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Mardi Gras Nights supports West Dallas center

Chelsea Jones | 6/23/2014, 9:06 a.m.
Despite its recent changes, the West Dallas Community Center said it’s ready to continue the mission of strengthening West Dallas ...
Mardi Gras Nights participants form a dance train around the room. West Dallas Community Center

The Dallas Examiner

Despite its recent changes, the West Dallas Community Center said it’s ready to continue the mission of strengthening West Dallas neighborhoods.

The WDCC provides educational programing and training that target economic and social development, and cultural awareness. R.L. Stemmons, Trammell Crow, Marvin D. Love, Clint Murchison III and other distinguished leaders founded the center in 1932 to alleviate problems that afflicted the West Dallas community at the time.

Within the past five years, the WDCC has undergone significant changes, such as closing down one of its two program sites, the J. McMillian Center, and curtailing operations due to reduced funding. It also serves more clients due to unprecedented growth in the area.

Another change has been securing new leadership. Karen Factory Salmond was recently elected as chairman of the center’s board of directors, and Antonia Williams-Gary has served as executive director for less than three months.

She noted that the center faces many challenges, which include building a new board committee, stabilizing operations, attracting staff, creating quality programs and fundraising. However, she declared that the center views the challenges as an opportunity to make a fresh start.

“We’re going to leverage the legacy by building on all the good will and historical roots of the West Dallas community,” Williams-Gary said.

She explained that she has developed a strategic plan – that contains goals set for the next three months, six months, year and three years – to tackle the center’s challenges. Last month, the center addressed its issue of a lack of funds by hosting a Mardi Gras-themed event called “Mardi Gras Nights.”

Four hundred guests gathered at 3015 at Trinity Groves for a concert by New Orleans jazz violinist Michael Ward and his six-band members, gospel singer CeCe Godbolt and urban-crooner Harlon. The musicians provided a musical selection of smooth jazz, contemporary, zydeco and second line.

VIP guests dined on Cajun cuisine prepared by 3015 at Trinity Grove’s master chef, Sharon Van Meter.

All proceeds went toward WDCC’s family and youth programs, which include an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program, and a summer camp for children ages 5 through 16 that started June 9.

Williams-Gary said the center plans to make “Mardi Gras Nights” an annual event.