Lesson Learned: Volunteering Is A Two-Way Street

Occasionally, I share something personal and hope you don’t mind if I do that just now. Back in late February I lost my beloved Faux (pictured). Despite my telling one and all that I knew that day would come, I was far from prepared for the loss. In my “depression,” I took time off from my volunteer work at Baylor’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program. It  just hurt too much to return to a program that Faux had introduced me to.

Big mistake!

Yesterday was my first day back at AATP with Nellie (pictured) at my side. It was like breathing for the first time in months. Seeing and visiting with the patients and staff was gratifying to say the very least. Hearing patients talk about their pets that they hadn’t seen in days, and in some cases months, made me realize that Nellie was the canine fix they needed. One person admitted that they hadn’t had a dog since they were a child and recalled the most endearing details of that long-ago friend.

So what was the lesson here? Just when you think you’re doing someone else a favor, you realize that in reality you are doing yourself the favor. Volunteering is a two-way street. Not only do you help others, but you help yourself to be part of a much bigger and better effort.

While you know I will always regret my loss of Faux, I am so grateful that she introduced me to volunteering and the remarkable people in that universe.

Walking 2 Destiny Celebrates Juneteenth And Honors Rev. Dr. Larry McGriff

As part of the Juneteenth celebration this past Saturday, the Memnosyne Foundation held its Walking 2 Destiny Festival for more than 300 youngsters (five to 18) and their families at the Lifeway Church.

Photo credit: Marty Perlman

Built upon last year’s celebration,this year’s event was dedicated to the late Bishop Dr. Larry McGriff of the Church of the Living God, who died earlier this year from an aneurysm. To mark the occasion, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert joined Larry’s wife, the Rev. Dr. Karen Hollie (pictured with Tom), and many others in creating a day of activities to help youngsters “to make positive changes in their lives as they become involved on a personal level with others who care.”

This year’s festival was loaded with activities including dance, traditional African prayers and music by both Bandan Koro and Kweku G. Kordrington, thanks to the Office of Cultural Affairs. Bobby Patterson, recording artist and KKDA radio personality, emceed between acts performed by Genesis, the Cameron Parks Mime Troupe and Apostle Darrell Yancey, gospel recording artist.

In addition to Dusti the Clown, they also had “AFI” Bell from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, who came dressed in traditional African dress and captivated the audience of both children and adults with her dynamic storytelling.  She incorporated instruments, songs and chants to educate the audience in a dynamic, interactive way about the history of black people in America and specifically the reason behind the celebration of Juneteenth.

Freddie Jones, nationally-acclaimed composer, producer and trumpeter, provided a music workshop for children inside.  Jones also took the main stage outside and entertained the crowds with his contemporary jazz music.

Photo credit: Marty Perlman

And the smart organizers arranged to have lunch provided free for all. And we all know how very important it is to close with a winning moment. Well, it came when Imam Muhammed Shakoor of the Merciful Redeemer Mosque, Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk and the Rev. Dr. Todd Collier distributed (pictured) more than 100 pairs of Nike gym shoes and more than 200 backpacks to community children.  The backpacks were provided by the Memnosyne Foundation and filled with food donated by Christian Community Action of Lewisville.

The festival’s success was possible thanks to volunteers from the Memnosyne Foundation’s Interfaith Service Network, Lifeway Church, the Ismaili Muslim Community, Baha’i Temple of Dallas, Center for Spiritual Living and individual volunteers from various faith traditions across Dallas.  Participation from the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation and local arts organizations, as well as sponsorships from Taylor Rental, Oak Cliff Presbyterian and Cathedral of Hope, and The Office of Cultural Affairs.  KHVN-FM and Elite News also contributed to the success of this year’s Walking 2 Destiny Festival.

Just In: ELECTRIC Is Sold Out, But Saturday’s Baseball Game Is Still Pitching!

We were just getting ready to announce that the VIP packages for Friday night’s ELECTRIC at the House of Blues were sold out, but general admission was still available.

