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Salesmanship Club brings PGA tour, benefiting local students

DIANE XAVIER | 5/5/2019, noon
The AT&T Byron Nelson tournament brings in hundreds of thousands of spectators to its events. But the tournament is more ...
A teacher instructs her students during a science experiment at a Momentous School. – The Dallas Examiner screenshot taken from video courtesy of Momentous School

The Dallas Examiner

The AT&T Byron Nelson tournament brings in hundreds of thousands of spectators to its events. But the tournament is more than just a game. It is a life-changer for many in the community.

The PGA tour now makes a stop in Dallas, May 8 through May 12, and is brought to the city by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, a nonprofit organization and fellowship of business people founded in 1920. More than 600 members make up the club and its members focus on four core values: fellowship, commitment, respectfulness and humility.

Since 1968, the profits from the tournament have benefited the Momentous Institute, a private school that helps children and families with therapeutic and education services. Over the last 50 years, it has raised $160 million.

“Our school, Momentous School, is our opportunity to put into practice the works that we do around social and emotional health for children,” said Lexie Okeke, community engagement strategist for the Salesmanship Club of Dallas.

“The club member that founded it didn’t just only want fellowship, but wanted to do good for the community. They wanted to do good for the city of Dallas, so the early concept of Momentous School was founded in 1920 and we are about to celebrate our 100th year. Their focus is not so much on who they are or what they do. It is really the impact on the children and families that we serve at Momentous Institute that is the key.”

The institute has two schools, one in North Oak Cliff and one in Northwest Dallas.

Jessica Trudeau, executive director of the Momentous Institute, explained the purpose of its school.

“Our work is centered around ensuring that all children can build social-emotional health and achieve their full potential,” Trudeau said. We define social-emotional health as the ability to understand and manage one’s social emotion, reaction and relationships. We do that with mental health services, services at our laboratory school in Oak Cliff, and through training and research to equip providers locally and across the nation to integrate the practices that we utilize.”

Trudeau said over 5,000 children and families are impacted, while 9,000 professionals are also trained.

“Our goal and what we are working towards is for our communities and communities across the nation that there could be equitable opportunities to have access to services so children can achieve their full potential,” she said.

The school works with infants to children up to the age of 15. According to Trudeau, the school accepts up to 85% of families that qualify for the free or reduced lunch program, as per the USDA guidelines.

“We want to serve families that have limited access to other services,” she continued. “We serve families that have economic struggles and that is the population we are looking to serve.”

She explained that the institute consists of a regular school day with academics, as well as art, music and physical education, but with one key difference.

“What makes our campus different is that we begin the day with all parents and students and teachers and school leadership – all meet in the cafeteria every morning to start the day off with deep breathing exercises. Also, everything that we do is relationship based. We believe that for children to develop social and emotional health, they have to have a safe place where they can be who they are, and we have to have adults in the room that are socially and emotionally healthy as well.”

The research that the school puts together tracks their alumni and their successes.

“What we are finding is that 98% of our alumni are graduating high school on time and 81% are going to college. Not only do we find that our students are outperforming economically disadvantaged students throughout Texas, but they’re close to closing the gap between noneconomically disadvantaged students. And that is really our goal: How can we close the achievement gap? We work with the whole child.”

Last year, the AT&T Byron Nelson celebrated its 50th year, but its first year in South Dallas, according to Okeke, who said its goal is to establish itself in the community.

“We wanted to get to know our neighbors, leaders and people around the footprint of the golf course, and understand the impact and how we could be good year-round neighbors in the community as well.”