The Jazz Brunch
March 30, 2022
While surrounded by the inviting atmosphere of Potpourri House, Tyler United Wesley Foundation Board Member Dona Cassel had an idea flash across her mind. She looked at Director Tabitha Rankin with excitement in her eyes and said, “Why not have the Jazz Brunch here?” They had been forced to cancel the brunch in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the pandemic, but Tabitha knew this fundraiser could be a success and she had not given up on the concept.
When she served as pastor of St. Paul UMC in Galveston, their Jazz Brunch was one of the church’s most profitable fundraising events and she wanted to bring the same atmosphere it generated to her Tyler United Wesley Foundation donors. Tabitha agreed that the Potpourri House was the perfect spot, so they spoke with the events manager that very day. Then she shared her idea with TMF Area Representative Melvin Amerson and they began developing a strategy for success.
“When I told Melvin I wanted to do this, he walked with me every step of the way. He helped me to organize my thoughts,” Tabitha noted. “He also guided me in securing sponsorships from churches in our district and conference. Over the years, Melvin has encouraged me not to be afraid to call potential supporters to share my God-given visions for this ministry. He has such a gift for fundraising and educating. Even though I am pastor, it was very uncomfortable for me to reach out to people I didn’t know, and he has taught me to overcome that. He taught me the art of building relationships.”
With a clear and effective plan, Tabitha began approaching sponsors for the band, food, and silent auction. Friends and supporters donated to the silent auction, and an individual sponsored the food and music. They sold tables for $200 each and ended up raising $14,000!
These donations would support their scholarships and programs. As the only state school in Texas with a Christian dorm, Tyler United Wesley Foundation gives out two full scholarships that cover student dorm fees. The selected students serve as role models for the campus, giving community service hours and attending Wesley events each week. This Jazz Brunch also supported their overall ministries, such as their campus lunch on Tuesdays, game nights, and What-A-Wednesday Bible studies, where they eat Whataburger and discuss scripture.
It was a party with a purpose.
“I wanted to create an event that would give back to our donors, to celebrate them while they were blessing our ministry,” Tabitha shared. “When I was starting out at the Tyler United Wesley Foundation, I prayed to meet people who would want to become part of our Wesley family and I am so grateful for our supporters. God has helped me meet the right people and I am glad we had the chance to celebrate them with this event.”