Silent Auctions Are Better Than Black Friday

People often wonder if the silent auctions are really worth all the work and investment. Here’s one that certainly was.

Dee (pictured) and Gary Marchand attended the recent Zoo-To-Do and perused the items in the silent auction. When the young couple compared notes, they decided to bid on only something that had no bids. There was one that caught their eye — A Thanksgiving Tradition. Was it a turkey with stuffing? An entry to the Turkey Trot?

Nope. It was six tickets to the annual Cowboys game on Thanksgiving. Hey, not bad. But wait! It got better. The seats were not only on the 50-yard line, they were in a suite with all the perks plus parking tickets. The former New Orleans Marchands couldn’t pass it up since the Cowboys were playing the Saints.

After much soul searching, they decided to make a bid in the upper three-figure range. Yes, the Marchands paid more than they would have for tickets to a movie at NorthPark, but they

  • got what many would consider a bargain especially since the Cowboys are now on a winning streak
  • will make their first visit to Cowboys Stadium in grand style and
  • support the Dallas Zoo.

So, are silent auctions still worth all the trouble? Well, the Marchands sure think so.


The Salvation Army’s Soul-Saving Campaign Raised Funds With Sole-Saving Blake Mycoskie

The annual Salvation Army Luncheon is an inspiration in itself. With a herd of both males and females showing their support for the 130-plus year old organization, the luncheon is the warm-up kick-off for the yearly red kettle drive. As guests arrived at the luncheon in the Hilton Anatole, they were greeted throughout the lobby by The Salvation Army (TSA) associates ringing bells.

For some reason, there seemed to be a little more pep in the step as people entered the ballroom. Perhaps it was the Cowboys’ recent wins, the very successful Bush Center groundbreaking or the slight turn in the economy. Regardless, the crowd of 1,500 was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Charlotte Anderson was wearing many hats like —

  • First Daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
  • Exec VP Brand Management for the Cowboys
  • President of Charities for the Cowboys
  • National Advisory Board Chairperson for TSA.

No wonder the gal had a front row table!  She also had by her side Mom Gene Jones at the next table with gal pals Diana Strauss and Lee Ann White, but she also was joined by Brill Garrett (pictured right with Charlotte Anderson), Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett’s better half.

No wonder Keith Urban will officially kick off the Red Kettle campaign performing halftime at the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game.

Across the ballroom was Gail Turner, who feared  she was going to “have to put rocks in (husband/SMU president) Gerald‘s shoes” to bring him back to earth after the Bush Center groundbreaking two days before.

Speaking of which, Nancy Halbreich was giddy about the groundbreaking, too. Not just the event. She was just sitting among the first 10 rows with Nancy Dedman when Mitt Romney sat down next to her. When asked how the niece of former Democratic chairman Robert Strauss felt to be one of the only Democrats at the largely Republican gathering of 2,300, she diplomatically answered with a smile, “I consider myself to be an Independent.”

A few tables over, Bobby Lyle was being hugged and greeted like Santa. Luncheon Chair Joyce Fox (pictured right with Bobby Lyle) was one of the first to do the honors. Seems that Bobby was in charge of underwriting for the event and he has a reputation for making people want to give.

But more about that later.

Following the lunch’s being served, a moving video was presented telling “Edith’s Story” with the capper being the presentation of Edith to a standing ovation. Next Major Ward Matthews with the assistance of his wife Captain Michele told the group that one of the highest honors that TSA bestowed on individuals was The Others Award. It was created to recognize those outside TSA who have gone “above and beyond” to help the organization. They told how Jan Pickens, Ray Nixon (pictured) and Jim Francis had made such an impact through their efforts to raise awareness and finances for TSA that they were receiving The Others Award.

Then Gerald revealed that Bobby Lyle had given him an envelope with the amount of money raised from the luncheon. After opening the envelope, Gerald reported a whopping $3,313,154 was the magic number. But not satisfied, he suggested that everyone with a cell phone text a certain number which would result in their donating at least $10.

Immediately folks like Rena Pederson, Ann Carruth and Harriet Miers started texting. A few others raised an eyebrow. Looking a little uncomfortable, one guest whispered, “They just said that over $3 million was raised by us. Now, they’re asking for more?”

If you do your arithmetic and everyone in the room had texted $10, that would have increased the total by $15,000.

Gerald, the man who knows how to make things happen, also told the crowd that they could make a donation the old fashioned way by putting money in the little red kettles on each of the tables or buying the centerpieces.

Those Salvation Army soldiers really know how to market!

Speaking of marketing, the man of the hour and guest speaker Blake Mycoskie (pictured) took to the stage. The former SMU tennis player/founder of TOMS knew how to make an impression both visually and verbally. Doffing his brown sports jacket, the tousled brunette with the scruffy beard in the red plaid shirt with leather and beaded bracelets looked more like a beneficiary of TSA than the head of an international shoe mega-wonder. Ah, but he was just setting the well-dressed audience up.

While other speakers had used teleprompters, Blake talked non-stop for 25 minutes about his life. Sounds like half  a therapy session, huh? Not Blake’s life. Having done everything from losing  “The Amazing Race” by four minutes, to starting an online driver education company to playing polo and sipping fine wine in Argentina, Blake sounded like the ultimate subject of a  Robin Leach segment. Then while in Argentina, he joined some English-speaking gals in delivering shoes to children in a poor village a couple of hours outside town. He was so moved by the experience that he decided to start a company that gave one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.

Blake’s tales of how he created the start-up company and in no time was overwhelmed with orders and encounters with the likes of Anna Wintour kept the audience riveted.  That first summer, 10,000 pairs were sold from his 1,000-square-foot apartment. This year TOMS gave awayits one millionth pair of shoes.

“Every single person in this room can have a tremendous impact  on the lives of people locally in this community and all over the world,” Blake said. “And your support for The Salvation Army is not just about  breaking a record or fund raising goals, which is awesome. It has to continue day after day after day. The more you incorporate giving into your life, the more you will receive. When you leave today, think what else you can do to help someone in need.”

By the time Blake had completed his talk, not a soul had left the ballroom and all gave him a standing ovation. It’s suspected that many were wearing TOMS by dinner time.

Share The Thanksgiving Feast

The MySweetCharity community is already starting to prepare for Thanksgiving celebration. You’ve done one of the following no doubt:

  • finished all the grocery shopping
  • made reservations or
  • arranged for the caterer to make your like flawless.

You’ve probably already thought of this next one, but just in case. . . you might want to have your friends and family bring a bag of canned goods to your Thanksgiving feast. On Friday, take all the bags to your favorite food bank.

Did you know that the North Texas Food Bank and other organizations are getting slammed with first time “clients”?


Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s Elan Circle Announces 2011 Savor The Symphony Details

The young music lovers were found at 2011 Savor the Symphony Prelude Event for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League‘s Elan Circle at the Rosewood Crescent last Tuesday night. The occasion was to announced the April 16, black-tie event including a five-course dinner, silent and live auctions and live entertainment at the Adolphus Hotel. Cindy and Howard Rachofsky will be honorary chairs, with Carlen Long and Natasha Hallam (pictured second from right with, from the left, Derek and Carlen Long and Andrew Hallam) serving as the event chairs.

Seating will be limited to a lucky 250.

Cartier’s Jewel Box Included The Legends Action Team Plus Some Gems of Subs

Everyone knows that a jewel box contains the finest collection of gems. So that’s exactly what Cartier‘s at NorthPark has in-store last Tuesday night! Only the gems were not limited to the necklaces, rings and other shimmering baubles. They were “The Legends Action Team Members” being honored by the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.

The crowd was so big that they were spilling out of the store. But when you’re dealing with hunks like these guys, congested partying has its benefits. Just imagine squeezing around the likes of former Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin, Drew Pearson (pictured left), Preston Pearson (pictured right) and Rayfield Wright!

Even some of the subs weren’t too shabby either. Daryl “The Moose” Johnston was repped by his wife Diane (pictured center with, from the left, Cartier’s Nicole Dabbert and Super Bowl Committee’s Bill Lively) and Bob Lilly had his son Bob Jr. receive the award for him.

But it wasn’t a strictly Dallas Cowboys reunion. One of the biggest hits was TCU’s football coach Gary Patterson receiving his award.

On hand among the crowd was Kenny Goss, whose new Goss-Michael Foundation opened this past Thursday.

