More than 400 people packed the Belo Mansion for the 2014 Voice of Hope dinner, and our guess is they're glad they did, because honorary chairs Debbie and Bill Dunlap and event chair Andrea Pedigo filled the room with inspiring Dallasites who make a difference in the community and the world.
The evening was very special for Voice of Hope graduate Mikaela Nweke, who received the Award of Excellence for exemplifying the qualities that the organization embodies: being a leader in her profession, a community volunteer and a maturing Christian.
And who better to present her with the award than two-time National League Cy Young Award winner and Dallas native Clayton Kershaw, who apart from being one of the best pitchers in baseball is an outspoken Christian and volunteer.
Nweke was 11 years old when she started the Voice of Hope summer program. Now, at 28, she works for Exxon Mobil corporate as a global productions volume and allocations analyst. She holds two bachelor degrees from Prairie View A&M, in mathematics and computer engineering technology. She also has a master’s degree in computer information technology and project management from Purdue University.
"In West Dallas and in South Dallas, the opportunities are limited, so it’s great to have organizations like Voice of Hope, which taught me leadership and life skills to apply in college and in my career," Nweke said.
The event continued with Ray Nixon, a longtime Voice of Hope supporter, moderating a panel discussion with three impressive speakers: Mayor Mike Rawlings; Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington; and Joseph "Skip" Ryan, chancellor and professor of practical theology at Redeemer Seminary. Guests — including Cathy and Bill Lacy, Meredith Fulton, Steve Meyer, Karen Shuttee, and Barbara Ryan — listened intently as the men spoke about being a voice of vision, voice of spirit and voice of faith.
Voice of Hope Ministries exists to provide children living in the neighborhoods of West Dallas with strong character models, education support, life skills and family support services.