The Wilkinson Center is on an ambitious and admirable mission. At the organization's inaugural Can Do Luncheon, more than 200 charitable guests lunched at the Dallas Country Club to support award honorees Ellen and John McStay and Highland Park United Methodist Church for their unwavering support of the nonprofit's goal to provide pathways out of poverty.
After HPUMC donated $100,000 to remodel the Wilkinson Center's food pantry, it committed to giving $1 million this year. Reverend Paul Raussman accepted the Can Do award on behalf of the church.
Anne Reeder, the executive director of the Wilkinson Center, honored the McStays for their generosity. They're involved in many philanthropic organizations and founded their own nonprofit, Faith Based Forum, which provides educational and networking opportunities to serve families in need.
An already inspired audience was further moved when they learned about the Hartfield family, who received the Wilkinson Center's client award. In 2011, Johnathan, Jazmine, Johnnie and Joselyn Hartfield went to the center to obtain a GED after other institutions failed to help the kids reach their goals.
Today Jazmine and Johnathan have GEDs, and both plan to attend college. Jazmine hopes to become a veterinarian, and Johnathan plans to study business management. Johnnie and Joselyn are still working on their degrees.
The Hartfields live by a can-do attitude, working hard to reach their goals and volunteering at the Pleasant Grove Library in their spare time. As the family accepted their Andy Warhol-inspired awards, the crowd erupted in applause.
On the philanthropic scene were supporters Meghan Looney, Graham Jones, Ruth Altshuler, Laura Reeder, event chair Joan Eleazer, Peggy Dear, Debbie and Jim Francis, and Nina Tollett.
All tallied, the first-ever luncheon raised $99,700.