Genesis Annual Luncheon VIP Sponsors Celebrated The Jane Doe And HeRO Awards At Amanda And Brint Ryan’s Home-Sweet-Home

Amanda and Brint Ryan

When Amanda and Brint Ryan waved goodbye to the last of the 75 guests at the Genesis Annual Luncheon VIP Sponsors Party on Thursday, May 11, hopefully they checked all the nooks and crannies of their palatial digs. The reason? The main house and grounds were so absolutely perfect, it was good money that someone would hide out just to spend the night.

Ryan main house

Ryan doghouse

Even the Ryan’s doghouse was a mini-version of the main house. The two Ryan pooches had to watch the festivities from their fenced-in mini-estate, while the party was going on.

But the night wasn’t just for critters and palace gazing. It was to thank the Genesis major donors and to present some awards in advance of the annual luncheon on May 15.

Gerald Turner

Chuck Thoele and David Miller

When a classical string group stopped playing and the pool’s fountains closed down, it signaled that the evening’s program was getting under way, with guests in attendance like Nancy Best, Gail and Gerald Turner, Carolyn and David Miller, Beth and Chuck Thoele, Bob Mong and Steve Langbein.

First to speak was Genesis Annual Luncheon Co-Chair Nikki Webb, who thanked the Ryans for their hospitality. “I find your house so incredibly warm, and I’m sure it’s a reflection of y’all,” she said. Then, Nikki revealed for the first time that a fella that she’d dated in college had proved to be a very wrong person for a relationship. She admitted that while she feared him, her friends claimed that he was really a great guy. Luckily, Nikki rose above and out of that situation and eventually married her husband/Genesis Annual Luncheon Co-Chair Crayton Webb.  

Crayton and Nikki Webb

Next Crayton took the mic and announced that this year’s HeRO Award, which honors men who take a public stand against domestic violence, would be going to former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. The ex-chief, Crayton said, “was involved in preventing domestic violence long before” the tragic police shootings on July 7, 2016. Brown would accept the award, it was explained, at the May 15 luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.

With that, Genesis Women’s Shelter CEO Jan Langbein took over, explaining that the 2017 Jane Doe Award—which honors groups or individuals who stand strongly in support of domestic-abuse victims—would be going to the Junior League of Dallas. Jan, who was initially exposed to Genesis as a JLD volunteer and later won its highest honor, the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award, explained that Genesis currently enjoys the services “of the most JLD volunteers of any nonprofit in Dallas.”

Nancy Best and Jan Langbein

Bonner Allen

Accepting the Jane Doe award was Bonner Allen, the league’s 2016-2017 president. While 2017-2018 President Jennifer Tobin looked on, Bonner proudly said, “I can’t tell you how much this award means to us. I couldn’t think of a better partner [for the league] than Genesis.”  

Kristen Sanger And Cindy Stager To Co-Chair The Family Place’s Texas Trailblazer Luncheon With Gretchen Carlson As Keynote Speaker

While all the recent headlines have been about The Family Place’s brick-and-mortar successes (the new Ann Moody Center and Texas’ first men’s shelter), behind the scenes work is continuing to raise funds for the organization’s various programs.

In addition to the Partners Card fall fundraiser celebrating its 25th anniversary from October 27-November 5, the annual Texas Trailblazer Luncheon has lined up a couple of tested fundraising co-chairs — Kristen Sanger and Cindy Stager.

Kristen Sanger (File photo)

Cindy Stager (File photo)

Between the two of ‘em, they’ve held various leadership roles for events benefiting Community Partners of Dallas, Housing Crisis Center, Heroes for Children, The Retina Foundation of the Southwest, Dallas Habitat for Humanity, American Heart Association, TACA and, of course, The Family Place, to name a few.

Interestingly, they both co-chaired the annual Cattle Baron’s Ball, but at different times. Kristen co-chaired the American Cancer Society fundraiser in 2012 and Cindy in 2014.

With all the expertise, it’s no surprise that the two ladies are co-chairing the 2017 Texas Trailblazer Luncheon on Friday, October 6, at the Hilton Anatole. For the keynote speaker, they’re having former FOX News Channel host Gretchen Carlson. In addition to being Miss America in 1989 and having recently made headlines about sexual harassment in the workplace, the 5’3” blonde used to work at KXAS-NBC from 1998-2000.

Also on the luncheon agenda will be the annual Trailblazer Awards that are presented to “those who create positive change and contribute to the quality of life in our community.” As for this year’s awardees, stay tuned.

PS — You might want to send Gretchen a birthday card on Wednesday.

With A Vintage Cadillac Out Front, Cosmopolitans On Trays And The Clutch Poolside, Genesis Luncheon Sponsors Got In The Swing Of Things

Eddie Ortega and Greg Nieberding with Dixie Belle

It was a night of whiskey sours and cosmopolitans. There was even a vintage turquoise blue Cadillac displaying in the circular driveway. The night was Wednesday, May 3 (aka the Genesis Women’s Shelter Luncheon sponsor party).

Nikki and Crayton Webb

The location was Greg Nieberding’s and Eddie Ortega’s and their Schnauzer daughter Dixie Belle’s home. Actually, the 60-year-old mid-century residence’s rich history was the source of the Mad Men’s evening theme. During the years when singer Margaret and fashion designer Ed Cupaioli owned the home that they built, it was a gathering place for the likes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and countless others. Over the years, the Cupaiolis had lovingly taken care of the home. Upon Margaret’s death at the age of 96, the family decided to sell it. Luckily, Greg and Eddie bought it. But if asked, Greg and Eddie insist, “We’re really just caretakers.” Yes, they’ve updated things like the windows and the roof, but they have maintained the feel and design by architect Jack Wood.

To complement the occasion, Genesis Luncheon Co-Chair Nikki Webb surprised all, except husband/Luncheon Co-Chair Crayton Webb, with her finding and wearing a suit created by Ed.

The Clutch

Despite breezes provided by Mother Nature causing the lineup of towering trees to sway like back-up singers, the presentation took place with The Clutch quartet crooning in front of the swimming pool.

Jan Langbein and Gail Davis

Abi Perpall and Bianca Jackson

Rachel Michell

Bob White

Nancy Best

That smart move got the guests including Raffle Chair Rachel Michell and husband John Michell, Luncheon Underwriting Co-Chairs Abi and Fred Perpall, Bob White, Gail Davis, Genesis Board of Trustees Chair Nancy Best and Jessica and Drew Spaniol out on the patio for presentations by Genesis CEO Jan Langbein, Nikki and Crayton, Greg and Genesis Senior Director of Fund and Community Development Bianca Jackson about the upcoming luncheon featuring Arianna Huffington at the Hilton Anatole on Monday, May 15.

Mission Ole Letter Signing Wasn’t At Your Same Old Dinner Table

Ann Schooler

When volunteers are called together to sign letters with information about upcoming fundraisers, they usually find themselves gathered around a dining room in a home located along a tree-lined street. But when residential tastemaker extraordinaire Ann Kellogg Schooler is involved, one can expect a pretty darn remarkable table and setting. And, boy, did she prove just that point for the 18th Mission Ole letter signing.

