April 25, 2017
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Ride of a Lifetime

Dream Car Museum brings international motor experience to Tri-State
Jason Ailstock, curator of the Dream Car Museum, stands next to one of his favorite cars in the collection, a yellow Lamborghini

There’s nothing within a 1,000 miles of Evansville quite like the Dream Car Museum. That’s according to Jason Ailstock, a finance director with Bennett Motors and the curator of the Dream Car Museum, located at 2400 N. Heidelbach Ave.

“There’s not an open museum to the public, for free, that has such a wide variety,” he says. “Nobody has put it on a scale like this before. The only place that rivals it is the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.”

Opened in October 2015, Ailstock says the idea for the museum started as a bit of joke between Larry Bennett, owner of Bennett Motors and Audubon Chrysler in Henderson, Kentucky, and his employees. After Bennett, who never owned a super car, purchased an orange Lamborghini Gallardo, a Rolls-Royce Ghost, and a red McLaren MP4-12C Ailstock says he and others persuaded the car dealer to open his own museum.

“And we were really just joking, but Larry was like ‘You really think we could start a museum, buddy?’” says Ailstock.

The response promoted Ailstock to start some research about car museums in the country. What began as a joke would flourish into the gallery that is open today, featuring some of the 70 cars in the collection ranging from American muscle cars, Corvettes, European super cars, and older models such as the Model A and T. The museum also displays neon signs and various car memorabilia from restored gas pumps to the hoods of early racing Ferraris.

“It’s been extremely popular. It’s kind of taken us aback a bit,” says Ailstock. “The collection sets itself apart. There’s so much stuff throughout.”

While the museum is free, a charity box made from a supercharger sits at the exit for patrons to donate to the charity of the month.

“We match all donations … each month we have a different charity that we give the money to,” says Ailstock. “We match all the money that is collected that month.”

Another aspect of the museum that sets it apart is the rotation of cars on display, says Ailstock. “Every three or four months, we’ll pretty much rotate our museum,” he says. “So if you’ve been here once, you come back three or four months later, it’ll be nothing like the same.”

For more information about the Dream Car Museum, call 888-482-9864, visit dreamcarmuseum.com, or find the museum’s page on Facebook.


Musically Inclined

Evansville native and opera singer partners with WNIN for project

Early October brought a rush of activity to the home of Matthew O’Neill on Sunset Avenue in Downtown Evansville. The Evansville native was working on the project “Sunset at Semper Fulgens” (which means “Always Shining” in Latin) with local public television station WNIN, and O’Neill couldn’t contain his excitement for the home concert series.

“It’s been crazy around here,” he says as he sits in the carriage house behind his 1905 historic home that he owns with Kristen Holt Burckhartt. “This piano just came from Louisville. Then WNIN just brought over the lights. It’s just been crazy.”

A graduate of Harrison High School and the University of Evansville, music has played a large role in O’Neill’s life. After earning a degree in guitar from UE and with the intention to teach guitar at a collegiate level, O’Neill began taking courses at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. But by the time he graduated, his master’s was not in guitar, but in voice.

“I started gigging around the Twin Cities then I decided to have a go of it professionally,” says O’Neill. “I had a little job at Lyric Opera of Chicago and took an audition that really changed things for me.”

That audition was with the San Francisco Opera training program, which earned him a two-year fellowship with the program. From there, he found himself performing as a tenor on stages in Los Angeles, Dallas, Southern Europe, and Japan to name a few.

“I really enjoyed the repertoire and the story telling component of opera,” says O’Neill. “I liked the environment. I liked the expansiveness of it, the fact that it’s pretty large scale.”

In 2014 during a visit to Evansville to see his parents, O’Neill met Burckhartt. The couple has since spent the last year fixing up their home in Downtown Evansville.

Now he finds himself wanting to get back to playing and exploring different genres of music. After playing again for the last three and a half years, he has enjoyed performing in different environments including at his own home for the “Sunset at Semper Fulgens” series. A small number of tickets to the concert and filming of the pilot episode were sold to benefit WNIN. The first episode currently is in the editing process, says O’Neill, and is expected to air on WNIN Jan. 21.