John Larroquette Was The Reluctant Inspiration At C.A.R.E. Community Breakfast

To say actor John Larroquette doesn’t suffer fools is an understatement. Even before he started his talk at last Monday’s C.A.R.E. Community Breakfast, he gave the impression that he really didn’t want to be at  Belo Mansion with hundreds in the audience. Politely posing for photos with guests (pictured from the left Isabell Novakov, John Larroquette and Brian Heflin), the 6’5″ Creole smiled like a kid who had been made to stay after school.

Once at the podium, it appeared that he really would have preferred to have been anywhere else.

“I don’t do a lot of these,” he said. “Let me just say. I speak for myself. I am not representing any organizations of any kind.  And usually it’s more of a closed audience, shall we say? A select audience?”

The audience laughed, but there was an undercurrent that John was dead serious.

“Most of whom I know have a type of leprosy in common with me.”

More laughter.

Larroquette (pictured) then started a slow inhale that sucked the audience into his world of chemical and alcohol dependency of the 1970’s and his own recovery in the 1980’s. Starting with his childhood in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, he talked about —

  • His father’s abandoning him and his mother when the youngster was two-years old
  • Learning that he had siblings from his father’s second marriage including a brother named John. “Who besides a drunk names two sons John? Sort of a coon-ass George Foreman. He (the father) was an alcoholic. I didn’t know him. At seven, he came home and took me to the racetrack. Why? Half off if you took a kid?”
  • Having never met his half brothers and sisters
  • Never having a drink growing up in New Orleans

But that changed in the 1970’s, when he became a “prolific drunk” —

  • “I was a hedonist gluttonous animal from the get-go. A child of the 60’s.”
  • “I loved the panhandler with the sign ‘Spaceship Broken. Needs Parts.’ I always gave him $10.”
  • “I was the ‘Chemist.’ People sent me stuff in the mail: ‘Take this and tell me what it does.'”
  • He moved to Hollywood because “there was a place that actually paid you to be other people.”
  • He went on a seven-and-half-year downward spiral.
  • Got $12 for a pint of blood. “$16 if you brought a buddy.”

Using his sardonic style, he told how he turned his life around in the 1980’s —

  • “When I got sober, Betty Ford was still trying to decide whether she wanted gin or vodka for cocktails that night. Weren’t a lot of place to go like C.A.R.E.”
  • “On February 5, 1982, I was doing coke and Johnny Walker Black. I was stuck sober.” Looking in the mirror, he thought, “What a loser! I saw a big, fat  ugly actor who was going to die.”
  • It was later than he learned that, “I got sober on my father’s birthday.”
  • Definition of an alcoholic: “Like a man on fire running through a room, sooner or later the flames will touch everyone.”
  • “I’m an expert on how to get drunk, and how to stay sober: You don’t drink.”
  • Quoting George Carlin: “Just because the monkey’s off your back doesn’t mean that circus has left town.”

By the end of his talk, Larroquette had shrunk the hundreds in the ballroom to a select audience of friends.

No, he doesn’t do many of these, but when he does, his talk rightly receives a standing ovation like last Monday.

Tutu Chic Luncheon Will Be A Too-Too-Must Attend

Last year‘s Tutu Chic Luncheon may have been one of the most fun fund raising secrets of the season. For its first time on the society calendar, it had the guests on the Winspear stage sipping champagne, eyeballing Korshak fashion and enjoying  dancers Texas Ballet Theater (pictured).

The Tutu Foursome chair-gals (Elaine Agather, Gina Betts, Tanya Foster and Olivia Kearney) who pulled it off last year decided to do an encore on Thursday, December 2, same place, same agenda.

With Nancy C. Rogers as the honorary chair, you just knew they were going to up the ante and they did with flair. Designer Naeem Khan will make a guest appearance for the event.

Champagne reception starts at 11:30 a.m. followed by the on-stage fashion presentation and the seated luncheon in the lobby of the opera house.

Tickets were going quickly, so move your tutu by calling Jeanne Cassidy at 877.828.9200, Ext. 110.

BTW, the underwriters include the following ballet lovers:

$25,000 — Nancy C. Rogers

$5,000 —  Jacqueline Barrett, Nancy Carlson, Jolie Humphrey, Holly Lydick /Shannon Hart, PaperCity and Priscilla Martin

$2,500Cassandra Fine Catering, Jeanne Marie Clossey, Barbara Daseke, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson and Wells Fargo

$1,500Elaine Agather, Terry Dallas, Lisa Barfield Kopecky, Courtney Marcus/Diane Byrd, Cynthia Miller, Jennifer Staubach and Kelly Van Den Handel

National Philanthropy Day Luncheon Salutes Deserving Who Share Their Accolades

The people who know, live and understand all aspects of philanthropy lunched at the Hyatt to celebrate 25th Annual National Philanthropy Day and honor some of their own Friday, November 12. For the VIP’s it was an early start with a reception at 1030 a.m. As 99-year old Ebby Halliday entered the reception area with LaunchAbility’s Cathy Packard (pictured right with Ebby Halliday), the resident real estate elder stateswoman found herself surrounded by fans and friends. Dressed in black with Versace sunglass, she said, “It’s my Johnny Cash outfit.”

The two topics of interest at the reception were two events that took place the day before — the Holocaust Dinner honoring Roger Staubach and the requiem mass for the late Lynn Moroney.

Organizers were prepared for any questions. Why they even had “cheat sheets” with photos and descriptions of the key players!

Newlyweds Colleen and Bob Baillargeon (pictured) were recalling how they had planned to spend their honeymoon following their March 27 wedding in France for three weeks. But thanks to that pesky Iceland volcano, they had a choice — sit in de Gaulle Airport or head to elsewhere.  According to Bob, “We weren’t going to stay at Charles de Gaulle for a week, so we went to the Rheims area to try the champagne.”

When asked his opinion of the Cliff Lee negotiations, former professional baseball player Baillargeon suspected that New York’s state income tax, working with Nolan Ryan and the Dallas area could be major considerations in Cliff’s thinking.

Luncheon chair Diana Marquis (pictured right with daughter Noel Navarette) was running a tight ship and immediately cut to the chase welcoming all and introducing City Councilwoman Ann Margolin, who presented a proclamation.

While salads were being dolloped with dressing, Dealey Foundation President Joe Dealey addressed the group followed by Communities Foundation’s Brent Christopher, who presented a check for $12,000 for underwriting speakers for the Association of Fundraising Professional ‘s Greater Dallas Chapter.

At this point everything was running right on schedule and Ms. Marquis looked pleased. Then the presentation of the awards was made to the following:

  • Outstanding Fundraising Executive — David Krause
  • Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy — Leah Prager
  • Outstanding Corporation — AT&T
  • Outstanding Foundation — The Sammons Dallas Foundation
  • Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser — Cecile Bonte
  • Outstanding Philanthropists — The Hallam Family

Most of the speakers honored the speaking time limit, but a couple of them hijacked the microphone for more than the allotted time. You really couldn’t blame them. They were thrilled and wanted to give recognition to their friends, families and associates. However, their prolonging their talks resulted in some of the audience heading back to their offices, so they weren’t able to hear Howard and Robert Hallam‘s (pictured left with Howard Hallam) short, concise acceptance.

Emcee Scott Murray closed the lunch with the fact that in the past year, 37% of those going to the North Texas Food Bank went for the first time. It was a reminder to those in the fundraising industry that the economy has made their work more needed that ever. Without the hardworking people in the philanthropy world, so many would have nowhere to go. Keep up the magnificent work for the good of all.


Mystery Man Surprises And Honors Pat And Emmitt Smith At The Robert S. Folsom Leadership Awards Dinner

Not only are they one of Dallas’ most dazzling couples, they’re also one of the most proactive teams in community services. They are none other than Pat and Emmitt Smith (pictured). For their “demonstrated commitment to community leadership,” the Methodist Health System Foundation presented the twosome with the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award last Thursday at the Hilton Anatole to a packed house that raised $915,000.

Event chairs were Emmitt’s old Cowboy buddies Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston, but there was a problem. Troy was out of town and “at the last minute” Daryl had to duck out. Yipes! What was Foundation President/CEO April Box Chamberlain (pictured) going to do? There she was with the Smiths seated at the table in front of her and no “official emcee.”

April put out a plea for someone to volunteer. Search lights surveyed the room for a volunteer. As guests looked at each other in confusion, a voice from the back of the room said he might help. He seemed a little out of place wearing a Cowboys baseball cap, weather vest and the sunglasses (pictured).

April: “Do you know about Pat and Emmitt?”

Mystery Man: “A little bit. She was Miss Virginia.”