It seems that she decided to do some “redecorating” at her 35,000-square-foot warehouse in the Design District. That’s where she had stashed incredible pieces of furnishings and art from her trips to Europe and around the world for her clients. But, it was more than just prettying up the place. She had transformed the storehouse into Wolf Hall Antique Collective, a 10,000-square-foot showroom of drool-able treasures available for the world to eyeball and purchase. For an added touch, she had London antiques dealer Timothy Langston and Austin-based botanist Lauren Lachance set up shop.

As Ann told PaperCity‘s Rebecca Sherman, “I love things that come with ghosts of the past.”

Cindy Turner

Margaret Spellings

So, it was only natural that Ann had her Mission Ole Co-Chair Margaret Spellings along with former Chair/Advisor Cindy Turner, Auction Chair Heather Randall and Trinity River Mission’s Michelle Mora-Lopez  over to Wolf Hall to put pens to paper for the Saturday, October 28th fundraiser for Trinity River Mission.

Heather Randall and Michelle Mora-Lopez

Mission Ole 2016 (file photo)

Due to the overwhelming success of last year’s event, they’re crossing the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to West Dallas’ Chicken Scratch and The Foundry with its outdoor fire pits and signature margaritas and cocktails. Plans call for sparkling lights, a live band, mariachis, ballet folklorico dancer and faces that have to be seen to be believed!

This is strictly an event requiring absolutely no ties and stilettos. Just make sure that you get your place reserved and your GPS set, because it’s a fun night that definitely proves West Dallas is alive and well and Trinity River Mission is one to support even if your letter hasn’t arrived yet. Tickets are available now!

Funds raised from the event will support Trinity River Mission’s programs “to promote literacy, encourage academic success and develop effective life skills among disadvantaged youth in West Dallas, in the belief that education connects us to life’s possibilities.”

Tia And Shel Wynne To Co-Chair North Texas Food Bank’s 2017 Harvest Fundraiser

Harvest*

Tia and Shel Wynne (File photo)

Fresh from co-chairing last month’s TACA’s Party On The Green, Tia Wynne is back fundraising. This time the former Cattle Baron’s co-chair is partnering up with her husband/Wynne Transportation VP Shel Wynne for the North Texas Food Bank’s 2017 Harvest.

Plans called for the foodies to gather at The Shed at the Dallas Farmers Market on Friday, September 15, for “an array of Farm-to-Table restaurants, entertainment and a silent auction.” The Wynnes have already lined up Energy Transfer Partners to be the presenting sponsor.

Thanks to the previous three Harvests, the NTFB has reaped $790,372 and provided 2.3M meals for its child and senior programs.

Underwriting opportunities are available now by contacting Lora Farris.

Our Friends Place’s 14th Annual Gala – Auction And Casino Night Celebrated With Awards, Partying And Alumnae Accomplishments

There was a heck of a lot of celebrating over at the Omni Dallas on Saturday, April 29, thanks to Our Friends Place‘s 14th Annual Gala. From handing out awards, playing casino games, dining, dancing and most importantly hearing success stories from OFP graduates, it was a night to remember. Here’s a report from the field:

Tonnette Easter, Barbara Milo and Leslie Simmons*

Our Friends Place (OFP) celebrated their 14th Annual Gala – Auction And Casino Night on Saturday, April 29, at the beautiful Omni Dallas Hotel.  Honorary co-chairs included LuAnn and George Damiris and Debbie and Jack Gibson. Gala – Auction and Casino Night co-chairs included Tonnette Easter, Leslie Simmons and Barbara Milo.

Despite the blustery and rainy forecast, the event was well attended with those eager to bid on auction packages, play casino games and get their dance feet moving. 

Suzan E. Fenner*

Sharyl Weber and Sharon Pope*

The night started off with the presentation of The 13th Annual Ebby Awards to Suzan E. Fenner and the Northwood Woman’s Club represented by NWC President Sheryl Weber and Board Member Sharon Pope. Each recipient was honored to be recognized for their significant contributions and achievements in the advancement of girls and/or women in North Texas. The award is named after Ebby Halliday Acers, who was a tireless and passionate advocate for women in the community, and she was the first recipient of this award in 2005.

Another heartfelt highlight occurred when a few OFP alumnae were recognized for their achievements and growth through the program. We introduced Morgan and Shabnam, recent alums who shared their story about being homeless through video to a completely silent room of over 450 people. The impact of the OFP program was evident when both young ladies came to the stage to share updates.

Morgan finished her Associates Degree at Richland College while at Our Friends Place and is now living in an apartment and going to school at Texas Women’s University in Denton.

Sue Hesseltine and Cindy Tonnessen*

Shabnam is continuing her Year Up program through El Centro College and will graduate in late summer. She also works with Dallas ISD as a Homeless Youth Advocate at a local high school.

“Thanks to everyone who made our 14th Annual Gala – Auction and Casino Night such a success,” said Our Friends Place Executive Director Sue Thiers Hesseltine. “With the record number of guests, we were able to increase awareness of Our Friends Place, while having a great time raising funds to help the young women who call Our Friends Place home.” 

Gala sponsors, whose contributions made the evening an even greater success, included:

  • Diamond ($15,000) – Ben E. Keith Co.
  • Ruby ($10,000) – Suzan and Peter Fenner and Debbie and Jack Gibson
  • Emerald ($5,000) – BDO, Ebby Halliday Realtors, HollyFrontier, Paladin Partners, PWC, Laura and Jerry Fonville, Jan Wilkes/Debbie and Clarence Woosley and The Lee Family Charitable Fund
  • Jade ($3,000) and Sapphire ($2,000) – EY, The Fab Four, 12 General Contracting Services, Heather Bennett/Angela Maverick/Micki Seager/Cindy Tonnessen, Diane and Curtis Hawkins, TDKrause Consulting and Peggy Busby, Leslie Simmons and Rick Johnson, The Ryan Foundation, Brenda and David Snitzer and Jill and Brad Svoboda 
  • Underwriters — Bradford Commercial Real Estate, Frost Bank, Sue and Jack Hesseltine, Hunton & Williams LLP, Angela Maverick and Sean Baxley, Leslie Simmons and Rick Johnson, Jackson-Shaw Foundation, and Sutton Frost Cary LLP
* Photo provided by Our Friends Place

The Family Place Crew Prepares 50,000-Square-Foot Ann Moody Place For Sunday’s Invitation-Only Open House

Paige Flink

It’s been years in the making, but The Family Place’s Ann Moody Place is in the final stages of preparation for its Sunday open house. Like Gen. Eisenhower preparing for D-Day, The Family Place CEO Paige Flink is managing every last minute detail for the by-invitation-only event. (You might not want to let your children see this photo because they might get the idea that it’s okay to stand on the couch.)

Thanks to women and men, companies and foundations and professionals and volunteers, this 50,000-square-foot facility is a work from the heart, mind and pocketbook .

Everything from the brilliant layout to the little touches like beds with pillows embroidered with “Dream Big” has been painstakingly created to help women and their families escaping domestic abuse and taking the journey to a safe and better life.

Perhaps it can all be summed up on a sign that welcomes clients (see last photo). 

Ann Moody Place sign

BTW, don’t get your cute nose out of joint because you didn’t score an invite to the opening. The reason for the “by-invitation-only” status is due to the need to keep the facility’s location “confidential” for the protection of its clients.

However, if you know someone in need of the services provided at The Family Place, please do not hesitate to have them contact the staff at its hotline: 214.941.1991.

