The Harvey Weinsteins Aren’t Limited To Hollywood

MySweetCharity

Allow me to tell you a story: There was a young woman who had been doing PR for a high-profile local company back in the late 1980s. As part of her responsibilities, she was to accompany the executives and personalities to special events and introduce them to the right people. 

It was at one large charity fundraiser that her “#Me too” took place. As the crowd gathered to hear the headliner, she stood next to the region’s top executive. Without warning he grabbed her hand and clutched it to his crotch. While there wasn’t much there, she still knew what had happened. Shocked, she looked at him and saw a smile, not of enjoyment but of conquest. Immediately she retrieved her hand and headed to the company’s table and told the second-in-command’s wife. She blew it off, saying, “Oh, yeah, he does that.”

On the way home, the young woman told her friends that she was in shock. She hadn’t had a drop to drink and never had any relationship with the man, who was married. Her friends comforted her, but felt helpless because one of them worked for “Handy Man.”

The following Monday the victim had a meeting with the company’s marketing director, telling her that she had to resign due to the episode. The marketing director was sympathetic but could do nothing because she, too, worked for the Handy Man. The young woman called a lawyer friend, telling him what had happened, and that she wanted to put a stop to this man’s abuse before it went any farther with other women. The lawyer bravely took the case on, despite the fact it wasn’t his forte.

Fast-track forward: After the suit was filed, she heard through the grapevine that the mother company had held interviews with management and staffers. Supposedly only one manager had claimed that the young woman was a troublemaker.

A mediation took place one day with the young woman making only four requests:

  • That the man not be in the room during the mediation.
  • That the company would provide a letter saying that her work with the company had been professional.
  • That the man not be fired. She wanted the company to keep an eye on him and prevent him from scourging others.
  • That the remaining months of her contract be fulfilled financially.

The first request was agreed to. He would not be present at any point. What a relief. One down and three to go.

For eight hours, the lawyer and the young woman waited it out in one of the mediator’s office. They talked  about their families. Occasionally, they were brought in to discuss developments with the company’s legal team and the man’s own lawyers, and yet nothing seemed to transpire.

By the end of the day, they were sent home with a wait-and-see comment.

The following Monday, the lawyer called with good news and not-so-good news.

Yes, they would fulfill the contract financially.

Now, for the not-so-good news:

They wouldn’t issue a letter.

But then the real blow hit: The company had cut ties with Handy Man. That one was a knife to the heart. He would inevitably move on to a new company and be allowed to stalk and abuse others.

Shocked, the young woman told her lawyer that the offer wasn’t acceptable. She couldn’t un-fire the man, but she wanted that letter. Her lawyer/friend said it wasn’t going to happen, and that she should accept the offer. She told him that she realized he was working with her on a contingency arrangement and she would compensate him, but, no. She either got the letter, or she would pursue the legal journey. He told her that they wouldn’t budge. She told him that she understood, but she had to proceed. They hung up. 

With that hangup, she felt as if she was in a vacuum. She had done nothing wrong, yet still she felt she was being victimized again. This time it wasn’t a man’s groping hand. It was a company’s denial of a piece of paper validating her.  

What kept her going was defiance. She had lost her demand for the company to keep him from spreading his problem to other unknowing organizations. It was obvious that the powers-that-be wanted to wash their hands of him. But she was not going to allow the company to have their way with her now. Their inquiries and interviews with staff members had already triggered rumors about her own reputation and her own disassociation with the company. She was not going to be victimized again .

Four hours later, she got a call from her lawyer friend. He sounded almost amazed in revealing that the company had agreed to the letter. Would she agree? Hell, yes.

In the days afterward, she received a call from a 20-something woman who had worked for the company. She had been stalked and received voicemails from the man intimidating her. She was grateful that he was out of her life for good.

The perpetrator went on his industry, got an executive job in another part of the country, and stayed married to his wife. The young woman moved on with her life, knowing that she had immediately taken a stand and legally tried to prevent his wanton ways.

So when people like Academy Award winners, political leaders and others write “#Me too,” one can’t help but think, “What did you do about it—and when?”

Neiman’s Malcolm Reuben’s Retirement To California Will Result In Losing Energizer Bunny Rabbit Volunteer Vinnie Reuben

Dallas Morning News’ Maria Halkias reported that Neiman Marcus NorthPark GM/VP Malcolm Reuben announced that he’ll be retiring at the end of the year and heading to California to be closer to the grandkids.

