A Gathering of Hopes & Dreams raises the roof and funds for DBC.
Story by Joan La Barr
Originally published in The North Texas Connection News
Back in February, movie actor Danny Glover brought star power and a powerful message to the Dallas Bethlehem Center’s StarBright concert at Dallas City Performance Hall.
So how did it go? Great, say the organizers of the fundraiser for the center providing early childhood and family services in South Dallas.
“Even at this young age,” Glover said of the young performers, “it is the beginning of a process of engagement of themselves and their community.”
Glover, who like DBC turns 70 this year, then told the audience about his third-grade teacher, who helped changed the course of his life. Miss Lumber, from Beaumont, Texas, saw Glover was struggling in reading (he had undiagnosed dyslexia) but noticed his natural ability in math. She nurtured that strength, and through her, Glover discovered the importance of both learning and being an involved citizen. Her modeling of citizenship opened him to the messages of the great civil rights leaders emerging in the mid-1950s and other causes for justice. (Glover went on to be a U.N. Goodwill and UNICEF ambassador, as well as an advocate for education.)
The StarBright evening lived up to its billing as “A Gathering of Hopes and Dreams,” not only from Glover’s presence, but also increased participation in virtually every category, especially among the children.
DBC Executive Director Fran Lobpries shares these stats:
Last year: About 45 children participated in the inaugural concert in 2015.
This year: The children’s choir, dancers, drummers, and actors doubled to 90.
Last year: Voices for Bethlehem adult choir participants totaled 65.
This year: The choir, led by artistic director Russ Rieger, grew to 75.
Last year: Sponsorships, $48,000
This year: $55,000
Last year: Ticket sales, $6,251
This year: $7,552
The children, ranging from kindergartners to teenagers, invested 30 hours of practice and rehearsal time during the previous six months, with a surprisingly low dropout rate of 10 percent.
Parents and caregivers invested a similar number of hours by volunteering for support roles throughout the preparations.
Event Chair Sharon Spratt, volunteers and staff met weekly beginning in the previous June to plan the evening.
“Each child left knowing that they had done their best, that our sponsors and audience enjoyed and appreciated their gifts, and that DBC will keep on doing the very important work of creating a positive and bright future for the people of South Dallas/Fair Park,” Lobpries said.