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 arrival 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.

SOLD-OUT ALERT: A Chance To Soar

Simone Biles*

Yup, those ten seats that were still unfilled yesterday for Jonathan’s Place‘s A Chance To Soar Luncheon Tuesday are gone. Translation: Simone Biles will be facing a sold-out crowd at the Anatole.

* Photo provided by Jonathan's Place

EarthxGlobal Gala Patrons At Scott Ginsburg’s Mansion Included A Hairy Guest With Two Toes And Big, Brown Eyes

The evening of Saturday, March 25, could not have been more perfect for an outdoor gathering of earthlings. Perhaps it was due to insider arrangements by EarthxGlobal Gala Chair Emeritus Trammell S. Crow and Mother Nature.  

Didn’t matter who was responsible, Gala Honorary Chair Scott Ginsburg’s Highland Park estate was simply splendiferous, with a DJ on the elevated outdoor terrace overlooking the pool.

Susan and Steve O’Brien and Mary Kathryn Bass

Caroline Branch and Karl Chiao

Sloth and handler

While there was no lack of gorgeous-looking people like Susan and Steve O’Brien, Mary Kathryn Bass, Karl Chiao, Caroline Branch, and Michael Cain to check out, the guest drawing the most attention was a two-toed sloth, much to the delight of guests. The handler reported that despite the length of the sloth’s claws, her hugging was no problem.

However, when one guest reached out to touch the sloth, it was obviously startled and clutched her date, who provided her with reassurance and a couple of sweet potato strips.

Andrew Ward and Amanda Ward

Matt Myers

Over to the side, mom Amanda Ward told how her son, 14-year-old Andrew Ward, had been smitten with Earth Day. It seems that last year Andrew volunteered for the mega-event and got hooked. That introduction led the Lakehill student to think about tackling the problem of air pollution in China. Andrew decided to start off by aiming to reduce the air pollution emitted by Chinese factories. In discussing his plans with fellow Lakehill grad/Earth Day 2017 Event Director Matt Myers, Andrew discovered that Matt, who’d attended school at China’s “MIT” in Beijing, had also been aware of the pollution situation there and had thought about ways of solving the problem, too.

Trammell S. Crow

Arriving like a rock star, meantime, Trammell was ready to take on the world—literally—as he handed out small colorful “earth” marbles instead of calling cards. He was also very excited not only about the EarthxGlobal Gala, but about the upcoming Earth Day Texas event itself. Trammell said it would be including a number of prestigious universities, several national labs, 50 different NGOs (non-governmental organizations), and even a fracking conference. The organizers hope to best last year’s attendance of 130,000 by as many as 5,000—provided the weather holds up.

According to Laura Reeder, the EarthxGlobal Gala was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 22. But when they realized that both the Art Ball and Cotes du Coeur were scheduled that night, they simply moved the EarthxGlobal Gala to Fair Park’s Discovery Gardens on Friday, April 21. It will be just one part of the activities planned for Earth Day Texas from Friday, April 21 thru Sunday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Grovel Alert: A Chance To Soar Luncheon

Just heard from Jonathan’s Place CEO Allicia Graham Frye that as of noon today, there were just 10 tickets left for Tuesday’s “A Chance To Soar Luncheon” at the Hilton Anatole.

Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones (File photo)

No wonder! Just some of the VIP types in attendance will be enough to have cell-photos being taken nonstop. Co-Chairs Julie Bagley and Rachel Stephens have arranged to have Tiffany Cuban, Jessica and Dirk Nowitzki, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Meredith Land and Dillard’s Corporate Beauty VP Gary Borofsky tableside.

Simone Biles*

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the darling of the 2016 Olympics Simone Biles will be the keynote speaker. Her life story reflects Jonathan’s Place’s mission to provide a safe, loving home and specialized services to children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected.” Let’s hope that she doesn’t get eliminated on Monday night’s “Dancing With The Stars.” That would mean her taking the red-eye to NYC for Tuesday morning’s “Good Morning America.” But the money’s on Simone remaining as part of the cast and overnight flying to North Texas. And who knows? Maybe her dancing partner Sasha Farber will be with her at the lunch.

Remember, just 10 seats are left, so get that reservation in now.

* Photo provided by Jonathan's Place

JUST IN: Dallas CASA’s Cherish The Children Luncheon Nets $170,000

What a perfectly wonderful way to kick off Easter weekend. The Dallas CASA bean counters have been adding and subtracting the numbers from the Cherish the Children Luncheon held on Wednesday, April 5, at The Fairmont.

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

In addition to ticket sales, sponsorships and the auctioning of children’s furniture, Luncheon Chair Shonn Brown arranged for keynote speaker Casey Gerald and the National Council of Jewish Women receiving the First Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Award. The results was a gangbuster $170,000 netted for the nonprofit that “trains and supervises volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected Dallas County children living in protective care.”

According to Dallas CASA Board Member Mark Berg, who mother was a member of NCJW and one of Dallas CASA’s founders, ““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.”

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

Junior League Of Dallas To Receive Dallas CASA’s 2017 Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award In November

The Junior Leaguers of Dallas are going to be busy raising money this coming week. First, there is the 55th Annual black-tie ball — Encore — on Saturday, March 4, at the Hilton Anatole. Then next Wednesday, March 8, they’re putting on the 88th Linz Award Luncheon honoring sister JLD-er Lyda Hill at the Omni Dallas.

Dallas CASA Champion of Children Award Dinner*

After all this work, they’re going to be the recipients of Dallas CASA’s “Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award” at The Fairmont Hotel on Thursday, November 16, at CASA’s annual Champion of Children Award Dinner.

Since 1996, JLD and Dallas CASA have worked together “to serve more children in protective care, [a figure that] has grown year over year. In 2016, the JLD provided 38 volunteers who became sworn advocates for children. In addition, annual grants from the JLD directed toward recruiting allowed Dallas CASA to recruit many additional community members to serve as advocates, helping propel the agency toward its goal of serving every child in protective care.”

Junior Leaguers of Dallas*

Christie Carter (File photo)

According to JLD President Bonner Allen, “The Junior League of Dallas is both honored and humbled to be recognized by Dallas CASA. The work Dallas CASA volunteers do for the most vulnerable children in our community is exactly what the mission of the Junior Leagues is about — it is improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.”

Appropriately the honorary chair for the event will Christie Carter, who in addition to being a longtime Dallas CASA supporter, is also past president of the JLD, served on various boards and chaired this past year’s Crystal Charity Ball. It should be noted that she also co-chaired the “recently concluded $37M Abused Children Can’t Wait — The Campaign for Dallas CASA, which saw Dallas CASA more than double it program capacity, dramatically grow the number of volunteer advocates and move into a much larger building to accommodate the rapid growth.”

