Interview by Jan Osborn. Photos by Jan Osborn and courtesy of Michal Powell.
The heart of Dallas Doing Good is to shine a light on people who are making good news happen, often from behind the scenes. Michal Powell is very much one of these people. In recognition of all her work in the community, Michal is being honored at the 34th Annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon – “The Stars of Texas.” Hosted by The Greater Dallas Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Dallas’ National Philanthropy Day celebration brings together area nonprofits, volunteers, funders, foundations, business and community members to honor many of this city’s finest who give selflessly in support of numerous worthy causes. Michal graciously invited me into her home to talk about a life of passion projects and causes that are close to her heart.
Can you share about where you grew up and how giving back was a part of your family dynamic?
Reared in the small west Texas “oilfield” town of Andrews, Texas, I was blessed with parents who were deeply committed to their faith, their family and their community. My parents were excellent examples of the importance of serving intentionally to improve the lives of others. Both invested their time and resources into creating a strong community that provided for it’s men, women and families, specifically in the areas of health and education.
You have chaired more events in Dallas than most folks attend in a lifetime. Can you name a few for us?
In 1993 I was offered my first opportunity to chair a major fundraiser in Dallas, Children’s Medical Center Family Night at Six Flags. Two of our children had been patients at this special hospital and it was a great opportunity to “pay it forward” in support of the hospital that had been so good to our family. It will always be a sweet memory.
In 2006 after having been a tutor for a couple of years at Jack Lowe Elementary, in east Dallas, there was an obvious need for a summer sports camp. With the full support and participation of my family and friends, I had the opportunity to be the founder of a week-long camp held for elementary students each summer, CHAMPS Sport Camp.
In 2009 Elizabeth Robinson served as the chairman of the Council for Life. She asked that I chair the Celebrating Life Luncheon that same year. It provided a wonderful opportunity to educate others on the value of life at every stage. The moral issue of our time is the value of a human life. There is no issue more divisive and yet no issue more important than how we regard a created life.
Every summer for many years all four of our children would head to summer camp in Branson, MO. While the children were at camp, I would serve for one week as a counselor at Camp John Marc, a camp dedicated to serving campers with chronic medical and physical challenges. As a counselor for several years, I saw the positive impact this special camp had on the lives of the campers. In 2010 when the opportunity was given to chair Camp John Marc’s Campership Drive, I was honored to work with a team to raise significant funds to make it possible for children to attend camp.
The Crystal Charity Ball provided me the opportunity to serve as the 2015 Chairman. Twenty-three years prior in 1993, a nonprofit on whose board I was serving, had asked me to take a grant request to this organization. It was a long, challenging process, as CCB is extremely thorough in it’s selection process. At the end of the selection process we were selected as a 1993 Beneficiary of The Crystal Charity Ball. Being a Beneficiary to the CCB had an extremely positive impact on this nonprofit. In addition to the greatly needed funds being granted, we were given so much positive exposure. When asked to chair the CCB, it was an opportunity to express sincere appreciation to the organization that had been so very supportive 23 years prior.
In 2013 I joined the Advisory Board of The Salvation Army. After serving with The Army for five years, I chaired the Doing the Most Good Luncheon for The Salvation Army. It was a pleasure to chair this major fundraiser for The Army as I was keenly aware of the needs. Serving in 21 locations across five counties, the financial needs are great. The luncheon was a unique opportunity to raise needed funds and to raise awareness of the tremendous work provided by this ministry in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.
What stories have most impacted you during your time working with marginalized communities?
One third of Dallas County children live in poverty. Poverty is the common factor found in low academic achievement, hunger, abuse and poor health. Last year The North Texas Food Bank announced that more than 856,000 people in the 13-counties they serve in this area are food insecure. One in four children in Dallas County live with food insecurity. . . that’s more than 300,000 children. Dallas ranks #1 in childhood food insecurity. Perhaps nothing has impacted me more than working one on one tutoring students in low income areas in our community. It is powerful to experience the impact poverty has on the lives of young children. Their lives are a painful struggle to survive.
I first met Xavior through a ministry I have partnered with for about eight years called Men of Nehemiah. Through working with The Salvation Army, we were able to get him housing at Carr P. Collins. I thought that I understood poverty for many years, as I had worked with so many children living in poverty, however, it was Xavior who truly gave me the realistic scope and realization of the struggles of poverty.
Young people whom I have met like Xavior, Jacob, Darryll, and Cassey have each had a profound effect on my life. Through their personal stories they have given me unique insights on the reality of poverty and the hope we all need to tackle the world before us. In addition, often I have been humbled and in awe of the service and commitment of those working each day to improve and prosper the lives of children in need in our community. They serve with dauntless determination in after school programs, early childhood programs, health care and social services to meet the needs of our city’s most vulnerable. They are the heroes of our community.
You are receiving the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award at Dallas’ 34th Annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon and were nominated by The Salvation Army North Texas Command. What have you enjoyed the most about your time volunteering with The Salvation Army?
There is no better example of caring for and improving the lives of men, women and children than that of The Salvation Army. For 127 years in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area The Army has been a ministry committed to meeting basic human needs without discrimination. The Army humbly serves 100,000 annually, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and working to break the cycle of addiction. The Army consists of hard working men and women who deeply value their opportunity to serve, seeking no recognition. They are honestly committed to “doing the most good to the most people in the most need.” It is a joy to partner with this ministry that has such a significant and positive impact on so many lives in our community.
What does this award mean to you?
It is humbling!! There are many tremendous individual fundraisers in this community. I have worked with a lot of them. Five names come to my mind easily of individuals who qualify for this award. Honestly, it is somewhat awkward for me to accept the award knowing many others deserve it.
That said, I am honored The Salvation Army took the time and made the effort to nominate me for the award. The award provides an opportunity for me to call attention to The Army and the tremendous work they do to meet basic human needs in our community.
Based on your experience and fundraising success, what would your advice be to others who are working hard to raise funds for important causes?
First, only raise funds for those nonprofits for which you strongly believe in their mission. Be selective and be certain you know the nonprofit well. Secondly, when you are raising funds, ask with confidence, knowing you are educating others and giving them an opportunity to invest their dollars into improving the lives of others.
Michal will receive her award on November 8 at the 34th Annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon – “The Stars of Texas”. Hosted by The Greater Dallas Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Dallas’ National Philanthropy Day celebration brings together area nonprofits, volunteers, funders, foundations, business and community members to honor many of this city’s finest who give selflessly in support of numerous worthy causes.
Other 2019 honorees are:
Outstanding Philanthropist Donna Wilhelm, a visionary leader and strong supporter of the arts, culture, and education (Nominated by World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth)
Outstanding Fundraising Executive Cindy Scott, CFRE, a professional and successful fundraiser, benefiting people of Dallas and beyond for more than 30 years (Nominated by Parkland Foundation)
Outstanding Foundation Harry S. Moss Trust, supporting excellence in heart research and treatment to the local community and the world (Nominated by UT Southwestern Medical Center)
Outstanding Corporation Texas Capital Bank, bettering the lives of others through a charitable program supporting more than 100 nonprofits (Nominated by Parkland Foundation)
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Ashlyn Duy, a grateful former patient and loyal supporter of Children’s Health who has raised $31,170 in four Red Balloon Children Helping Children Tennis Tournaments to help other children. (Nominated by Children’s Medical Center Foundation)
For more information regarding the luncheon, contact Madeleine Crouch, 972-233-9107, ext. 204, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know someone who is Doing Good in Dallas, we’d love to hear about it! Share their story with us.