What was the turning point that made you want to become an opera singer?
Frankly, it seemed to be (that) I was a good musician, so I was prepared for work. And it was simply a matter of I was getting hired and that I was making some income. Ultimately I discovered that I had an instinct toward it. So it was a combination. It was never my passion to begin with, but it was a combination of sort of almost developing a passion for it and also a practicality that it seemed to be the thing that I was the best at.

If you had to pick one favorite aspect of opera, what would it be?
I love the repertoire and the work, and I love the experience of performing, but honestly my favorite part about it is the shared community experience of a cast. You get together for, let’s say, six weeks and it’s sort of like a little family. It’s pretty cool because you’re working on a specific project and then it ends.
Obviously the performing is a great experience. I always was into rehearsal; my thing is rehearsal. Performances are when you get paid and it’s for the audience, but it’s a different thing. For me, the thing I get the most out of is rehearsing with a community of folks.

Do you have a memory from your career so far that stands out to you the most?
Actually my favorite memory is something I did. It was for an opera called “The Makropulos Case” by a Czech composer named Janacek. There was a wonderful part called Hauk Sendork but he happened to be very, very old. Probably in his late 80s. I think that early on, the director got a hold of me and thought I was really too young for it. I think they were really concerned about it once I showed up. So I went to the casting director and said, “What if I just did something like bleached my hair white?” He said, “Well yeah, try it. Absolutely.”

I showed up in rehearsal and it was some of the best reviews I’ve ever gotten. Something as simple as bleaching your hair — people can see you in a different way. That was a really successful (show), one of the best experiences I’ve had in opera.

What do you have coming up for your career?
Several years ago I was involved with the world premiere of an opera called “Moby Dick” with the Dallas Opera. Dallas had a brand new opera house called the Winspear Opera House and they commissioned this opera Moby Dick … it was a co-commission with several companies. I ended up doing it in San Diego and then in San Francisco. We filmed it for PBS Great Performances and it was broadcasted a couple years ago. I’m doing that now in Los Angeles.

Before I left, I did this show, “Sunset at Semper Fulgens,” sort of co-produced with WNIN. It’s a house concert show. I always liked house concerts. I liked the intimacy of just a few people. I wanted to find a way that I could bring in some friends and colleagues from outside who don’t live here, keep active musically with those people, and explore my own interest in a lot of genres of music.

I was talking with Brad Kimmel, president and CEO of WNIN, and we sort of came up with this idea for a house concert/television show series. The idea is to bring in a guest of note — the first is a friend of mine and a wonderful musician named Matt Rollings, one of the leading studio-session pianists and producers in Los Angeles and Nashville. It’s sort of a discussion and collaboration.

The idea is kind of showing off Evansville. We’ll get a little footage of going out to eat lunch and maybe a little bit of the riverfront, sort of showcasing Evansville. Because the idea would be that this would be a series that would be syndicated in some way. So the idea is to bring in guests, treat them as guests, and show off the hospitality of this community.

How often do you find yourself back in Evansville?
In a perfect world, and it just depends on when the work comes up and things, but in a perfect world I would like to do one or two (opera) engagements per year but also be involved in other music and run a career from Evansville. I find that while Evansville is certainly not a musical hub, its proximity to other hubs is convenient. I was just rehearsing with my guest in Nashville yesterday, and we are talking a two hour and 15 minute drive. It’s not a big deal.

Also I think for me, being down here in Downtown, in this exciting period, this revitalization of Downtown, is a pretty neat time with everything that’s going on with Haynie’s Corner, the medical school, and all these things. It’s a good time to just come down here.

For more information about home concert series, visit Facebook and search “Sunset at Semper Fulgens.” The first episode is set to air at 8 p.m. Jan. 21 on WNIN.


