down in their fav chair with a brewski in one hand and a snack a reach away to watch the NBA finals.

But then they realized they had been scheduled to head to the Perot Museum for VMLC fundraiser Wings of Spring, A Celebration of Literacy. So, the coat and tie stayed put. The brewski and snack were replaced by white and red wines with a buffet supper among the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall. Instead of the well-worn chair and the basketball players on the tube, they were destined for the Hoglund Foundation Theater and the Sons of Serendip on the ground level.

Not exactly the Monday night they envisioned. But it actually turned out a heck of a lot better than even the most negative guy had expected.

Mike and Kathy Crow, DeeDee Lee, Piper Wyantt, Claire Emanuelson and Lee Papert

Mike and Kathy Crow, DeeDee Lee, Piper Wyatt, Claire Emanuelson and Lee Papert

From the moment guests like Underwriting Chair Kathy Crow and husband Mike Crow, DeeDee Lee, Claire Emanuelson and Piper Wyatt arrived on the third level for the buffet, the place was filled with smiling guests of all ages. After filling their plates at one of the really amazing buffet lines, they found tables throughout the area. One group lucked out and got a table next to the Land Dynamics in the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall, where guests tried out the feeling of an earthquake. Pity the gals in heels who shook, rattled and giggled.

Just seconds before 8 p.m., guests were advised to adjourn to the theater for the evening’s presentation. But, alas, once at the theater door, they were told things weren’t quite ready, and that they should check back in at 8:10.

As guests settled in the lobby and the Museum Café, some noticed an individual walking by with a guitar case. Then another fellow strolled through the Café wearing a hat; he was followed by a third and a fourth. Someone asked, “Were those the Sons?”

No answer came, but really, who cared. At 8:10 the doors opened and the guests took their assigned seats.

Muna

Muna

Event Co-Chairs Diane Brown welcomed the SRO crowd and introduced Rabbi Nancy Kasten, who in turn introduced VMLC grad Muna. Eloquently, the Iraqi native told how Cheryl Pollman had helped her learn English and helped her prepare for her U.S. citizenship test. Cheryl even came to Muna’s home to help her husband study for his test. Both passed on their first try.

Cheryl Pollman

Cheryl Pollman

VMLC Executive Director Sarah Papert then told the group that Marnie and Kern Wildenthal had made a substantial donation for VMLC programs. For this reason the annual literacy award was being renamed the Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Legacy Award in Marnie’s honor. Sarah then officially presented the first Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Legacy Award to Cheryl, who graciously accepted it.

Cheryl told of the number of students who had fled their native countries to start new lives in Dallas. But their transition had also meant their learning an entirely new language. And that’s where VMLC volunteers like Cheryl had come in.

Cordaro Rodriguez

Cordaro Rodriguez

Micah Christian

Micah Christian

Kendall Ramseur

Kendall Ramseur

Mason Morton

Mason Morton

Following Cheryl’s acceptance, cellist Kendall Ramseur wearing a hat entered the room taking his place on the stage. He was joined by pianist Cordaro Rodriguez, who sat behind a keyboard with a guitar nearby. Then towering Mason Morton slid in alongside a harp. The last to arrive on stage was singer Micah Christian. These were the Sons of Serendip, who had come in fourth place on TV’s “America’s Got Talent” show competition in 2014. The foursome had gotten together following their graduate studies at Boston University.

Micah Christian, Kendall Ramseur and Mason Morton

Micah Christian, Kendall Ramseur and Mason Morton

Micah warned the audience that a couple of the songs would require their involvement. Such a threat usually has people heading for the door or ducking pretty far down in their chairs. Not in this case. Whether it was singing along or clapping, the guests really got into it. The quartet’s singing and music impressed even the most diehard basketball fan.

In between the tunes, the audience learned:

  • Coming from Boston that was being hit with a late snowstorm, Micah told how impressed the group had been with Dallas. Not just the weather, but everyone being so friendly. In Boston he said motorists tend to drive over pedestrians, but here they actually stop to let the people walk by. And Dallasites actually smile back at you.
  • How the foursome had gotten together. Cordaro was actually a lawyer and Kendall, Mason  and Micah were teachers.
  • Kendall and Cordaro initially had needed to make money to pay off their education loans. So they tried playing traditional tunes in the Boston subway. At first it didn’t seem to be a good fit. But then they tried playing their own music, and it changed their lives.
  • When the foursome went to Madison Square Garden to try out for “America’s Got Talent,” it was also the scene of a basketball game. Despite Mason toting along his harp, security kept telling them to head to the location of the basketball event.

