It seemed like a small yes to Wendi Kaplan when a friend asked her to attend a low-key gathering and learn about a charity. But she quickly found that, beyond a donation, offering her skills could make a huge difference for an organization that provides mentors to kids aging out of foster care or released from the juvenile justice system. Wendi said, “I told the host that there are a few things I’m decent at – events and tennis!” Three years later Wendi is gearing up for the third sold-out tennis tournament benefiting I Pour Life.
Growing up outside of Houston, Wendi learned the power of generosity, but it wasn’t until she was raising a family of her own in Dallas that she recognized how daily acts of compassion can add up for a stronger community. Wendi’s career in event management has included organizing charity events for Chick-fil-A CityLine in Richardson, which regularly provides food for nonprofits, schools, and community gatherings. “One of my favorite moments was watching the Richardson police department and members of the community come out to Chick-fil-A CityLine this past year to give back and show their support for a fundraising event we hosted for Fallen Officer David Sherrard. It was truly bitter sweet,” shared Wendi. “Officer Sherrard would come in often to eat and we just knew we had to honor him, his family and the rest of Richardson PD by paying our respects in some way, so we chose to give back to his family and other members of the fallen officers fund.”
Now Wendi is combining her love of community events with her tennis hobby to empower young people here in Dallas through I Pour Life. The tennis tournament has grown into one of the organization’s major fundraisers for their Life Strengths program, thanks in part to their new sponsor, Tory Sport. When a young person is nominated for Life Strengths, they are paired with a Life Coach for 12 months and connected to the community for volunteer and career opportunities. “Everyone needs a mentor, especially students who are facing homelessness, and that problem is only growing in Dallas,” Wendi said.
Her newest venture also includes a give-back component. Wendi recently began working with Parker & Hyde, a Dallas-based online retailer specializing in cowhide accessories and home decor. The company looks for opportunities to help the community, including donations to KPMG’s Family for Literacy – a program dedicated to eradicating childhood illiteracy. Through all of these ventures, Wendi has experienced the joy of giving and she hopes it inspires others to use their skills and resources to help others. Her encouragement rings out for all of us in the new year – “We can all do something, even if you don’t feel like it’s a lot. Everything you give adds up.”
To learn more about I Pour Life and how you can get involved in the Life Strengths program, please visit their website. If you are interested in supporting the annual tennis tournament, you can contact Wendi Kaplan directly.
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Story by Mary Martin. Photos courtesy of Wendi Kaplan.