Out of the Park

Lori and Don Mattingly

Evansville native Don Mattingly, a former New York Yankees captain and recently named manager of the Miami Marlins, along with his wife Lori, and Mattingly Charities are hosting a fundraising event to support inner-city programs in Evansville.

An Intimate Evening with Friends presented by United Companies will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at the University of Southern Indiana Performance Center. With seating at approximately 300, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail reception and a question and answer session with Mattingly, country musician Toby Keith, and current Los Angeles Angel Albert Pujols.

Money generated from the event will benefit Evansville youth in the inner city through programs such as the Boys and Girls Club, which offers positive after school programs for children 6 to 18 years old to instill in them a sense of belonging, usefulness, influence, and competence on a daily basis. The Boys and Girls Club of Evansville serves more than 2,000 children at their two sites, Bellemeade Avenue and Fulton Square on Dresden Street.

Individual VIP reception tickets for $500 as well as individual general reception tickets for $300 can be purchased online at the Mattingly Charities Website until Nov. 19.

For more information about An Intimate Evening With Friends, visit mattinglycharities.org.


Deck the Magnificent Halls

Reitz Home celebrates 36th year as a Christmas season destination
A Christmas tree, decorated by Jim Lang, occupies the study’s bay windows in the Reitz Home Museum.

An annual Evansville holiday favorite will transport visitors to the Victorian era when it begins its Christmas season on Nov. 15.

“Victorian houses certainly lend themselves very well to Christmas decorating and a traditional type of Christmas,” says Matt Rowe, executive director of the Reitz Home Museum, located on historic S.E. First Street, in the Riverside Historic District near Downtown Evansville. “So it seems like a natural sort of thing for us to be doing during Christmas.”

The Reitz Home was completed in 1871, built by John Augustus and Gertrude Reitz. The couple had 10 children. Reitz, known as “the lumber baron,” built a sawmill on Pigeon Creek near the Ohio River in 1845. By the 1880s, the Reitz mill had produced more hardwood lumber than any other in the country.

This is the 36th year for the Reitz Home Museum Victorian Christmas. Decorations will interweave traditional Christmas stories, including Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Schulz’ “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and the song “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Decorating the 8,000-square-foot structure takes nearly a village of volunteers. The museum is closed the week of Nov. 1 to deck the halls for the holidays.

Volunteers donate their time, talents, and materials to help decorate the home. Many give up their own Christmas ornaments and embellishments during the holidays to give others joy. It’s an honor to sacrifice the beautification of his own home to help preserve the Reitz family’s history, says Evansville resident Doug Patberg, who has beautified the Reitz Museum 34 of 36 years. He serves as the chairman of the Reitz Home Museum Victorian Christmas.

Patberg, who teaches alternative education and coaches cheerleading at Harrison High School, is one of 16 decorators who have agreed to help this year.

“Our volunteers are those who express an interest,” says Rowe. “They are not all professional interior designers.”

Those who regularly devote their time to decorating for the Victorian Christmas event are the Reitz Home Guild, Kirsten Wagmeister of Newburgh, Indiana, Julie Williams of Evansville, Mary Stratman of Evansville, Keith Bauer of Huntingburg, Indiana, Jim Lang of Evansville, Liddy West of Evansville, Christi Goodman of Evansville, Pamela Hemmersbach of Owensboro, Kentucky, Pinch of Sugar and Dianne Miles of Newburgh, Bobbie Gilman of Evansville, Veronica D. Hamilton & Co., and interior design students from Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.

Each volunteer is assigned a room they are responsible for and each room is assigned a different storybook. Patberg’s room will be decorated in the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Rowe emphasizes he wants the Reitz Museum decorations to reflect antique ornaments. “Glitter is forbidden,” he says. During past years, all of the embellishments were authentic to 1871 when the home was built. Flowers were dried, paper ornaments were created, and plastic decorations were set aside.

The exterior of the Reitz Museum also is decorated with help from Rowe and Patberg. The two will place wreaths on the door and garland on the iron gates.

