Archive for the ‘Wilson Associates’ Category

For the past 5 ½ years it has been my great privilege to serve as the first Executive Director of The Wilson Foundation.  I am so proud of the progress we have made during this time: creating a website, brochures, blogs and other communications tools to help tell our story, expanding fundraising efforts and activities with a variety of events and other initiatives including the Hope Bracelet, increasing our donor base, both in number and in geographic scope, and deepening the Foundation’s partnership with our grantee partners in South Africa. 

As Executive Director I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of generous individuals and companies who have supported and believed in our mission.  I thank you for that.  You have believed that working together, we can make a difference.  And we truly have! 

Children in the preschool training program

During my trips to South Africa over these years I have seen this difference first-hand:  people who are alive today because we have been able to provide funding for life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) medication; children who live in a third-world setting are receiving a first-world education; local community residents who have been employed as caregivers and counselors are providing inspiration and hope to their neighbors; at-risk boys who have been mentored by responsible adults have learned about goal-setting, morals, and values, and now these young men are taking their place among the leadership of the community. 

As I move on to lead another nonprofit organization in Dallas, I want to express my deepest thanks to my Wilson colleagues, to our loyal donors and supporters, to the many people inVaalwater, South Africa who I am proud to count as friends and to the children to whom I have been known as “Mama Tori.”   Most of all, I want to thank Trisha Wilson for giving me this amazing opportunity.  The Wilson Foundation’s mission is to “change lives, one child at a time.”  I know without a doubt that this experience has changed mine.  The Wilson Foundation and the special people of South Africa will be in my heart forever, and I am grateful.

Thank you.

Tori Mannes

Executive Director

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For most high school girls, babysitting is a tried-and-true way to earn some extra spending money.  But high school senior Ellie Hamm has discovered another option: creating her own business.  After receiving a candle-making starter kit for Christmas, Ellie discovered she had a knack for creating wonderfully-scented, long lasted soy-based candles, and thus, Eleanor Hamm & Co. (http://www.eleanorhammandco.com/) was launched in January 20008.  Ellie creates over 100 candles per month, selling them to friends, through her website, and at local markets and shows.  She sells her candles in three sizes- small, medium and large – with some oversized and specialty containers also available.  There are over 14 fragrances to choose from, though the top sellers are French Market, Oak Moss & Clary Sage, and  Citrus & Basil.  

Since she’s still busy with things like attending high school and working on college applications, Ellie receives backup support for her business from her mother, Madeline.  As the self-named ‘supply gatherer’ and logistics coordinator, Madeline helps keep track of all the moving parts.

We are proud that last year’s Tseelana Market was the first official market that Ellie participated in, and in the past year her business has continued to grow.  We applaud Ellie’s creativity and entrepreneurship, but mostly her generosity in committing a portion of her sales proceeds to support the children served by The Wilson Foundation.  We are proud to have her back as a 2010 Tseelana Market participating merchant. 

Thursday, October 21 5 – 8 pm

Friday, October 22 10 am – 4 pm

7501 Turtle Creek Boulevard (corner of Turtle Creek and Hanover)

For questions, please call 214-523-7577.

Special thanks to Ryan Osborne Homes and Briggs-Freeman (Lindy Mahoney, Realtor) for enabling us to use this fabulous new home.


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Margaret Miller (http://www.margaretmillerdesigns.com/index2.php#/home/) was launched in 2009 after the overwhelming response designer and owner Margaret Brungart received to the stylish, easy to wear knit  dresses she made for herself.  Margaret Miller embodies the relaxed lifestyle of growing up on the beach, and always wanting to wear something fashionable and flattering yet super comfortable.  The brand is defined by effortless clothes that travel well and flatter the curves of a woman’s body. 

Margaret Brungart grew up in a family of exceptionally creative women including her grandmother, who had created beautiful clothes for her grandchildren and who gave Margaret her first sewing machine.  Margaret decided to use her grandmother’s maiden name, Miller, for her business as a tribute to her inspiration and strength.

