WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS ITEMS OF A HIGHLY POSITIVE, EVEN HEART-WARMING NATURE. THOSE LOOKING FOR NEGATIVITY AND SNARK SHOULD SKIP TO THE NEXT POST

Inept mayoring and city council scandals may dominate the headlines, but the truth is that every day lots of incredibly generous, caring people are doing amazing things for their fellow Dallasites. Last night, more than 1,000 people filled the Hyatt Regency’s main ballroom for “A Night of Light” celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Center for Nonprofit Management, a group that works tirelessly to train and support leaders of local charities. Their work isn’t sexy, but it’s very effective, and just about everyone who uses their services sings CNM’s praises. Last night’s event was an awards ceremony for 18 different do-gooders whose stories of sacrifice and big-heartedness were enough melt even the most cynical heart. If you are one of those people who says the media is too negative, then keep reading. The rest of you sneering mavens of the mordant–run while you can.

Suzanne Kiefer is a smart, attractive paralegal for the prestigious Haynes & Boone law firm. She works very hard. But at the end of the day, she doesn’t go for workouts and wine tastings; she goes to Heart House Dallas, a non-profit group that provides fun, educational after-school programs for low income kids. Thanks to her passionate devotion to this cause over the last two years, a once tiny operation now cares for more than 500 kids who would otherwise be languishing unattended in the projects. Heart House gives the kids personalized attention they so desperately crave.

Last night, Suzanne Kiefer won the Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Management. Nominated with her were Barbara Mosacchio of YWCA Dallas and Jerome Mosman of LIFT, which teaches thousands of disadvantaged Dallasites how to read. Other award nominees included:

Excellence in Mission Achievement
Exodus Ministries – helping families with a relative just out of prison
Rainbow Days – ministering to children of abuse
The Stewpot – for 30 years, the landmark mission to the homeless run by the inspiring, indefatiguable Rev. Bruce Buchanan.
Winner: The Stewpot

Social Entrepreneur of the Year
George Ellis – for his work with Dallas Social Venture Partners
Eric Devlin – for his work with Interfaith Housing Coalition
Roy Turner – for his work in saving the Shakespeare Dallas program
Winner: Roy Turner

Excellence in Communications
Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center
Cross Timbers Youth Orchestra
Dallas Museum of Natural History
Winner: Dallas Museum of Natural History

Innovation in Action
MediSend International – sends medical supplies to poor countries all over the world
Vickery Meadow Learning Center – teaches English to newly arrived immigrants
Volunteer Center of North Texas – trains volunteers and provides them to needy charities all over North Texas
Winner: Volunteer Center

Excellence in Board Governance
Big Thought – teaching artists work with middle school students to use creative writing, visual art, and digital media to express their views on the world
LIFT – Literacy Instruction For Texas
Salesmanship Club Youth & Family Centers
Winner: Big Thought

Ably chaired by Dallas philanthropist Robert Meachum, the evening featured videos of all 18 nonprofit groups. Each one inspired you with not only the compassionate work that was being done in our city, but also impressed by the intelligence and foresight of those doing the work. Bad news gets more airtime, but look into any of these charities and you come away feeling very good about the people of Dallas.

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