April: “How about Emmitt?”

Mystery Man: “Who?”

By this time the ever-classy Smiths were looking just a little bewildered, as was the rest of the audience.

Mystery Man admitted that he knew Emmitt had been a Cowboy.

April: “So Emmitt’s on your fantasy team”

Mystery Man: “You’re kidding. No chance! Can he shoot? Dribble? I know he can’t rebound! I like guys who can play basketball.”

By this time the man was marching up to the stage stripping off the sunglasses, baseball cap and vest revealing himself to be Dallas Mavericks owner/former Dancing With The Stars competitor Mark Cuban (pictured). The crowd plus the honorees loved the surprise emcee and his “last minute preparations.” High fives and hugs were exchanged as Mark proceeded through the crowd.

Putting on a jacket and standing at the podium, Mark acknowledging Emmitt’s success at DWTS: “I’m the one who should have won Dancing With The Stars!”

Then one-of-a-kind Mark got serious about the couple telling the crowd: “I’ve known them for a long time. They’ll have a long impact on the city of Dallas. That’s what this award is all about! . . When this couple sets their mind to something, it happens.”

Then looking at Pat, Mark got downright school boyish: “Pat won Miss Virginia. She should have been Miss America!”

So, what is it about the Smiths that motivates them to personally and professionally support people and causes? Earlier in the evening Pat and Emmitt talked about their efforts, both individually and through the Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities. With Pat watching attentively, Emmitt (pictured) said, “We’re just trying to improve on the things we’ve started. For kids, especially at-risk kids. Biggest thing for them is exposure to me. Exposure to the possibilities that they might not otherwise see. If that makes me a role model, I guess I’m a role model.”

Pat (pictured), who just gave birth to the newest Smith less than two months ago, looked pageant ready. Adding to her husband’s comments, she told how they had had a parent-teacher conference earlier in the day about their eight-year old son, E.J. The youngster had been assigned to do a project on a person, place or thing that he admired. “It was Emmitt,” Pat said with a smile of pride. “He really looks up to you. It’s all about family.”

Once again the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award selection was right on target.

2,300 In The Mega Tent Dig George W. Bush Presidential Center Groundbreaking As Media Behaves

Editor’s note: MySweetCharity has four posts that are in final stages of completion, but we’re going to post media coverage today of yesterday’s George W. Bush Presidential Center groundbreaking because of “popular demand.” And, yes, this is going to be lengthy, so settle back. And, yes, there are many photos of the George W. and Laura Bush (pictured center with, from the left, George W. Bush and Don Evans) and other folks in MSC’s “Photo Gallery.”

Organizers for the Bush Center groundbreaking Tuesday knew they were going to be dealing with 2,300 people broken into four groups —

  • VIPs of all levels
  • Guests
  • Protesters
  • The media

That last group is made up of all types including CNN-ers like Ed Lavandera, youngsters like Taylor Adams, old-hand locals like Bud Kennedy, conservative faithfuls like Steve Doocy (pictured) and liberal naysayers.

For media coverage Burson-Marsteller’s Jenifer Sarver was given the task of coordinating credentials for the Fourth Estate. She sent notices to the various media groups advising them to provide information by a certain date. The requested info was basic and they didn’t even ask if you voted for Bush. Once you got approval, you were told the time frame for showing up for the 10:30 event and how to enter the blocked off area. Pity the poor folks with the satellite trucks. They had to have everything set up for camp inspection. . . or rather security sweeps by 6 :00 a.m. The deadline for the rest of the media was 8:30 a.m. However, we knew that it would be wise to get there a wee bit early just in case. Plus we hadn’t gotten much sleep due to the overnight storm.

7:50 a.m. — As we approach the area, we see what appeared to be a white blimp hangar. No. It is Mega Tent (pictured) where the groundbreaking for a crowd of 2,300 is to take place in 2.5 hours. The enclosed tent probably costs more than the LBJ Library. Drive up to the check in area on Dublin and receive a media parking pass to continue to the media parking lot. My, but we are feeling special. As we walk to the grounds, we notice that despite being packed pretty tightly, the wet soil is creating a muddy situation. One of the valet parkers smiles, “Well, it’s not as bad as Cattle Barons last year.”

A table of ladies greets and checks our names off the list after checking our ID’s. We receive another gift — a hanging tag with our name on it and MEDIA in caps across the top. Gee, we are really feeling special. Visions of having access to world leaders and local decision makers are dazzling.

Now we go through a security check. Bag goes on a table for a full cavity search, as we walk through the metal detector. They don’t even make us take off our muddy-caked shoes.

“What’s this? A laptop?” the bag inspector asks.

“It’s an iPad,” we sheepishly reply.

“Oh, I don’t know about that, go ahead.”

As we walk from the security check in we notice that the mud situation isn’t improving and are glad to see that the tent has flooring covered with black plastic carpeting. Some chap is trying to sweep away the mud that had been tracked in by our predecessors.

We are directed to the media area with the offer of coffee, breakfast tacos and fruit. Ah, someone knows how to entice press folks. Put food out and they’ll follow you anywhere.

The media area is made up of two areas. At the front of mega tent on the west side there is a red-roped off area (pictured) with risers for television cameras and a couple of rows of folding chairs in front for reporters to sit. Adjacent to this area is a tent with rows of tables, setups for standup interviews and food. The tables are already filled with lit up laptops.

Like flies being drawn to a Venus Fly Trap the media enter the area only to find themselves more or less trapped. At 8:15 we are told to get to the bathrooms set up across the way because we won’t be allowed out of the area after 8:30.  Reporters and photographers who have been sucking coffee and soft drinks evacuate the tent like horses at the race track. Others gut up and stand their ground. It takes a strong bladder to be a journalist.

One veteran of presidential media events chuckles about the media handlers, “They’re acting like he’s (George W. Bush) still in office.”

8:25 a.m. — Try to get a photo of the entire tent area, but am stopped by a petite officer type (pictured) who has left her happy face at home. “Ma’am, you need to stay behind the red rope.” It is official — the media is now officially under lockdown status. But it isn’t much of a problem. Most of them are tucked away in the media tent waiting for designated “surrogates”  (i.e. accommodating VIP’s like Dan Bartlett, Josh Bolten, Don Evans, Ari Fleisher, Karen Hughes, Anita McBride, Margaret Spellings, Mark Langdale, etc.) to drop by for official chats. Besides there are some interesting media types there — KDFW’s Natalie Solis trying to get the mud off of her high-heeled boots; Bud Kennedy who had made the journey from Fort Worth to check out the Dallas doings; Brad Watson standing taller than ever over the rest; and Bill Murchison looking very businesslike with his briefcase and camel colored jacket.

CNN’s Ed Lavandera is out on the risers checking the crowd out. It seems that he was an intern and covered the groundbreaking for the George H.W. Bush library in College Station. Ed is becoming a presidential library expert! And he knows how to spot the dignitaries.

Some of the media realizes that the two rows of seats out front are going to become hot commodities and stake out their chairs. The front row seats are immediately reserved with briefcases, jackets and scarves. One fellow stands guard over three seats for his compatriots.

8:30 a.m. — Two guys in suits are on their hands and knees inspecting the carpeting (pictured) around a white circle in front of the elevated stage with two mammoth screens on either side. Within the circle is pristine tan-colored earth. It looks like a circus ring in which Chihuahuas might race around. It must have been imported. Wonder what they’re going to do with the dirt when the event is over.

On the big screens on either side of the stage, Barney (pictured) looms down at us. Say, didn’t Barney have a problem with the media?

One member of the media touches the red velvet-covered rope as if he expects to get a shock.  Sorta reminds you of The Great Escape. Nothing happens, but he doesn’t want to push his luck.

8:35 a.m. — A few guests are showing up. The official staffers seem to be men who live in suits and blonde women with hanging badges reading “ALL ACCESS, “BACK STAGE” and “STAFF.” Am beginning to wonder if “MEDIA” badges means “LEPERS.”  Secret Service is easy to spot — they look like extras from Madmen with hearing aids. They have very good posture.

8:40 a.m. — Bush Center VP of Marketing Ashley Elsey (pictured) hugs a SS guy just a foot away from the media area saying, “I was wondering where you were.” We sorta feel like chimps in the zoo watching the humans interact.  After watching tall, lean blonde Ashley strut throughout the tent, you realize that she knows everybody. Her badge reads “STAFF.”

