Dallas’ Melonie Kastman is Above and Beyond Charitable

photography by Bode Helm

Commercial producer Melonie Kastman is Dallas’ version of Angelina Jolie. She’s not only gorgeous (Kastman was a model in the ’70s and ’80s), she’s above-and-beyond charitable, too. Following a trip to the poverty-stricken West African republic of Sierra Leone in 2006, Kastman was inspired to make a documentary about the struggling education system in the area. “The schools are horrendous, and only 20 percent of the population is literate,” she says. A guest at the screening of this film, The Forgotten Diamonds, told another friend about the movie, and—like Hollywood magic—donations began pouring in for a Learning Resource Center in Sierra Leone. In addition to generous cooperation from the Sierra Rutile Mining Company and the International Reading Association, more than 13,000 books have already been donated from companies like Half Price Books, as well as the Shelton School; Trammell S. Crow and Angus Wynne have also signed on as sponsors. The next step is securing the building, and Kastman has another trip in the works to do just that. In the end, this library-slash-educational center will serve more than 15,000 children—many of whom have never held a book before. “It’s like stone soup,” she says. “Everyone puts a little bit in and we get a great stew.”


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