Dolores Yoke: Vision Becomes Reality

I first met Dolores and Bill Yoke in 1983 when my wife and I opened the first group home in our community for people with developmental disabilities. While others were signing a petition drive to keep us out of the neighborhood, Dolores asked Bill to donate his talents as an architect to draw up the blueprints for renovations required by the fire marshal before we could open the home.

Almost 20 years later, in 2002, we bought a dance studio in danger of closing. Momentum Center for the Arts was reborn as a dance center my daughter and her friends loved. Somehow, Dolores caught wind of this and called to invite me to write a grant to the arts group for which she was a Board member.

“But we’re a for-profit company,” I said. “No matter,” she replied. “What should we apply for?” I asked. “Whatever you feel is most needed,” she said. I wanted to create concerts, and when we hosted our first, it was funded by a grant from the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation. After that, Dolores called me again to see if I would be willing to serve on their Board. How could I say no? Before long, I became President of the Board. And Dolores always made me look good with her visionary ideas.

One evening, Dolores came to visit to tell me our community needed a community foundation. Despite a background in social services, I’d never heard of a community foundation, but Dolores persuaded me of its importance in our community. I became motivated to learn more.

A community foundation, I found out, is a tax-exempt, non-profit, publicly supported philanthropic organization with the long-term goal of building permanent, named funds, for the broad-based public benefit of the residents in a given area. Then I discovered the Benedum Foundation, which helps fund regional community foundations. After months of planning, we created a two-county regional foundation. Dolores and I served on the initial Board.

Thanks to Dolores, the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation has benefited from a large bequest that will impact the community long after we’re both gone. Dolores taught me that intention and vision can lead to the creation of your reality. Where a vision is something that you imagine, like a picture that you see in your mind or something that you dream, reality is the quality or state of being actual or true. Getting from one to the other takes intention.

I wish to live my life intentionally, with meaning and purpose similar to Dolores’. Thank you, Dolores. As Bob Dylan sings in “Talkin’ World War lll Blues,” and as I often say myself: “I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.”

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Wake up Everybody, by Harold Melvin & the Blue Note

Wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed
 No more backward thinking, time for thinking ahead

The world has changed so very much from what it used to be
 There is so much hatred war and poverty

Wake up all the builders time to build a new land
 I know we can do it if we all lend a hand
 The only thing we have to do is put it in our mind
 Surely things will work out they do it every time.

The world won’t get no better
 If we just let it be
 The world won’t get no better
 We gotta change it, yeah, just you and me