We are thrilled to welcome back Margaret Miller as a  participant in this year’s  Tseelana Market.  Founder Margaret Brungart is a longtime supporter of The Wilson Foundation and when she established her company she made a decision to designate a portion of sales to support the Foundation’s work.  The Wilson Foundation and the merchants who participate in the Tseelana Market share a commitment to ‘do well by doing good’.  We are pleased to promote Margaret Miller and appreciate her company’s commitment to the Foundation’s work.

2010 Tseelana Market

Thursday, October 21 5 – 8 pm

Friday, October 22 10 am – 4 pm

7501 Turtle Creek Boulevard (corner of Turtle Creek Blvd. & Hanover)

Dallas, Texas  75225

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We are pleased to spotlight two talented Dallas artists who will be presenting their work at the 2010 Tseelana Market benefiting The Wilson Foundation.

"Rock Valley" - Brenda Bogart

About Brenda Bogart:

Dallasite Brenda Bogart (http://brendabogart.blogspot.com/) is blessed with an abundance of creativity as well as the talent and   know-how to express it in many ways.  She spent a number of years in interior design and was also the owner of an enormously popular children’s clothing business called B’s T’s.  In 2006 she picked up her paintbrush and began painting in earnest, exploring a range of themes in oil on canvas.  “Painting is a thrilling new challenge for me,” Brenda says.

A longtime friend and supporter of The Wilson Foundation, Brenda helped launch the idea for the Tseelana Market after she expressed an interest in having an art show to benefit the work of the Foundation.  From that conversation, we expanded the idea to incorporate additional artisans who shared Brenda’s desire to ‘do well by doing good.’ Brenda exemplifies the spirit of Tseelana – ‘helping each other’ – and we are thrilled to work with her again on this year’s Tseelana Market.  




About Shirley Steere Marsh: 

"Nest on Rug" - Shirley Steere Marsh

Native Dallasite Shirley Steere Marsh attended Parsons School of Design in New York, and most recently has been an art student at SMU, studying under Mary Vernon and Barnaby Fitzgerald, and Larry Scholder.  She works primarily with oil on canvas, and also in acrylic and printmaking.  Shirley says, “Supporting The Wilson Foundation is special to me because of the time I spent visiting my daughter in Guinea, West Africa, where she served in the Peace Corps.  To me it was an honor and privilege to get to know the people there,  and to feel their warm hearts and generous spirits.  Their thirst for education and  will to be productive was inspiring and beautiful.     I definitely share the Wilson Foundation’s commitment to give back, and the spirit of “helping each other!”

Please join us on Thursday, October 21 from 5 – 8 pm or Friday, October 22 from 10 am – 4 pm for the 2010 Tseelana Market.  A portion of sales by each participating artist will benefit The Wilson Foundation and its programs for children in rural South Africa.  For more information, please call 214-523-7577.

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We are thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Carlock Designs (www.elizabethcarlock.com) as a 2010 Tseelana Market* participating merchant!

Elizabeth Carlock is a talented and inspiring young fashion and jewelry designer who established her business in 2009 to combine her passion and talent for design into a charitable career.  Her collection includes necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and hair accessories hand crafted from metal and semi-precious stone.  Her beautiful pieces are versatile and perfect for all occasions from casual to formal to everything in between. Not only are they reasonably priced, but Elizabeth donates a portion of sales to support charitable causes in hopes of making a positive difference in women’s lives.  Earlier this year Elizabeth traveled to Uganda to work with the Akola Project, part of the Uganda American Partnership Organization, where she taught local women to make jewelry that they could sell in the US for a fair price. 

Elizabeth Carlock is successfully blending her gifts and talents with her passion for charitable causes.  She shares The Wilson Foundation’s commitment to give back and make a difference, and she understands the spirit of Tseelana, or “helping each other.”   

Join The Wilson Foundation and Elizabeth Carlock Designs at the 2010 Tseelana Market and “Shop With Purpose!”

*Tseelana (pronounced “Say-lana”) is an African word meaning “to help each other”

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2010 Tseelana Market benefiting The Wilson Foundation

The 2nd annual Tseelana Market benefiting The Wilson Foundation will be held on Thursday, October 21 from 5 – 8 pm and Friday, October 22 from 10 am – 4 pm.  The event will be held in a fabulous newly built home at 7501 Turtle Creek Boulevard (corner of Turtle Creek and Hanover) in University Park.  This home was constructed with extraordinary attention to detail by noted area homebuilder Ryan Osborne of Ryan Osborne Homes.  This exquisite property is currently for sale so be sure to make time to tour when you come for the Market!  