The one-hour Christmas tours of the museum begin Tuesday, Nov. 15, and run from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., with the last day Dec. 31. The museum is not open Mondays, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day.

“Christmas is the only time of year we have when there is a line when we open,” says Rowe. “We really enjoy having all those people.”

In addition to noticing the Christmas decorations, Patberg says visitors often gravitate to the dining room where they can view all of the collections of 19th century glass and porcelain, and Francis Joseph Reitz’ room because of his notability in Evansville.

“It pleases us very much to have such a high volume during the holiday season,” says Rowe. “It is a gateway for visitors and they make it a point to visit during the summertime where they can focus on the decorate art, finishing, and furniture.”

In addition to the Christmas tours, the museum offers a self-guided candlelight tour on Dec. 12 from 5 until 8 p.m., with Santa Claus arriving in a horse drawn carriage.
“The real Santa,” says Rowe. “This Santa experience is one you can’t get at the mall.”

For more information about the Reitz Home Museum Victorian Christmas, call 812-426-1871 or visit reitzhome.com.


All Thriller, No Filler

“The Nutcracker,” one of the longest standing Christmas traditions among American ballet dancers and audiences since the late 1960s, is getting a makeover from Studio 321’s Ballet Directors David and Sarah Goud and Ballet Indiana.

The ballet academy’s adaptation of the 1892 E.T.A. Hoffmann story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” which normally is a two-act ballet, is condensed to one hour and gives every Studio 321 dancer a chance to take the lead.

The Ballet Academy at Studio 321 has offered comprehensive pre-professional ballet training for serious-minded dancers or recreational dancers ages 3 to adult since July 2014. David and Sarah, who also are artistic directors of Ballet Indiana, a nonprofit organization that sponsors performances, teach up to 80 students a week on the studio’s specially engineered dance floors.

“We’ve made an adaptation where Clara, who is usually the star little girl of ‘The Nutcracker,’ is now a grandmother and when her grandchildren are going through the attic on Christmas Eve, they find the magic chest where she has stored the nutcracker,” says David. “The nutcracker has since enchanted this chest and made it a portal to the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets.”

“Sarah had the great idea to make every little girl Clara in our adaptation,” says David. “We have like a wolf pack of little girls who are all Clara’s grandchildren, all going on this journey, and vicariously the audience will go with them.”

To transform a two-part ballet into a one-part, one-hour performance, the Gouds decided to only include the most popular “Nutcracker” musical selections.

The Studio 321 performances of “The Nutcracker,” which the Gouds titled “The Nutcracker Sweet,” are at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 and 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at AIS the Diamond Center (formerly North High School).

For more information about Studio 321, visit studio321.dance.


Feature Presentation

Bollywood movies come to Evansville AMC Theatres
The newest film to be released Nov. 12 is "Prem Ratan Dhan Payo."

With a mix of bright colors, song and dance, and sweeping story lines, Bollywood movies are designed to provide an escape from reality for moviegoers. This Indian movie industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay, thus the nickname of Bollywood) rivals Hollywood in Southern California in size and popularity; in 2014 it totaled $2.1 billion in revenues. Now AMC Theatres in Evansville has brought these blockbuster films to the Tri-State area.

“We’re trying to bring in new Bollywood titles and the goal is to open them the same time they open internationally,” say Josh Boze, general manager of the AMC Evansville 16 Theatre. “We’ve had a lot of help from the Indian community locally and the studios who have produced the content.”

Bollywood movies are very progressive says Dr. Rajiv Sharma, a native of India and currently a gastroenterologist at Digestive Care Center in Evansville. “The whole goal basically is to have a film industry that will reflect Indian culture, the changes in Indian culture, and how India may look in a few years.”

Indian cinema arriving in AMC theaters in the Tri-State happened thanks to a series of fortunate events, says Sharma. A good friend of Sharma’s who works at one of the largest movie distribution and production companies in India asked where the local doctor watched Indian movies. Upon hearing Sharma waits for new films to be released on DVD, the friend contacted AMC and the rest is history.