8:45 a.m. — Some guy is on his knees bending over the circle smoothing the dirt with a shovel as if it were a Zen garden. Wouldn’t it be cool to have “W” drawn in the sand. So feng shui.

8:50 a.m. — Fire marshals with stern faces are walking through the tent.

We’re starting to catch on the that very super-duper VIP’s wear no hanging badges. One journalist wonders out loud, “What if I take off my badge and jump the rope?” Another warns him nicely that his clothing would still give him away. He stays put.

8:54 a.m. — Shovel Guy returns (pictured). Somebody has messed with his dirt.

8:58 a.m. — Wiley Dean walks by the Media Pen and looks at the two rows of seats. He chuckles and explains that his daughter works on the Bush Center staff. Her husband couldn’t make it, so she invited Wiley. He flew in from Alabama and is having a great time.

Media are starting to wise up. They’re starting to realize that there are about 100 of them and only so many places to sit.

9:16 a.m. — Corporate Magic‘s James “Jim” Kirk (pictured and no relation to Star Trek‘s James T. Kirk) looks over the sight. He’s one of the very few without a tie. He and his group are orchestrating the production. They smile and look pleased.

9:22 a.m. — Burson-Marsteller Exec/former Bush White Houser Karen Hughes has journalists lined up trying to talk to her. While she and Philip Sherwell from The Sunday Telegraph are practically knee-to-knee in their sit-down conversation, she manages to grab a bite to eat.

Helicopters can be heard overhead.

Bud Kennedy is talking with SMU President Gerald Turner.

The pr gal for the construction company asks if anyone would like to talk with representatives.

9:29 a.m. — Philip (pictured) continues to monopolize Karen, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She edges closer and closer to him to get her points across. Their heads are just inches away. Talk about hunkering down! Other media is starting to look a tad bit PO’ed.

The sound above makes it feel like a chorus line of helicopters are performing.

The media is starting to interview each other.

9:31 a.m. — Karen is done with Philip.  She greets Dallas Morning NewsTaylor Adams (pictured). Used to work with Taylor’s dad, Doug Adams, when they were at KXAS. PR assistant waylays Karen from the waiting media. Not good. Media feels threatened. Karen tells PR Assistant that she has to talk with the media first. Media smile. Karen scores points.

The crowd in Mega Tent has grown considerably. The front rows are starting to look very boldface with the likes of Ebby Halliday, Nancy Dedman talking with Nancy Halbreich, Rachael Dedman chatting with Baylor’s Ken Starr and a slew of dignitaries on the other side of the tent.

9:45 a.m. — Former VP Dick Cheney is seen near the base of the elevated stage. Someone says that he’s with his daughter Mary (pictured right with Dick Cheney). Someone else says he’s lost a lot of weight and looks frail. Wouldn’t you if you had had as many heart surgeries as he’s had? He is walking with a substantial cane.

9:55 a.m. — SMU Chair of the Board of Trustees Caren Prothro is shown to the front row. Chairmanship has privileges.

A suited Dirt Guard is now in place and politely tells people not to touch the dirt.

Gerald Turner is walking through the tent looking pumped. It’s all coming together nicely.

9:55 a.m. — Harriet Miers (pictured) is greeted with an air kiss and hugs.

10:07 a.m. — Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, who graduated from SMU’s School of Law, visits the Media Pen staying on his side of the red rope. He’s a hit with the media.

Someone in the Media Pen points out, “Isn’t that Mitt Romney (pictured) over there?” Yup, sure is. “There’s Mary Matalin!” Yup again. “I see Wayne Newton! That is Wayne Newton, isn’t it?” We’re starting to sound like tourists on a bus tour of Hollywood. Why didn’t anyone bring some binoculars?

10:15 a.m. — An official sounding voice announces that the program will start soon and seats are to be used. Music starts playing. Is that Elvis Presley singing “A Little Less Conversation”?

A cute blonde media wrangler in the Media Pen advises the media to take their seats.

“You can’t stand up,” Cute Blonde admonishes.

“I wasn’t planning to,” old journalist going to her front row seat says.

“Good because you are not to stand up at all,” she says nicely but firmly.

The media chairs are so tightly wedged together that reporters writing notes continuously elbow their neighbors. Perhaps organizers rented the chairs based on size and got a bargain.

All the seats in Mega Tent are filled except a few in the farthest back of the bleachers. The place looks like a very well-heeled revival meeting.

10:30 a.m. — The Official Sounding Voice introduces the dignitaries (aka Platform Party). The applause grows greater each time finally resulting in a standing ovation for Cheney as he enters the stage. It’s a Cheney-flavored crowd.

10:35 a.m. — Special Video Presentation “The Story Unfolds” starts. Among the slides is one of George W. standing with the NYC construction worker talking to the crowd over a bull horn. The crowd in the tent applauds.

10:38 a.m. — George W. and Laura Bush (pictured right with George W. Bush) are introduced. The crowd goes wild with standing ovation, cheers and whoops! The couple that has kept a relatively low profile since returning to Dallas is front and center.

10:39 a.m. — The presentation of the colors by the II Corps Fort Hood Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and the singing of “God Bless America” and the national anthem performed by SMU Belle Tones and Southern Gentlemen have everyone including the media on their feet. Hopefully, the little blonde media wrangler won’t get upset.

10:45 a.m. — Highland Park United Methodist Church Senior Minister the Rev. Mark Craig gives the invocation.

Everyone takes their seats again.

10:47 a.m.– Bush Foundation Board of Directors Chair Don Evans welcomes the crowd and is followed by Bush Foundation President Mark Langdale, Archivist of the U.S. David S. Ferriero, Gerald T, SMU Student Body President Jake Torres and then Bush Institute Advisory Board Chair Condoleezza Rice.

11:05 a.m. — One of the reporters on the front row drops her iPhone just out of reach. Knowing she can’t stand, she extends her pad to drag it back to her.

Condi (pictured) is greeted like a homecoming queen. The crowd loves her. She does a great job. Sirens are heard off in the distance. Secret Service men don’t budge and flinch. Must be no big deal.

11:11 a.m. — Condi gets ready to take her seat when she sees Cheney standing and preparing to approach the podium. She quickly returns to the podium and like a schoolgirl admits that she forgot to introduce former VP Cheney. He’s greeted like a hometown hero with still another standing ovation. The media stays seated. They’re not about to rankle the wrangler.

11:12 a.m. — Looking thinner and paler than the old days, he still has a twinkle in his eye as he tells Condi, “Well, I’ve often been overlooked during my tours.”  He goes on with a Cheney (pictured) jab, “This (the Bush Center) may be the only shovel-ready project in America.” The place is turning into a Dick Cheney pep rally. Dick knows what this crowd wants and he’s the delivery man. Even the more liberal members of the media are chuckling.

At one point in his talk, Cheney says, “He (George W) is his father’s son.” George W. appears to say “Thank you” from his seat next to Laura.

11:18 a.m. — As Cheney ends his talk and introduces George W., his voice sounds a bit weaker.  Front row of the media stays seated, but everyone else is up on their feet and cheering.  The former president welcomes all to Texas and “one of the finest universities in the whole United States.” Gerald, Jake and the SMU board of trustees look very happy.

He advises Jake, “it’s not too early to start thinking about your memoirs.” Good one!

George W points out the former president of Columbia is in the audience, as well as soldiers from Fort Hood (standing ovation). “I really don’t miss much about Washington, but I do miss being your commander in chief,” he says to the soldiers.

He thanks his former staff members and “the 160,000 donors whose generosity has insured that this building was fully paid for before we broke ground.”

George W talks about the Center and its goals. He reports that Laura will oversee the women’s initiative of the Bush Institute and how lucky he’s been to have had her in his life for 33 years. He turns over the podium to Laura with a kiss and a pat on the back.

11:31 a.m. — Laura talks about the plans for the Institute to empower women. The success of each of the Center’s goals depends on the contributions of women. Economy, politics, healthcare and literacy are dependent upon women.

11:39 a.m. — Laura completes her talk and is congratulated with a kiss and hug from the former president. George W tells the crowd that is now standing once again that “the speeches are over. It is time to shovel dirt.”

11:40 a.m. — With everyone on their feet, the white circle is hard to see. As the dignitaries including Ray Hunt, Robert Stern, Michael Van Valkenburgh, Alan Lowe and Caren Prothro (pictured center with, from the left, Ray Hunt and Alan Lowe) join the group from the stage and receive their shovels from SMU students, one wonders if the moment will be captured on the big screens. But wait. Still photos of Bush times are on the screens. The moment is going to pass and only those up close and pool photographers will see it. The moment everyone has waited for and it’s going to be blocked. At the very last second, the big screens show the group digging their shovels into the four-inch deep dirt as music thunders. Whew!