33rd Annual Care Dallas Breakfast To Feature Actress/Author Mackenzie Phillips And Breathe Life Healing Center Founder Brad Lamm

Perhaps Mackenzie Phillips was the first one to spot Harrison Ford as a hunk in 1973 when she and Paul Le Mat drag raced with him back in “American Graffiti.” She was just 14 years old and already part of the celeb universe being the daughter of The Mamas and The PapasJohn Phillips. The hit movie had hardly made the rounds before Mackenzie was in the TV comedy “One Day at a Time.”

By the third season of the show, the 19-year-old Mackenzie was already in hot water that included arrests for disorderly conduct, drug and alcohol abuse, two near-fatal overdoses and various stints in rehab. Despite efforts to deal with her addictions, she relapsed time and time again even admitting to using cocaine when she was pregnant with her son Shane Barakan.

While she appeared to have cleaned up her act by 2010, she also made headlines in 2009 with her telling Oprah Winfrey that “she was raped by her father in a hotel room when she was 18 while passed out after a drug binge but continued to use drugs and have consensual sex with him for years.”

Since that time Mackenzie’s life has gained a sense of normalcy. In 2013 she became a Primary Substance Use Counselor and began working in the addiction field as a counselor. Just last year she joined the Breathe Life Healing Center’s staff.

Mackenzie Phillips*

Brad Lamm*

According to Breathe Life Healing Centers Founder Brad Lamm, “We are thrilled to have Mack join the Breathe family. Our clients will no doubt benefit from her expertise in the field and her personal journey to recovery. She has recovered so much – a life rich in value and substance and I cannot wait to collaborate with her. She is a brave warrior who has trudged a long road, and has built a true bridge back to life. Plus, she’s not a glum gal!”

33rd Annual CARE Dallas Breakfast Chair Mary Martin just reported that both Mackenzie and Brad will be the featured guests at the Care Dallas fundraiser at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, November 15, at the Dallas Country Club. Honorary Event Co-Chairs are Lindsay and George Billingsley.

In addition to the talk by Mackenzie and Brad, Charles Carneal will receive Margaret Sharpe Award and JDs Chippery will be presented the Community Partner Award.

While individual tickets are not available now, tables and sponsorships are. Check here to get your spot.

* Photo provided by Care Dallas

The Family Place Opened Texas’ First Shelter For Male Victims Of Domestic Abuse

There’s a misconception that domestic abuse only victimizes women and children in a household. Not true. The thinking is that real men just don’t get abused. That’s not true. It’s often not reported because of the humiliation that a male victim has “not stood up for himself.”

The Family Place*

For more than 15 years, The Family Place has been working with such men on a limited basis, due to financial resources. They’ve had to resort to using hotels and apartments, and that has been costly and not the most satisfactory solution. Just last year they “provided shelter for 32 men and nonresidential services for 50 men.”

That’s why The Family Place team rolled up their sleeves and committed to creating a true facility for men and their children to seek protective shelter for healing and undertaking a better life. Their goal was to provide 21 beds and private rooms for men with children.

Construction got underway in 2016 and the house was opened this month. However, there was no grand opening due to the fact that its location must remain undisclosed.

These clients will have access to counseling, emergency relief services, case management, childcare, healthcare, legal aid, transitional housing and rental assistance.

Funding for the shelter was achieved through grants.

* Graphic courtesy of The Family Place

As Hope Cottage Warms Up For Its Centennial, CEO Sonyia Hartwell Is Retiring With Chief Program Officer Brooks Quinlan Moving On Up

Hope Cottage is getting ready to kick off its centennial warm-up year at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, with “Step Up For Hope Fundraising Walk” starting at Hope Cottage.  There will be no charge, but if a person raises $100 s/he’ll be rewarded with an event shirt and a goody bag.

All members of the family are invited to participate including the pets. (Cats might be a bit skittish about joining in, so let them stay at home on the couch.)

There will be games plus prizes for individual and teams who raise the most monies, best team costume and best dressed canine (leash required) in the pooch parade.

Sonyia Hartwell (File photo)

Brooks Quinlan (File photo)

Unfortunately, Hope Cottage CEO Sonyia Hartwell will not be a part of all the official festivities. She’s retiring to Arizona on Wednesday, June 28, after working at the adoption agency since 2009. During her tenure, she saw Hope Cottage through many developments, including the moving of its facility at Fitzhugh and McKinney to its brand spanking new sweetheart of a building in the Wilson Historic District.

As for who will be replacing Sonyia, it will be Hope Cottage Chief Program Officer Brooks Quinlan, who also joined Hope Cottage in 2009.

JUST IN: Details Revealed About Upcoming 2017 Parade Of Playhouses At NorthPark Center For Dallas CASA

Who says that summer is the “quiet time” for North Texas fundraisers? Even before schools are out, Dallas CASA is already staking claim for more than two weeks of its annual Parade of Playhouses. The annual favorite fundraiser that transforms NorthPark Center into a showcase of mini-cottages is scheduled to officially be on site starting Friday, July 7.

Parade Of Playhouses*

Built and donated by local designers, architects and builders, the 16 pint-size palaces include an Australian airline-themed house, a Rubik’s cube and a space-theme house.

This year’s collection includes houses from the international playhouse design by Nicollo Abe of Ontario, Canada; Riaan Kotze of Massachusetts, USA; Christiaan Luijk  of Cape Town, South Africa; and Amrita Raja and Katharine Storr of London, United Kingdom.

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle, ““The creativity, imagination and ingenuity that these playhouse builders and designers brings is simply astounding. The vulnerable children we serve need safe homes where they can heal from their physical and emotional injuries and begin dreaming of a future they could not dare to think about. We hope every builder, designer and organization donating a playhouse knows they are helping an abused child begin to build a new dream for themselves.”

On Sunday, July 23, the mini-mansions will be raffled off. Interested? Raffle tickets are going for $5 each or five for $20 and can be purchased at event ticket tables or online during the 17-day run.

Jim Thompson (File photo)

Thanks to the following people and organizations, who are aiding Dallas CASA’s goal of providing all abused children with a Dallas CASA volunteer to help them through the child welfare system:

  • Honorary Chair — Jim Thompson
  • Parade Host — NorthPark Center
  • Castle — Jim Thompson
    Estate — SketchUp
  • Mansion — Kappa Alpha Theta Dallas Alumni Chapter, Newton Thomas with Summit Funding Inc. and Pirch
  • Villa — Bernbaum/Magadini Architects and Jackson Walker LLP
  • Playhouse Architects and Builders — Austin Commercial, Beck Architecture LCC, Bob Borson, BufordHawthorne Homebuilders, Butscher Construction, Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti, Domiteaux and Baggett Architects, FP Construction, Guardian Exteriors Inc., Jay W. Grishby Jr., Harman, Holder Construction Company, LRO Residential, Omniplan Inc., Perk Homes, Redlee/SCS, Robert Hopson Construction Group, Schwob Building Company LTD., University of Oklahoma – College of Architecture and William P. Manning Company Inc.

The 22nd annual parade is the absolutely perfect event because it’s free for the viewing, inside the air-conditioned center and helps Dallas CASA “continue its growth trajectory to serve all children in need.”

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA

Itty-Bitty Gold Medalist Simone Biles Scored A Perfect Ten For Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar” Luncheon Guests Of All Ages

Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki

If Episcopal School of Dallas or The Hockaday School staffers noticed that their lunchrooms were a bit scant of students on Tuesday, April 25, they were right. The lasses were at the Hilton Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom with their parents’ permission.