“We’ve already seen a lot of benefit from them because there’s been a strong audience,” says Boze. “What we’ve also seen is other independent studios are taking notice too. So we’ve seen an increase in independent products.”

The happiness and joy expressed in Bollywood movies is why Sharma believes the films are so popular. “They want to make sure when you pay money, you escape the reality and look at what’s out there and enjoy it,” he says.

By having Indian and other international movies available to Tri-State moviegoers, Sharma says it brings a focus on cultural awareness to the community. As the world becomes more connected, he says having an appreciation and respect for Indian culture could have benefits for the future.

“Our children, no matter where they grow up, they are going to be growing into a world that’s very global,” says Sharma. “It’s helpful to their evolution as American citizens to be exposed to the global landscape.”

The popularity of Bollywood in Evansville expands beyond the movies as well. Sharma and his wife Monica coordinated the Bollywood Bash Nov. 8 at D’Alto Studios. The event featured Indian music, dance performances, food, shopping, and a fashion show. For a time, D’Alto Studios even offered a Bollywood Body Fitness dancing class.

“The whole idea is to bring people close to what Indian culture is and what we do,” says Sharma. “We want to show we’re a fun culture.”

Boze agrees and adds treating Bollywood movies just as Hollywood releases and opening them to the public offers a cultural experience to everyone. “I think that’s an important factor … it allows it to be shared with everybody.”

Sharma hopes AMC’s showings open the door for more things to come, including possibly welcoming Indian cinema productions to Indiana. “I just want people to be aware of India. Keep an eye on India, on the arts and culture.”

AMC Evansville 16 Theatre’s next Indian cinema movie will be “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo,” a musical about the unconditional love that all families must have for each other. The movie will premiere Nov. 12.

For more information about AMC Evansville 16 Theatre’s Indian cinema releases, visit amctheatres.com/indian.


New Beginnings

Dakri Sinclair reflects on creative inspirations and her new studio
Newburgh, Indiana, artist Dakri Sinclair works in her studio, the garage attached to her home that was converted.

When Newburgh, Indiana, artist Dakri Sinclair begins a painting, she sometimes writes the words “new beginning” on the canvas. With every vibrant and colorful brushstroke, the message disappears and her final artwork shines through.

It’s a season of new beginnings for Sinclair, 47, who experienced the passing of her mother Angie Sinclair in 2012. The artist used her mother’s home, a small rented cabin on the Ohio River in Newburgh, as a studio until recently when she was forced to relocate. Sinclair debated about where she should start again, and the decision was reached to convert the garage of her Newburgh home, which she shares with her husband Jim Herrell of 15 years and their three children Brauly Sinclair, 16, Maggie Herrell, 14, and Graden Herrell, 11.

Sinclair, who attended Evansville Day School and Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she studied fashion design and illustration, also has seen her artwork transform. Her career was jumpstarted through her parents’ former manufacturing company Arbor Hill House (makers of decorative hand-painted wooden alphabet letters and accessories, and writers of stories of their adventures under the name Tootie Mouse), which took her to Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and others. Although she continues to create products for her Etsy account, a popular online commerce retailer of vintage items, arts, and supplies, and has done commissioned murals all over Evansville, including several in Jane Schroeder’s Newburgh home (Look for “With Open Doors” on page 50), Sinclair says she now has the confidence to paint without knowing what the end result will be.

How has your artwork changed during the many transitions in your life?
I will hibernate and lock myself in my studio and paint, which I’ve never really had the time to do. I’ve always been busy with commissioned work, or the products, or the murals. I usually start with however I’m feeling and lately those feelings have had to do with the transitioning into a new space. If I don’t know where to start or what the subject matter is I want to paint, I will just write “new beginning” on a canvas and just go from there. I will flip it over, turn it over, by the end of it, you don’t see the words. I blow dry a lot as I go. I paint very fast. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours. It’s fun. It’s a very therapeutic process.