11:42 a.m. — The official sounding voice over the PA thanks everyone for attending, tells them to exit at the back of the tent and, “Please travel safely.”

Then as quickly as it happened, the shovels are returned to SMU students, Cheney with cane in hand departs with Mary and the crowd of 2,300 breaks into two groups. One departs for luxury buses and valet, while the other moves toward the stage to get a photo of the former First Family. But the couple is gone all too soon. Left without a former First Lady, President or VP, they take photos of each other on the stage and some even take pictures (pictured) of where George W and Laura dug their shovels into the dirt.

Heroic Faces Lined With Honor

Faces are quite telling. Last Thursday an assembly of remarkable faces were present at the Hall of State for a luncheon saluting veterans by the Daughters of World War II. Faces like Harry Kabler’s (pictured left with emcee Scott Murray) were aged with lines. Their eyes still glistened. Their hair was gray or silver. Some wore ribboned medals on their chests; some just brought tales of past encounters; some like Herb Bunning (pictured right with son Jack Bunning) were accompanied by a family member to experience the occasion. It was a bit hard for the younger members of the audience to think of these men and women in their 80’s and 90’s, like 94-year old James “Maggie” Magellas (pictured), as youths who had put their lives on the line, so the world would enjoy life without tyranny. They didn’t do it for the glory; they did it because it was the right thing to do.

Congratulations to the Daughters of World War II for saluting these heroes of an era that has passed all too soon.


Carson Kressley, Veterans Day Parade Make Voices For Children Luncheon Memorable

It was a perfect storm situation Thursday. More than 500 guests were on their way to Union Station for the Voices For Children Luncheon featuring Carson Kressley and benefiting the Child Abuse Prevention Center. They had been warned that traffic might be a bit dicey, but what the heck. Most of guests were veterans of traffic snarls at the every venue in the area. However, a Veterans Day parade (pictured) marching right in front of Union Station with surrounding streets more or less blocked off was another situation entirely.

As guests arrived with tales of talking their way through police lines and creative driving, it only added to the energy level. Add Carson and you’ve got Red Bull Extreme. Like a rock star, he was immediately surrounded by the gals who all wanted their photos taken with the former star of Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. As he straightened Voice Chair Robert Weatherly‘s (pictured) tie, iPhones and compact cameras were nearly blinding as they photographed the blonde cutie. It’s too bad they couldn’t have generated some heat, too. The predicted cold front wasn’t due til Friday, but it was as cold as a fur vault. Poor Holly Davis (pictured left with, from the left, Carson Kressley and Rhonda Sargent Chambers) looked flawless in her single-shoulder sweater, but admitted that she was positively freezing. Union Station staff said that they had lowered the temperature due to the fact that more than 500 were expected and the temperature would eventually warm up. Despite the two-stories of windows and bright sunlight beaming in, it was nippy throughout the event.

Once safely inside the icebox . . . er, dining room and seated for lunch, the group thought their parade problems were behind them until the speakers started trying to be heard. Imagine brass bands, military vehicles and shouting crowds in the background while someone is trying to be heard in the Grand Hall, which can often be acoustically challenging on the best of days.

One committee member admitted, “When we booked this, we didn’t realize the Veterans Day parade would be taking place in front. If we had, we wouldn’t have booked anything in downtown Dallas.”

But not to worry. The guests chatted non-stop. So much so that despite the best efforts to get their attention, emcee Brendan Higgins resorted to a dirty little trick. He announced from the podium, “Let us bow our heads and pray.” Silence followed almost instantly. Then Brendan asked God’s forgiveness for the faux prayer to get their attention. Naughty boy, but it worked.

Just as dessert is being served, Carson was served up for his talk. But Carson was a trooper and carried on with a flute of orange juice. He warned the group that he was “not going to be politically correct. I’m going to be inappropriate.” With that he launched into the following areas:

  • His suggested theme for children abuse — “Shake martinis, not babies.”
  • Likes Rick Perry because of his hair.
  • Provides his 10 steps to feeling great about yourself:
  1. Wear a good bra — uplifting experience
  2. Go to the spa
  3. Be grateful
  4. Accept compliments graciously and learn to give a compliment.
  5. Focus on giving
  6. Have confidence in yourself.
  7. Sit in the front
  8. Make a list of your most amazing attributes.
  9. Posture — walk with purpose
  10. Be a role model.

Before anyone wanted it to end, Carson was done with his totally ad-libbed talk. It was time for the live auction of “A Day With Carson!”  including his visiting the winner’s home for a private closet consultation, a Rolls Royce trip with Carson to Barney’s for a wardrobe refreshening with a $2,000 gift card, lunch at the mansion with Carson and three  of the winner’s friends and a R&R at the Stoneleigh Spa.

Carson got into the swing of getting the bidding going as he went from table to table with a microphone. At one point adorable realtor Logan Waller (pictured) was the target of Carson’s antics and ended up with Carson sitting on his knee.

As the bidding rose, Jenna Turner‘s bid of $8,500 drove Carson nuts. He offered a personal foot massage and asked her if she had “a significant other.” Jenna’s response was to point to an empty seat next to her that had just minutes before been occupied by emcee Brendan (pictured right with Jenna Turner). Guess it’s official — they’re seeing each other. Ah, now Brendan’s reaching under the table to hold Jenna’s hand during the ltalk made perfect sense.

Back to the auction. A couple of tables over, blonde Lisa Schnitzer couldn’t stand the near-but-not-enough-reach for $10,000 bid and volunteered to add $1,500 to Jenna’s bid just to even things out. You gotta love a gal who’s not only beautiful but comes through in a pinch. Carson was happy; Jenna was happy; Lisa was happy; Child Abuse Prevention Center Exec Director Jessica Slie Trudeau was happy; 500 guest were happy! Happiness warmed everyone.

Chick Lit Gals Are Clucking Over Luncheon Author Emily Giffin

Those chic Chick Lit gals are at it again for Community Partners of Dallas. Wednesday night they gathered up their forces at Stanley Korshak to announce the author for the annual luncheon at Brook Hollow Golf Club. The 2011 Luncheon Chairs Angela Nash and Anne Stodghill (pictured right with, from the left Angela Nash and Crawford Brock) have everything all tied up! Presented by Dr. Robert and Lara Tafel, the 5h Annual Chick Lit Luncheon will feature New York Times best-selling Heart of the Matter author Emily Giffin on Friday, April 1. No fooling.

Another couple of announcements also made were The Container Store’s receiving the 2011 Partners for Children Award and Sally Hoglund serving at the luncheon’s honorary chair.

To get the literary motion going, they had local chick lit author/lawyer Amy Bourret seated near the Korshak jewelry department signing her Mothers and Other Liars. It seems Amy was  inspired to write the book from her work in child advocacy. Naturally, a portion of the proceeds from the book sales will benefit Community Partners of Dallas.

Laurie And Wade Phillips Are Class Acts

Yesterday Dallas was celebrating the Cowboys win over the Giants. Among the jubilation was a couple that showed a lot of class — Laurie and Wade Phillips. Just a week ago Wade made headlines nationally when he was let go as head coach of the Cowboys by Jerry Jones.

Most of us would have taken an extended vacation, locked our front doors and not answered the phone, or groused about how badly we were treated.

Luckily, Laurie and Wade aren’t like most of us. Monday morning they were at the C.A.R.E. breakfast in downtown Dallas to support the war against substance abuse. Emcee Scott Murray pointed them out to the group that gave them an extended standing ovation. Tearful Laurie (pictured) and grateful Wade were touched by this show of support.

After the talk by John Larroquette, the line formed to the right for folks to have their pictures taken with the Phillips.

Wade may no longer be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but he and Laurie continue to be role models for the rest of us. Our community is better for their presence among us.

The Salvation Army Patrons’ Party Chimes In At Lisa And Kenny Troutts’ Mega Cottage

If the Salvation Army luncheon this Thursday is anything like the patrons’ party at Lisa and Kenny Troutt‘s (pictured right with Lisa Troutt) palace, there is no need for a speaker. The folks supporting the Salvation Army are inspiring enough.