The occasion was Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance To Soar Luncheon.” Now, normally it might be considered a grown-up event, but this one had two mega-athletes — Olympian God Medalist/former foster child Simone Biles on stage and Maverick main man Dirk Nowitzki as one of the day’s award recipients.

As mom Tracy Lange surmised, a couple of the moms hosted a table for their girls, and others quickly followed suit filling the ballroom with 700.

Tracy Lange, Livia Lange, Amelia Schoellkopf, Olivia Hohmann, Mary Ellen Schoellkopf, Kate Eastin and Monica Eastin

Sydney Hoyl and Kristi Hoyl

While some might question pulling the young ladies out of school, others reasoned that in addition to seeing world-class role models, the girls had the opportunity to be part of a grownup fundraising experience.

Some of the young luncheoners, like Livia Lange, Amelia Schoellkopf, Olivia Hohmann, Mary Ellen Schoellkopf, Kate Eastin and Caroline Bagley, were dressed to the nines. Too bad they’re too young for 10 best Dressed. Others like Sydney Hoyl opted to stay in their school uniforms.

Simone Biles and Ron Biles

The photo opp for guests and Simone was a bit of a ramble scramble due to Simone’s late arrival. She had been delayed due to an interview in another area of the hotel with KXAS/emcee Meredith Land.

Walking to the front of the room with her father, Ron Biles, Simone’s 4’9” size seemed even more so standing next to 7’0” Dirk. Still her smile was as big as ever despite having taken a flight from Los Angeles following her appearance on “Dancing With The Stars” the night before.

Even before folks like Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Jenny and Trevor Rees-Jones III, Stacey Walker, Jessica Nowitzki, Lydia Novakov, Tracy Rathbun, Monica Eastin and Pam Busbee took their seats, the raffle tickets were sold out.

Pam Busbee

Tracy Rathbun

Stacey Walker and Bryan Dunagan

Following the welcome by Luncheon Co-Chairs Julie Bagley and Rachel Stephens, the invocation by Highland Park Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Bryan Dunagan and a luncheon of pecan crusted chicken breast salad, the following awards were presented:

  • Award of Compassion to Dirk Nowitzki
  • Award of Excellence to Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones
  • Award of Service to Gary Borofsky representing Dillard’s

Jonathon’s Place’s CEO Allicia Graham Frye told the group that last year, 277 children were handled by Jonathan’s Place. She finished her remarks saying, “My wish is that every child that comes across my path would feel loved.”

Allicia Graham Frye and Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones

It should be noted that unlike the Chick Lit Luncheon, the audience was silent during the award presentation and Allicia’s remarks.

It was then time for Simone to chat with Meredith Land on stage. The undercurrent in the room seemed to race, as if Santa had just popped down the chimney. For those close to the stage, they got a pretty good look at the twosome. However, the quality of the lighting and video created shadows, making the on-screen presentation challenging.

Simone Biles

Still, Simone did not disappoint with such revelations:

  • “I was just a crazy kid.”
  • She started gymnastics at the age of six and loved it immediately.
  • Her routine was an hour and half of conditioning, going to school and returning to the gym for her real workout. Such a regimen required more than dedication, it demanded sacrifice like, “I’ve never been to a prom. I cried a lot. Sasha (Farber, her ‘DWTS’ partner) was the first guy that she had really danced with and “he was 20 years old.”
  • Regrets — “I shouldn’t say that I do because of all of the accomplishments that I have from it. It’s all worked very well.”
  • Bullying — “Rise above it and use it as a motivation to do anything that you want to do and to always prove them wrong.”
  • Confidence — “I have very down-to-earth parents. I have amazing friends. My brothers, as well, are supporting me. It’s kind of easy to do that. But at times it gets hard because I want to be a normal kid and do other things. At the end of the day it’s my goal that I want.”
  • Olympics — “I actually didn’t really want to go to the Olympics when I was younger. I said I did because every little girl wanted to, so I would say, ‘I want to go to the Olympics.’ At a time in my career I knew I could be the best and it scared me so much that I would sometime sabotage my gymnastics. I knew I had the potential, but I didn’t want all that attention on me. It scared me so much. So I would do things on purpose. But I got out of it…. In February 2016 I had a really big breakdown. I had been at the top for three years and I thought this is my really big year, but what if I get hurt. And I started thinking of all these things, so I was too scared to even tumble. I thought if I land wrong, there goes my Olympic game. I would go to the bar and start bawling. It happened for two weeks. I cried a lot. I would go to practice and my coach would be like, ‘Just go home.’ My Dad told me to call my sports psychologist and I said, ‘No, I just want to cry.’ And my dad called him. He came into my room and handed the phone to me and I usually don’t cry in front of him or really anybody, and I just started bawling my eyes out — ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m not going to make the team. Blah, blah, blah.’ He (the sports psychologist) said, ‘Simone, what was the first thing I said to you when you came into my office?’ We chatted about it.”
  • Sports Psychologist — “For three years your parents, your coaches, your mentors, it’s good to have someone that knows your sport, but it helps that it’s not the same person over and over again.”
  • Whom did she not want to disappoint — “I didn’t want to let down America because they had such big goals for me. They expected me to get five gold medals and I only walked out with four, so I felt like I let them down a little bit.” Afterwards she was asked in an interview about how badly she felt getting a bronze instead of a gold, her response was, “I’m sorry if that was your goal. I’m sorry if you guys had to backspace on your typewriter. I’m pretty happy. This was my first Olympics and I’m 19 years old and I’m walking out of here with five medals. My goal was to make the finals. Whatever happens happens. I came out with four golds and one bronze and pretty proud of myself. I’m sorry if I disappointed you because they already crowned me with five gold medals. I think they (the interviewer) was trying to put it on me, so that’s what hurt a little bit.”
  • On the podium — “You feel like you’re a princess up there. It never feels real. I would always look at my parents. They would be bawling and I would then start tearing up. I’m an ugly crier.”
  • Post Olympics — “I haven’t worked out since the Olympics. It is my year off, so that is why I chose ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ I’m going on a vacations with my family this summer.  One is Hawaii and the other is Belize… I eat ice cream every chance I get.”
  • 2020 — “I’m going to train for the 2020 Olympics.”
  • What makes Texas special — “It’s the people. I’m in L.A. right now and it’s very different. I think it’s the southern-ness.”
  • What she misses — “I miss my bed and my dogs. I cook for my dogs. They’re spoiled little things. They have monogrammed beds. They’re not little. They’re German Shepherds. We have three.”
  • First Date — “It was like low key. I had never been on a date before or had a boyfriend. So, it’s all new. We just went to get frozen yogurt. It was a little scary. I’ve trained all my life to go to the Olympics, not to go on a date.”
  • The future — “I think I want to do something with sports management.”
  • Foster care — “[Being a foster parent] really does change a child’s life. It does give them a home, love. A lot of them age out at the age of 18 and that makes me sad. I was very fortunate for my situation. It really does make difference in the kids’ eyes.”
  • She recalled that before being rescued from her birth mother, there were days when she ate her cereal with white.
  • She felt that she would not win “Dancing With The Stars.”

At the end of the conversation, Simone looked out into the audience with each member holding a card reading “10.”   

She was then off to Jonathan’s Place to visit with children waiting for a foster parent.