Priscilla and Corey Anthony*

John and Laura Losinger*

Champion of Children co-chairs will be Priscilla and Corey Anthony and Laura and John Losinger.

* Graphic and photos provided by Dallas CASA

Go Red For Women Luncheon Speaker Alison Levine Inspired Guests To Conquer All Challenges Including Heart Disease By Being Relentless

As loads of folks especially ladies attended the health screenings, cooking demonstration and CPR demonstration starting at 10 a.m. at Omni Dallas for Go Red for Women on Friday, February 4, the car cha-cha at the front door grew to bumper-to-bumper around 11:30 for those attending just the luncheon.

Amy Simmons Crafton, Melissa Cameron and Anne Stodghill

In the meantime, the invitation-only VIP reception scheduled for 10:30 was aglow in red thanks to guests in their American Heart Association best like Amy Simmons Crafton and Anne Stodghill, who was in a full-length red coat complete with glitter.

Miller Gill, Rebecca Gill, Mary Parker, Suzanne Humphreys and Joe Parker

Nancy Gopez and Alison Levine

Alas, speaker-of-honor Alison Levine was late in arriving, but once there she was non-stop howdy-doing. Waiting their turn with Alison, Sandi Haddock Community Impact Awardee Mary Parker and her family (son Miller Gill, daughter Rebecca Gill, mother Suzanne Humphreys and husband Joe Parker) posed for a quick cellphoto taken by Open Your Heart Chair and Survivor Nancy Gopez.

By noon the reception area in front of the Dallas Ballroom looked like a poppy field thanks to guests like Sandi Haddock, Kay Hammond, Kit Sawers, Roz Colombo, Gina Betts, Debbie Oates, Christie Carter, Mary Martha Pickens, Lisa Cooley, Ciara Cooley, Tracy Lange, Becky Bowen, Vicki Howland, Ramona Jones and fellas like Ron Haddock and Stan Levenson.

Kit Sawers, Gina Betts and Roz Colombo

Mary Martha Pickens, Ciara Cooley and Lisa Cooley

Thank heaven the chimes rang, the ballroom doors opened and the crowd filled the place.

Stan Levenson

Pat Malambri

Luncheon Chair Michelle Vopni introduced Amy Simmons Crafton for the invocation and Macy’s Dallas Fort Worth District VP Pat Malambri, who told of the longtime association of the retailer with the battle against heart disease in women. He also added that he hoped that many of the guests’ red outfits had come from Macy’s.

Following a brief rest for lunch, American Heart Association Dallas/Fort Worth Executive Director Melissa Cameron presented the Sandi Haddock Community Impact Award to Mary Parker, who graciously accepted the award and scored points with Pat saying, “My dress came from Macy’s.”

Then Melissa presented Open Your Heart Chair/Survivor Nancy Gopez, who asked her pal Mary to return to the podium to share the occasion. It was Mary’s advocacy about heart disease that alerted Nancy to the sign of her heart attack last year.

Mary told the audience that Amy and her AmazingGrace.Life had provided a $25,000 match for any $1,000 contributors.

Beck Weathers

As the ladies left the stage, local mountain climber Dr. Beck Weathers, who barely survived the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, introduced Alison, who gave a polished talk. Somehow, she intertwined her twice quest to conquer Mt. Everest with every day challenges by taking one step at a time and the importance of being relentless. The first attempt in 2002 had been daunting with weeks of climbing back and forth between camps on the mountain to acclimate her body for the climb to the 29,002-foot peak. Toward the final phase, one has to take five to ten breaths for each step. To make it through this part of the climb, she focused on a nearby rock. Once there, she would focus on another rock. The message was to take one step at a time in order to achieve the final goal.

In the end, she and her team had come within 200 feet of the summit only to have to turn back because they were running low on oxygen and supplies.

Alison Levine

As a result of the miss, she learned that failure wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, she and her team survived. If they had made it to summit, they might not have survived the journey down. Still, she had no plans of attempting another run for the summit.

It was her good friend/collegiate All-American soccer player Meg Berté Owen who urged her to try again. It was Meg’s resilience that turned Alison’s decision. It seems that despite her lungs being damaged due to having Hodgkin’s disease, Meg had become an avid cyclist and raised funds to fight cancer. Her death in 2009 as a result of the flu provided the impetus for Alison to take on Everest again. This time she engraved Meg’s name on her ice-ax and took on the challenge one more time. This time as she neared the summit, a storm approached. But Alison just knew she could make it to the top and return safely. Yes, she made it to the top of the world long enough to hold up a T-shirt reading “Team Meg.”

It was a talk that lasted just long enough and yet was both inspirational and refreshing.

Then it was a scamper to the cars, but it ran right on time with a finish time of 1:10.

SPCA Of Texas’ Paws Cause “Fetches” $115,000 To Benefit Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter And Wellness Clinic At Village Fair And The South Dallas Initiative

Perhaps more than ever, the need for spay and neuter has been moved to the top of the list of longtime solutions for the area glut of stray animals. With such city officials as Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, City Councilperson Monica Alonzo and Dallas City Attorney Faith Johnson in attendance to drive the point home, the SPCA Of Texas‘ Annual Paws Cause — “Pawsitively Dallas Strong” — at the Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center on Sunday, January 29, took on an added importance in fundraising for the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and the South Dallas Pet Initiative. The result was netting $115,000 for the program. Here is a report from the field:

Monica R. Alonzo*

Faith Johnson*

On Sunday, January 29, the SPCA of Texas’ Paws Cause, “Pawsitively Dallas Strong,” at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center saw more than 300 animal lovers come together to benefit the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and the South Dallas Pet Initiative. The event attendees were welcomed with a purple search light, a purple carpet, dancing dog and cat mascots and actual dogs and cats galore.

2017 Paws Cause’s “Pawsitively Dallas Strong”*

Inside, guests enjoyed gourmet food from some of Dallas’ finest chefs, imbibed luscious libations–including the “Pawsitive Delight” signature drink, danced the night away to musical entertainment by Goga, took part in the Bone Appetite restaurant drawing and had their pictures snapped at the Flipbook photo booth. A raffle of high-end items tempted attendees with fine art, photography packages, pet care products, designer purses, fine jewelry and more. A highly successful live auction and Pony Up for Paws fundraiser completed the night.

Haute cuisine stations from several of the Metroplex’s best restaurants, including Salum, Parigi, Pink Magnolia, Cane Rosso, Whistle Britches and 3015 at Trinity Groves tempted guests with everything from  sumptuous savories to decadent desserts.

