Dancing with Our Local Schools Private Fundraising Event February 22, 2014

M.Fordney at DWOLS Priv Fundrais Event 2/22/14
River Oaks Acad. DWOLS students perform. 2/22/14 Event

If you have been one of the 3,000 4 th to 8th grade students that learned how to dance through the Dancing with Our Local Schools program (DWOLS) or one of the 400 students from 6 schools in the Conejo Valley presently learning to dance, consider yourself lucky!

On February 22, 2014, Dance 4 Wellness in partnership with the Fordney Foundation presented for the very first time, a private event, complete with homemade hors d’oeuvres, wine, coffee and desserts on beautiful laid out tables covered with rose petals and silver stars. This first time event was hosted by the Dance 4 Wellness studio and there was a full house in attendance.

Because there is a need for artistic development in schools without any funding, the Fordney Foundation and Dance 4 Wellness have fulfilled this gap with DWOLS in the Conejo Valley to great success and wish to do a lot more. Ms. Fordney, our Director and Founder of Fordney Foundation, a non-profit organization, has almost single handedly been contributing to this program. Our organization was founded in 2002 and this is the first time in 12 years that we have asked for money from the public to help out.

The focus of this event is to express our needs to go forward and ask for your help and efforts to bring this program to as many children as possible! That is why I said the children who have been able to enjoy this program so far, are lucky. We have had to turn away school districts in Oxnard, Santa Monica and Malibu. Although the demand is there, our program exceeds our current budget. We want to extend our program to not only schools but also children who are less fortunate and affected by illness such as cancer.

Donating to a non-profit organization has great benefits. Giving to an organization like ours ensures our children locally are being helped and you are giving to your community. You are using your money wisely to help your own children. You will be able to see the impact your funds are making. You can also declare your contribution as an income tax deduction and will receive a receipt from our nonprofit 501 (c) 3. Or if you prefer to donate shares of a publicly traded stock, you are allowed to take a 100% deduction for the share’s value without paying tax on any appreciation.

That being said, the event was a clear indication of the value and demand for an organization like DWOLS. Maria Durant, our hostess and owner of Dance 4 Wellness, spoke to the audience and expressed her happiness at being able to be part of the powerful difference DWOLS makes in young peoples lives. She reminded us, that our last event, held in a local high school in December 2013, was attended by 700 people. We only expected about 300! Marilyn Fordney then addressed the audience and further inspired us to “help spread the word,” about the work she is so passionate about, which includes helping young, promising dancers excel in Ballroom/DanceSport and competitions.

There is no better way to know the benefits of a program then to see the results for ourselves. We were given that opportunity, when River Oaks Academy students performed Salsa and a Swing-Cha Cha medley for the audience. It was great to see these kids perform and also tell us why they like the DWOLS program so much. Some of the things they expressed were: it gave them confidence, great source of exercise, feeling happy and proud and my favorite, “the program is very cool.” We want to personally thank: Seth, Kylie, Joshua, Isabella, Dylan and Rhiannon for a job well done!

We then met Erika Arnold, an instructor at Dance 4 Wellness. She really enjoys dancing, teaching dance and especially working with children. She reminded us how at a young age being able to dance gave her that much more confidence as an adult. She has even competed in competitions from the early age of 12 years old. Next we were treated to two exceptional dancers, Luba and Vadim. They are both from Russia and told us a little about themselves and their love for dance. They are a newly formed duo who performed a Cha Cha and Rumba for us. Their performance was very inspiring and passionate.

We then heard from Harriet Cohen, a consultant and mentor to Maria Durant and Dance 4 Wellness. She explained to us that, “it isn’t just about money,” why we were here. It’s also about creativity, ideas people have, people who want to be board members or be on our board of advisors. We need people with experience in PTAs, grant-writing, accounting and legal services, just to name a few things. We even need volunteers to help with one of our upcoming showcases, on May 18, as well as volunteers to write thank you letters to sponsors. And of course, we do accept donations. Our tables for this event were donated to us. Most of all, “who do you know,” is always a good place to start. We offer so many opportunities for you to become involved in our organization.

We want to thank all of our friends who attended this fun event. We also want to thank the many people it took to make this event happen. Special thank yous to River Oaks Academy, Erika Arnold, Luba and Vadim, Karen, Clara and David for helping, Bonnie Marcus, who coordinated this event and made all the food, Harriet Cohen for her very inspirational words and Sandor Havasi for videotaping and photographing this event. And we must say many thank yous to Maria Durant for her many hours of hard work putting this special event together as well as her staff’s abilities and time in teaching our DWOLS program. And we always thank Marilyn Fordney for her dreams and wishes that make hundreds of people happy each year!!

Thought Of The Week:

Save the date! DWOLS Spring Showcase coming May 18 at La Reina High School

To join our efforts to bring our program to as many children as possible: Contact Dance 4 Wellness at: 805-991-6113 or info@dance4wellness.net


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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website https://slowmotiondancevideos.com/