Of course, you want examples, you hungry things! Kenny was the perfect host showing photos of his Kentucky Derby wunderkind Super Saver to ever-accessible Margot Perot (pictured), while husband Ross was chatting with Jimmy Francis. After the chat, Jimmy turned his talents to another group and kept them entranced with his animated storytelling. The guy definitely could give the late-night hosts a run for their money. . . Oh, did you know that Kenny has “consolidated the ownership” of WinStar Farms (home of Super Saver) and is the sole owner? It happened back in October.  Former pawtner Bill Casner will now be WinStar’s largest client.  Super Saver doesn’t really care. He’s too busy grazing and living the good life. . . Dallas Snadon arrived in a pair of “bowed” stilettos (from 4510, she thinks) with husband Daryl (pictured left with Dallas Snadon). She was also sporting a wrapped left hand under her shawl/scarf to disguise her recent surgery. No, it wasn’t due to carpel tunnel. Think too much skiing. . .  Caren Prothro and Lynn McBee were comparing notes. Translation: something is up and another fund raiser is afoot. . . Dee Wyly admitted that she’s let her year-old Maltese pooch, Bella, become quite spoiled, but “at least I don’t have to put her through college!” . . . Luncheon Chair drop-dead gorgeous Joyce Fox was posing for photos with dotter Stephanie Fox and date Steve Owen Jr. (pictured center with, from the left, Joyce Fox and Stephanie Fox).

But enough of the good life at Lisa’s and Kenny’s. Lunch is on at the Hilton Anatole with TOMS Shoes Founder/Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycockie as the numero uno speaker. You did know that TOMS provides a pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. You didn’t? For your punishment and enjoyment, go out and buy a pair of TOMS to wear to Thursday’s lunch! It’s the #1 luncheon in the Salvation Army world and rightly so.

Just In: “The Art Of Film” Is Sold Out!

If you were hoping to attend the Dallas Film Society‘s The Art of Film this Friday at the Hall of State with Robert Duvall (Bobby to his friends, don’t you know) and Elvis Mitchell (Elvis to his friends, we guess), it’s too late. The shindig is sold out.

Exception: According to event mastermind Lynn McBee, “If someone writes a really big check, we’ll find a way to squeeze ’em in.” Leave it to Lynn to let money have its way.

But if you can’t write that substantial “make-Lynn-happy” check, then DFS President/CEO Tanya Foster advises you to go to the Dallas Film Society’s website to purchase tickets for Get Low. It’ll be shown Saturday morning at Cinemark 17 Theatre. And, yes, Bobby will be on hand to introduce the film.


Thanks To Jan And Trevor Rees-Jones, The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center Is $5M Closer To Becoming Reality

Nowadays financial support seems to be as hard to find as a Cowboys win. But when it happens, it’s the sweet smell of happiness. Last Tuesday the oh-so marvelous fragrance was in abundance as the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center Board of Trustees was celebrating at Ginny and Conner Searcy‘s Park Cities home. How the Searcys did a party after just hosting another event at Three Three Three for the DCAC, one will just have to ponder!

But Tuesday evening was to honor Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones (pictured right with Jan Rees-Jones) for their generous support ($5 million) to the $11 million capital campaign to build a new facility. The new building will be off of Samuell Boulevard with Phase One being 47,861, square feet eventually including another 31.902-square-foot addition.

When you realize that the current facility on Swiss Avenue is only 14,000 square feet, you can understand why Mary Blake Meadows confirmed, “We can service more children” at the new building.

With the Rees-Jones contribution plus $860K from Crystal Charity and others — including

  • $500,000 – $1,000,000 –Crystal Charity Ball, Hirsch Family Foundation and J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation
  • $250,000 – $499,999 — Hillcrest Foundation founded by Mrs. W.W. Caruth Sr.; Roger Kent and Mr. and Mrs. Rick Scripps
  • $100,000 – $249,999 — Dr. and Mrs Kenneth Altshuler, The Baldridge Foundation, Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Meadows, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Olson, Mr. and Mrs. James Pasant, The Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Regard
  • $50,000 – $99,999 — Hawn Foundation Inc., The Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable  & Educational Trust, The George and Fay Young Foundation Inc. and Mr. and Mrs. Conner Searcy
  • $25,000 – $49,999 — Hoak Foundation, Hegi Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Moor; Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Norville, The Rudman Partnership and Mr. and Mrs. Paul F. Tagg,

— they just need $2 million more.

According to Mary, the Rees-Jones Foundation had three giving options when it met including one that was only $1 million. But Jan and Trevor cut to the chase and committed to $5 million.

Perhaps the driving force was the fact that there are 5,000 to 6,000 confirmed cases needing DCAC’s services in Dallas every year. Presently the DCAC is handling 2,000. With the new facility, that number will double.

President Lynn M. Davis said, “This building is desperately needed by the children of Dallas County.”

Trevor (pictured) spoke for Jan saying that their foundation likes DCAC because it’s “trying to help those who are least able to help themselves.” He went on to say that the Rees-Jones Foundation is passionate about abused kids because they’re suffering through no fault of their own.

Chuck Meadows followed Trevor, saying, “The campaign is not over. We’ll try to find 1,000 people to give $1,000 each. We need to expand our base. We have several big ‘asks’ out there.”

Chuck went on to add that his wife Mary got him up at 7:30 in the morning (“kicked my butt out of bed”) to go meet people at breakfast for the cause. Mary was supposed to fade into the sunset after serving last year, but she told him, “No, we’re taking on the capital campaign!”

Also on hand to emphasize the importance of the capital campaign was Dallas Police Chief David Brown (pictured), who said, “This group is flying at 30,000 feet. The Dallas Police Department has worked very closely with them for years. What they’ve done here in Dallas is a model nationally. It’s something to be proud of. They show true compassion for our children. This group is leading the charge to help grow services” for the children.

Dallas Historical Society’s “Awards For Excellence” Embraces Native Born And Born-Again Dallasites

The Dallas Historical Society’s “Awards For Excellence in Community Service” (AFE) may not be the largest gathering inDallas, but it attracts decision-makers of Dallas, both past and present. Why just at Tuesday’s reception for the 2010 event at the Fairmont, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Dr. Gail Thomas (pictured right with Kay Bailey Hutchison) were comparing notes about the October celebration of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Before even locking down the weekend of October 14 for the launch, Gail checked Kay’s schedule to make sure she would be available.

Besides being a past recipient of the AFE, Gail had still another connection to the day’s event — son Stewart Thomas was co-chairing the luncheon along with his wife Michelle and Honorary Chair Mary Anne Cree, the daughter of the late Rosine and Charles Sammons.

Now before you go off thinking that everyone associated with DHS had ancestors who arrived in Dallas with John Neely Bryan, rethink that one. Many of its members and leaders like former DHS Chair Diane Bumpas (pictured) and past AFE recipients Diane Brierley and Ebby Halliday weren’t even born in Dallas. All it takes is an interest in history.

Because this luncheon is known for running on schedule, lunch started promptly because there were a number of awards to give out. After recognizing various supporters, committee members and local community leaders, DHS Exec Director Jack Bunning gave a “state of the union” report of all the activities that had taken place including Phil Collins‘ interview on the Alamo, author Tom Alexander‘s conversation about his book on Stanley Marcus, and the Tom Landry exhibition during the State Fair that alone resulted in more than 100,000 people visiting the Hall of State. He also recognized Tom’s widow Alicia Landry (pictured), adding that due to the success of the Landry exhibition, it would  be relaunched on Thanksgiving weekend in honor of the upcoming Super Bowl XLV.

Then it was time to hand out the awards to the following:

  • Jose Antonio Bowen PhD for Arts Leadership
  • Albert Black Jr. for Business
  • Paula Lambert for Creative Arts
  • Susie and H.B. Bell EdD for Education: Administrative
  • Ed Long for Education: Teaching
  • Joyce Pickering of The Shelton School for Health/Science
  • Rev. Larry James and Rev. Gerald L. Britt Jr. for Humanities
  • The Hillcrest Foundation (Bill Caruth and Harold Caruth) for Philanthropy
  • Laura Estrada for Volunteer Community Leadership
  • Howard Hallam for being the Jubilee History Maker

Highlights of the acceptance speeches included:

  • Jose:  “It you’re a patron of the arts, please stand. . . especially if you go to events you don’t like!”
  • Albert’s (pictured) mentioning his friend Larry Lacerte’s not being present due to illness and Albert’s working with Mayor Tom Leppert to open Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at the old Frazier Courts community of East Dallas, where Albert grew up.
  • Paula: “I’m especially proud because I’m from Fort Worth!”
  • Susie and H.B. acknowledging the people who helped them at “Tables 21, 22 and 23.”
  • The number of hands that went up in the room when asked if Ed Long had taught their children.