Bethenny “Skinnygirl” Frankel Served Up One Of The Season’s Most Talked-About Presentations At The Annual Chick Lit Luncheon

On Friday, April 21, the annual Chick Lit Luncheon became the scene of two social earthquakes that split the Anatole’s Grand Ballroom. But more about that later. First, let’s set the scene.

Cristal Champagne

To kick off the Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser, the VIP reception was held in the Plum Blossom Room and, thanks to hosts Nancy and Richard Rogers, guests celebrated with Cristal Champagne. At the opening there were grand silver punch bowls filled with the elite champagne bottles chilling in ice. By the time the chimes called the guests to the luncheon, only a trio of partially filled bottles remained.

Tricia George, Paige McDaniel, Gail Fischer and Mary Martha Pickens

Lara Tafel

Nancy Rogers and Bethenny Frankel

Alas, keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel didn’t enjoy the bubbly, thanks to a non-stop of step-and-repeat photo session with folks like Co-Chairs Tricia George and Mary Martha Pickens, Presenting Co-Sponsor Lara Tafel, Honorary Chair Gail Fischer and daughter Elizabeth Fischer, Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Bela Pjetrovic and her sister Sabina Pjetrovic, Dee Simmons and daughter D’Andra Simmons Lock, Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin, Cheryl Joyner, Tiffany Divis, Claire Emanuelson, Christie Carter and Cindy Turner.

Tiffany Divis and Bela Pjetrovic

D’Andra Simmons Lock and Dee Simmons

Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin and Cheryl Joyner

As the guests literally filled the grand ballroom, Bethenny was whisked off to a private spot for some quiet time. But little did anyone know that in the hour and a half to come, the grand ballroom would be the scene of two distinctly different attitudes.

Some claimed it was a generational separation. One guest snorted, “It’s those millennials!” Another declared the other side of the great divide to be behind the times. It was just that “the times they are a-changin‘” for the decade-old luncheon featuring authors.

The old days of the Chick Lit at Brook Hollow with pecan crusted chicken and G-rated speakers like Stacey Ballis, Julia Reed, Gigi Levangie, Allison Winn Scotch, Emily Giffin and Jen Lancaster were in the rear-view mirror.

Last year’s move to the Anatole with Tim Gunn charming one and all in an on-stage chat had shifted the program to a new level. It was like moving from grade school to high school, from Shirley Temples to Cosmopolitans or from Boy Scouts Camp to Quantico.

But when the announcement of Bethenny’s being the keynoter came, lovers of reality TV were ecstatic. For them, it was like having the Pope serve mass at the local parish. For those who only considered the word “Bravo” to be what was said after a stellar performance, Bethenny was a rather unknown commodity. Didn’t matter. The Chick Lit Luncheon had always been fun and a fundraiser for a good cause.

Still, there were warnings that Bethenny might raise some eyebrows and that the uneducated might need to be forewarned and study up on the Skinnygirl.

Despite warnings that Bethenny was not your same-old, same-old, CPD loyalists signed on. In the meantime, new world reality TV lovers bought in with hopes of a “tell-it-like-it-is” presentation.   

So, what happened? Well, the first “earthquake” took place before Bethenny ever arrived on stage.

Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Ella Bitzer and Tricia George

To kick things off, CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel presented the 2017 Partners for Children Award to Mary Ella Bitzer representing The Bitzer and Needleman Families and Peacock Alley. Unfortunately, whether it was due to poor acoustics or to all the chatter in the room, the presentation seemed to take place without much fanfare.

Faith Johnson

When Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson provided the invocation, she was heard throughout, thanks to the lack of talking. But the chitchat kicked back in once Paige returned to the podium, and the first of the divides created a Grand Canyon among the guests. Looking like unhappy emojis, some strained to hear Paige, while others held steroid conversation to such a point that even those frowny-faced guests close to the stage had to rely on lip reading to “hear” Paige talk about the importance of the organization’s annual Christmas toy drive and how Peacock Alley had supported it. Some tried to silence the chatterboxes by clanging their silverware on their glassware, but even that couldn’t be heard above the racket. Perhaps the talkative guests had never attended a fundraiser before?

What made it more obvious was how the room went into a vacuum state of silence after Community Partners of Dallas Board Member Greg Nieberding introduced Bethenny and she arrived on stage. How quiet? At one point in her talk, a cell phone in the room rang and Bethenny interrupted her talk saying, “Somebody need to take a call?”

The svelte brunette, who had risen to fame thanks to reality TV and her “Skinnygirl” business empire, was both charming and disarming. On one hand, she couldn’t have been more upbeat and complimentary about North Texas women and the CPD. She even did a shout-out to “my friend Fancy Nancy Rogers” at a front row table with pals Dallas Snadon, Leisa Street, Michael Flores, Cindy Rachofsky and Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner.

Dallas Snadon

Lori Jones, Nancy Rogers and Cindy Rachofsky

Leisa Street and Michael Flores

Shelby Wagner and Niven Morgan

On the other, she raised even the most heavily Botoxed brows with comments about “guano” (she didn’t use that word) and describing rich Dallas women as having Texas tea flowing from a particular body part (she put it much more colorfully). If you don’t get it, ask one of the thousand-plus who were there. They’re bound to recall the exact words.  

Some of the highlights of Bethenny’s talk included:

Bethenny Frankel

  • After having a rough childhood, she focused on “breaking the chain” in raising her daughter. She was not going to be “chained” to what others thought or what she had experienced as a child.
  • Finding balance in her life being a mother and a businesswoman.
  • Everyone has a great idea, but it’s the execution that matters, she said. Too often they get bogged down with the business plan or other aspects. “I would have never gotten into the liquor business had I known.”
  • Stay focused on your goals and don’t “look at the other lanes… I do my own thing.”
  • “25 years ago I was a bartender and had no idea I’d end up being an alcoholic… just kidding… I would end up founding a liquor company.”
  • She has founded an organization called “B Strong” to help women in crisis. “As women, we make a lot of decisions out of fear.”
  • “You can’t be pretty, tan, have sex, rich and sleep…I’m not tan, I don’t have sex and I’m  rich, but not like Dallas rich…. What the hell was I talking about?”
  • The night before on “Real Housewives of New York,” Bethenny had been confronted by another housewife over how she was dealing with her 6-year-old daughter about the fact that Bethenny had done a nude scene 27 years ago. “I just sat there and just took it and just said, I have no shame in my game. This is who I am. This is my past and I was an actress and I needed the money and I’ve done so many things in my life that got me to where I am, so I think that’s part of my owning it.” She went on, saying how “crazy it was for women trying to tear each other down.”

    Bethenny Frankel

  • “The least favorite element [of being on a reality show] is you get mired in something that you don’t even care about…You can’t believe that people can be so nasty and malicious. I think it’s a comedy. I see it as a satire. You can’t believe how fake people are. It’s amazing. You look around and any five people. You believe they are totally normal. ‘She’s so down to earth; she’s  so normal.’ She’s ‘guano‘ crazy!”
  • “I want to give you one tip. It’s changed my life. At night before you go to bed, for like five to 15 minutes, put in as much hot water as you possibly can in your bathtub and just your feet—not your whole body—in Epsom salts. It’s like a drunk. I don’t know what happens. I used to take something to sleep, but this knocks you out. It’s like detoxing and it’s crazy and it’s the simplest and oldest thing and has changed my life.”
  • Being an entrepreneur “is really hard. You’ve got to be out there. But it’s good. It’s like the ocean. It keeps changing and moving all the time.”
  • “I’m really a homebody. I like being with my daughter.”
  • When asked what the one thing she keeps in her refrigerator to make a meal, Bethenny responded, “I’m a big fan of the freezer. I travel so much that when I get home there’s always a frozen organic broccoli.”
  • Kale — “You can’t walk on the street without being assaulted by kale. I want to meet the kale publicist. What’s so great?”
  • The future for Bethenny — “I’m focused on this charity [B Strong]. I’m able to help women. Now that I’m not struggling and white-knuckling it anymore, I want to inspire women.”