Vinnie and Malcolm Reuben (File photo)

Surprised? No. It’s been in the works for a while. The loss? A double knockout. Besides the loss of a stellar retail executive, North Texas will be losing Malcolm’s fundraising wife, Vinnie Reuben.

No, she hasn’t chaired one of the hoop-la events. Rather, Vinnie has earned the reputation of being the behind-the-scenes “Energizer Bunny Rabbit.” She has taken on the art of handling reservations like Jaap van Zweden’s conducting an orchestra.

North Texas’ reputation for philanthropy has been built on the hard work and juggling of arrangements by people like Vinnie. California’s gain will be North Texas’ loss. The non-profits were lucky to have her as along at they did. Now, Vinnie’s and Malcolm’s grandkids will be the beneficiaries of her presence.

An Unfortunate MySweetCharity Opportunity: Hurricane Harvey

MySweetCharity

North Texans are certainly no strangers when it comes to Mother Nature throwing fizzy fits. Perhaps that’s why they are feeling the pain of those escaping Hurricane Harvey and seeking refuge here. Unfortunately, for some they will have little to return to. For others, they just might decide to stay put here.

To help these uprooted folks while they call North Texas home, it is the perfect opportunity to showcase the area’s spirit of generosity and compassion. Whether it’s schlepping pet supplies to the SPCA of Texas for newly arrived residents, providing funds for such groups as the Red Cross or rolling up silk sleeves to volunteer, now is the time to rise to the occasion. 

BTW, there are many North Texans who have families and second homes in the devastated area. Why not give them a call and see how they’re doing? 

And remember — hurricane season doesn’t officially end until October. But you just know Ma Nature doesn’t always plays by the rules.

Friends Of Wednesday’s Child Is Closing

Sorry to start the week off with some sad news, but The Friends of Wednesday’s Child is ceasing operation.

Whoa! Before you go thinking that WFAA’s Cynthia Izaguirre won’t be doing her “Wednesday’s Child” segments, stop thinking that. These are two separate organizations dedicated to supporting foster children in need of permanent homes.

Friends of Wednesday’s Child (File photo)

Founded by a couple in 1985, Friends of Wednesday’s Child “provided for all their unmet needs while they are in foster care. These unmet needs include many of the things that establish a healthy, productive childhood; from tutoring to medical/dental care to summer camp to birthday gifts.”

According to the Friends of Wednesday’s Child’s website,

“It is with heavy hearts we write that Friends of Wednesday’s Child is closing its doors. We do not have the financial support to continue. The good news is North Texas has some outstanding allies in the community of people who serve children living in foster care. We are in discussion with these great groups who are interested in absorbing Friends of Wednesday’s Child programs and services. We hope to announce something in the coming weeks and months. An education can transform the lives of these children and put them on a path to success in school and life. Thank you for your support in making it possible. It is an honor and a privilege. Please continue supporting them. You are the difference.”

It must have come as a surprise for the staff, since they had just recently submitted a MySweetCharity Opportunity about its Top Kids at TopGolf fundraiser in November.

On the other hand, WFAA’s Wednesday’s Child program is still in operation finding adoptive parents for foster children. As a matter of fact, WFAA will be holding a phone-bank drive today at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. to raise money for Community Partners of Dallas’ annual “Back to School Drive.”

Kevin Hurst Provides A Firsthand Look On How North Texans Are Pulling Together Following Recent Tornadic Devastation And How To Help

With spring weather sporadically tearing up families and homes, its devastation only provides a rallying point for both friends and strangers to help the healing process. Following the recent onslaught of tornadic activities on Saturday, April 29, Neiman Marcus Director of Charitable Giving and Associate Volunteerism Kevin Hurst was able to see firsthand the ruination and the coming together. He has kindly shared his experience in the following report with photos:

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

If you have not personally been affected by a man-made or natural disaster, then you most likely have not seen first-hand what the destruction really looks like. The one-dimensional electronic images on TV, online, and print do not accurately portray the three-dimensional devastation.