Sold-Out Alert!: Wings Of Spring

Monday evening the Perot Museum is going to be filled with music, singing, dining and award presenting. The occasion is “Wings Of Spring: A Celebration Of Literacy” benefiting VMLC. Over the past four years, the event has raised more than $1M to help VMLC’s mission of changing lives through literacy.

Sons of Serendipity, who were 2014 finalists in “America’s Got Talent,” will be providing the music and singing in the Hoglund Theater.

As for the Literacy Legacy Award, it will be presented to Cheryl Pollman, who is “a dedicated volunteer, advocate, board member and friend to VMLC since its founding days. Whether teaching basic English to adults, recruiting friends and family to volunteer with her, or tutoring students to pass their U.S. Citizenship test, Cheryl has impacted the lives of countless individuals and their families as they pursue their American Dream.”

If you’ve already gotten your tickets, how smart you were because the event is sold out! However, they’re probably still open for a donation to help their work with 1,200 adults and 330 children annually. Or, if you’re shy of funds, why not volunteer.

Dallas Uncorked Provided Sip And Scene With Talking Tidbits About Oscar Predictions And Local News

Leave it to local film-meister Gary Cogill to share his predictions for the upcoming Academy Awards on Sunday, February 21, just a week before the Oscars were doled out. He did it as part of Dallas Uncorked’s “Wine and Film, the Perfect Pairing With Gary Cogill — 88th Annual Academy Awards Preview” at Veritas.

Sure, it was rainy, but that didn’t dissuade movie lovers from getting the inside poop on the Academy contenders, while having Dallas Uncorked founder/Gary’s wife Hayley Hamilton Cogill pouring the vino.

How many guesses did Gary get right? Compare his guesses with the outcome here.

Gary Cogill and Hayley Hamilton Cogill

Gary Cogill and Hayley Hamilton Cogill

Sarah and Lee Pappert

Sarah and Lee Papert

Debra Nelson and Holly Reed

Debra Nelson and Holly Reed

Pat Holder and Wayne Ritter

Pat Holder and Wayne Ritter

But before Gary took the mic, chit chat was making the rounds. In between serving up wine, Hayley was looking to the future and the Dallas Chapter of Le Dame d’Escoffier International’s annual “A Dame Good Celebration — Raiser Grazer 2016” on Sunday, April 3, at the Dallas Farmers Market’s The Shed. She’ll be heading up the beverage committee and promised “tasty cocktails”…Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert was hinting about the upcoming Dallas International Film Festival that will be taking place from April 14 to 24… And Lee wasn’t the only Papert with future activities around the corner. Lee’s wife, Sarah Papert, who heads up VMLC, has been busy making plans for the Wings of Spring fundraiser on Monday, April 4, when Cheryl Pollman will receive VMLC’s Literacy Legacy Award. Following a cocktail reception and dinner, there will be a performance in the Hoglund Foundation Theater by Sons of Serendip. You know them. They were 2014 America’s Got Talent finalists. This year the event is taking place at the Perot Museum .… Gal pals Debra Nelson and Holly Reed were just back from holiday. It was hard to believe that some folks didn’t know that Holly is no longer with AT&T. She’s working with Ron Kirk on the Texas Central Railway. She’s already been to Japan to check out their super-duper, high-speed bullet trains … Over at a high-top table Pat Holder was looking downright giddy about her Valentine’s proposal at the Mansion by Wayne Ritter. Yup. Pat accepted and the nuptials are in the planning stage.

North Texas Giving Day Booster: VMLC

“Imagine if you and your family suddenly had to flee the United States and go to a county where you did not speak the language and you had no access to resources such as education, healthcare or employment. Imagine if your child became sick and you couldn’t communicate with the doctor. Or if you wanted to enroll your child in school, but couldn’t talk with the school staff. How would you be able to support your family – even apply for a job – without being able to speak, read and write in the new language?

VMLC*

VMLC*

“For our students at VMLC, they don’t have to imagine this. They have come here to Dallas, Texas from countries all around the world and are succeeding today by focusing on learning English, both adults and their young children together, with the help of caring, compassionate community volunteers.

