Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Introducing our Friend, Debbie Korell!

A fifth generation Chicagoan, Debbie Korell grew up on the northwest side of the city.  She attended college on the south side of Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Technology, majoring in Management with an Option in Information Technology.  Debbie left no part of Chicago unexplored!  She then headed to the western suburbs in the early 1990s, and following that, she met her future husband, Todd, at work in 1995.  The two were wed in 1999.
While she called Chicago home, the Sarasota area always held a special place in Debbie’s heart.  Having visited her aunt and uncle who lived in Bayshore Gardens, Debbie fondly reminisces about drives around St. Armand’s Circle in the late ‘60s.  The Bayshore Gardens home was bequeathed to her parents, and in 1997, they retired to the beautiful home that had always brought their family such wonderful memories. In the summer of 2009, Debbie moved to the area to look after both of her parents as their health declined, Todd joined her in January of 2010.
Following her mother’s passing and the unexpected passing of her husband, Todd, Debbie and her father frequently attended shows at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall together.  Debbie had been in search of a way to commemorate her late husband, a man that truly had a passion for the arts.  Todd and Debbie had both played in their high school bands; they also enjoyed sharing season tickets to the theater in Chicago.  When she learned she could name a seat at our hall, Debbie says she thought “this would be a wonderful way to memorialize him. In addition, I could select a seat that was where I would want to sit, and when I went to the shows, I could sit in his chair. I refer to it as sitting in his lap with his arms around me.” 
Debbie’s involvement throughout the community is extraordinary and expansive; beyond her integral involvement here at the Van Wezel Foundation, she has also supported Mote Marine and the South Florida Museum. What really drove her to focus her philanthropic efforts with the Van Wezel Foundation was our commitment to the arts education of the youth.  Disappointed to see schools make arts education less of a priority in their curriculums; Debbie hopes “for school age children to have a chance to see an afternoon performance by any of the artists, shows, ballets or symphony's that come to play in Sarasota.” Our Friend tells us that she has felt genuinely spoiled rotten with her membership at the foundation.  However, we are the ones who feel spoiled to have a Friend who feels the same way as we do about the local youth and arts programs, emphasizing that “music and art touches the soul and sparks imagination and creativity!” 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Friday Fests are back!

For the 12th consecutive year, the Van Wezel Foundation invites everyone to join us for Friday Fests! Once again, our summer series will include free entertainment featuring some of the area’s most popular musicians at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Each concert will begin at 5PM and run until 9PM; come enjoy your happy hour with us!
 On June 21st, let us take you on a magic carpet ride back to the days of Woodstock! This Friday Fest will feature Yesterdayze. This unique group tantalizes the ears with the memorable hits of the ‘60s. So throw on your tie dye, and let’s get groovy baby!
 On July 19th, Kettle of Fish will keep you rocking all night long! This band’s style is best described as soulful blues and rock. If you like the sound of the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, BB King, Johnny Cash, Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder, the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton...you will love Kettle of Fish.
The following month, on August 16th, Impulse will be serving up a refreshing dose of reggae, zouk, and pop calypso.  Island resort wear isn't mandatory; however, be sure to bring your dancing shoes! This island treat will have you up out of your seat and dreaming of the Caribbean all summer long!
 September 20th, break out your boots for the country band One Night Rodeo! Opening for superstars such as Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Montgomery Gentry is nothing new to this group of seasoned musicians. The band released their first single and video, 'Alive and Living', which has maintained its spot in the Top 20 Country Countdown on GAC TV.
 Our Foundation Friends are invited to join us in the Foundation's indoor VIP seating area for complimentary beer, wine, and food.
Don’t miss out on the summer fun!

Monday, March 25, 2013

As the season winds down

The past few months have flown by here at the Van Wezel Foundation.

February 15th was our Gala featuring Sheryl Crow. All of the proceeds- over 150k- went to our mission to enriching lives, with an emphasis on children, through the performing arts. It was an unforgettable evening with a fabulous silent and live auction, great company, and great entertainment. A wonderful time was had by all! 

We would like to thank our sponsors, donors, guests, patrons, and everyone who supported us!

Next, of course, was the Les Miz Opening Night Party. The production made its debut at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and we invited our closest friends and donors to join us for an evening to celebrate the wonderful performance. 

Lastly, the Van Wezel Foundation was involved with the 36 Hour Giving Challenge. We came out very successful, and we ended up with over $40,000 in matched and unmatched dollars from donors! All of these funds will directly support the children and help to support the Van Wezel's Schooltime Performances.

See you soon at the Van Wezel!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Many Events Ahead!

It is a busy time at the Van Wezel Foundation right now! We have a lot on our plate and we would like to share that with you!

First, our 12th Annual Gala featuring Sheryl Crow is coming up in just two weeks! The Gala will take place on Friday, February 15th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.  How did that sneak up on us so fast?! 

Our Gala is SOLD OUT!

We are rarin' to go and excited for this amazing and exclusive event! All money raised will go to the Van Wezel Foundation's mission to the kids- and the Schooltime Performances. Our goal is to exceed what we did last year- which was sending 25,000 children to the theatre- at little or no cost to the children's families or schools!

Second, we have our Opening Night Party for Les Misérables! This event will take place on the opening night of the performance, Tuesday, March 5th, at 5:30 pm. Tickets are $75 each (price is separate to the show ticket price) and will be catered by Mattison's. Expect French wine, French Hor D'oeuvres, and French entertainment! We are expecting a great turnout, and it will be an unforgettable evening!

Lastly, the Van Wezel Foundation is excited for its involvement with the Giving Partner's 36 Hour Giving Challenge! This event takes place on March 5th through 7th. This is a large event where several foundations in Sarasota have compiled money, and are ready to give it away, in matching form! They will match each gift donated to us, and we have the chance to win other prizes as well!

For more information on any of these events, please visit www.vwfoundation.org 

We are looking forward to a great next few months, we hope to see you around!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Tribute...

The Van Wezel Foundation attended the 2013 SRQ Visionary Tribute on Friday for Gil Waters. It was an honor to be part of a ceremony honoring such an outstanding man in our community. We are so thankful for the visionaries in Sarasota!

Pictured above is the Tribute Book for Gil Waters, a truly inspirational man who happens to live among us here in Sarasota. At the Tribute, we were fortunate enough to have been surrounded by Sarasota's most prominent individuals, all of which are close friends of Gil's. 

Over 500 individuals ranging from Bankers to members of Congress joined together on January 4th, 2013,  to celebrate the outstanding achievements of this incredible man. Sarasota's Mayor, Suzanne Atwell, named January 4th "Gill Waters Day", and several other proclamations were made on Gil's behalf. Every guest of his Tribute learned about Gil's life from beginning to present, and saw from beginning to present what Gil has done for Sarasota. His attributions to our city are truly remarkable. Gil himself made a very special thank you speech, words that truly inspired every guest. The Van Wezel Foundation is absolutely ecstatic to have been able to participate in such a momentous Tribute.