Paws Cause 2017 was a tail-wagging success thanks to 2017 Paws Cause Honorary Chair  Andrea Alcorn, and the Steering Committee, which included: Jane Arrington, Steve Atkinson, Rebecca Belew, Diane Brierley, Andie Comini, Phyllis Comu, Giana DePaul, Gwen Echols, Kristen Greenberg, Whitney Keltch, Christina Miller, Pam Ragon, Abraham Salum, Gloria Snead, Karen Urie and Cathy Zigrossi

At the pinnacle of the party, Mayor Mike Rawlings first addressed the crowd saying, “The spay and neuter initiative that the SPCA is taking on is the lynchpin of the plan…to solve the situation in South Dallas that is hurting neighborhoods. We’ve got tens of thousands of dogs that need to have this operation and I believe that when we do that we will not only make the lives of those dogs better, but the lives of the neighbors and the strength of Dallas will come with it.”

Andrea Alcorn and Karen Urie*

Then, SPCA of Texas Senior Vice President Debra Burns, Karen Urie, Andrea Alcorn, SPCA of Texas President/CEO James Bias and SPCA of Texas Board Chair Katy Murray took turns thanking the guests and encouraging them to give. Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson spoke in support of the partnership between the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office’s Animal Cruelty Unit and the SPCA of Texas.

The event netted $115,000 for the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and the SPCA of Texas’ South Dallas Pet Initiative.

All proceeds from the Paws Cause event benefit the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and fund spay and neuter efforts in the Dallas community. This includes the SPCA of Texas’ programs that aim to support the pets and people of South Dallas to help address the serious stray animal, pet homelessness and pet overpopulation issues, also supporting the preservation of the bond between pets and people and keeping pets and the community healthy and safe.

Angela Thompson, Mary Spencer and Ann Marcus*

James Bias and Jan Rees-Jones*

Attendees also included Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Bobbi Snyder, Stacey and Arnie Verbeek, Bob Minyard, Angela Thompson, Candace Rubin, Ann Marcus, Hal Brierley, Leldon Echols, Marsha Pendleton-Gray and Dr. Richard Gray, Mary and Skip Trimble, Stacey and Don Kivowitz, Mary Spencer, Betsy Orton and Sharon Fancher, Mike and Catherine Merritt and Claire and Kurt Schwarz.

Event sponsors included:

  • Diamond Sponsors: Andrea Alcorn, Friedman & Feiger LLP and Dr. Richard Gray and Marsha Pendleton Gray
  • Gold Sponsors: Diane and Hal Brierley, the Durham Family Foundation, Forty Five Ten, Gwen and Leldon Echols, In Memory of Guy T. Marcus, Trinity Industries Inc. and Patricia Villareal and Tom Leatherbury
  • Silver Sponsors: Ralph Lauren – Highland Park and Skip and Mary L. Trimble
  • Copper Sponsors: Sharon Devereux, Stacey and Don Kivowitz, Katy Murray, Ray and Patricia A. Smerge, Pam Ragon, Redfin Real Estate, Claire and Kurt Schwarz and Sandra Urie and Frank Herron
  • Bronze Sponsors: MaryLynn M. Black, Karen and Phil Drayer, Cassie Evans and Hattie Pearl Decker, Hillary Hurst and Mark Schwarz, Bobby Minyard, Carol Orr, Penny Rivenbark Patton, Lucilo A. Pena, Candace Rubin, Mary Spencer, Susie Swanson, Chad West and Mr. and Mrs. David Yost.
* Photo credit: Thomas Garza Photography

Dallas CASA’s 10th Annual Cherish The Children Luncheon To Have Casey Gerald As Keynote Speaker And The Inaugural Caroline Rose Hunt Award

Sometimes the best things can be found in your own backyard. That’s exactly what Dallas CASA’s 10th Annual Cherish The Children Luncheon Chair Shonn Brown discovered for the Wednesday, April 5th luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel.

Cherish the Children Luncheon*

For its keynote speaker, Shonn announced it will be Dallas native Casey Gerald, who overcame a “harrowing childhood in Oak Cliff to receive degrees from Yale University and Harvard Business School.”

Casey Gerald**

Like many success stories, his accomplishments were due to his parents. But they weren’t the role models that other folks serve in their children’s lives, unless it was what not to become. His mother, who suffered from mental illness, disappeared from Casey’s life when he was 12. As for his dad, he was a drug addict. What helped Casey take a different fork in the road was “his community, who surrounded him with support.”

Thanks to excelling at high school football and that community support, he earned a BA in political science from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

But what launched him to internet fame was his 2014 Harvard commencement speech that went viral.

Just two years later, his TED talk “There be no miracles here” once again catapulted him into internet fame with more than 1M views.

Caroline Rose Hunt (File photo)

According to columnist Anand Giriharadas, “Casey has lived the breathtaking fullness of America. He is a real-life Forrest Gump — oh, and he’s not yet 30. His sonorous voice, on the page and the stage, will be a bugle call for his generation, and for the rest of us.”

Also on the “Cherish the Children” program will be the inaugural Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Award, which will be presented to the National Council of Jewish Women, Great Dallas Section. Named after longtime philanthropist and Dallas CASA Children’s Council member Caroline Rose Hunt, the award was established to recognize “an individual or organization for outstanding contributions helping children who have been removed from home for abuse or severe neglect.”

Tickets are now available starting at $175, but those tickets are limited.

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA 
** Photo credit: Joao Canziani

JUST IN: NFL Star/America’s Got Talent’s Jon Dorenbos To Keynote DCAC’s 10th Annual Appetite For Advocacy

Jon Dorenbos has scored fame on two entirely different fronts. He’s a two-time NFL Pro Bowler, having just completed his 11th year with the Philadelphia Eagles as a long snapper. And just this past year, his talents in magic placed him third “with his mind-blowing magic performances on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

Jon Dorenbos*

But that is today. Back in October 1992, he was a 12-year-old boy who should have been outdoors playing sports. After all, he and his family were the picture-perfect version of “Father Knows Best” living in Woodinville, Washington. Instead he was in a courtroom with his brother, Randy Dorenbos, and sister, Krissy Dorenbos, watching their father, Alan Dorenbos, on trial for the second-degree murder of their mother, Kathy Dorenbos. The reason the former Little League president gave police for beating his wife to death with a grinding tool: He “lost it.”

During the trial the children sat in the courtroom listening to the testimony and testifying.

As a relative told The Seattle Times, “The children have lost a father and mother. This is really very difficult for everyone.”

After their father was sentenced to less than 14 years in prison, Randy stayed in Woodinville to finish high school, while Jon and Krissy “moved in with an aunt and uncle in Garden Grove, California.”

Jon Dorenbos*

For some this tragedy and turning point would have been an opportunity to find escape in drugs and crime, but Jon went down a different road. And that story will be provided for those attending the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s 10th Annual Appetite for Advocacy Luncheon on Wednesday, April 19, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

Appetite for Advocacy*

Chairing the event will be the father-daughter team of Dick Collins and Genevieve Collins.

