Last chance to attend the gala!

It’s hard to believe it’s that time again but it is.  The 21st Annual Spring Gala, our primary fundraiser is this weekend on April 29, 2017. We’re honoring our former Executive Director Marilynne Serie who is our Champion Who Cares for 2017.

We’d love to see you there and if you’d like to attend, please register now. If you are unable to attend, the registration form also has an option to make a donation in lieu of attending.

If you are unable to attend but would like to support us in other ways, we are offering online bidding for several items. Click on the links to check them out.

It will be an entertaining evening and we would love to see you there! Did I mention the wonderful trip raffle? Only 300 tickets will be sold! Winner gets to choose one of three trips which include airfare! Click for more information. You can also buy tickets at the center.

Press Release

Achievement Center of Texas ACT

For Immediate Release

The Achievement Center of Texas (ACT)  21st Annual Spring Gala, An Evening at the Prancing Giraffe

The 21st Annual Spring Gala of the Achievement Center of Texas will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the Renaissance Dallas/Richardson Hotel, 900 East Lookout Drive, Richardson, Texas 75082

The affair will include dinner, dancing, music by Ken Savage and The Best Kept Secret, a casino, silent and live auction.  We will honor our past Executive Director of 30 years, Marilynne Serie.  Flapper Era or Cocktail Attire.

Achievement Center of Texas is a non-profit learning center for children and adults with disabilities, celebrating their 40th year of service to Dallas and Collin Counties, Texas.  For additional information about the Achievement Center visit

For reservations visit or contact:
Roberta Clark


Andrew Mlcak


The 2017 Special Arts Festival is Saturday!

2017 Special Arts FestivalCome one, come all!  The 2017 Special Arts Festival is this Saturday from 9:30 to 2:00 at Springcreek Church, 2660 Belt Line Rd., Garland, TX, across the street from the center.

Admission is free and there activities designed to explore your inner arts!  30 live performances including our staff and students.

Come meet John Bramblitt and Kadie Lynn of America’s Got Talent, and be inspired by Lisa Smith among many other great artists and performers.

Save the Date for the 21st Annual Spring Gala

2017 Save the Date Gala CalendarYes, it’s that time again!  The 21st Annual Spring Gala is April 29, 2017. We will be going back in time to a  “Roaring 20’s, Speakeasy” we’re calling the “Prancing Giraffe.

It’s going to be an evening of fun with surprises built in, including Live entertainment by Ken Savage and “The Best Kept Secret.” Our raffle this year will be a little different and details are forthcoming.

There are three major components, not necessarily in the order shown, to a successful event:

  1. Volunteers
  2. Sponsors and Donors
  3. Attendees


I mention volunteers first because they are the first “feet on the ground” making it happen.  It begins with our volunteer board getting things rolling and finishes with our volunteer team.  Staff members are a key part of event night. Many may not know that our staff members volunteer their time to be at the event to provide key support during check-in, check-out, live and silent auction. There are many things to do and roles to fill.

Board members are also critical event volunteers.  You’ll see them throughout the evening and will be hearing from them before the event as they reach out for community support.

If you would like to volunteer for our gala committee, please visit our Volunteer page. We continue updating this page as volunteer needs are identified so if you don’t see something suitable, check back later or tell us how you can help using the “Other” field. If you have questions, gala contact information is shown at the bottom of the volunteer page.

Sponsors and Donors

The spring gala is our main fundraiser. The funds raised for this event are essential to keep our doors open and support programs and tuition for economically stressed families.

We welcome and appreciate your support.  Our area is growing and many new companies are moving to Texas.  If you know of or work for a company looking for a cause, please send them our way. If your company has an employee matching program, we would love to be on your list.

If you would like a tour of the center, please call Andrew Mlcak at (972) 414-7700 to schedule.  He’ll be happy to answer your questions and explain why Achievement Center of Texas is a worthy cause.

Donations from people who are unable to attend are always welcome.  You’ll miss the fun but support the cause.

Visit our sponsor page for more information.


Last but not least, if we are to have a fun evening we must have attendees.  Tickets are $125 per person and tables are $1,200 for 10 people. Live music, dancing, trip raffle, silent and live auctions, casino and more.  Visit our registration page for tickets.

I look forward to seeing you on April 29, 2017 at the Richardson/North Dallas Renaissance Hotel!

Roberta Clark
Gala Chair


Passing the baton in January!

Marilynne Serie plans to retire in January 2017 after 30 years as Director of Achievement Center of Texas.

