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Village Shalom’s Ages of Excellence event success due to dedicated volunteers

Vicki Novorr and Jim Klein are co-charipersons of the 2014 Village Shalom Ages of Excellence Celebration. 


Jim Klein and Vicki Novorr are very busy people with a passion for helping others, especially older adults. As longtime good friends, they have teamed up to co-chair one of the Jewish community’s most successful events, Village Shalom’s Ages of Excellence Celebration. This year’s event takes place Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Overland Park Convention Center beginning with a 6 p.m. buffet dinner. Afterwards, author and award-winning sports writer Rick Reilly will be the evening’s guest speaker, regaling the audience with humorous anecdotes from his years covering the sports arena for Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

{mprestriction ids="1"}"We’re really looking forward to having Rick Reilly with us this year," said Klein. "He is an incredibly talented sports journalist and very funny. Given the year this has been for Village Shalom and others in our community, the idea of something a little more lighthearted and entertaining sounded like a really good fit," he said.

According to Klein, Ages of Excellence was conceived in 2009 as a different approach to the Village Shalom gala that was held every other year.

"We understood the importance of raising needed funds and maintaining visibility in the community," Klein said. "But we thought the community didn’t need another Sunday evening, formal sit-down dinner with a lengthy program."

Instead, the board decided to create an event that was more user-friendly — a weeknight, buffet-style dinner that allowed for more socializing, and a briskly moving program featuring a nationally renowned speaker who would attract an interested audience. They all agreed that the subject matter of the presentation did not have to pertain directly to Village Shalom.

"Most important, everything about the evening needed to be handled with quality and class because this would be a direct reflection on Village Shalom," Novorr said. "It was our goal to get people out at a reasonable time with smiles on their faces, thinking they would enjoy coming again next year."

Over the last five years, the Ages of Excellence has achieved many of the objectives organizers set out to meet, Klein and Novorr said.

"We have been fortunate to bring in some truly outstanding speakers, who have all taken the time to visit Village Shalom, meet with residents and gain an appreciation for the good work that we do," said Klein. Notable among recent guests were Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

"We have also been able to tell our story effectively through a brief opening video and to reinforce the importance of volunteerism by presenting the Stephen J. Schoenfeld Award each year," Novorr added.

Klein has been pleased with the hard work the Ages of Excellence committees have done, with everyone taking on specific tasks. "Because I get to work with capable co-chairs such as Vicki Novorr and Pella Fingersh (who co-chaired the 2012 and 2013 events with Klein), it means I don’t have to do too much," said Klein with a laugh.

The 2014 Ages of Excellence Executive Planning Committee includes Jerry Bernard, Pella Fingersh, Susie Goldsmith, Joe Hiersteiner, Susan Horowitz, Ann Slegman Isenberg, Marcia Schoenfeld, Cathy Schultz, Debbie Sosland-Edelman and Mindy Wilson.

Proceeds from the Ages of Excellence Celebration provide financial assistance to older adults who rely on Village Shalom for vital programs and services. Individual tickets are $250 per person, which includes the buffet dinner, as well as Reilly’s presentation. For those wishing to attend only Reilly’s presentation and the dessert reception, tickets are $100 per person.

For more information about the Ages of Excellence Celebration, contact Monica Pontarelli, development associate, at 913-266-8469 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..{/mprestriction}