Who inspired you to start painting for yourself?
Last year, I hosted artist Tracy Verdugo from Australia in April. She’s on a nine-month tour doing workshops and she’s phenomenal. That really enlightened me a lot. She has become a good friend in the process. Everything I’ve created has been very specific to a room, whether it is a mural or a canvas. I have to look at the bedding colors, the wall color, and I have to take all those factors into consideration. After I took her class, that’s really the first time I felt comfortable and confident in grabbing a canvas and having no idea what I was going to do. I’ve spent years knowing exactly what I had to do and what the final product was going to look like. Especially the murals, I would sketch them out before I would start painting. It was very different for me to grab a canvas and start painting. That’s been so much fun and it’s all I want to do. She will be back again next May.

How did mural painting become your specialty?
Friends of mine Don and Lisa Cobb had a restaurant Rosie O’Gradys Sports Bar in Downtown Evansville. I hadn’t really thought of doing large-scale art. He asked me to do a mural of Evansville with the river and a paddleboat. I went and grabbed tiny little paintbrushes for this huge wall — I didn’t know what I was doing. I just started painting. It was life changing. I’ve done a lot for St. Mary’s and Playville J.L.E. (a project of the Junior League of Evansville, located outside of St. Mary’s Pediatric Unit). It has kind of morphed into specializing into children’s rooms and environments.

I knew Jane Schroeder’s daughter in high school and she knew me and was familiar with my work and that I painted murals. It was a perfect fit. It was definitely a subject matter that was out of my box and my comfort zone. She made it easy. I did a mural in the hallway going back to the bedroom, which is called The Scripture Gallery, a baptism scene, three panels in the guest room upstairs, a painting of a church, and canvases here and there throughout her home. When you hear the whole house is white, you think sterile and uncomfortable, but it is so not like that. It is so well done.

What does the future look like for you and your creations?
My own home has more of my kids’ artwork than mine. I love working with kids and art. I aspire to get involved with more workshops, host more artists like I did with Tracy, and look into possibly getting a commercial space. (Creating art) is a part of me. It’s in my blood. It’s my happy place. What I hear a lot from people is that my work makes them feel happy — what more can I ask for?

Look for Sinclair’s work online at her Etsy store, visit her Facebook and Instagram pages to watch videos of her painting process, or stop by the 10th Annual Jingle Mingle Mart from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 13 at Christ the King School. Last year the event had more than 70 vendors, and more than 900 shoppers attended.


Supportive Songs

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap will be one of the iconic musical groups at Water for People event.

In an age where it’s common for families to receive clean drinking water straight from their home’s faucets, there still are millions of people around the world affected every year by contaminated drinking water. The Indiana Section of the American Water Works Association is working to help by hosting a benefit concert.

The concert, which takes place on Sept. 24 at the Victory Theatre, located at 600 Main St., features two iconic musical groups of the 1960s — Herman’s Hermits and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. Preceding the 7 p.m. show is a cash bar and silent auction beginning at 6 p.m.

All proceeds from the event benefit Water for People, a charity that strives to provide resources and education about sanitation and filtering to developing countries around the world.

“The proceeds pay for the raw materials to build pipelines and help with other needs,” says Duane Gilles, water distribution manager for Evansville Water and Sewer Utilities.

“The impact this has is tenfold of what we raise by the time it gets to the impoverished countries.”

Gilles helped select the musical talent for the fundraising event. The support for the chosen bands has been abundant as many tickets were sold before advertising began, he says.

For more information about the concert, visit victorytheatre.com/events/viewall/details/?event_id=19. For more information about Water for People, visit waterforpeople.org.


Changing the World

Malala Fund ambassador to share experience at Victory Theatre
Shiza Shahid is listed under Time Magazine's 30 under 30 World Changers, Forbes Top 30 Under 30 List, and has her own Ted Talk.

Shiza Shahid grew up in Pakistan with Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. In 2012, when Yousafzai was just 15, she was shot by the Taliban on her way to school.