As the director of charitable giving, and the steward of Neiman Marcus associate’s donations to the Neiman Marcus Disaster Relief Fund, I was recently invited to take a tour and witness the catastrophic damage that Canton and the surrounding communities suffered when four separate tornadoes moved through the area on Saturday, April 29. On May 4, I joined the American Red Cross and other corporate supporters for a 60-mile journey just east of Dallas.

During the drive, we heard all of the facts and figures:

  • four tornadoes, one of which was an F4 (the second highest type),
  • one tornado stayed on the ground for 51 miles, which is completely rare
  • 7,019 meals served to affected families and volunteers
  • 2,910 comfort and clean up kits distributed
  • The speed at which two emergency shelters had been set up
  • 100 homes destroyed or uninhabitable

The facts and figures are just that…facts and figures.  

On the day of our tour, the sky was a vibrant blue and not a cloud in sight…there was even a slight breeze to keep things cool. Just the day before, the area had once again been under a severe storm watch with the possibility of hail. In fact, we were told to wear thick sole shoes and long sleeve shirts. In addition to the storm damage, the demolition of homes had already begun causing insulation particles to float in the air. I recall seeing one house being torn down as we drove down a rural road and thought about the juxtaposition of the destruction with the glistening elements in the air.  It almost seemed like snowflakes floating to the ground.

We had been coached that we should not ask too many questions. Each person would be at a different place in the grieving process. It was best to let them talk as little or as much as they wanted and we should simply say “I am sorry for what you are going through.”

It wasn’t until we started delivering water to those families that reality set in. I think it is safe to say that our demeanors changed from that of an outsider looking in, to one who was now able to truly empathize with those affected.

Our first stop was at a trailer home. We were greeted by a 60-something year old gentleman, “Mark,” seated in a lawn chair in the middle of his yard. He was having lunch which consisted of a hamburger, bagged chips, and a bottle of water; all of which were provided by the local church that had set up grills to help feed their neighbors. Mark’s 86-year old mother, sister, and a young child were all home when the storm hit. They huddled together in an interior room. When it was over, the entire mobile home had been lifted eight inches and moved one foot from its original foundation. The branch of a large tree fell directly into the middle of the home, most likely preventing it from being completely blown away. Needless to say, their home is uninhabitable. The irony is that most of their personal possessions like photographs and keepsakes were all intact.

As I snapped these photographs, I again thought about the juxtaposition of the scene…the tattered American and Texas flags proudly displayed and waving against a backdrop of ruins.

Blue tarp covers the hole left from the tree branch*

To compound the tragedy, Mark’s brother was visiting in a travel camper and was inside of it with his dog. The tornado picked it up, slammed it on its side, and peeled the roof off extracting all of the contents. Thankfully the two walked away with minor cuts and bruises. The door of the travel camper was located wrapped around a tree.  

Campers on its side*

Inside camper with roof peeled off and door of camper wrapped around tree*

As we were visiting, a retired veteran and neighbor, “Bob,” came to talk to us. At first glance, his house directly across the street appeared to be unscathed, however that was not the case. He shared that the entire roof pulsated up and down during the storm loosening ceiling joists and cracking walls. As a trained storm spotter, he knew exactly what to do in the case of a storm and was prepared with a back-up generator, thus allowing him to continue living in his home. Being trained doesn’t necessarily mean that you are exempt.  

Bob has a cell phone tower on his land. When the company came out to inspect it, the technician climbed about ten to fifteen stories to the top. He reported that he could actually see the trench of destruction in the ground and where the tornado made a 90 degree turn to his neighbor’s mobile home.

I mentioned that our Red Cross guide said people would be at different stages of grieving. For both Mark and Bob they were grateful. Grateful not only that they were alive, but they still had some place to call home. I have to say how “impressed” (if that is even the appropriate word) I was with Mark. He was completely open and seemed almost anxious to share his story. We were told that people find it therapeutic to talk about the event.  He invited us to walk around his property and take pictures. I almost felt like it was a badge of honor for him…perhaps if only because his family was safe. As for Bob, and I suspect because of his storm training, he had a different perspective. He actually said he was “happy” it happened. He explained that this storm actually brought his community together; neighbor helping neighbor.