Forget that! Now everything ELECTRIC is sold out. Oh, shoot! You’re gonna miss the 1,000 Edison lightbulbs, 8,000 feet of cable, 3,000 mirrors, 1,200 candles, 12 electricians and a heck of a lot of good looking people. That’s not saying that the 12 electricians won’t be hunks.

You’re upset we can tell and some of you aren’t quite sure what ELECTRIC is. It’s part of [Read more…]

Dancing For Dollars Brings In The Green For Paws In The City

Because these brave and hardworking folks (pictured) danced and judged their hearts out at “Top Hat and Tails,” Paws In The City raised $125,000!

Congratulations to Tara Harper, Tina Foster and a whole litter of people and sponsors who were behind the scenes making it a success, too.

Take a bow-wow!

Destitute Kittens For Komen, or Beasts for Breasts

Their father left their mother high and dry. Luckily, the staff at Town East Galloway Animal Clinic knew how to handle the situation and knew how to hit our heartstrings:

“The kittens range in age from 6-10 weeks old. We are charging a $150 adoption fee. That includes the first set of vaccinations, deworming, Home Again Microchip, and spay or neuter when they come of age. Adoption package is worth $420. Proceeds goes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation ($100 from every cat adopted). So anyone who is interested just have them come by Town East Galloway Animal Clinic at 2860 N. Galloway Mesquite,Tx to check them out or call at 972-613-9871.”

Sorry if the picture isn’t up to your standards, but these are kittens not fashion runway strutters.BTW, if you have experienced kitten raising, you know this is a major bargain.

River Rats Get An Update On The Trinity

There’s something downright lovable about being called a River Rat in Dallas. Why? Because it’s associated with the Trinity project. Last Wednesday about 100 of ’em including Follette May (pictured right with future River Rat Monica Lake) gathered at Plaza II at Turtle Creek. Not shabby for rats, huh?

The purpose of the evening was to hear about the Trinity Strand Trail and Groundwork Dallas. Ugh! That sounds pretty highfalutin. But never fear. We have a simple translation. Groundwork is a nonprofit group that works to maintain and improve the Great Trinity Forest and surrounding areas. Boiling it down to language that even MySweetCharity can understand, the event was held to acquaint folks with all the Trinity Trail activity.

Thank heaven, Gail “Mother of the Trinity” Thomas (pictured) was on hand and said they’re getting ready to launch a corporate campaign for the trails, focusing on all the trails in the Trinity project. One 12-mile trail, for example, is planned to go from White Rock Lake south to the Trinity River Audubon Center. This trail is called the Trinity “spine trail.” Gail said that when she and her husband started sailing at White Rock Lake 40 years ago, they couldn’t imagine that anyone would run there around the lake. “Now look at it!” she said. It’s the same with these Trinity trails. “Thousands [of people] will be on them,” she said, once they’re built out.

Also present were Mike Kunter (pictured), past chairman and current board member of the Trinity Strand Trail, and Shelly White (pictured), executive director of the Trinity Strand Trail. Standing by a big map, they talked about the Strand, explaining that the 7.8-mile hike-and-bike commuter trail along the original Trinity River watercourse would eventually be a “connecting trail” from the Katy Trail to the Trinity River Project. It is slated to wind through the commercial areas just northwest of downtown Dallas and provide access to points of interest like the Southwestern Medical District, DART stops and the Design District.

Hello? Can someone provide a timeline? Yup, they shore can! While some limited work has been done, they hope to start construction on the Strand’s $5 million first phase sometime this year.

The evening of spreading the good word about the Trinity Trail was sponsored by Colliers International.

Maria May Is Sorta Leaving AT&T PAC

Just learned over the weekend that Maria May, who supervised the public relations for the AT&T  PAC’s opening less than a year ago, has given her notice. She’s joining Christine Roger‘s SparkFarm, a pr/marketing operation. Interesting that both gals worked at The Richards Group, but at different times. Then Maria hired Christine to help ramrod the media for the PAC opening.

The smart folks at the PAC are keeping Maria on as a consultant while they search high and low for her replacement.

Summer Block Party Time In The Arts District

Alliances among the nonprofits not only build awareness, they result in a home run for the community. A perfect example is the partnership of the Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center resulting in tonight’s Summer Block Party in the Arts District. Besides staying open to the wee hours (6 to midnight), they’re offering all types of entertainment at incredibly, unbelievable prices.