Warning: This one is going to be a sellout, so don’t go slo-mo in locking down those tickets.  

* Graphic and photos provided by Dallas Children's Advocacy Center

 

2016 Partners Card Total Take Of $1,050,000 Revealed Plus Plans For The 2017 Fundraiser For The Family Place

Just a few blocks away from Communities in Schools at Samuel Lynne Galleries, The Family Place crowd was at Bungalow 5 to celebrate the year’s take of the annual Partners Card and to hear plans for the 2017 fundraiser.

As The Family Place’s Paige Flink and Melissa Sherrill in black and white scurried through the 100+ guests, Catherine New made her 2017 debut following breast cancer reconstruction surgery. While she admitted to Anne Conner and her daughter-in-law Ryan Conner that heading back to work at the Hilton Anatole that week had been a bit too much, she was better managing her return to full form for the spring season.

Ryan Conner, Anne Conner and Catherine New

In another part of Bungalow 5, Honorary Chair Lisa Cooley and Susan Farris were asking if there had been any news about new Crystal Charity Ball members. That would come later in the evening. 

Lisa’s escort for the evening, Larry Hackett, told how he had lost 150 pounds due to a gluten-free diet and twice-a-day exercise program.

Lisa Cooley, Larry Hackett and Susan Farris

Joyce Fox arrived with Doris Jacobs on the scene just before the reveal of the final total earned. Doris reported that husband Jack Jacobs was on the mend from surgery.

With 2016 Partners Card Co-Chairs Elizabeth Dacus, Jane Rozelle and Samantha Wortley smiling, Paige revealed that $1,050,000 had been provided for the organization thanks to the annual spend-around-town fundraiser.

Paige added, “These funds are critical and will provide over 15,000 nights of shelter and support to the women, men and children who come to The Family Place to escape a violent situation.”

The amount was thanks to presenting sponsor Bank of Texas, 2016 top sellers Sara Robinson and Cass Robinson, who sold 162 Partners Cards; Paula Davis, who sold 155 Partners Cards; and Nancy Scripps, who sold 130 Partners Cards.

It was also revealed that plans for the upcoming 25th anniversary of Partners Card are already locked down. According to Bank of Texas Market President Ryan Suchala, the bank will once again be the presenting sponsor with Brynn Bagot Allday and Jennifer Burns serving as co-chairs with the help of “other past Partners Card chairs, who are joining together to make the anniversary year the best yet.”

MySweet2017Goals: Venise Stuart

According to AWARE Dallas President Venise Stuart,

Venise Stuart (File photo)

“’Americans whisper the word “Alzheimer’s” because their government whispers the word “Alzheimer’s.” And although a whisper is better than the silence that the Alzheimer’s community has been facing for decades, it’s still not enough. It needs to be yelled and screamed to the point that it finally gets the attention and the funding that it deserves and needs.’ – Seth Rogen

“I love this quote – it says so much – we need to yell at the top of our lungs – we have to get the funding and the research done, so we can overcome this horrible and extremely sad disease.

“Our goal is to do just that and we can do it with your help. Become part of the solution and join AWARE in our fight against Alzheimer’s. Since 1989 we have raised over $12,000,000 towards this cause. Membership is open to the public. Our fundraiser, AWARE Affair – Celebrate the Moments, is Saturday, April 8. We’d love to have you join us! Learn more at AWAREDallas.org.”

JUST IN: Actor, Businessman, Thorn Co-Founder Ashton Kutcher To Be New Friends New Life 14th Annual Luncheon Speaker

Tanya Foster and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

This spring’s lineup of luncheon speakers/special guests was sorta looking like a girls-only situation (Simone Biles for Jonathan’s Place, Bethenny Frankel for Community Partners of Dallas, Robin Roberts for Interfaith Family Services, Rachel Zoe for Mad Hatters Tea, Nancy Kerrigan for The Elisa Project and Arianna Huffington for Genesis).

But leave it to New Friends New Life’s 14th Annual Luncheon Co-Chairs Lisa Cooley and Tanya Foster to provide someone smart, influential, successful and of the male gender to serve as guest speaker — Ashton Kutcher.

Ashton Kutcher*

Whoa! Why Ashton? Yes, he’s hot. Yes, he’s a movie star. Yes, the last time he was seen in this neck of the woods was for the iced-over Super Bowl with then-wife Demi Moore. And, yes, he’s now happily married to Mila Kunis and the very cool father of two.

So, what does he have to do with New Friends New Life’s mission of restoring and empowering formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teens and children?” A heck of a lot and it ain’t no recent undertaking!

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (File photo)

When he was married to Demi, the couple founded Thorn, an organization that develops innovative technology solutions to fight the sexual exploitation of children.

According to Ashton, “Technology has completely changed the landscape when it comes to the abuse and exploitation of children. We created Thorn as a way to turn the tables and leverage technology to be a part of the solution, instead of a part of the problem.”

While the marriage didn’t last, Thorn did. It has “helped law enforcement identify and recover over 6,000 domestic human tracking victims to date (with 474 of those victims being received in the state of Texas).”

And Dallas is a major point of interest for his work.

Tanya pointed out that “In Dallas alone, sex trafficking is a $99 million criminal enterprise. Enlightened by so many staggering statistics and stories from survivors, Lisa and I are committed to rallying the support needed to bring an end to this injustice. There is much work to be done. ”

The luncheon will take place on Wednesday, May 10, at the Omni Dallas Hotel with Gail and Gerald Turner serving as honorary co-chairs. Sponsorships are now available ranging from $2,500-$100,000. Individual tickets will be available in March, but don’t wait. Splurge and become a sponsor by calling Jennifer Yarbrough at 214.965.0935.

* Photo credit: Nigel Parry/CPI Syndication

MySweet2017Goal: Lee Ann White

Lee Ann White (File photo)

According to National Advisory Board of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Chair Lee Ann White,

“My goal is to increase awareness of the Laura W. Bush Institute’s efforts to enlighten and inform men and women that gender differences are the key to bridging the gaps in women’s health. In order to achieve this, we must educate current and future health providers to consider each patient’s uniqueness and that means, first and foremost, taking into consideration how gender impacts health and wellness.

“I encourage anyone interested to visit the Laura W. Bush Institute website, to learn more about gender-based medicine and our upcoming Coffee and Conversation event in Dallas on Wednesday, February 15, hosted by the institute’s National Advisory Board.  The topic will be ‘Stem Cells:  Building Block for Human Organs and Tools for Therapeutic Discovery.’”

