By Rachel Gross Weinstein
Marlee Matlin has overcome several challenges in her life — from the loss of her hearing at 18 months old, to the highs and lows of being a Hollywood actress, to the unexpected challenges of being thrust into the spotlight as an ambassador for the deaf community. On Monday, April 16, as the keynote speaker for the Women-to-Women luncheon hosted by Jewish Family Service (JFS), Matlin will share her story.
“Marlee is a living example of someone who has been deaf almost her whole life and is a wonderful role model,” said Ethel Zale, event founder. “We always want a speaker who is philanthropic and has merit as a human being, and that’s what Marlee is. She shows that nothing can hold you back in life.”
Zale created the Woman-to-Woman luncheon in 2004 as a way to bring a diverse group of women together from across the greater Dallas area with the goal of promoting social awareness. The event takes place every two years and past speakers have included Susan Dell, Karen Katz, Joy Behar and Diane von Furstenberg. The luncheon generally attracts about 1,000 women.
Matlin made her motion picture debut at age 21 in “Children of a Lesser God,” in which she won the Best Actress Academy Award. She is also known for her roles in “The L Word,” “The West Wing,” “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Picket Fences.” She has penned an autobiography called “I’ll Scream Later;” is the national celebrity spokesperson for the American Red Cross and is on the boards of various charitable organizations including Easter Seals and The Children Affected by Aids Foundation.
Sara Efune, who is co-chairing the luncheon with Eileen Frankin, Linda Garner and Dollie Thomas, said Matlin is a prime example of the mission of JFS, an organization that promotes emotional health and self-sufficiency for anyone in need throughout the Dallas area by providing effective and affordable mental-health and social services.
“Marlee has had obstacles to overcome to be successful and she is a true inspiration,” Efune explained. “At each luncheon, we have an influential woman tell her story and I believe that’s important to share with the women in our community.”
Eileen Franklin has volunteered at JFS since 2005 and works in the JFS Food Pantry every week. She said she sees firsthand the impact JFS makes on people’s lives and hopes that by attending this luncheon, more people will be inclined to help.
“This event is an opportunity to raise funds and hopefully inspire people when they hear Marlee’s story,” she said. “JFS allows people to improve themselves and reclaim the independence they may have lost for any number of reasons like sickness, loss of a family members, special needs or violence. JFS is constantly growing, and we want people to help, whether it’s by volunteering or financially. I am looking forward to this luncheon motivating people to help.”
Tickets are $150 per person and sponsorships are also available. Raffle tickets are available for $25 each. The event will take place at the Westin Galleria, 13340 Dallas Parkway, Dallas. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon will begin at noon.
For more information and to purchase tickets, call 972-437-9950, or visit www.jfsdallas.org/woman.