Showroom buildings (left) new and (right) old*

Damaged vehicles*

Our next stop was a Dodge dealership which took a direct hit. The dealership had just completed construction on the new showroom building on Friday. They were in the process of moving everything over from the small, outdated showroom building across the parking lot when the tornado hit on Saturday. Literally, every vehicle sustained damage. Some vehicles were thrown over 200 yards into an adjacent pasture. All that was left of the new building was the steel frame and the old building was completely flattened. A neighboring house across the pasture took a direct hit. Rather than flattening it, the tornado went right through the middle leaving a gaping path with both sides still standing.

In part, this visit was organized by the American Red Cross to demonstrate their quick response and the programs and services provided in a time of crisis. In reality, it demonstrated so much more. It demonstrated the force of nature. It demonstrated the gratitude and compassion of individuals. It demonstrated the resiliency of a community. For me, it validated our decision to become a National Disaster Partner with the American Red Cross. I mentioned earlier that I act as a steward of our associate’s donations to the Neiman Marcus Disaster Relief fund. This support allows the Red Cross to be ready within hours to activate the volunteer network and provide food, water, shelter, products, and other services that would help those affected start to recover from this life-changing event.

Amaryllis*

One final juxtaposition and photo. Amid the piles of debris at Mark’s home, I saw this Amaryllis flower.  It was seemingly untouched by the winds and flying materials.

The genus name Amaryllis comes from the Greek word “amarysso,” which means “to sparkle.” In Greek mythology, it was the name of a shepherdess who shed her own blood to prove her true love, and in so doing inspired the naming of this flower.

Similar to the flying insulation particles that glistened in the sunlight, this Amaryllis equally sparkled. We can only hope that much like Greek mythology, this lone flower will act as a shepherd of hope for the community and shed pollen to spawn new life.

* Photo credit: Kevin Hurst

A Passing: Cherri Oakley

Before the women’s movement really started with Gloria Steinem hammering at the glass ceiling, Cherri Oakley was a hungry 20-something PR person who had gumption and could scramble. So the story goes, international hairstylist Vidal Sassoon decided to open a shop in Dallas in the early 1970s. Somehow Cherri got wind of Sassoon’s plans and managed to set up a meeting with his people. There was just one hiccup. Cherri didn’t have an office. But she wasn’t going to let that quash the opportunity. The fledgling PR practitioner temporarily rented space just to take the meeting and make the right appearance. It worked! Sassoon hired her and she was off and running to become a major player in the local PR biz.

Over the years, even Cherri had to laugh about the ups and downs of PR that fluctuated with North Texas’ business climate. When times were good, Cherri had a huge conference table. When times weren’t so great, the conference table hit the road. She had more than a couple of conference tables, so they say.

There is a great story in D Magazine about Cherri’s buying three spaces at Sparkman Hillcrest for $250 each in 1985. Her plan was one for herself and one for a maybe-one-day husband. In 1986 her beloved pooch, Roberta Black, died. Cherri decided that Roberta would find her final resting place in one of the plots. Alas, the Sparkman-Hillcrest policy would not allow it — “burying animals was against Sparkman policy.” Somehow, Cherri had her way — “We had to be discreet about it, but it was a very moving funeral.”

Cherri Oakley*

As time moved on and Cherri decided a Mr. Right was not going be in her life, she decided to sell the two remaining plots back to Sparkman-Hillcrest in 2008. But, alas, Sparkman-Hillcrest would “not buy them back.” Cherri was amazed to learn that her two spots were now valued at $7,590 each.

It is with regret that Cherri may be putting to use one of her Sparkman-Hillcrest spaces due to her death on Friday, January 20. And while Cherri’s 40 years in public relations may have ended, stories — both real and tall tale — will be the stuff that will allow her to live on in the annals of Dallas marketing circles.

A memorial service for Cherri will be held at Saint Michael and All Angel’s Saint Michael Chapel on Saturday, February 4, at 11 a.m.

* Photo credit: Matt Hawthorne

Oops Alert: Family Gateway’s “Gateway To Opportunity” Luncheon Is Tuesday, Not Wednesday

It’s Monday. It’s wet. It’s cool-ish. It has all the elements for an oopsie taking place. And that’s what happened. Normally, most “oopsies” at other media outlets would just be dismissed as, “So who cares?” But this one has organizers a wee bit concerned, so we’re setting the record straight.