What types of entertainment? Musical entertainment (Emerald City, Dick Dale and Jimmy Dale, Grace Hula and Tahitian Dance), movies (The Wizard of Oz), exhibitions, food, beverages, tours and lots more. You really need to check out their websites.

So put on your walking shorts and plan to mosey around the Arts District tonight. And don’t think of it as a cheap date. Rather, consider it an evening of enlightenment that won’t bust the wallet.



Ratings Soared For Paws In The City’s Dancing With Our Stars

You just thought Dancing with the Stars was over for the season when Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough won the mirrored-ball trophies. Wrong! Paws in the City held its own version and managed to jam all the fun, drama and glamour of the television show’s entire season into one night at the Frontiers of Flight Museum Saturday.

The evening began with a jam-packed reception with silent auction and available pooches for adoption on the sideline. One little, four-legged Lab mix was guest of honor despite a nasty looking back. Her name is Faith (pictured. Editor’s note: The photo is reduced dramatically because it’s pretty grim. If you would like to see it full blown, just click on the photo.) and she is recovering from someone pouring hot grease on her back. You’d never know if from her attitude. Throughout the evening she was a friend to all and the feeling was reciprocated as she made her way through the crowd.

Another critter in the reception was Spencer Nilsson (pictured). No, he’s not a pooch, but he’s typical of the many who are the secret to Paws in the City’s success. Spencer is a PITC volunteer and fosters pets until they find their “forever homes.” Checking the dogs up for adoption at the party, he owned up to having a beagle and presently fostering a Maine Coon. You know volunteers really love their work.

Following the reception, the 650 guests adjourned to the main hall where tables were so tightly in place that it’s a wonder the servers were able to squeeze through.  Ah, the problem of having too many people supporting an event.

It was announced that the Wyly Medical Assistance Fund had issued a challenge — if $20,000 could be raised during the evening, the Fund would match it to provide money for animal medical treatment, boarding and training of animals.

We’ll tell you if they made it later.

But first Event Host Preston Pearson (pictured) took the stage. Now Preston is well-known for being one of the Dallas Cowboy legends. Time and time again, like so many of his fellow players, he has donated time, effort and money to causes throughout this area. But you may not realize that this incredible athlete has a very soft spot for animals. It’s largely because of a gal named “Lucy.” She was a dog that Preston’s son asked him to take care of while he was away. It was a match made in heaven.

“I fell in love with Lucy,” the Super Bowl winner said with pride. Then he told of her her death about four years ago and the inscription on her tombstone, “Lucy, A Friend to All.” It was at this point that Preston started tearing up. Regaining his composure, [Read more…]

Super Bowl Activities Continue With Highway Renaming And Tree Plantings

Yesterday Alicia Landry and the boys (Roger Staubach, Bill Lively and Michael Morris) unveiled the “Tom Landry Super Bowl Highway.”  Now calm down. It’s not permanent, mind you. But until Feb. 6, Interstate-30 from Dallas to Fort Worth will have that designation. Did you know that in October 2001, it was named “Tom Landry Highway”? Interesting since the Cowboys Stadium was just a gleam in Jerry Jones‘ eye back then.

And the Super Bowl crowd will continue tomorrow checking off another item off their “must do” list. The first of 13 tree-planting projects will take place at 1601 E. Randol Mill Road in Arlington. You can expect to see the likes of Jack Groh (Director of NFL Environmental Program), Leslie Nixon (Miami Dolphins/Super Bowl XLIV Host Committee), Tony Fay (North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee), Preston Pearson (former Dallas Cowboy), Mel LeBlanc (City of Arlington Council Member), Patrick Little and Betsy Orton (Texas Trees Foundation) and dozens of Pop Warner Football players. And, yes, there will be cheerleaders.

Those nice folks from the last Super Bowl in Miami are providing a gold shovel that was used in planting their final tree. South Florida is also supplying a Live Oak that is user friendly in Florida and Texas.