“You may not know that a startling 21% of adults in Dallas County cannot read and write in English at a basic level. Without these skills, individuals cannot find employment at a livable wage, advocate for their children’s education, or address healthcare concerns.

VMLC*

VMLC*

“VMLC tackles this important community issue by providing free English literacy and life skills programs to immigrant and refugee families in some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Dallas: Vickery Meadow, West Dallas, East Dallas and Bachman Lake. When VMLC was founded in 1997 as Vickery Meadow Learning Center, we started with a handful of volunteers teaching English in apartment clubhouses in Vickery Meadow. Today we serve 1,250 adults and 330 children annually with the help of 275 volunteer teachers.

“With the help of our volunteers and through private donations including those raised on North Texas Giving Day, we are able to provide all of our services free of charge to those who need us most.

VMLC*

VMLC*

“Since its inception in 2009, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $86 million into the local community, benefitting more than 2,000 nonprofit agencies. North Texas Giving Day is an important part of VMLC’s giving tradition – last year raising $40,130. With your help, we hope to serve even more.

“Do you want to make a difference? Get up and Give on September 17 at www.NorthTexasGivingDay.org to VMLC or any of the other non-profit organizations participating in North Texas Giving Day.”

-By Sarah Papert, executive director of VMLC

* Photo credit: VMLC

VMLC Expands Its Reach And Promptly Boosts Attendance At Its Annual “Wings of Spring” Literacy Fundraiser

At the “Wings of Spring: A Celebration of Literacy” fundraiser for VMLC—formerly called Vickery Meadow Learning Center—at Fashion Industry Gallery on Friday, March 20, English teacher Leti Bustamante was proudly talking up all the exciting things VMLC is doing at its new campus in East Dallas.

The campus is “new” because, earlier this year, the nonprofit dedicated to improving English literacy among non-English-speaking adults and children merged with Bustamante’s ELM (short for English Language Ministry Inc.) facility on East Dallas’ Peak Street. The acquisition gives VMLC three campuses now—in Vickery Meadow and West Dallas in addition to East Dallas—and the ability to reach more students.

“We’re currently teaching 85 adults and 40 children,” Bustamante said of the former ELM campus. “But now that we’ve merged with VMLC, we’ll be able to offer more classes—not just in the mornings, but in the evenings as well.”

Don and Cathey Humphreys, Sarah Papert, Susie Simon and Camille Owens*

Don and Cathey Humphreys, Sarah Papert, Susie Simon and Camille Owens*

The recent merger also was on the mind of VMLC Executive Director Sarah Papert when Papert addressed the crowd of 313—up from 200 at last year’s “Wings”—that had gathered for a cocktail reception and a performance by the Time for Three musical group.

With a current roster of more than 250 volunteer teachers, Papert said, VMLC entered in the ELM merger negotiations last fall, then “decided to get married” in January. The goal, she explained: “To be more efficient and more effective, and to serve more people.”

Patricia Massey, Ashley Coleman and Megan Nicholson*

Patricia Massey, Ashley Coleman and Megan Nicholson*

Following Papert’s talk—and a nicely done video about the nonprofit’s efforts—event Chair Ashley Coleman and Co-chair Patricia Massey announced that, this year, “Wings of Spring” had raised more than $307,000 for the group’s various programs. Among them: a Family Literacy Program, a Workforce Literacy Program, and an Early Childhood Education Program.

Zach De Pue, Ranaan Meyer and Nick Kendall*

Zach De Pue, Ranaan Meyer and Nick Kendall*

Then it was time for Time for Three, a high-energy trio that calls itself “the world’s first classically trained garage band.” Tf3 was back “by popular demand,” organizers said, after appearing at the “Wings” fundraiser last year. With members Zach DePue (violin), Nick Kendall (violin) and Ranaan Meyer (double bass), the talented group showed off its versatility, blending elements of classical, country-western, gypsy and jazz music.

When the performance was over, guests including Joyce and Harvey Mitchell and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal (Marnie’s a longtime VMLC volunteer teacher) showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. Others joining in the hearty applause included Honorary Chairs and presenting sponsors Cathey and Don Humphreys, presenting sponsors Joyce and Les Coleman, presenting sponsor Susie Simon, and VMLC Board President Camille Owens and her husband Patrick Owens.

* Photo credit: Holly Kuper