To conclude the luncheon, the traditional A.C. Greene toast of champagne was made asking those born in Dallas to stand first, those who were born in Texas to also stand, and finally all who had made it to Dallas as soon as possible to stand.

Bravo, DHS for never getting old, and for just celebrating Dallas’ young roots.

Bushes Take Over Dallas For “A Celebration of Reading”

Dallas was definitely full of “bushes” last Monday. They flew in from Florida, Houston and the outer limits for “A Celebration of Reading.” Why? When Barbara Bush puts on an event for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, the grandkids come a-running. For a brief few hours, Dallasites felt like they were part of a Bush family reunion.

But let’s start at the beginning. No, we already did that with Mandi Bush. Let’s start at noontime.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Locals/authors/former Firsties Laura and George Bush had three generations of Bushes (pictured) plus the evening’s authors in for lunch at their place on Daria. NBC’s Today correspondent Jenna looked svelte. (Gee, don’t they feed gals in NYC?). Mandi was catching the rest up on George P.’s whereabouts (he’s overseas for active duty).

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Wimpy Kid’s author Jeff Kinney (pictured third from the right with, from the left, Donovan Campbell, Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George W. Bush, Leila Meacham and Condoleezza Rice) was sorta overwhelmed: “Here I am eating at the Bushes with Barbara Bush!”

After a brief rest in the afternoon, they headed to an evening of Super Duper Boldfacers at the Meyerson. At a pre-event reception it was a jamfest with Neil Bush and his family feeling right at home with the locals. Over to the side Papa George (aka #41) was seated with Kroger’s Gary Huddleston and adorable wife Becky chatting about Houston-based Pete Roussel,  who was on #41’s staff from GHWB’s days as a congressman to the White House. . .  Mandi was looking terrific as usual and managed to sub in nicely for her husband George P. The girl has never met a stranger! . .  Kids in the crowd were torn between checking with Wimpy author Jeff (“I feel lucky to have had any success in publishing at all”) and having their picture taken with Barbara, who is the picture-perfect grandest mom. . . If you think Barbara is a traditionalist reader, rethink that one. She enjoys her iPad as much as hardbound books. . . In the meantime, Bush grandkids were all over the place making everyone feel like they were a member of the Bush clan. Newlyweds Sandra and Jebby Bush told how they knew each other for three years but didn’t start dating until two years ago. The reason: Sandra was living in London. The twosome got hitched this past May. . .  Ruth and Ken Altshuler found a table in the back of the room with Ken Cooper.

Then seamlessly it was noted that the Bush munchkins quietly headed to the door at the far end of the room, while elder Bushes exited the opposite side of the room. Someone said, “George seems to be slowing down a bit,” noting the cane. A female guest retorted, “That may be true for his walking, but he is still a great hugger and the twinkle in his eye is brighter than ever.”

As the 1,400 found their seats in the Meyerson’s concert hall, Celebration of Reading veterans advised first-timers that they were in for an evening of inspiration, fun and possibly a surprise or two.

(Editor’s note: If you wonder why only 1,400 attended the event when the Meyerson can easily handle 2,062, it’s because the Bushes insist that all have a “light supper” afterwards and the Meyerson can only accommodate 1,400 at the seated dinner.)

The event started right on time at 7 p.m. with #41 being escorted on stage by Mandi. Telling the crowd how the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy had grown, he added, “. . . talk about ‘Mission Creep,’ this is it!” (For you non-politicos, it was a clever reference to #41’s days as president when he explained he didn’t take out Saddam because he didn’t believe in “mission creep.” The twinkle in his eye could be seen from the back of the Meyerson.)

Then a video of a first: “A Celebration of Reading” at sea. It seems that former First Daughter/Sister Doro Bush Koch arranged to have the celebration held on board the USS George H. W. Bush CVN77 on May 1, 2010, with authors like Antwone FisherJames Bradley and Jill Conner Brown.

Immediately following the video, first lady of the evening Barbara Bush entered the stage to a standing ovation. She told the crowd that she didn’t realize until recently that “A Celebration of Reading” was on Facebook (“Betty White has beaten me to it”). On a more serious note, she reported that the foundation had raised $37 million and had assisted 850 literacy programs throughout the country.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

As an example of the program’s effort, Barbara introduced “inspirational reader” Susie Marsh (pictured left with, from the left, Barbara Bush and Susie’s program instructor Melody Barnes), who at the age of 58 returned to school to get her high school diploma. Thanks to the Richardson ISD Family Learning Program, she is not only on her way to getting her GED but she and her 6-year old grandson read to each other.

As Susie hugged Barbara, she may not have noticed that she received a standing ovation from the crowd including Condoleezza, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Nancy and Peter Beck on the front row.

Then everyone settled back for the authors to take their turn at the podium. Introducing each were a different set of Bush grandkids. Jeff said that he was the author who would provide levity, and he did just that. Ending his talk he admitted that when his publisher suggested that he launch his newest Wimpy Kid book on Tuesday, he didn’t realize that #43 would be launching his on the same day. Jeff suggested that for the cost of #43’s book you could get two Wimpy Kid books plus a cup of Starbucks.

Next was Condoleezza Rice. Before reading an excerpt from her Extraordinary, Ordinary People, she told how her mother had been a teacher for Willie Mays. Having grown up in the hotbox of Birmingham, Ala., during the racially turbulent 1950’s and 1960’s, Condoleezza recalled the day of the bombing of the nearby 16th Street Baptist Church. She also told how her mother advised her daughter, “You might not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth’s, but you could be president of the United States.”

Following Condoleezza was Roses author Leila Meacham, whose marvelous southern accent gilded the reading of the book that she undertook at the age of 65. Five years later Grand Central Publishing released Roses and it became a New York Times bestseller. Think of it as a Texas version of Gone With The Wind covering a century of three generations in the Lone Star state.

At 7:54 Dallas native son Donovan Campbell took the stage and the audience with him. Before launching into Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, he took time out to address his father, who was in the audience. With a tear in his eye and a smile on his lips, the son congratulated his father for celebrating his “49th birthday for the 11th time.”  Donovan had the entire audience in the palm of his hand as he described his platoon and their facing “some of the bloodiest battles of the war in Iraq.”

While following Donovan might have been considered nearly impossible, former First Lady Laura Bush took on the challenge with grace and style, reading an excerpt from Spoken From the Heart. While always so proper, Laura provided genuine insight to her being courted by George W. Bush (aka #43). Their whirlwind dating/engagement was the talk of West Texas that the “most eligible bachelor in Midland” is marrying “the old maid of Midland.”

Then she introduced “a special surprise guest” — #43. Welcoming the former president with another standing ovation and cheers, the 1,400 got a sneak preview of the next day’s official launch of his book Decision Points, including:

  • Teasing his mother about the “Celebration” — “Mother, I’m glad you did something constructive.”
  • “If you sense shock tomorrow when this book comes out, it’s because, believe it or not, there are some people in our country who do not think I can read much less write.”
  • On his reason for writing the book — “My goals in writing this book are two-fold. First I hope to paint a picture of what it was like to serve as president for eight consequential years. I believe it will be impossible to reach definitive conclusions about my presidency or any recent presidency for that matter for several decades. The passage of time allows passions to cool, results to clarify and scholars to compare different approaches. My hope is that this book will serve as a resource for anyone studying this period in American history. Second, I write to give readers a perspective on decision-making in a complex environment. Many of the decisions that reach the president’s desk are tough calls with strong arguments on both sides. Throughout the book I describe the options I weighed and the principles I followed. I hope this will give you a better sense of why I made the decisions I did.”
  • “I never had to search for a role model. I was the son of George Bush.”
  • On Barbara teaching her little boy French as she drove him through the desert to the orthodontist in Big Spring: “If only Jacques Chirac could have seen me then.”

Following his talk, #43 took a seat on the front row and joined the rest of the audience in hearing the 80 members of the Children’s Chorus of Dallas beautifully perform “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Like any proper hostess, Barbara thanked all for coming, saying, “I bet you’re a little ‘bushed’ tonight.” Then she invited the 1,400 to a light supper.

As guests found their tables, some noted that a certain area of the lobby looked like a convention of Don Draper hunks. It turned out that when you have two former presidents and two former first ladies, you end up with four teams of Secret Service members. One matron asked her table partner, “Do you have to be good-looking to be on the Secret Service?”

