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!