While you may think tree hugging and Super Bowls are a strange coupling, it’s been part of the NFL Environmental Program for the past six years resulting in more than 20,000 trees being planted in cities hosting Super Bowls.

D’Andra Simmons Announces Junior League of Dallas Fundraising Plans With Peter Duchin As A Key Player

D’Andra Simmons (pictured) knows how to get people to attend a party. Just have Peter Duchin, the darling of New York cafe society, not only show up, but play a few tunes on the ivories. And that’s what happened Thursday night at Galerie Zuger for the announcement of JLD’s plans for the upcoming year. What an announcement it was!

Just as the place was in over-fill capacity, the crowd learned that D’Andra  [Read more…]

Think Blind Side When It Comes To Wednesday’s Child Alliance Lunch

More plans for the upcoming fall fundraising season were announced Thursday night at Eddie V’s. Wednesday’s Child Alliance President Suzanne Bock Grishman (pictured) rallied her WCA troops to reveal two very special women will be part of their plans for the annual luncheon on Friday, Dec. 3, at the Ritz Carlton.

First, Suzanne announced that the luncheon speaker is none other than Leigh Anne Tuohy. What’s that? That name sounds familiar, but can’t recall it as being a local? Right! Think The Blindside gal herself. Yup, the Wednesday team managed to land the #1 champion of foster parents to address the luncheon. If you’ve heard Leigh Anne in an interview or in person, you know that she won’t mince words.

As if that wasn’t enough, Suzanne went on to reveal Janelle (pictured) and Larry Friedman will serve as the 2010 luncheon chair.

The steering committee for this one includes Carol Aaron, Andrea Alcorn, Mary Black, Sally Blanton, Yvonne Crum, Lynn Townsend Dealey, Carmen and Don Godwin, Sue Goodnight, Suzanne Bock Grishman, Lynn McBee, Elaine Pearlman, Sandy and Tommy Rouse, Carol Seay, Joanne Tiechman, Debbie Vaughn and Carmaleta Whiteley.


Aetna Provided $338,000 To Area Groups In 2009

Did you know Aetna and the Aetna Foundation in 2009 awarded 27 community grants and sponsorships in North Texas totaling $338,000? While their primary focus was on disease prevention, obesity and health screening, they didn’t leave other needy groups out.

Out of the $24M awarded nationally by the Aetna Foundation, the following North Texas groups received grants from Aetna and its employees:

  • $75,000 to the American Heart Association;
  • $25,000 to the American Diabetes Association Inc.,
  • $25,000 to the Dallas Concilio of Hispanic Service Organizations,
  • $15,000 to the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA),
  • $10,000 to the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and
  • $5,000 to the Back to School Round-Up.

Also, receiving Aetna grants or sponsorships were [Read more…]

JUST IN: Tim McGraw Announced For XLV Countdown Live from Cowboys Stadium

Tim McGraw (pictured) announced today at Superpages.com that he will perform at the XLV Countdown Live From Cowboys Stadium.

It’s been a secret for months. Such hints as the performer had sold 40 million units and was a multi-Grammy winner were shared, but serious money questioned whether the committee would want another country western performer.

(Tim’s wife, C/W singer Faith Hill, opened the three-part concert series this spring at Bass Hall.)

Also on the program will be Fort Worth’s Van Cliburn and a historic tribute to the Dallas Cowboys’ 50th anniversary and a celebration of the career of newly-minted Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith.

Unlike the two previous concerts, the Sept. 10th event will have v-e-r-y “family-friendly” seating with most seats selling for $25. Tickets go on sale June 26.

The evening is being presented by Frito-Lay. Pass the chips, please!

Plans Are Underway for Evening Under The Star

The great thing about summer in Dallas is the plans for the upcoming fall fundraising season are in full swing. Wednesday night the powerhouse local crowd of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital gathered the troops at the Winspear to hear about this year’s events including the St. Jude/Derek Harper Golf Classic and Evening Under the Star.