Marilynne Serie Executive Director, retiring 1/20/17.Marilynne Serie will pass the baton to Andrew Mlcak, her Assistant Director, as she retires from her position as the Executive Director of the Achievement Center of Texas which she has held for the past 30 years.  Starting with ACT  in January of 1987, Marilynne has brought the Achievement Center from a small day care center with 25 students, located in a  church Sunday School building, to its current  “Home of Their Own” through grant writing and public speaking along with Mrs. Irene C. Hostrup.  The center currently serves 135 students daily.  Marilynne holds an Associates Degree in Child Development and received much of her training in the Doman Delecato Program through the Ohio Valley Clinic for Brain Injured Children in Cincinnati.   In 1997 she was awarded the Margaret Cone Award by the Dallas Association for the Education of Young Children.  In 1993, the Achievement Center was awarded the “Best of Texas” award by the Corporate Child Development Fund in Austin. Marilynne will continue her responsibility for the Special Arts Festival and will write grants for ACT.

Andrew Mlcak has been an employee of the Achievement Center for 9 years and has worked Andrew Mlcak, incoming Exceuctive Director at ACTwith Marilynne, side by side, for the past 5 years as her Assistant Director.  Andrew holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and many years experience with special needs.  Prior to coming to ACT Andrew worked as a counselor at Camp Summit, a camp for children and adults with disabilities.  Andrew is the son of Dr. Mark Mlcak, a prominent Garland family practice physician and Mrs. Kim Mlcak, a Science teacher for High School students with learning disabilities at Fairhill School in Dallas.  We look forward to Andrew taking on the position of Executive Director in January.


Year-end Giving and What You Should Know

Christmas decorIt’s the end of the year.  Most of us are focused on last minute gift giving, holiday parties and getting ready for Sunday.  Okay, some are looking forward to football this weekend, but that’s a topic for another day.

Mixed with the holiday cheer is the nagging thought in the back of your head that April 15, is coming and you only have a few days to make those end of year donations if they are to count for the 2016 tax year. Giving at large is good but giving to a group you can get to know is better. If you’re reading this, we hope it will help you get to know us better.

We’re are in our 40th year of providing day habilitation (most commonly known as daycare) for children and adults with disabilities. We also have programs to help each student reach their potential through the arts.  We help them learn basic living skills like making their bed and cooking. We help them learn to do things others take for granted.

Overhead is one of the most misunderstood topics when it comes to nonprofits. High overhead is one of the primary complaints from watchdog groups. Fundraising expense is another which we’ll save for discussion on another day.

We raise money so we can provide daily care to people who are unable to care for themselves. We charge a low tuition but it doesn’t cover the cost of care. This care requires qualified staff, lights, heat and air, a building, building maintenance, payroll taxes, insurance and much more.  All of these items fall into the category of overhead.  Staff must be managed.  Additional staff is required to keep up with government administrative tasks, bookkeeping, general office duties.  We strive to keep overhead as low as possible. We are fortunate to have a volunteer board of directors and many other active volunteers to assist with tasks which would otherwise require additional staff.

Yes, we are often called a “charity” but we are actually a non-profit with charitable status.  A non-profit is a business.  Think about what this means.  A non-profit has to generate operating income, the same as a business, we just don’t have shareholders.  We don’t distribute our “profit” to shareholders and because of our 501(c)(3) status, we don’t pay income taxes and your donations may be deductible on your personal income taxes.  I say “may be” because every tax situation is different and you’ll need to discuss your situation with your tax professional. Many of our donors can no longer deduct their donations but support us anyway because they understand the importance our work and the daily challenges we face.

We would love for you to consider making a year end donation to us.  If you’re not ready, maybe the information provided here will help you see other non-profits in a different light. May it help you see how important your gift is to the people we care for and hire.

If you would like to learn more, call the center to schedule a tour.


Donate Now Ornament

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and yours!

The Delorean, The Last Musical Journey

On Saturday August 12, 2016, the students and staff of the Achievement Center of Texas performed before a packed house of parents, relatives, guests and some old employees and friends of ACT. Their presentation was awesome!

The theme of the night was “The DeLorean, the Last Musical Journey,” with music from the decades, bringing back lots of great memories.

The first act was a Hip Hop dance act, choreographed and taught to the students by Ernesto Joplare, who has worked with the students two days a week for about 3 months. His amazing way of getting and keeping their attention was what made this production so successful. He showed them a lot of love and patience while keeping control of the class with his fun antics. The very first day he learned all their names and was able to give clear instructions. The students all love him.

Our Peanut Gallery class, ages 3 to 13, performed the Nay Nay, a very energetic performance. Another class did a fantastic rendition of “Thriller” in full zombie dress. Another class did a dance routine to What About Your Friends and one did “Let’s Do The Twist” with all participants dressed in red poodle skirts. Our student Romie sang “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Romie always starts off her song with “This is for my mom in heaven. I hope you like it mom.” I know she did, because Romie sang her heart out.

Three students wrote and read poems about how much they appreciate their teachers. A message was given by our past president, Dr. Joe Kobylka, urging parents to take an active part in the fund raising of the center so that we can continue to add wonderful and innovative programs for the students. Hildra Parrish spoke briefly about starting a Special Olympics Program in Dallas to include ACT students. Refreshments of pizza, cookies and drinks were served by the Pilot Club of Dallas who has been providing this service for over 10 years. Music was provided by Michael McCullough.

