VILLA MARIE – Students of Villa Marie School and Home for Exceptional Children are pictured baking cookies for Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach. The school’s 46th annual fundraising dance will be held Jan. 29 at the Pla-Mor Ballroom in Lincoln, featuring big band and country music. The public is invited. (Courtesy photo)
WAVERLY (SNR) - Big Band, country music and Villa Marie School fans will all gather Friday, Jan. 29 at the Pla-Mor Ballroom in Lincoln for a dance that warms the heart and soul. It’s the 46th annual fundraiser for Villa Marie Home & School for Exceptional Children.
Once again, the dance will feature two of Lincoln’s most popular bands. Bobby Layne and his Orchestra will provide musical stylings from the Big Band era, while Sandy Creek performs country and rock. The two groups will alternate in half hour sets from 8 p.m. to midnight. “It’s a good mix of music,” said Sandy Creek’s drummer, John Paul. “Everybody has a good time, and it’s a good cause.”
In between dance sets, there will be a raffle for great prizes.
The list includes a digital camera, a pair of tickets to one Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, two bags of Golden Harvest seed corn, a basketball system from Bison Electric, a $500 saving bond by Molex, a $200 gift card to Walmart, and many more prizes. Tickets are only $1 and winners need not be present to win.
This year’s dance will have a Hawaiian theme – a welcome “change of scenery” in the middle of one of the coldest and snowiest winters the area has experienced for many years.
Sister Peggy Kucera, M.S, principal of the school, said she was inspired to pursue the Hawaiian theme at the end of last summer, during the annual Day of Reflection for religious sisters that was hosted by Saint Teresa parish in Lincoln.
“When I was sitting at the meal, I thought, ‘I wonder if I can borrow these,’” she recalled.
She spoke to the woman who had handled the decorations, who happily agreed not only to lend the decorations for the Villa Marie dance, but to put them up as well.
Other decorations have been gathered by school staff. Luminaries of the Blessed Mother and Christ Child made by Sister Karen Marie, M.S., will add another glowing touch. The annual dance is the most important fundraiser of the year for Villa Marie School.
“We don’t have a parish,” Sister Peggy pointed out.
Without a parish, the school does not have a steady source of income, the way parish schools or high schools do.
The school does have regular benefactors, whose generosity is a great blessing to the students and staff. Altar societies from all over the diocese also support the school, and from time to time, the school is blessed with a grant.
Right before Christmas, in fact, Sister Peggy learned that Villa Marie has been granted $56,000 from the Dillon Foundation. Founded by Lincoln businessman Donald F. Dillon, the Dillon Foundation regularly awarded grants to nearly 100 nonprofit organizations each year, focusing on recipients that provide education, human services, and quality of life for the community.
Sister Peggy expressed deep gratitude for the Dillon grant. It will be used to replace windows throughout the school, making it far more energy-efficient and reducing heating and cooling bills for years to come.
Even with all this help, Villa Marie is constantly in need of financial assistance so that the students can experience top quality education and a safe, clean, loving home-like environment to board in during the week.
Sister Peggy plans to use some of the funds gained from the dance to spruce up the kids’ bedrooms.
“That basically means paint,” she laughed.
If there are any funds left over, they will be used to help offset tuition, room and board for students who benefit from Villa Marie’s unique educational setting.
To make it possible for every student who would benefit from Villa Marie’s educational program to attend, there is a sliding scale system. Sometimes, school districts contract with Villa Marie and pay part of the funding. Families pay what they can of the remainder, and the rest is made up from private donations and proceeds from the dance.
Students at Villa Marie get a quality academic education that meets state standards, including computer training, but they receive instruction in a completely customized approach that accelerates their success.
All are welcome to attend the dance at the Pla-Mor Ballroom, 6600 West O Street, Lincoln.
Tickets to attend are $15 and can be reserved in advance by calling Dave Friesen at 402-488-2040, ext. 2. Raffle tickets are $1 each and are available from any Villa Marie family member or from Dave Friesen.
Parents or guardians of special-needs children who would like to learn more about Villa Marie are invited to call the school at 402-786-3625.