Bethenny lived up to her honest, no-holds barred comments about her life, both past and present. She was true to herself. Some loved her words; some were perturbed by her presentation. Hey, when you go to a Mexican food restaurant, you can’t expect meat loaf to be the featured item on the menu.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Chick Lit Luncheon

Nancy Rogers and Bethenny Frankel

After waiting for what seemed like eons, reality TV and Chick Lit fans gathered at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, April 20, to hear from that lightning rod personality/author/business woman Bethenny Frankel.

Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Ella Bitzer and Tricia George

From the Cristal served at the VIP pre-luncheon meet-and-greet to the chatter during the presentation of the Community Partners of Dallas’ 2017 Partners for Children Award, the CPD fundraiser ran the gamut from class to crass. And then there were a couple of Bethenny comments that earned giggles and grumbles.

While this post is being finalized, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for the peeps who were part of one of the most talked-about luncheons this season.

Not Even Traffic Hassles Could Discourage Chick Lit Patrons From Meet And Greeting Luncheon Keynoter Bethenny Frankel

Lara and Bob Tafel

Twas a perfect storm that valet parkers dread on Thursday, April 20, at Preston Center East. Construction had limited parking, and rush hour at the juncture of Preston and Northwest Highway had cars playing dosey-doe. And to add to the mayhem, Bachendorf’s was the site of the Community Partners of Dallas Chick Lit Patron Party.

Chick Lit Presenting Sponsors Lara and Bob Tafel moseyed up the sidewalk. They had opted to bypass the valet, park a block away and stroll. Bob’s outfit was highlighted by a colorful pocket square. Lara claimed it was the result of last year’s speaker Tim Gunn.

Lawrence Bock, Bethenny Frankel and Katy Bock

Mary Martha Pickens, Bethenny Frankel and Tricia George

So, a patron party in itself is a full load, but in this case the keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel was on hand. Looking at times like a swarm around a queen bee, the party was a bee hive of cellphone snaps. Nonchalance was not the order of the day.

Dan Houchard, Bethenny Frankel and Maura Houchard

Wendy and Boyd Messmann

Guests on hand included Bachendorf’s Katy and Lawrence Bock, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Maura and Dan Houchard, Anne Stodghill, Chick Lit Co-Chairs Tricia George and Mary Martha with husband John Pickens and CPD energizer bunnies Paige McDaniel and Joanna Clarke.

But it was an early evening, because the main act — the Chick Lit Luncheon — was the next day at  the Hilton Anatole.

Former Dallas Police Chief David Brown Wows The Crowd At Just Say Yes’ “Building Bridges” Fundraising Dinner

Building Bridges

Tony Romo autographed football

Honorary Chairs Candice and Tony Romo weren’t going to be able to make it. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm Wednesday, April 19, when around 350 people showed up for Just Say YesBuilding Bridges celebration dinner at Belo Mansion. The keynote speaker, after all, would be another high-wattage local celeb: former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. And the evening would be raising money for the Just Say Yes (short for Youth Equipped to Succeed) nonprofit, a good cause that aims to equip teens to succeed by educating them through classroom curriculum and inspirational student-assembly speakers.

While guests checked out the silent-auction items—including offerings from Al Biernat’s and Papa John’s Pizza, plus a Dallas Cowboys jersey and football signed by Tony—musician Emilio Mesa blasted out some cool sounds on his saxophone. Then everyone filed into the ballroom, where emcee Anna de Haro welcomed all and gave the podium over to Just Say Yes Development Director Marissa Leach. Marissa explained that “Building Bridges” would be the nonprofit’s theme this year, before presenting Just Say Yes Founder/President Dan Bailey with the “15-year award.”

Marissa Leach and Dan Bailey*

While attendees like Bill Noble and King Crow looked on, Dan reviewed the organization’s progress, citing its influence on students in 39 states, for example. It’s also reached more than 600,000 students in Dallas-Fort Worth since the early 2000s, he recalled, and is poised for still more growth in the coming months. Dan was followed by presentation of the annual Coach Avery Johnson Impact Award, which went this year to Paula and Darrell McCutcheon (though Darrell was absent due to “a root canal that didn’t go so well”).

Next came Veronica Lee, the nonprofit’s senior mentoring coordinator, who introduced a student “mentee” named Jasmine and Jasmine’s mother, Veronica. They agreed that Jasmine’s life, once troubled and unhappy, had been turned around thanks to the positive influence of Just Say Yes. “I first joined the program to get out of class,” Jasmine confessed to the crowd with a laugh. “But now we’re one big happy family!” 

Then came what everyone had been keenly anticipating: the keynote talk by Brown, who’s been working as a contributor lately to ABC News. Bespectacled as usual and dressed this evening in a dark business suit, the former Dallas police chief, who’s 56, said he wanted to focus his talk on the aftermath of the Dallas police shootings last July 7. Among the countless letters containing good wishes—and cash—that poured into the department then, Brown recalled, one letter in particular attracted his attention. It was from a fellow named Lance, whom Brown had befriended back during his days attending The University of Texas at Austin.

David Brown*

Receiving the letter set him to remembering how they’d met, when Brown—a poor African-American kid from Oak Cliff—climbed one day aboard a bus bound for Austin and UT and sat down next to the “white kid” from Missouri named Lance. Lance, Brown soon discovered, was also traveling to school at UT, and had also grown up poor. After learning as they approached Waco that Lance was hungry, Brown pulled out a bag of his great-grandmother’s fried chicken and offered some to his new pal.

In his letter to Brown last year, Lance remembered that bus trip and wrote, “My views of blacks changed because of how you treated me.” (Reading those words, Brown said, “I didn’t start crying, but my allergies started acting up.”) Then Lance wrote, “I always wondered why you sat down next to me.” That question was an interesting one, Brown said to the Just Say Yes crowd, so he would let them know why he’d done it.

David Brown*

It seems that a few years before the Austin trip, when he was just 11, the ex-chief was among the first group of local kids bused to a distant school as part of a court-ordered effort to desegregate Dallas’ schools. “No one wanted me there” at his new school, Brown said. “I didn’t want to be there. No one spoke to me for three months.”

Then, one day, Brown said, “a little white kid [named Mike] invited me home to dinner—at 3 p.m.!” Brown accepted Mike’s offer and walked with him to his home, where Mike’s mother quickly summoned her son into the kitchen and began whispering to him. “I felt like Sidney Poitier in the movie ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ ” Brown said. But then, after a long while, Mike’s mother came out of the kitchen carrying a couple of pot pies. “Mike and I wound up talking until 7 p.m.,” Brown said. “And, eventually, our friendship led Mike to befriend other black kids.”

