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.

Marnie Wildenthal To Receive Vickery Meadows Learning Center’s Literacy Legacy Award

Kern and Marnie Wildenthal (File photo)

Kern and Marnie Wildenthal (File photo)

When the name “Wildenthal” is mentioned, most folks think of Kern. But there is another Wildenthal who has made major inroads in the area of education. That person is Kern’s wife, Marnie. A lifelong educator, she has turned her attention since 2002 to the Vickery Meadows Learning Center.

If the VMLC is new to you, it’s probably because you haven’t needed its resources. The center annually helps “to improve English literacy levels among non-English speaking adults and young children.” This service targets “three high-density, low-income neighborhoods — West Dallas, Vickery Meadows and Bachman Lake.”

But back to Marnie. Over the years, her VMLC involvement has been far more than a weekly drop-by and volunteer-for-an-hour. She’s “been a dedicated volunteer teacher” who “has also served three terms on the Board of Directors and served as Board President in 2011-2012. Marnie has impacted the lives of countless individuals, helping them improve their lives with the gifts of English literacy.”

On Monday, March 24, VMLC’s 2014 Wings of Spring: A Celebration of Literacy at Arlington Hall will honor Marnie as the recipient of VMLC’s Literacy Legacy Award. Committee Chair Beth Gold and Co-Chair Ashley Coleman have arranged an evening that will include “a cocktail reception followed by a performance featuring the charismatic musical ensemble ‘Time for Three,’ the world’s first classically-trained garage band.”

According to VMLC Executive Director Sarah Papert, “VMLC is thrilled to honor Marnie as the recipient of our Literacy Legacy Award. She has been a dedicated volunteer teacher at VMLC since 2002 and has impacted the lives of countless individuals, helping them improve their lives with the gift of English literacy. Her volunteer service to VMLC has been unmatched.”

VMLC Board President Gayle Johansen reports that during the past two years, Wings of Spring has raised more than $450,000 to “help families from 48 countries learn English.”

The translation: Annually 1,000 adults and 200 young children are better functioning members of the community because they can communicate, thanks to VMLC and people like Marnie.