Connecting the Dots Foundation presents Modeling for Malawi

February 4, 2016 in Entertainment

By Janice K. Neal-Vincent

Contributing Writer

Pictured (from left) Cassandra Brown, volunteer; Marilyn Luckett, founder/CEO Connecting the Dots Foundation, Inc.; Rep. Alyce Clarke, board member; Marie Pickens, board member; and Cassandra Welchin, mistress of ceremony  PHOTOS BY JANICE K NEAL-VINCENT

Pictured (from left) Cassandra Brown, volunteer; Marilyn Luckett, founder/CEO Connecting the Dots Foundation, Inc.; Rep. Alyce Clarke, board member; Marie Pickens, board member; and Cassandra Welchin, mistress of ceremony PHOTOS BY JANICE K NEAL-VINCENT

Connecting the Dots Foundation spent last Saturday evening recognizing elegance in its finest at New Horizon Church International.

The Fashion Talent Explosion 2016/Modeling for Malawi was arranged as a visit to Africa in its display of colorful flags that represented 24 of its countries. The glamour of the modeling world elicited smiles, sighs, applause, glares and snares. During the late January weather that posed as a mild spring evening, models, confident in their uniqueness, took the audience by storm as they flooded the stage in an array of colors and styles.

The fast-paced show that was emceed by Cassandra Welchin. It was arranged in three parts that held the audience spellbound. Part one consisted of “Springing into Spring” and “Couples on the Go.” Part two took to “Prom 2016,” “The Royal Scene,” and “Diamonds, Pearls and Furs.” Then there was Part three: “Parade of Hats” and “Out of Africa.” The contiguity these models had brought forth no divide and conquer strategies. As they burst onto the stage, they exploded with spunk and vigor and created the illusion of their settings.

In addition to modeling, various notable Mississippians displayed their talents. Miss Black Mississippi 2015 Crystal James, who is a physical therapy senior at Mississippi State University, left a memorable impression as she danced to LaShun Pace’s song “There’s a Leak in this Old Building.” Miss Jackson State University – Charence Higgins, a senior psychology and speech communication major concentrating in theater, dramatized her original piece, “The Circle of Life.” Miss Mississippi 2015 Hannah Roberts, a University of Southern Mississippi graduate, played Frederick Syke’s song “In the Air Traveling” on the violin. Miss Outstanding Teen 2015 Grace Post represented Madison Central High with her tune. Montage Theater for the Arts, an African Dance group founded by Chaquile Pearson, choreographed Nile Rodgers’ “Coming to America.”

Though the evening glittered with diamonds, pearls, hats, furs, evening gowns, casuals, suits, etc., it had a purpose far beyond measure – to serve as a fundraiser for those in need.

Marilyn Luckett toured Malawi with Bishop Ronnie Crudup, pastor of New Horizon Church International, Bishop Henry Joseph and other members in 2010. “I saw such a great need there in the village. There was no church. There was only a large hole in the ground that had been there for years,” said Luckett. “I promised the inhabitants that I would return and help them build a church. Because I didn’t have the personal money, I came back to Mississippi and founded the nonprofit organization Connecting the Dots Foundation to do local, national and international projects.”

During his slide presentation Joseph informed the listeners that Malawi is called “the warm heart of America.” The Joseph family left the states in 2004 and lived for seven years in Malawi. Prior to his ministry, Malawians “had never heard the gospel. We met so many wonderful people and established lifelong relationships. The Lord said to me, “‘I’ve heard the cries of my people and I have called you to deliver them.’ Hundreds of people were saved and baptized. Though the church is 85 percent complete, Connecting the Dots Foundation has been a great supporter.” In his prayer, Joseph said, “Father, we lift up the Republic of Malawi to you. We pray that you will prosper her, you will bless her, and the money raised will save lives and you will be glorified.”

Warmly welcomed by the crowd was Dr. Lazurus Chakwere, who is in charge of a seminary in South Africa, along with his wife and family. “As we believe in extended families, it is the family that I bring greetings from fellow family members, many you will not see on this side of heaven. We can work and be part of the answer for human problems because Jesus came. I thank you for supporting Malawi. I know there is no safe water, no drinking water. We (still need to) minimize diseases and to save lives,” Chakwere said.

The Jim Hill High School Modeling Squad was headed by Bridget Harkins, International Baccalaureate community service coordinator. Math teacher Dr. Jeffery Virgil headed the Lanier High School Modeling Squad. These schools engaged in service for community fundraising.

Luckett rendered special thanks to attenders and supporters. She said, “I know that I could not have done it by myself.”

A charitable organization, Connecting the Dots Foundation, Inc.’s purpose is to “uplift communities, groups and other organizations through philanthropy and fundraising activities from Africa to America.”

The event’s sponsors were: Greater Jackson Arts Council; Jim Hill High School Students and the International Baccalaureate Program, Bill Washington Enterprise, Action Leadership Institute, Lanier High School Students, TCM Companies, LLC; Turner & Associates Certified Public Accountants, Multicon Electric, Jordan Rose PLLC, Scott Ford House Inc., NCS/Waste Pro, Sims Lawn Services  and Puttin’ on the Glitz.

Miss Black Mississippi 2015 Crystal James choreographs LaShun Pace’s song, “There’s a Leak in this Old Building.”

Miss Black Mississippi 2015 Crystal James choreographs LaShun Pace’s song, “There’s a Leak in this Old Building.”

Miss Mississippi 2015 Hannah Roberts plays the violin to the tune of Frederick Sykes’ classical “In the Air Traveling.”

Miss Mississippi 2015 Hannah Roberts plays the violin to the tune of Frederick Sykes’ classical “In the Air Traveling.”