Resource Center Kicked Off World AIDS Day On The Night Before At Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh With The Red Ribbon Bash

Leave it to Resource Center to always be a step ahead of the rest. While World AIDS Day is annually celebrated on December 1, the Center opted to start the festivities plus fundraising at the Red Ribbon Bash on Wednesday, November 30, at the Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh. In addition to the partying, the event also served as a reminder that AIDS continues to devastate the people of the world. Here is a report from the field:

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, Resource Center held a Red Ribbon event at Le Méridien, The Stoneleigh on Thursday, November 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Observed on the first of December each year, World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to honor those who have died from the disease. Red Ribbon provided the community an opportunity to kick off the holidays while coming together for a cause in a beautiful and historic setting. For more than 30 years, the Center has served the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as well as all people affected by HIV/AIDS and all proceeds from the event support the Center’s services and programs.

Along with staff and volunteers, Resource Center’s Chief Executive Officer Cece Cox welcomed over 75 sponsors, guests and board members to the festively decorated penthouse of Le Meridien, Stoneleigh Hotel which overlooks the Dallas skyline. After a fun photo opportunity in the foyer, attendees adorned in red ribbons and holiday apparel enjoyed music while mixing and mingling in the lavish living room and library originally designed by Dorothy Draper. Built in 1923, The Stoneleigh has a rich history of haunted tales and secret passageways and was a perfect venue for the Red Ribbon event.

Chris Parker*

Tasty signature cocktails such as a Basil Gimlet and Ruby Slipper were provided by Stoli and contained flavored vodka such as blueberry, raspberry, citrus and vanilla. Scrumptious hors d’oeuvres created by Stoneleigh’s in-house chefs were offered such as Wild Mushroom and Beef Wellington, Cheese Corn Cakes with Avocado, and Chili Rubbed Shrimp on a White Cheddar and Jalapeno Grit Cake. The formal dining room was dedicated to delicious sweets from The Original Cupcakery and were paired with a hot cocoa and coffee bar complete with toasted coconut, mini marshmallows, candied orange peels, peppermint, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and whipped cream.

Red Ribbon Bash Christmas tree ornaments*

Party-goers also had the opportunity to purchase beautiful glittered Christmas ornaments to decorate their own Christmas tree and each ornament was available at a different sponsor level. The purchase of a $30 ornament represented a gift of a daily hot meal for a client living with HIV for one month from the Center’s food pantry. The purchase of a $60 ornament represented the gift of vital, fresh groceries for a person living with HIV for an entire month from the Center’s food pantry. The purchase of a $90 ornament represented the gift of an educational guest speaker and lunch for one HIV support group meeting.

Holiday gift-giving ideas were met with a silent auction that included fabulous home and gift ideas including 30,000 American Airlines miles, a two-night stay for two at The USA Grant, a luxury hotel in San Diego, California, a one-night stay in a King Suite at The Highland-Dallas with complimentary valet and complimentary room service for two, a one-night stay at The Warwick Melrose Dallas, tennis lessons for 1-2 people by Harlan Tennis, and a signed Dragon Lady, 3 1/2 inch crystal Aurora Borealis rhinestone with gold finish brooch covered in Swarovski stones.

Mary and Mike Waller*

Connie White and Kate Newman*

Al James, Don Gaiser and Wayne Medina*

Roneka Patterson and Nathalie Dadje*

In attendance at the Red Ribbon event were longtime Resource Center supporters and advocates James Lester, Jay Maggio, Chuck MarLett, Kate Newman, Jay Oppenheimer, Chris Parker, Michael Matthews and Michael Pugh, Mary and Matt Waller, Connie White and Kay Wilkinson. Several supporters who made the Red Ribbon a successful event included

  • Platinum Sponsors — Ethan Killgore, McDonald’s and Texas Instruments
  • Gold Sponsors — Dana Barber, Charles D. MarLett and Jay Oppenheimer
  • Silver Sponsors — Avita Pharmacy, Cece Cox, James Lester, Michael Matthews and Michael Pugh, Steven Pounders, MD and Jimmy O’Reilly and Mary and Matt Waller
  • In-Kind Sponsors — Bartech Services, Kurt S. Adler, Le Meridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh, Lion Ribbon, MarceloMedia, Mickey Briggs, The Original Cupcakery, Stoli and Sam S. Tucker

$10,000 was raised at the Red Ribbon event with all proceeds from the ornaments and silent auction benefiting the services and programs of Resource Center. World AIDS Day and the Center’s Red Ribbon event reminds us that HIV has not gone away; there is still a vital need to expand awareness, combat prejudice, and improve education. For more information about Resource Center, please visit myresourcecenter.org.

* Photos provided by Resource Center

MySweet2017Goals: Lynn Davis

Lynn Davis (File photo)

According to Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center President and CEO Lynn M. Davis,

“The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s goals for 2017 are to operate as a data-driven organization utilizing research and insights, to optimize direct impact by ensuring that all children who need services receive them, to ensure all kids who need to receive services are being served through coordination and collaboration with partner agencies, and to advance best practices regionally and nationally though innovation and training.”

MySweetWishList: Dallas CASA

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director and President Kathleen LaValle,

Kathleen LaValle (File photo)

“Sixteen-year-old Daniella grew up in a chaotic environment filled with drinking, domestic violence, poverty and hopelessness. Up to 16 people lived in her tiny, wood-frame house at one time.

“Daniella was removed from home after her mother was arrested for driving drunk with Daniella’s four siblings in the car. No family members in Dallas were able to care for the child, but a cousin in Oklahoma agreed to take in the defiant and angry young woman. Removed from home, separated from her siblings, in desperate need of anger counseling, living in a new town with family she barely knew and attending a new school, Daniella felt abandoned and disconnected.

“But while Daniella felt forgotten in Oklahoma, Dallas CASA never forgot about her.

“Daniella’s Dallas CASA volunteer, Marie, visited the child often, driving to Oklahoma monthly for more than a year to stay connected. Daniella and Marie spoke often by phone, and Marie kept Daniella’s Dallas-based Child Protective Services caseworker up to date.

“Dallas CASA’s wish this Christmas is for gas cards and airline miles so no children have to go without a CASA to speak for them.

“Due to Dallas’ lack of adequate foster homes and residential treatment centers, up to 40%

of Dallas children are placed in protective care outside the county. A child might be placed in Houston, Lubbock or El Paso, but decisions made about that child still happen in a Dallas courtroom. And many of the children placed in distant locations are teenagers in the permanent custody of CPS and living in treatment centers, some of the most vulnerable children we serve. Almost half the children our volunteers serve are living in long-term foster care.