During this time, Shahid was studying at Stanford University in Stanford, California, and came to Yousafzai’s Birmingham, England, hospital bedside to act as a buffer between her and the onslaught of media attention the incident had attracted.

Now, Shahid is the global ambassador of the Malala Fund, investing in women leaders around the world to enable their success.

“As a founder, I hope to see the organization have major impact in supporting girls’ education globally,” says Shahid.

She will share her story and more on the Malala Fund at Uncharted International’s Stories of Resilience 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Victory Theatre, 600 Main St.

“(Shahid) is listed under Time Magazine’s 30 Under 30 World Changers, Forbes Top 30 Under 30 list, and she has spoken on ‘Ted Talks.’ So, for us to be able to bring her to Evansville is just incredible,” says Betsy Hopkins, Uncharted International’s director of marketing.

Shahid will talk about her experiences with Yousafzai, growing up in Pakistan, the challenges she faced in her education, and how she and Yousafzai began to connect on this global platform to raise awareness for education for girls.

“I hope to inspire people to know that no matter who they are, no matter what obstacles they face, they can change their own lives and create a major impact in the world,” says Shahid. “I want people to see their struggles as an opportunity to be stronger and more fearless, and to not accept defeat.”

Uncharted International is a nonprofit based in Evansville that operates 11 orphanages in Myanmar. In its 20 years working in Myanmar and five years as a nonprofit, Uncharted International has focused on caring for the homeless, fighting human trafficking, leadership development, remedial education for orphans as well as preparation for employment.

They have taken more than 800 people in the Evansville area with them to the countries they serve.

Shahid and Uncharted International both work to provide young girls with education opportunities.

“One of the areas we work in is Afghanistan, and education for girls there is very difficult,” says Hopkins. “A lot of children go on the streets and beg to make money, so we have a program where we approach the mother and say, ‘We’re going to give you a sewing machine and you can create items for sale if you’ll allow your children to come to our school.’”

That program has been very successful, says Hopkins.

She hopes Shahid’s speech, along with the rest of the Stories of Resilience, will help Uncharted International continue educating Evansville on some of the work organizations like themselves and the Malala Fund are doing and why this work is necessary.

“It has been a true pleasure to interact with such a mission-driven organization,” says Shahid.

For more information on Stories of Resilience, visit unchartedinternational.org/resilience.


Elegant Evening

SPARK Award recipient Karan Pastora

After shining on the national scene, the Tri-State Medical Alliance wants others to shimmer at its premiere event.

The Tri-State Medical Alliance is an organization whose members strive to assist their physician spouses in improving healthcare in the region. Despite being a year old, the American Medical Association Alliance awarded TSMA a spot on its Membership Honor Roll this year. It also won the AMAA’s Social Media Excellence Award, and president Karan Pastora won the Outstanding SPARK Leader award in June.

“It is a great honor to be recognized for such a prestigious award by a national and well-respected entity,” says Pastora.

TSMA is hosting an event starting at 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 at Evansville Country Club, 3810 Stringtown Road, to raise money for other nonprofit organizations. “Put Some Bling On It” will feature shopping for items from various vendors with more than 20 booths present. There also will be a silent auction with many items, including a $2,900 diamond pendant from The Diamond Galleria and a $3,000 hand-knotted rug from the Rug Gallery in Newburgh, Indiana. A one-carat solitaire diamond, retail valued at $9,000, from The Diamond Galleria and an international vacation package highlight the bidding pieces for the live auction.

Sponsors include Harding, Shymanski, and Company, The Diamond Galleria, Dillard’s, Victoria’s Boutique, St. Mary’s Hospital, Deaconess Hospital, Banterra Bank, and Tucker Publishing Group. In addition to the items up for bid, each attendee also will receive an original Alex and Ani designer bracelet from The Diamond Galleria.

“All the funds from this event are donated back into the Tri-State area to help various nonprofit healthcare entities, which is our main goal,” says Pastora.

For more information about the Tri-State Medical Alliance, email tristatemedicalalliance1@gmail.com.