Special thanks to Ryan Osborne for opening this beautiful home to The Wilson Foundation for our 2010 Tseelana Market!

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The entrance to the Ngata YaSetso Cultural Village

Our hearts are heavy today.  This morning we received word from Marion Frew, our Wilson Foundation representative in Vaalwater, South Africa, that our friend Zach Molekoa passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last night.

Zach was a young man from the Leseding Township who started the Ngata YaSetso Cultural Village, located next to the rubbish dump.  The mission of the Cultural Village was to provide shelter, food and homework support for some of the AIDS orphans in the township who had nowhere to go.  Zach was also focused on helping the kids keep their African culture, and he taught them cultural songs and dances that they performed for visitors from the nearby game lodges. 

Dancers at the Cultural Village

Trisha and I visited Zach last fall, and he proudly showed us how he had taken rubbish from the township’s dump to create his village.  Zach had a gift of taking other people’s trash — old tin plates, broken pieces of rock or brick,  cardboard, plastic bottles and other items– and repurposing them to create a charming and inviting place, right in the middle of total poverty.  He pointed to his shack next door, but was embarrassed to show us inside because he hadn’t made up his ‘bed’, which consisted of a pallet on the dirt floor! 

Just a few weeks ago when we were in South Africa, we interviewed Zach and the kids at the Cultural Village for our new film.  What progress he had made in the past year since we had last visited!  The Cultural Village now has proper thatch huts for the children to sleep in, a homework hut, and even a bathroom with a sink — amazing, considering where it was located — which he constructed for the visitors who came to the Village to see the young people perform.  He was full of hope and optimism for his project, and he truly had a heart for the children he was helping.

We are truly saddened by the sudden loss of such an inspiring, creative and good-hearted young man. 

Trisha Wilson, Tori Mannes and Amy McEvoy with Zach Molekoa

We don’t know what will happen to the children under his care, who were among the township’s most vulnerable, but we hope someone will step in to carry on his work.

God bless you, Zach, and thank you for the great work you did during your short life.  You inspired us with your enthusiasm and creativity, and you will be missed.

Tori Mannes, Executive Director

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Many of The Wilson Foundation’s friends and supporters have heard about Simon Makinta, the young man from Leseding Township who we have been helping for the past several years.

Just over two years ago, Simon was a young man with big dreams but no way to achieve them.  He had just graduated from Meetsetshehla High School in Vaalwater and had no prospects for employment.  After meeting Trisha Wilson and Marion Frew, our local Wilson Foundation colleague in Vaalwater, Simon persuaded the foundation to help him further his education and pursue his dream:  to fly.

Simon Makinta with Marion Frew and Trisha Wilson

With funding support from The Wilson Foundation, Simon graduated from Jeppe College in March with a hospitality degree.  The next step was to attend a cabin crew training program. He completed his course last week and today we received word that he has passed his Civil Aviation examination so he will become licensed to work for an airline!

It hasn’t been easy:  along the way, Simon was mugged (twice) and robbed of everything he had.  Since English is not his first language, he struggled to understand the material in some of his classes.  He often did not have enough money for food.  To enroll in cabin crew training he had to learn to swim proficiently.  All these things he accomplished while living away from his family and familiar surroundings.

Simon Makinta and his family with The Wilson Foundation team in Vaalwater, South Africa

The one constant throughout his journey has been the support of  The Wilson Foundation.  Having the local ‘on the ground’ support of our representatives Marion and Angus Frew has enabled the Foundation to manage its grant programs efficiently and where necessary, provide additional assistance and help.  This certainly made the difference with Simon, as Marion was there to guide and encourage him along the way.

Now Simon will receive his license and will be actively looking for a position with an airline in South Africa (anyone with contacts please let us know!!).  As the first in his family to attend and graduate from college, and pursue a job that is almost unheard of in the township where he was raised, Simon is an example of how The Wilson Foundation ‘changes lives, one child at a time.”