“Marie visited Daniella frequently in Oklahoma, observing the teenager settle into life with her cousin, her cousin’s husband and their two young children. She helped Daniella understand her cousin’s curfew and rules about who she could hang out with, both new concepts to Daniella. She made sure Daniella saw a psychiatrist regularly. Marie helped Daniella get an identification card and her school records transferred to Oklahoma. Marie facilitated contact with Daniella’s younger siblings, all living in foster care. And when Daniella’s parents’ rights were terminated by the court leaving Daniella in the permanent custody of CPS, Marie helped Daniella talk through her options. Should she consider being adopted? Or plan to age out of foster care? What did she want her future to look like?

“While living with her cousin, Daniella chose to attend a local vocational high school for healthcare professions and got a job at a fast food restaurant three afternoons a week. For the first time in her life, she had money to spend on herself, a home free of addictions and violence and hope for her future. Consistent love and care gave Daniella clarity for her future, stripping away her anger and defiance and replacing it with a caring heart and a big smile.

Dallas CASA*

“Today, Daniella, at 17, has been adopted by her cousin, giving her permanency before adulthood. CASA attended the adoption and sent photos to CPS afterward. Daniella is considering going to college for nursing, something Marie has encouraged with a visit to a local college with a strong nursing program. Marie even called friends in Dallas who could offer Daniella advice on different nursing degrees and the salary she could expect.

“Daniella was forced to grow up fast, but with Marie by her side, a permanent place to call home and a strong plan for her future things look bright. Dallas CASA’s wish this holiday season is that no child ever feels forgotten. With gas cards and airline miles and airline gift cards, we can ensure our volunteers can travel as far as they need to so all children know they are important and valuable.

“For more information on donating, contact Becca Leonard at [email protected] or 214.827.8961.”

-By Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA executive director and president

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA

MySweetWishList: Family Compass

Whitney Strauss (File photo)

According to Family Compass Board of Directors President-Elect Whitney Strauss,

“On behalf of the Family Compass Board, staff and families we serve, our primary wish is a world free of child abuse and neglect where are children are able to feel happy and safe. For this holiday season, our wish is to be able to give the mothers in our programs basic necessities for their babies such as diapers and sippy cups that they have difficulty affording. We also want to encourage mothers to read and play with their babies so also ask for baby books with sight words and baby toys. We have a wish list on Amazon for these items.

“Thank you for making the holidays truly special for our mothers and their children!”

-By Whitney Strauss, Family Compass board of directors president-elect

Music, Dinner And Art “Ramped Up” Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s “Art For Advocacy” Fundraiser To The Next Level

Amy Hofland Lewis and Tara Lewis*

Everyone agreed: Co-Chairs Amy Lewis Hofland and Tara Lewis really “ramped it up” for the 10th annual Art for Advocacy auction event Saturday, November 5, at the General Datatech Warehouse space on Ambassador Row. The event, as always, benefited the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary. Over the last decade the annual bash has raised about $3 million to provide therapy and other services to abused children in Dallas County.

This year, though, things were upped a notch. The handsome tech space was an expansive contrast to FIG, the venue in previous years. This time around, there was a delicious seated dinner that was catered by Bolsa. And, following a successful art auction by maestro Louis Murad, big-time entertainment by the popular indie singer/songwriter Sarah Jaffe capped the evening.

Sofia Sugasti and Nancy Carlson*

Tom and Kathi Lind*

First, though, the nearly 700 guests enjoyed a cocktail reception and a close-up gander at all the art on the walls. About 100 local and regional artists were participating in the display, under the direction of Art Selection honcho Joyce Goss. Among those strolling and checking everything out were Honorary Chair Nancy Carlson, Kara and Randall Goss, Brian Bolke and Faisal Halum, Keith Nix, James Anbouba (“We always bid on a few items,” he said—“in fact, we have no more wall space!), Sofia Sugasti, Thomas Hartland-Mackie, Barry Whistler, Rachel and Hampton Richards, Kathi and Tom Lind, Nick Even and Clark Knippers and Kersten Rettig (still wearing a black boot, months after that mishap in Arkansas).

Holly Johnson, Nancy Cohen Israel and Solomon Israel*

Following a talk by DCAC president and CEO Lynn Davis—he said the nonprofit group helped more than 4,000 children in 2015—auctioneer Murad took the stage, and the artwork began flying into the high bidders’ hands. A photo called “Moth” by Maxine Helfman, for example, was valued at $8,000 but went for $12,000; Megan Adams Brooks’ “Blindspot” painting,” valued at $7,800, sold for $9,000; and Shane Pennington’s copper-wire sculpture called “I Look Up In Wonder” was valued at $14,500, but wound up trading hands for a whopping $25,000.

Sarah Jaffe*

So much excitement had been created, in fact, that one man popped up on stage and announced, “I’m going to match whatever anybody gives tonight, up to $100,000!” A little later, Sarah Jaffe and her band strummed their first notes. Ramped up, indeed.

For a look at some of the sponsors, who made this possible, follow the jump:

* Photo credit: Dane Davis

[Read more…]

Genesis HeROs’ Gentlemen’s Night Had Cigar Rollings, Whiskey Tastings And Membership Sign-Ups At The Crow Library

The rain gods, “Drip” and “Sprinkle,” decided to hedge their appearance in North Texas on Wednesday, November 2. Perhaps it was because of the seventh World Series game, or the CMAs. Whatever.

Nearly 200 gents and their fav gals held forth at Kathy and Harlan Crow’s library, complete with shoes shines and cigar rolling on the covered side terrace and whiskey tastings in Harlan’s better-than-real-life Oval Office.  

Harlan Crow's Oval Office

Harlan Crow’s Oval Office

In the main room, a huge drop screen was on the stage where there is usually a piano. Instead guests could see live play-by-play of the Fall Classic.

And what was the uproarious occasion demanding stogies, drops screens, shoe shines and all those guy-like activities? Why, it was the inaugural Gentlemen’s Night created by Genesis Women’s Shelter’s Genesis HeROs program. “We wanted to do something that was fun for the guys,” said Jan Langbein, the Genesis Women’s Shelter CEO.

Chris and Nancy Mulder

Chris and Nancy Mulder

Morgan Meyer

Morgan Meyer

And what a gathering of eagles it was, including Texas State Rep. Morgan Meyer, Judge Nancy and Chris Mulder, Lisa and Marvin Singleton, Kristen Howell, Daniel Roby and Amber and Josh Ragsdale, the W.H. Adamson High School football coach who was the recipient of the 2015 HeRO Award for “taking a public stand against domestic violence by serving as a role model, mentor and change agent for W.H. Adamson High School football players and the greater Dallas community.”

Josh and Amber Ragsdale and Daniel Roby

Josh and Amber Ragsdale and Daniel Roby

For some, it was a return to one of country’s most outstanding private collections; for others, it was a first time at a wonderland of historic treasures. As one young woman pointed out Lincoln’s itty-bitty desk in Congress, Carolyn Miller in the adjacent alcove was focused on Lincoln’s death mask.

Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller

Crayton Webb and Jan Langbein

Crayton Webb and Jan Langbein

Dang, but it almost got embarrassing as CEO Jan and HeROs President Crayton Webb exchanged platitudes on stage with each other. Said Jan, of Crayton’s heartfelt speaking style: “I don’t know whether to vote for him, or to pass the collection plate. Ladies and gentlemen, the Rev. Crayton Webb!”

Crayton said, “I’m here to say, the good guys have got to do their part” against domestic abuse. He encouraged the multitude of men to join up and take a pledge to “create safe homes and a safe community for domestic violence survivors” and to commit to zero tolerance for domestic abuse in the community. Already on board are Jason Adams, Travis Armayor, Chris Ayres, Elias Bahar, David Camp, Chief (Ret.) Lowell Cannaday, David Carlock, Kendall Castello, Randy Golden, Taly Hafffar, Holt Haynsworth, Clint Hennen, Bill Howell, Heath Hyde, Chris Kolczun, Andrew Marcus, Tony McGuire, Prentis Murphy, Scott Murray, David Novak, Bryon Sanders, Lt. (Ret.) Miguel Sarmiento, Jim Savage and Rev. R. Casey Shobe.

Memberships range from the active members ($100 annually) to lifetime members (one-time payment of $1,000). Concluded Crayton: “We need your help.”

JUST IN: Soup’s On! Luncheon And Art Sale Puts A New Spin On Presentation For The Stewpot Alliance Fundraiser In January

And the news just keeps pouring in. In past years The Stewpot Alliance’s Soup’s On! Luncheon and Art Sale has featured a keynote speaker and loads of delicious, hot piping soups from area chefs.

It seems that the 2017 Soup’s On! Chair Heather Sauber and Honorary Co-Chairs Margie and Ray Francis decided to slightly change things around for the Tuesday, January 31, fundraiser at Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station.

Ray and Margie Francis and Micki and Mike Rawlings (File photo)

Ray and Margie Francis and Micki and Mike Rawlings (File photo)

Instead of flying a keynoter in, there will be a panel discussion on “the future of Dallas homelessness” including Mayor Mike Rawlings, The Concilio President/CEO Florencia Velasco Fortner, Dallas Police Sergeant Jeff Tooker and Dallas Morning News VP/Editorial Page Editor Keven Ann Willey. Moderating the panel will Dallas Morning News staffer Robert Wilonsky.

Makes perfect sense since The Stewpot has been providing meals to the homeless and at-risk neighbors in downtown Dallas for more than 40 years. With recent closures of the tent cities around the area, the issue of homelessness has become even more of a priority.

Jennifer Clifford (File photo)

Jennifer Clifford (File photo)

Jan Hegi (File photo)

Jan Hegi (File photo)

Another change is that the occasion will honor the Dallas folks who founded the Stewpot Alliance 10 years ago. including President Karen Ware, Jennifer Clifford, Pat Bywaters, Marty Coleman, Margie Francis, Nancy Gillham, Jan Hegi, Kathy Jackson, Martha Lipscomb, Martha Martin, Joan Mason, Suzanne Palmlund, Micki Rawlings, Carolyn Walton and Trish Weigan.

Suzanne Palmlund (File photo)

Suzanne Palmlund (File photo)

Brian Luscher (File photo)

Brian Luscher (File photo)

But rest easy. The soups and chefs will still be major players in the day’s event. This year Chief Chef Brian Luscher of The Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots has arranged for the following chefs to cook up a storm: Chef Melody Bishop and Chef Dennis Kelley of LARK on the Park, Chef Andrew Chen of Monkey King Noodle Company, Chef Andrew Dilda of Independent Bar and Kitchen, Chef Omar Flores of Casa Rubia and Whistlebritches, Chef Scott Girling of The Grape, Chef Danyele McPherson of 80/20 Hospitality, Chef Janice Provost of Parigi, Chef Jeremie Robison of Uchi Dallas, Chef Abraham Salum of Salum and Chef Andrew Swanson of Wolfgang Puck Catering.

Omar Flores and Danyele McPherson (File photo)

Omar Flores and Danyele McPherson (File photo)

Janice Provost and Abraham Salum (File photo)

Janice Provost and Abraham Salum (File photo)

And, yes, the art sale will once again include original paintings from the Stewpot Open Art Program artists.

Tickets start at $150 per person, but you certainly get more than lunch and information about the homeless situation in Dallas. You also get a collection of soup recipes from the chefs and a one-of-a-kind soup bowl to take home with you!

MySweetWishList: Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center

According to Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s President and CEO Lynn M. Davis,

Lynn Davis (File photo)

Lynn Davis (File photo)

“The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) works to improve the lives of abused children in Dallas County and to provide national leadership on child abuse issues. Since opening its doors in 1991, DCAC has served more than 40,000 children (and their non-offending family members) who were sexually abused, severely physically abused, or who had witnessed a violent crime. Our average client is a 9 -10 year-old girl who has been sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts.

“I want to tell you a story about a client we recently saw. Isabella* had been holding onto a memory no 10-year-old mind was designed to carry. Isabella’s mother’s new boyfriend had dehumanized her. Years before, Isabella had experienced similar abuse from her own father. Her drug-addicted mother was concerned neither with helping her daughter heal from her past abuse, nor with preventing it from happening again. No grown up had ever protected her.

“But fortunately, Isabella’s grandmother did. She brought her to the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, where—for the first time in her decade-long life—she was cherished as the innocent child that she was. Isabella’s forensic interviewer gave her a voice. Her therapist taught her that she had value. Her week in CHAMP Camp alongside other child abuse survivors showed her she was not alone and during the holidays, Isabella received brand new clothing, an art kit, board games, books, and a mini karaoke machine!

Dallas Children's Advocacy Center**

Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center**

“Every year, DCAC brings justice, hope, and healing to thousands of children just like Isabella. But child abuse doesn’t just affect the “Isabella’s” of the world—it affects teachers, sisters, dads, classmates, custodians, CEOs, doctors, roommates, lawyers, accountants, pastors, friends. And because child abuse touches every member of our community, we need every member of our community to help us illuminate the truth and push back the darkness.

“With the holidays right around the corner, our Family Advocate team is organizing the annual Holiday of Hope campaign to help make this holiday season memorable and bright for the families DCAC serves. DCAC’s 2016 Holiday of Hope goal is to raise over $180,000 and serve 1,200 children.  If you’d like DCAC to do the shopping for you, we suggest a $150 donation per child. You can also choose to “adopt” a child (or more!) and shop for items from their wish list. A third option is to host a toy drive through your friends, personal networks, child’s school, company etc. and drop the unwrapped toys off to our Center by Tuesday, December 12th.  More information can be found online at www.dcac.org/holidayofhope and please email [email protected] with any questions. On behalf of the children we serve, thank you for helping us illuminate the truth.”