Event Chairs Mike Gruber and Perry Smith reported that the golf tournament was on for Monday, Oct. 18 at Stonebriar Country Club. As for the gala, it had a mighty big challenge in trying to compete with last year’s record-breaking $1M raised by Event Chair Lydia Novakov. But never fear, they were gearing up to meet the challenge by returning to Cowboys Stadium with an expected 900 in attendance.  They’re already got MassMutual as the presenting sponsor and Chili’s Grill & Bar and Diane and Mike Gruber on board as the Title Sponsors. Nice!

While they hedged on what the entertainment would be, Mike and Perry did reveal that Sherice Brown (pictured) and her Woodrow Wilson graduate/Heisman Trophy Winner/former Raiders- and Buccaneers-playing husband Tim would head up the 2010 Host Committee. What a twosome!

Not only are they gorgeous and smart, they’re celebrating their 13th anniversary on June 21.

When asked what the toughest thing about playing football was, Tim (pictured) immediately responded “Discipline.” He went on to say “that the discipline learned in the NFL can be applied to other realms as well.” For instance? Well, like in his life after professional football in establishing Smart Card Giving, where people can load up Visa cards and a certain percentage of their purchases will go to nonprofits.

Told you they were smart. You can only guess what they are planning for the Oct. 29th event for St. Jude’s.

Joining the Browns in planning the event will be the: [Read more…]

Discover Water At Museum Of Nature & Science Saturday

Despite all the threatening clouds and the surrounding areas being drenched by rain lately, the immediate area has been pretty dry and that could be a real problem as the summer progresses.

The Museum of Nature and Science is ahead of the game. As part of its Discovery Days program, they’ll be holding “Discover Water” presented by Dr Pepper and Snapple tomorrow. Now, before you go off thinking it’s gonna boring lectures on the evils of letting the faucet drip, forget that line of thinking. The Museum staff knows how to make learning fun and intriguing. From having aquatic turtles to making clouds in a bottle, a whole day of activities are on hand from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Museum.

Suggestion: Single dads should take full advantage of this opportunity.

Get Out Your Top Hat And Tails Dusted Off For Paws In The City Saturday Night

Paws in the City got a nice story on WFAA last night. Perfect timing! Their annual fundraiser, “Top Hat and Tails,” will have a “Dancing With The Stars” feel this Saturday night at Frontiers of Flight Museum.  Hosts Drew Pearson and Scott Murray have arranged for such celebs as Olympic Gold Medalist Carly Patterson, foodie Dee Lincoln, KTVT-CH. 11’s Gary Seith, Dallas Cowboy wife Michelle Witten, chef Richard Chamberlain, TV/radio personalities Jocelyn White and Brendan Higgins and KXAS-CH. 5’s Kim Fischer to dance up a storm.

The dance competition will pair celebrities with Arthur Murray dance pros. There will be one dance routine performed by each couple and judged by  Claudia Marshall, Kellie Rasberry and Tony Dorsett. You just know there will be some Simon Cowell comments dropped. Winners will be determined by a combination of judges’ scores and guests’ voting.

In addition to the fun, the St. Francis of Assisi Award will be presented to Holly Forsythe for her dedication and service to animals.

Barking Hound Village, Toothacres, Urban Paws, Tailwaggers, WUF, Kinder Kritter, Boarding Bungalow and Bikerdogz Dog Training will be presented awards for their support of Paws In The City. What kind of support? They have helped board and train dogs in the program.

Event chair Becky Haisma and Vice Chair Tina Fairbanks have Honorary Chairs Samantha Reid, Andrea Alcorn and Nancy Latner helping them make this another success story for Paws In The City.

Understand there are a few tickets still available.

JUST IN: Tonight’s DSO Concert At The Arboretum Not Gonna Happen

Smart minds at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra have wisely canceled tonight’s concert at the Arboretum.


Look outside. Drip, drop, thunder, lightening.

ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Programs Ceremony Was All Smiles

With moms pushing baby strollers in one direction at the Arboretum entrance this morning, more than 200 nonprofit leaders and interns headed straight to the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall for Exxon Mobil Community Summer Jobs Program.

The program is a lifesaver for many of the nonprofits. Exxon provides the funding for nonprofits to have interns. It’s a win-win scenario. Not only do the nonprofits get eager young people to help out, they students get internships which definitely dress up any resume.