For Simon Makinta, the sky’s the limit!

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People often ask how and why The Wilson Foundation began focusing its work in South Africa.  If you ask our founder, Trisha Wilson, she will tell you that when she first arrived in South Africa, it felt like home:  the climate, the terrain, the people- all reminded her of Texas.  The first time I went there, I understood what she meant.  This is truly a special part of the world: a country rich in natural resources and beautiful, friendly people with a wonderful spirit.  It is also a country that has suffered from a poor education system, staggering unemployment, a critical shortage of trained medical personnel, and thousands of children who have been left orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The community of Vaalwater, South Africa has a population of about 35,000, including the sprawling Leseding Township, and an additional farm population of about 10,000.  Commerce in this region is mostly limited to agriculture and eco-tourism, with many game reserves located in the area.  There are not many other ways for people to make a living, hence the high unemployment rate.

A child in Leseding Township, South Africa

Over the past several years we have found that  by focusing our efforts in one specific geographic region we are able to see and monitor the difference we are making.  Here in Vaalwater, we are the only US-based nonprofit that is funding programs on a year-round basis.  Because we have board members who live in the local community, we are able to monitor the effectiveness of our grant dollars and, where needed, make corrections or adjustments. 

Leseding Township

We have had the privilege of working side-by-side with several community-based organizations from their very beginning.  These organizations are focused on working with stakeholders to find solutions to community needs.  The result has been stronger buy-in by the community, and their success is evidenced by the tremendous growth in their programs. 

A reminder of the toll of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa

So again the question:  why South Africa?  Maybe it’s because it feels alot like home.  But it’s also  because it is a country that desperately needs us.  Vaalwater is ‘off the grid’ to much of the world.  Rural areas like that  just aren’t known to most international aid organizations.  So working here, we know without a doubt that we are making a difference, and that our sustained support is ‘changing lives, one child at a time.”
In my next posts I will share a bit about our most recent trip to South Africa and all we experienced during our time there.

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Getting on the plane to fly to South Africa, I had no idea what to expect. I had been briefed on a general idea of what the trip might involve; however, I was not prepared for the experience that I would have. Getting to spend a week with the kids of Timothy House was truly an unbelievable opportunity.

Every morning when we showed up at the field, I could see each guy and girl’s face light up as they ran over to give us a hug –they all knew us by name. The days were spent playing games, singing in line and when it came down to the drills, the girls would give everything they had. Even if they couldn’t quite understand what they were supposed to be doing, they would all respond “Yes Coach” and try their hardest. Their effort was inspiring, especially considering how exhausted they must have gotten. One thing that made an impression on me was that neither the language barrier nor the fact that lacrosse was a new sport for most of them hindered their desire to give us their full attention and utmost effort. As a result, it wasn’t surprising how quickly they picked up the sport. It took me over a year to be as good as most of those kids became in one week. Getting to spend time sharing the sport of lacrosse and getting to know each personality was something I would not trade for anything.

There are several experiences that stand out in my mind – one was when we started out two of the mornings playing a game of ‘Freeze Tag.’ It was obvious that the kids were tired. They had walked a long way and it was early and cold; however, as soon as we started playing, each girl was sprinting her heart out to either ‘tag’ or escape the person who was ‘It.’  Not only where they working so hard for themselves, but they would risk being ‘frozen’ to ‘un-freeze’ all of their friends. If you had been tagged, you could be sure that within seconds someone would be crawling through your legs to unfreeze you. It was amazing to see that selflessness in a game so simple as Tag. I also loved how the person who was ‘It’ would always say “Touch” when they tagged you, as if you could not feel it!  This simple game expressed alot about how friendly, loving and cooperative the kids were.  They would do anything for us and they just wanted us to love them in return. 

 When the week was over, we had the chance to go from teachers to students when we presented our homework assigned the Sunday before: learning and performing the Diski Dance. Although it was embarrassing how much worse we were in comparison, when it came down to American girls vs. American guys, the girls took home the prize. It was great to see how excited the Vaalwater girls got when we won!

Bailey Ewing

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