The final act was a dance by the entire staff which ended in two loud bangs with confetti exploding into the air topping off a wonderful evening of entertainment. So proud of our students and our amazing staff. We have been putting on this summer ceremony show for over 25 years and each year it gets better and more creative.

2016Banner 2016practice2 2016practice 2016audience 2016Kids 2016show1 2016solo 2016PoodleSkirts 2015Poodle2 2016monsters2 2016monsters 2016staff
"The Delorean," "The Last Musical Journey" presented by the students and staff at Achievement Center of Texas!
Getting ready for Friday night!
More practice getting ready for Friday night!
Playing to a full house!
Act 2: "The Nay Nay" by the Peanut Gallery
Act 3: "What About Your Friends" by TLC, Chameleons, Sunshine Club and Rockin Robins!
Act 4: "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Romie R.
Act 5: "Let's Do the Twist" by the Shining Stars
Act 5: "Let's Do The Twist" by the Shining Stars
Act 6: "Thriller" by the Kimodo Dragons
Act 6: "Thriller" by the Kimodo Dragons
Our fabulous staff!

Thank you to the Pilot Club of Dallas for providing refreshments, to Mr. Michael McCullough for providing the music and a special thanks to Ernesto Joplare, our hip Hop teacher, for teaching our students the Hip Hop dances.


Angels Among US

Angels Among UsAs the Sunshine Club, our most medically fragile classroom at the Achievement Center of Texas (ACT),was touring through the Dallas World Aquarium*, with a large number of wheelchairs being pushed, on a hot and humid day, a young lady named Sharon appeared and asked if we needed anything. We asked if there was a place for all of us to have lunch. Many of our students in this class have to be fed and changed and take medication. She and another fellow escorted us to a large, spacious, cool dining room that was not being used at that particular time. We thanked them for their help. We had the entire room and access to bathrooms for as long as we needed them. This was wonderful. After lunch, we cleaned up and left the Aquarium. We did not see the lady named Sharon or the gentleman with her.

Three weeks later, the Achievement Center had another field trip scheduled for the Dallas World Aquarium for another group of students, and a supervisor called them to request that room for their lunch. They were told emphatically no, and that no one is permitted to use that room. They added that no one in charge has worked there by the name of Sharon and they do not let that room out for lunches or resting. In a follow-up phone call, the Dallas World Aquarium staff confirmed to our staff that they do not have anyone working there by the name of Sharon and that they do not permit anyone in that dining room and especially not with outside food and drinks. They said even employees are not allowed to bring in outside food or use that room. Angels among us for sure!

*The trip to the Dallas World Aquarium and many other places this year was part of a grant from Ecolab. Angels Among Us.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Turns 26

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 26 on July 26, 2016.  The following excerpt is from the Disability Blog which is no longer available.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 26th anniversary on July 26, 2016. For some, 26 years may seem like a long time, but the truth is 1990 isn’t so far in the past. The ADA improves the lives of people with disabilities by protecting their rights to have access to employment, public entities, transportation, public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications and more. It helps people with disabilities compete equally for employment and receive the accommodations and protection they need to work. In public and commercial spaces, the ADA requires accessible features and technologies, such as  curb cuts and closed captioning.


2016 Gala Press Release

20th Annual Spring Gala – Mardi Gras Madness is a Success!

Garland, Texas, May 9, 2016 – The Achievement Center of Texas (ACT) hosted its 20th Annual Spring Gala on April 30, 2016 at the Renaissance Hotel Richardson/Dallas. The event raised over $30,000 for the students and programs at ACT. Key sponsors included Benchmark Mortgage, Berry Family Services, Inc., Baylor Scott & White in Garland and GBL Ranch.

Benchmark presenting checkBrandon Cottone of Benchmark Mortgage presented ACT with a check for $10,233. Their annual donation to the Benchmark Loving Cup which began in 2008 supports tuition for low income clients of the center when the need arises. One dollar of every mortgage issued by Benchmark during the year goes to fund the Benchmark Loving Cup.

Several donors also contributed to the Linda Rasmussen Outreach Fund which was setup by her sisters in her honor in 2012.  This fund provides money for day to day needs of students and their immediate family when an unexpected crisis strikes

The annual Champions Who Care Award was presented to SMU Political 2016 Champions Who Care, Joe and Janet KobylkaScience Professor, Dr. Joseph and Mrs. Janet Kobylka for their service to the community and ACT.  The Kobylkas are parents of an ACT student and longtime supporters of ACT.

Once again, the music was provided by Ken Savage and the Best Kept Secret, who kept the night rockin’. Dalmatian Rescue operated the casino.  Planning for the 21st Annual Spring Gala is underway.  To learn more about ACT and its programs or to make a donation, please visit their website ( If you would like to learn more about sponsor and volunteer opportunities contact Marilynne Serie or Andrew Mlcak for more information.

Our next fundraiser is the 7th Annual ACTion Walk/Run on October, 22, 2016.

2016 Gold Gala Collage