-By Lynn Davis, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center president/CEO

* Name has been changed to protect the identity of the child. 
** Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Advocacy Center

Champion Of Children Award Dinner Guest Speaker Antwone Fisher Strikes A Chord As Dallas CASA Honors NorthPark Center

On the evening of Thursday, October 27, the reception area outside the Fairmont Hotel’s International Ballroom was packed. The big ballroom, after all, was about to play host to the 2016 Champion of Children Award Dinner benefiting Dallas CASA, which advocates for abused and neglected children, and nearly 550 guests were expected—more than last year’s total.

Angela and Jim Thompson*

Angela and Jim Thompson*

Andrea Martin and Cheryl Lee Shannon*

Andrea Martin and Cheryl Lee Shannon*

Mike and Jana Brosin*

Mike and Jana Brosin*

Greeting friends in the crowded foyer were the likes of Caroline Rose Hunt, Lynn and Roy Shelton, Debra Nelson, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Joyce and Larry Lacerte, Dallas CASA board member Christie Carter, Frank Risch, Judge Andrea Matin, Judge Cheryl Lee Shannon, Jana and Mike Brosin (their Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti was the dinner’s presenting sponsor), Angela and Jim Thompson, Betsy and Richard Eiseman and Jan Sanders.

Jan is the widow of Judge Barefoot Sanders, the well-known political figure and longtime U.S. district judge—and steadfast supporter of Dallas CASA, whose annual Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award bears his name. “When they named an award after him, I thought I’d better put up or shut up,” Jan said with a smile, eying the scrumptious hors d’oeuvres. “So I’ve been a CASA court advocate for three years.”

Christine and Jonathan Bassham, Mark and Karen Carney, Joseph and Jeanne Manogue and Kristy Hoglund Robinson*

Christine and Jonathan Bassham, Mark and Karen Carney, Joseph and Jeanne Manogue and Kristy Hoglund Robinson*

Inside the ballroom, meantime, Mary Martha and Dr. John Pickens were peering out the tall glass windows, admiring the spectacular sunset. Soon enough, the hall behind them had filled, and event co-chairs Karen Carney, Kristy Hoglund Robinson, and Joe Manogue were onstage welcoming everyone. “Normally we would ask you to put away your phones, but tonight we ask you to take out your phones and text,” said Joe. “Let’s raise $100,000 tonight!”

With that, Kathleen LaValle, the Dallas CASA executive director and president, took the podium to pay tribute to the evening’s honoree and winner of the Judge Sanders award, NorthPark Center. As Kathleen explained, NorthPark for 21 years has hosted the annual Parade of Playhouses, which raises money for Dallas CASA and attracts volunteers to the nonprofit. In addition, she said, NorthPark secured five billboards across Dallas County touting Dallas CASA—and the group had only asked for one!

Kathleen LaValle and Nancy Nasher*

Kathleen LaValle and Nancy Nasher*

Accepting the award was NorthPark co-owner Nancy Nasher, who had invited to the dinner members of her NorthPark team, including G.M. Billy Hines, Special Event Managers Lona Crabb and the workmen who’d transported the playhouses into the center. Nancy said NorthPark has become “a place to learn about social causes” and, in 2015, celebrated its 50th anniversary by donating more than $1 million to 50 Dallas nonprofits, many of them benefiting children. (Dallas CASA, in fact, was the first of the groups to receive a donation.) Then she made a surprise announcement: “We will donate space once again on our prime billboard, at Walnut Hill and North Central Expressway, to Dallas CASA.”

After Nancy received a heartfelt standing ovation, Dallas CASA board chair John Gibson reiterated the group’s need for more advocates and more funds and said that, so far, more than $50,000 had been raised just during the dinner. Then he introduced the evening’s guest speaker, Antwone Fisher. Antwone is a director, screenwriter, film producer, and author who grew up in an abusive foster home—and then was homeless—before joining the United States Navy and turning his life around. His life was the subject of a 2002 movie, called “Antwone  Fisher,” that starred Denzel Washington and was based on Antwone’s memoir, “Finding Fish.”

Antwone Fisher*

Antwone Fisher*

During his talk, Antwone recalled that his mother was 17 and in prison when he was born in 1959. He was abused during 18 years in foster care, he remembered, and dealt with a total of 13 social workers during that time. Despite the years of abuse—and his experiences encountering pimps and drug dealers along the way, as well—Antwone said, “I learned to appreciate my fear. I wasn’t afraid of being afraid. If you’re not afraid, [bad] things can happen.”

During his years as a homeless person on the streets of Cleveland, he went on, he stole—but only for food and necessities like shoes, galoshes, and a warm coat. It was during this period that he saw a sign saying, “Join the Navy,” which he decided to do. He willed himself to pass the necessary tests, even though he couldn’t read, and, over the next 11 years in the service, turned his life around.

“If I had had a CASA [a court-appointed special advocate] as a boy, I would have grown close to that person and they would have been able to help me, like they do all over the country,” Antwone said. “Having an advocate who can speak for you is so important. When I was a kid, I couldn’t articulate my thoughts. … Sometimes all it takes is one person caring about you.”

After the evening’s second standing ovation—this one for Antwone—event co-chairs Christine and Jonathan Bassham took the stage to wrap things up. A total of $53,440 had been raised during the event, they announced, which, thanks to a $50,000 match, meant that Dallas CASA was $103,000 richer just since the first course was served. That amount, the guests realized happily as they made for the exits, would pay for a lot of advocates for a lot of Antwones.  

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

JUST IN: Mary Parker To Receive The Sandi Haddock Impact Award At 2017 Dallas Go Red For Women Luncheon

Here’s a great way to start the weekend! Great news! The American Heart Association has just revealed that Mary Parker will be the 2017 recipient of the Sandi Haddock Impact Award at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Friday, February 3, for the Dallas Go Red For Women Luncheon.

Mary Parker (File photo)

Mary Parker (File photo)

Nancy Gopez

Nancy Gopez

After having a heart attack years ago, Mary has become a powerful advocate in helping people become aware of the signs of a heart attack and making them take action. A recent example of her efforts paying off was Mary’s best bud Nancy Gopez, who immediately headed to the hospital and sought treatment when she recognized the symptoms. It not only saved Nancy’s life, it put her on a new road to better overall health.

BTW, Nancy is also going to be part of the festivities. She’ll be serving as the Open Your Heart chair and will be providing “her personal testimonial.”

Tickets just went on sale this month, so why not give yourself a healthy holiday gift?