According to Exxon’s Corporate Citizenship and Community Investments Manager Robert Lanyon (pictured) with his oh-so charming British accent, “More than 1,400 young people have participated in the program since its start 20 years ago.” (Don’t plan on seeing Robert at next year’s event. He’s headed this fall to handle public affairs for Exxon in London. Hmm, as one astute observer said, “Everyone in public affairs nowadays is British.”)

One of the highlights of the ceremony was [Read more…]

Tip Of The Hat To Hope Cottage

Hats in Texas are like great manicures on brides. Absolutely necessary!

So, the Hope Cottage folks are having a photo contest on bonnets, not manicures, skewed to their type of folks — tykes. If you have a picture of your baby in a gigantic hat like Hope Baby (pictured and provided by Hope Cottage), just post it on Hope Cottage’s Facebook page by June 15. The picture of the baby with the biggest hat will be revealed on HC’s Facebook page. . . where else?

BTW, the baby doesn’t have to be a Hope Cottage graduate. S/he can be any baby with a chapeau.


Jaylyn Gramer Is Making Her Mom Proud

Caring for and watching a loved one suffer through cancer is unimaginable for most of us. But try being a son or daughter whose parent loses the battle to breast cancer.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure that has time and time again created new programs and assistance for families of breast cancer patients has once again risen to the cause. It has created scholarships ($10,000 a year for up to four years) for four undergraduates who have lost a parent to breast cancer.

One of the recipients this year is from our neck of the woods. It is Jaylyn Gramer of Aledo. While you may not know Jaylyn, you should. She was just 14 when her mother passed away from breast cancer. Jaylyn worked two jobs while completing high school to help pay off debt from medical expenses and maintained an exemplary grade point average.

After losing her mother, Gramer began participating in breast cancer awareness activities, including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®. She also spent time in Mexico and Peru doing mission work and has been involved in community service projects like Habitat for Humanity. This disease is personal for Gramer, and she has dedicated her life to being an advocate for breast cancer awareness.

This fall Jaylyn will be a freshman at Texas A&M University, where she plans to study business education. Her ultimate goal in life — to make her mother proud.

Why do we suspect her mom is already very proud?

Despite Summer And Graffiti, TREC Keeps Trekking

Yup, just as reported — the graffiti gremlins created havoc at Lee Park last Thursday. But everything was perfectly normal within Arlington Hall for The Real Estate Council’s membership open house that evening.

Sponsored by Aguirre Roden, Beck/Corgan, Gaedeke Group, Granite and Thompson & Knight, the place was jumping with the sounds of deal makers comparing notes and making plans for the future.

Among them was former Dallas County Commissioner Margaret Kelliher (pictured with Betsy de Monte) who was catching up with Central Dallas Ministries’ John Greenan.

Dallas Opera's "Baritones & Beachballs" Is Hot Stuff For the Summer

The Dallas Opera folks realize that not everyone leaves town for the summer. So they’ve put together “Baritones & Beachballs” starting June 20. Thanks to presentation sponsor Skintastic, the June schedule offers something for everyone. Here’s the list of activities to jot down in your agendas: [Read more…]

Chick Lit Luncheon Brings In A $144,259 Nest Egg

It’s a Friday on a short work week. How great! Let’s make it even better with some pretty fab news from Community Partners of Dallas. It seems the accounting elves have finished tallying up the results from April’s Chick Lit Luncheon with Chicago author Jen Lancaster. Thanks to the event, $144,259 was raised to provide necessities for children in the care of Dallas County Child Protective Services.

“We are extremely thankful to our presenting sponsor, Dr. Robert and Lara Tafel (pictured), as well as all of the other generous donors and volunteers who helped to make this year’s luncheon such a success,” said Paige McDaniel, Community Partners of Dallas President and CEO. “The Chick Lit Luncheon provides necessities for our community’s youngest victims of abuse. With the support from our favorite ‘chicks,’ Dallas children now have the critical resources they need to experience hope and healing.”

In addition to the generous Tafels, the following sponsors also deserve a “well done”: [Read more…]