Event to honor 3 longtime donors to networking group for men of color
MoE Backpack Drive Gala
WHAT: Men of Essence Backpack Drive Gala
WHERE: Best Western Hotel, 8051 LBJ Freeway.
WHEN: June 14. 4-7 p.m.
MORE INFORMATION: www.essencemen.org.
Men of Essence kicks off its third annual backpack drive with a gala on Sunday, June 14 in Dallas.
Organizers said three of the group’s biggest supports will be honored at the event supporting Jonathan’s Place, a safe house for abused and neglected children. The group’s Educational Grant program and The South Dallas Cultural Center Soul Children’s Theater will also benefit.
One of the honorees is Dr. Cordell Adams, a Dallas ophthalmologist and author. His novel "Light Bread," set in the turbulent 1960s, tells the story of a grandmother in Parkerville, Texas who imparts her wisdom to every one of the town’s residents.
Daymond Lavine, president of Men of Essence, said Adams "was instrumental in raising thousands for the backpack drive last year."
Jonathan Poullard, a second honoree, is assistant vice chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of California—Berkeley. He founded the group and continues to raise money for it from California. Interior designer Terry Houze, owner of Houze Designs, has been a major donor to the event’s silent auction.
Lavine said the three honorees "have been donors from the onset" and MoE members wanted to recognize their continuing support.
Last year, Men of Essence raised enough money to provide 165 backpacks filled with school supplies to children at Jonathan’s Place. Lavine estimated the cost of each filled backpack at $25. Donations can be made online through PayPal.
Talking about Jonathan’s Place, Lavine said, "Everyone thinks of younger kids." But he explains that the facility cares for newborns through teenagers up to age 17. He said that when his group realized the number of teens in residence at the facility, Men of Essence raised money to buy CD players for Christmas for the older children.
Choking up, he added that those teens would have gotten nothing else.
"Our goal is to acquire at least 200 backpacks filled with school supplies" this year, Lavine said.
Additional money will go to the South Dallas Cultural Center Soul Children’s Theatre, which offers educational and youth theater programs.
Proceeds will also benefit the group’s Educational Grant program. At the gala, the first scholarship will be awarded. The recipient is Reginald Jones Jr., currently a senior at Lancaster High School.
Founded in 2005, Men of Essence bills itself as a "professional networking organization focusing on empowering men of color within the same-gender-loving (SGL) community."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 12, 2009.