A little while ago, Brown said, he reconnected with Mike and asked him, “What were you whispering with your mom about in the kitchen that afternoon?” Mike, who’s Jewish, said he’d reminded his mother that day about their family members who’d survived the Holocaust, and how their advice had always been to be kind to strangers—especially those who were “different” from them.

All three pals—Brown, Lance, and Mike—wound up attending UT Austin at the same time. “So you wonder, is the moral of this story that all we need is fried chicken and pot pies to change the world?” Brown said to the Just Say Yes group. “No! But, you can transform lives with the way you interact with young people. The moral of this story is: we all have a responsibility to one another—one life at a time.

“People ask me, what’s the ‘secret’ reason you quit” the Dallas police department? Brown went on. “There wasn’t any secret reason. I was called to the job for a purpose, and I left for a purpose. I grew up poor, in a tough, high-crime neighborhood, and adults invested in me. That’s why I said yes to Just Say Yes. The Lord can call you to do things that you don’t want to do.

“The things you do for these kids’ lives means something,” Brown said, wrapping up his talk. “I’m proud to be in the same room as you all. Now my allergies are acting up again, so I’m going to stop.”

Of course, Dallas’s former top cop got a standing ovation.

* Photos provided by Just Say Yes

 

La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Luncheon Honors The Mothers Of 2017 Duchesses And Escorts And Reveals 2018 Co-Chairs

Kathy Sockwell and Pauline Neuhoff

If you didn’t have a 20-ish type son or daughter, the gathering at Belo Mansion on Wednesday, April 19, sure made you wish you did. At noon nearly 400 gals gathered for the La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas luncheon honoring the mothers of the 2017 duchesses and escorts.  

Luncheon Co-chairs Pauline Neuhoff and Kathy Sockwell had the entry hall decked with gowns of past duchesses like Camille Adele Humphrey (2014), Amelia Bryan Crank (2011) and Madison Zoe Brittingham (2012).

Amelia Bryan Crank gown (2011)

Madison Zoe Brittingham gown (2012)

Camille Adele Humphrey gown (2014)

In the hallway, the annual preview miniature display of the 2017 duchesses’ gowns was a true stop-gape-and-check-out-the-next.

2017 mini-duchesses

Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning

La Fiesta Co-Chairs Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning, donning the Las Fiesta necklaces, admitted that they were thrilled about not just the year’s French theme but also about plans for 2018.

Little did the girls know that following the formal introductions of the moms and performance by the Highland Park High School Choir, the 2018 co-chairs would be announced — Anne Besser and Elizabeth Gambrell.

But 2018’s still months away. In less than three months, more than 40 duchesses will be presented at the Omni Dallas. Comme c’est sucré.

On Mother’s Day A Box Of Chocolates Is Nice, But A Piece Of Jewelry Would Be Sweeter For More Than Just Your Mum

Kendra Scott Gives Back Party*

Mother’s Day is up ahead. Of course, brunch is a must on Sunday, but what about a little “trinket” to commemorate the occasion? Jeweler designer Kendra Scott and Children’s Medical Center Foundation may just have the sparkle to add to the lady of the day.

On Wednesday, May 10, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the six area Kendra Scotts will host a Kendra Gives Back Party with a three-fer. The three parts are you not only can purchase “a beautiful piece of jewelry,” but 20% of every sale will benefit Children’s Health and if your “purchase ads up to more than $100, you’ll be entered to win a piece from the new Summer Collection.

Seriously, wouldn’t a little bling be so much better than a box of chocolates or a toaster? Plus, your gift will benefit mothers with children at Children’s.

* Graphic courtesy of Children's Medical Center Foundation

Grovel Alert: Genesis Annual Luncheon

Bianca Jackson (File photo)

As the May countdown for fundraising gets underway before the area is evacuated for the summer, the Genesis Annual Luncheon is leading the pack with its Monday, May 15th fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole.

According to Genesis Women’s Shelter And Support Senior Director of Fun and Community Development Bianca Jackson, the event with keynoter Arianna Huffington and the Junior League of Dallas and David Brown being honored with the Jane Doe and HeROs awards, respectively, tickets are getting as scarce as eight-track tapes.

But don’t hesitate and don’t let your stingy factor rule. Patron level not earns a nifty seat at the luncheon and an invite to the pre-luncheon meet-and-greet, but it also includes a super patron party at a very cool mansion.

Check here for ticket availability, but make it quick!

2017 Crystal Charity Ball Committee Honored Its Advisory Board And Beneficiaries With A Reception At Jennifer And Richard Dix’s Digs

Jennifer Dix, Christie Carter and Mary-Elizabeth Carrell

The wine and the conversation flowed freely on Wednesday, April 5, when Crystal Charity Ball‘s friends and supporters gathered at the magnificent, Preston Hollow home of Jennifer and Richard Dix. And, why not? The event, after all, was being held to honor to group’s advisory board and the 2017 CCB beneficiaries.

Anna Hundley, Brent Christopher and Mary Pat Higgins

Guests such as Jan and Fred Hegi, Vinnie Reuben, SuSu Meyer, Michael Teeter, Tucker Enthoven, Leslie and Bryan Diers, Beth Thoele, Anna Hundley, Mary Pat Higgins, Mary-Elizabeth Carrell, Pam Busbee and Patti Flowers and Tom Swiley swarmed happily into the home’s kitchen area, where they found the likes of Christie Carter and Lisa and Clay Cooley. Christie, who’s a big supporter of Dallas CASA, was still talking about that group’s Cherish the Children luncheon held earlier in the day, where entrepreneur Casey Gerald had given an inspiring talk. Commented Christie: “It was a powerful luncheon.”

Nickey and Debbie Oates

Tom Swiley

Sandra Helton

Michael Teeter

On the business front, luxury home builder Nickey Oates and car dealer Clay Cooley both reported that their businesses were in overdrive… For Brent Christopher, it was a switch of roles. In the past as president/CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas, he had served on the advisory board. Having just taken over Children’s Medical Center Foundation this past year and its being selected as a 2017 CCB beneficiary, he was on the other side of the CCB spectrum.

Pam Perella

Finally, it was time for 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella to address the group, and what better place was there to do it than in the crowded kitchen, where Cassandra Tomassetti‘s crew had been creating mini-feasts much to the delight of folks like Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy Stephanie Matous and Sister Sandra Helton.

Standing on the stairway, Pam said, “I might be a little biased, but I’m really thrilled with our beneficiaries this year,” referring to the Autism Treatment Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, the Children’s Medical Center Foundation, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, Hunger Busters, the Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation, Rainbow Days, and the Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy.

Vin Perella, Beth Thoele, Tucker Enthoven, Leslie and Bryan Diers

“Our goal this year is to raise $5.83 million,” Pam went on. “We’re almost there, so no big deal!” With that, the crowd laughed heartily as Pam gave way to longtime CCB supporter/patron Chuck Thoele of RGT Wealth Advisors. “Crystal Charity Ball is really good at three things,” Chuck said, beginning to chuckle. “Picking their beneficiaries. Raising a lot of money. And throwing a good party!”

No one at the Dix home that night would argue with that.

For more photos from the party, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Sold-Out Alert: No More Room For Dec My Room’s Room To Grow Luncheon And Fashion Show

Dec My Room’s “Room To Grow”*

And the announcements keep pouring in. The first ever Dec My Room’s Room To Grow luncheon and fashion show at NorthPark’s Neiman Marcus on Tuesday is sold out. Co-chaired by Sue Fair, Diana Hamilton and Andrea Nayfa along with NorthPark’s Kristen Gibbins, the event will featured a presentation by NorthPark Ambassadors Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Moll Anderson on Neiman Marcus’ Level Two.      

