Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder neatly summed up the idea behind the nonprofit’s 7th Annual Can Do! awards luncheon at the Dallas Country Club on Monday, March 4. “I once heard a minister say that God is constantly broadcasting messages, but not everyone has their radios on,” Anne said, looking out over the crowd of 320. “But the entrepreneurs and philanthropists we’re honoring here today certainly do.”
The same might have been said about many of the luncheon guests, among them Marsha and Craig Innes, Nelda Cain Pickens, Lisa Cooley, Tiffany Divis, Sarah Losinger, Pat McEvoy, Cate Ford, Brenda and Bob White, Mary and Baker Montgomery, Sara Martineau and Jan Langbein. Their presence was a testament to the good works of the Wilkinson Center, which helps families tackle challenges including food insecurity, lack of education, and unemployment.
Following the appearance of lunch (spinach salad, grilled chicken breast, and vanilla creme brulee or Key Lime tart), the awards program moved along swiftly, respectful of the guests’ time. Emceed by WFAA weekend anchor/reporter Cleo Greene, the program began with the Can Do! Award sponsored by Carolyn and David Miller, which went to philanthropists Kathy and Larry Helm. In a video honoring the West Texas-reared couple, Molly Bogen said Kathy and Larry are “at the top of board leadership in Dallas, Texas, and maybe the world.”
Then it was time for Luncheon Chair Linda Secrest to acknowledge the event’s Underwriting Chair, Capera Ryan, and to present the Can Do! Award sponsored by Ellen and John McStay to the Junior League of Dallas. Said Linda, who was named Junior League Sustainer of the Year in 2013: “Anne and I met while volunteering at Junior League. Without them, we probably wouldn’t be here today.” Junior League President Alicia Hall and President-elect Brooke Bailey accepted the trophy.
Next, Rosa Mendoza received the Can Do! Adult Education award. Rosa, who turned her life around and got a GED degree with Wilkinson’s help, said losing her mother just a few weeks before had taught her “to be grateful” for her opportunities. After a pitch for funds by Wilkinson Center Board Chair Kathryn Koons, it was announced that the luncheon’s final award — the Kids Can Too! Award, sponsored by Ashlee and Chris Kleinert — would go to the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. Jesuit President Mike Earsing and several Jesuit students who work at the Wilkinson Center food bank accepted the award, just before piano music began signaling the luncheon’s end.
The song being played, fittingly enough, was “What A Wonderful World.”
* Photo credit: Melissa Macatee