As Barbara chatted with Peter Beck (pictured right with Barbara Bush) and #41 joined Dee and Charles Wyly at their table, guests not only found a perfect dinner but gift bags with two books  plus a copy of the winning essays from the writing contest at Peak Preparatory. (If you’d like to see the essays, follow the jump. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has provided the winning copies.)

On the other hand, the younger first couple made an exit signing books (George W. Bush pictured) as they left. After all, #41 had to rise early the next morning for a book signing at Borders, where people were already lining up to meet Barbara’s oldest boy. [Read more…]

John Larroquette reviews: He’s An AMAZING Speaker

MySweetCharity’s Houston bud Kristi Hoss Schiller just sent the following note about Dallas C.A.R.E. speaker John Larroquette:

“He is an AMAZING speaker — we just had hin at the Houston Council two weeks ago — LOVED HIM!”

Trust MSC when we say that Kristi never ever understates anything.

See you tomorrow morning with Johnny boy at Belo. Coffee is on us!

MySweetCharity Will Not Be Regifting This One

This is a thank you note to the person who gave MySweetCharity a head cold. We didn’t take note of your gift until this afternoon and plan to spend the weekend with it. In doing so, we will definitely not “regift” it for another’s enjoyment.

Now is a good time to remind the MSC community —

  • If you have a cold, stay home and away from others.
  • If you are healthy, stay that way by washing your hands and getting your flu shots.
  • If you have money, invest in Puffs and NyQuil soon.


2010 Black Tie Dinner Guests Were Champing At The Bit

Considered the standard bearer of formal fund raising within the LGBT world, the Black Tie Dinner proved its stuff Saturday night at the Dallas Sheraton. Starting at 5:45 p.m., the backup of cars into the hotel was already looking like a wheeled version of a conga line. Alas, the parking garages attached to the Sheraton were marked “Full” to allow space for the valets, so many chose nearby parking lots and a walk.

But the space issue arose again upon entering the festivities. Like the March of the Penguins, tuxedoes were everywhere, especially in the silent auction arena just outside the Lone Star Ballroom. What else would you expect when you have 3,000 over for a black-tie dinner? Didn’t matter. Everyone was having way too much fun and the congestion just added to the evening’s conversations.

But a few hundred were cubbyholed in private receptions in the Austin Ballrooms. The VIP reception for 500 featured a coolly blue-lit Grey Goose bar with four lines of guests waiting their turn for a libation. In from Washington D.C. was Human Rights Campaign CFO Jim Rinefierd in a red shirt and leather tuxedo with matching tie.

Next door was the Speakers reception for a mere 150. Unlike the free-moving VIP reception, it had the nicety of having Judge Barbara Houser and evening honoree Carol West (pictured right with Barbara Houser) greeting guests at the door.  Part of the room was a photo factory for shooting evening headliners like Gavin Creel and Chely Wright with local celebs. Two photographers with name takers were lining ’em up and shooting them. On the sidelines Mitchell Gold, like a Cecil B. DeMille, admonished, “Only two flashes” per setup.

Another person on the side was Chely’s gal pal Lauren Blitzer (pictured left with Chely Wright), who co-wrote Same Sex in the City.

In the back of the room was a handsome Marine all decked out in his formal dress uniform. Could this be a situation of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? Upon inquiring, the Marine turned out to be Chely’s brother Christopher, who was in from Kansas City with his wife Karla, for Chely’s receiving BTD’s Media Award.

Also on hand supporting family ties were Stephanie Vanderburg and Christine Fischer (pictured right with Stephanie Vanderburg), daughters of BTD Board Member Debra Davis.

Across the way attorney Don Gaiser in a silver-and-black tuxedo jacket was escorted to red carpet area to have his photo taken with the celebs. Buying 10 tables gets you Very VIP service, don’t you know! But the standout in this crowd was Grey Goose’s Claire Winslow (pictured) with her red hair and one-of-a-kind dress and stockings.

Before you knew it, the place cleared out and all headed to the silent auction area to await the opening of the Lone Star Ballroom doors for the night’s dinner.

Now mind you, adding more than 600 people to the already crowded silent auction space might be a problem for some, but for the BTD crowd it was a more-the-merrier scenario. It was a melting pot of all professions, backgrounds and personalities like Messy Panocha (pictured). Let’s face it — the drag diva just stands out in any crowd and loves it with those glittery eyelashes and remarkable hairstyle.

Then there was CPA Mike Larsen (pictured) in his natty kilts, freelance musician Henry McDowell in purple tie (guess he didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t Purple Tie Dinner), and sales associate Marjan in her gold-spangled dress.

Promptly at 7 the doors to the Lone Star opened and the 3,000 filed in for dinner, entertainment and learning more about the beneficiaries and honorees.

If you were among the top-tier guests, you were seated at tables with their own server who took drink orders throughout the night. Shoot, it was like life aboard a luxury liner. No muss, no fuss, just let your server know what you want and it was johnny-on-the-spot. . . drink wise. On the other hand, if you wanted food, regardless of your place in the pecking order, you were limited to salad and a basket of bread until 8:29.

While organizers had held off dinner to allow the speakers and entertainers to be heard over the clatter of dishes, they didn’t realize how really hungry folks could get. This may have explained why so many guests started talking among themselves and checking their smartphones instead of listening to the speakers.

After a brilliant performance by Gavin with the Turtle Creek Chorale, BLT Co-Chairs Ron   Guillard (pictured) and Nan Arnold (pictured) welcomed the group. While marvelous in their efforts to coordinate the event, their calling is not in the world of emceeing. This became apparent when the next speaker Carol West received the Kuchling Humanitarian Award. With zeal, presence and eloquence, she set a pace that would be hard to match. But shoot, she’s a Fort Worth minister and knows how to hold a crowd’s attention!

Next on the agenda was Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese (pictured), who could easily be heard but seemed to change the direction of the evening from enjoyment to political agenda. Perhaps it was the fact that it was now verging on 8 p.m. and the crowd was wondering when the next course would arrive on their tables.

At 8:10 a video was shown but the audio was not stellar quality, thereby losing the attention of many.

But that quickly changed when the list of sponsors was recognized. American Airlines seemed to get the biggest applause.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (pictured) took the podium as the keynote speaker and once again thanked the sponsors and launched into her talk. Perhaps it was the pangs of hunger or the hour, but the attention of the crowd started wandering. With Tammy looking down from eight huge screens surrounding the room, you would have thought she would have commanded the room. But instead many were looking for trays of food that were nowhere in sight and others were checking their smartphones.

The bread basket at one table was making its final pass when a young man, like a starving hero in a lifeboat, gallantly offered the last piece to the rest of the table. When no one took him up on his offer, he grabbed it and apologetically said, “I’m sorry, but I’m so hungry.”

At 8:25 one man could be heard loudly questioning, “Where’s the damned food?” Within four minutes, Tammy concluded her remarks to a round of applause and hopes that food would soon be on its way, but no. Instead the list of sponsors rolled on the screens with a voice reading each one over the PA system. Waiters were standing on the sidelines just waiting for the signal to present the food. As the last of the Single Seat Sponsors was read, the parade of trays started marching from the kitchen. It was then that a voice over the PA system announced, “You must be seated to be served.” Like children attending their first holiday sit-down supper, the guests stayed put.

But then, after the guests enjoyed some mighty tasty steak and creme brulee, it was time for the live auction and happenings that once again allowed the Black Tie Dinner to be a monumental money maker. How much? That will be revealed in December. Check back here for the final results.

Thank You

Today is Veterans Day. Every day should be Veterans Day for the remarkable services they have and are providing our country. If you know a veteran, thank them. If you don’t, go out and meet one. There will a whole slew of them at the Veterans Day celebration starting at 11 at Dallas City Hall.

Advice From Voices For Children About Traffic Issues Tomorrow

If you’re headed to Voices For Children Luncheon featuring Carson Kressley at Union Station or anything in downtown Dallas tomorrow, beware. The annual Veterans Day parade will be taking place at noon.

The good folks are Voices For Children just sent over this advice for their guests —

Please make note that the Veterans Day parade will be held downtown tomorrow, around the same time as the Voices for Children luncheon. Therefore, please allow ample time for your commute to Union Station. We were informed by the city that one lane on Houston Street will be kept open specifically for our luncheon, which will lead you directly to complimentary valet parking at Union Station.  Furthermore, we hired two police officers to direct traffic for luncheon guests.  Please forward this information to your guests.

To view the route of the parade, please click on the following link:

Okay, now you’re got the directions, so you just might want to march accordingly.