Dec My Room was established ten years ago and “helps to create a healing place” for children who are being admitted into a hospital for a prolonged amount of time. 

* Graphic provided by Dec My Room

Inspirational Talk by Oak Cliff Native, Award to Jewish Women’s Group Highlight Dallas CASA’s 10th Annual Cherish the Children Luncheon

The big event benefiting Dallas CASA, held August 5 at The Fairmont Dallas, was billed as the group’s 10th annual Cherish the Children Luncheon. But one of the groups honored at the event reinforced the message that Dallas CASA (short for Court Appointed Special Advocates) has been helping abused and neglected children a lot longer than that.

Joyce Rosenfield and Mark Berg*

The group, the Greater Dallas Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, received Dallas CASA’s newly named Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Award. That the award was presented to the group by Mark S. Berg, a past chair of the Dallas CASA board of directors, had a special significance. Mark’s late mother, Rose Marion Berg, was a member of the NCJW and one of the founders of Dallas CASA nearly 40 years ago.

Said Berg: “CASA is about a group of mothers who could not stand to see children mistreated. Dallas CASA is now within reach of achieving what was unthinkable a few years ago—serving every child in need. We’ve all stood on the shoulders of those dedicated mothers.”

Gail Cook, Bunny Williams, Caroline Rose Hunt, Pat McCall and Lynn Sheldon*

The 10th annual luncheon, a sold-out affair attended by about 430, was chaired by Shonn Brown. Guests included Ruth Altshuler, Cheryl Lee Shannon, Evelyn Henry Miller, Lisa Cooley, Harriet Miers, Lynn McBee, Paul Coggins, Tanya Foster, Tiffany Divis, Elba Garcia, Gail Cook, Bunny Williams, Caroline Rose Hunt, Pat McCall, Lynn Sheldon  and Sarah Losinger.

Cheryl Lee Shannon, Shonn Evans Brown, Elba Garcia, Kathleen LaValle and Evelyn Henry Miller*

Following an excellent lunch of tortilla soup and chicken salad and brief remarks by Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA’s executive director and president, attendees heard from guest speaker Casey Gerald. He’s a 30-year-old Oak Cliff native who’s achieved national prominence as a writer, business leader and motivational speaker.

A co-founder and CEO of a group called MBAs Across America, which aims to bring community support to entrepreneurs, Casey recalled being abandoned by his mother at age 12, while his father struggled with drug addiction. After the community intervened to help him, he said, he was able to make his way from South Oak Cliff to Yale University and later to Harvard Business School.

Casey Gerald*

Even so, Casey told the crowd, he should not be held up as a particular example of “triumph over adversity,” because it’s more important to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. “No degree makes up for being unwanted,” he said. “No amount of money can make you fight hunger pangs. Meeting no president makes up for not having your mother. Not a single kid leaves behind those wounds of childhood.”

Casey wrapped up his talk by saying, about CASA, “This is an organization that’s dedicated to keeping kids alive. So I thank you! … [But,] how do we put ourselves out of business? What if we didn’t make the best CASA—but made a country where we don’t need CASA?”

With a target of raising $15,000 during the luncheon, which included a silent auction of children’s furniture, it was announced at 12:40 p.m. that $7,261 had been raised toward the goal so far. When all was said and done, Dallas CASA says, the 10th annual luncheon raised a total net amount of $170,000.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

2016 Crystal Charity Ball Beneficiaries Celebrated Receiving Checks For More Than $5.5M

The skies were blue and the temperatures gave no sign of drizzle, let alone snow. Still, on Tuesday, April 4, it was Christmas time with 2016 Crystal Charity Ball Chair Christie Carter and her committee members handing out six-figure checks totaling $5.6M.

Anne Besser, Cordelia Boone, Kay Barry, Theresa Francis, Christie Carter and Claire Emanuelson

Hosted by Westwood Trust at Communities Foundation of Texas, the 2016 beneficiaries were downright giddy. Some, like Hope’s Supply President Barbara Johnson and Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO Jennifer Bartkowski, admitted from the stage that the last time they had been there, they had been nervous in pitching their nonprofits for CCB consideration over a year ago.

Now, they were relieved that they had passed muster and were being handed checks to help them in their missions.

Drum roll. And the happy-faced beneficiaries included:

Susan Farris, Paige McDaniel and Margo Goodwin

David Krause

Cary Wright

 

  • Community Partners of Dallas for a “forever home for Community Partners of Dallas” — $1,359.236
  • Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas for “STEM Center of Excellence Girl Exploration Center” — $976,000
  • Hope Supply Co. for “hope for homeless children” — $600,000
  • Notre Dame School of Dallas for “Hearts and Hammers Campaign” — $676,020
  • Parkland Foundation on behalf of Parkland Health and Hospital System for “mobile medical clinic and pediatric screenings” — $789,002
  • Teach for America for “Elementary Education Initiative” — $500,000
  • The Family Place for “Children’s Counseling Center” —$750,000

Suzy Gekiere, Jennifer Bartkowski and Tricia George

Barbara Johnson

Gregg Ballew

Paige Flink and Eric White

Also, in attendance were Westwood Trust Senior VP Gregg Ballew, Eric White, Paige Flink, Melissa Sherrill, Pam Busbee, Lisa Singleton, Margo Goodwin, Pat and John Harloe, Ola Fojtasek, Suzy Gekiere, Tricia George, Candace Winslow, Rob Snyder, Cordelia Boone, Paige McDaniel, Joanna Clarke, Vinnie Reuben, Theresa Francis, Kay Barry, David Krause, Laura and Jason Downing, Cary Wright, Rea Foster, Tucker Enthoven, Piper Wyatt, Beth Thoele, Michael Meadows, Anne Besser, Susan Farris, Elizabeth Gambrell, Greg Nieberding, 2018 CCB Chair Claire Emanuelson with husband Dwight Emanuelson, and Vin Perella with his wife/2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella, who is already managing the haul of $5.8M for the 2017 beneficiaries.

Dallas CASA’s Cherish The Children Patron Party Had Cars Lined Up In Linda And Rob Swartz’s Driveway And On The Street

Kathleen LaValle, Theresa Daniel and Linda Swartz

The Cherish the Children Patron Party proved to be a traffic jam on Tuesday, April 4. While the early-bird arrivals were nestled on the terrace of Linda and Rob Swartz’s home, others left their cars with engines running in the circular driveway and on the street.

Casey Gerald and Shonn Brown

Organizers admitted that the valets had a distance to park the cars. On the other hand, one valet claimed that the organizers had low-balled the estimate of guests. Perhaps it was the presence of keynote speaker Casey Gerald, who was surrounded by the likes of Luncheon Chair Shonn Brown, Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen and Michael LaValle, Theresa Daniel and Becca Haynes Leonard, Michelle Stephenson, Sharon Balaban, Karen Carney, Fran and Mark Berg, Caroline Rose Hunt, Bobbie Sue Williams, Billie Lee Rippey, Veree Hawkins Brown, Joyce Rosenfield, Greg and Hannah May and Isabel and Rob Calderin.

Regardless, the event came off perfectly and all headed home early for the Dallas CASA luncheon the next day at The Fairmont.