Jenna Bush Hager*

Jenna Bush Hager*

Ron Corning (File photo)

Ron Corning (File photo)

It seems that a daily newspaper column on philanthropy reported bright and early this morning that the Family Gateway’s “Gateway To Opportunity” featuring Jenna Bush Hager at the Omni Dallas Hotel was taking place on Wednesday. So, what’s so earth-shattering about that? Jenna will indeed be at the Omni and she’ll have a chat with WFAA’s Ron Corning. And it will benefit Family Gateway for homeless families with children.

The problem is that it’s taking place tomorrow, like Tuesday, instead of Wednesday.

As of 9:30 a.m. today, the website still had the incorrect date, so please think Tuesday. Because if you show up Wednesday, you’re gonna miss out on Jenna, Ron and a whole lot of your friends.

BTW, some tickets are still available here.

* Photo provided by Family Gateway

A Passing: Paige Anderson

Paige Anderson was the Clark Kent/Superman of the Dallas animal scene. Her daytime life was a stylist for stars, socialites and catwalk beauties. Her off-hours job was heading up Beast Agent, where she represented dogs, cats, parrots and, yes, even red-tailed hawks like Mira and Mr. Chitters the owl for such companies as Neiman Marcus, JC Penney, Brookstone, Procter and Gamble, Purina, Dillard’s and countless others.

For some, Paige might have reminded them of Tinkerbell with her twinkling eyes, blonde hair, size-one figure and sparkle.

But besides the glitz and glamour of the runway and the repping of animals with advertising agencies, Paige saw and undertook the very ugly reality of the animal world as executive director animal cruelty investigator at Animal Investigations and Response (AIR).

Paige Anderson*

Paige Anderson*

The wee blonde was a role model for many. Sure, she probably weighed less than an SUV’s tire, but she loved animals. While others may have thought that Paige favored adorable Malteses and Bichon Frises, she was a Pit Bull girl in her home life. It was amazing to see the petite Paige with the muscular bulls that melted in her arms. But that was just the way Paige was, whether it was with people or pets.

And yet, let her sense an abusive or neglectful situation, then the ferocity of a volcano immediately took place. In skinny blue jeans and with her thatch of blonde hair, she marched through mud and all kinds of poo-poo to rescue those held captive in cruel conditions.

That march didn’t waiver in recent months when Paige was diagnosed with a very rare form of ovarian cancer.

Monica Ailey and Paige Anderson*

Monica Ailey and Paige Anderson*

According to AIR Co-Founder/President Monica Ailey, Paige passed away early this morning. “She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer four days after AIR launched and four days after AIR was awarded the Justice Award by the Legacy Humane Society. Paige fought a long year battling a very rare form of ovarian cancer. She gave it a run for its money that’s for sure! Even though she is no longer with us, I believe she won her battle. She won her battle because of the impact she made on this world and everyone that knew her! She won because we are all better people for having known her. She saved so many lives and she would want us to continue to do the same…..in her name. She would say that AIR is our future….that we are going to do big things in Texas and save a lot of animals! I plan to make her proud of our future as I know she will be by our side every step of the way!

“We are squaring away plans for a celebration of life event to honor this amazing hero and all the lives she saved and touched! I will keep you posted on the details as they become final.”

Chris McGilivray and Paige Anderson*

Chris McGilivray and Paige Anderson*

Paige was 50 years young, but the difference she made in so many lives, both human and critters, was simply incredible. The world is a better place because of her efforts. Those on the other side of the rainbow bridge are welcoming her with wags and purrs.

According to Kristina Browman, one of Paige’s dying wishes was that “We would continue AIR… and we intend to make her proud.”

Our most sincere condolences go to her husband Chris McGilivray and innumerable friends and critters.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 24, at Manny Rodriguez’s studio. Tears are to be left at the door and cheers will be welcomed.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman 
** Photo provided by Facebook

A Morning Of Mourning

For baby boomers and other old-timers, the news of the sniper(s) in downtown Dallas killing people knee-jerked them back to the nightmare of November 22, 1963. They remembered the days and years of Dallas being damned as a “city of hate.” This time it was a victim of hatred.

It was hard to imagine that the spot where 800 had peacefully marched to protest shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge had become a war zone with police as the key targets. Despite the resulting chaos of civilians running for cover and an unknown number of assailants, city leaders immediately came together to resolve the situation.

For Mayor Mike Rawlings, it had been a rough week already. In addition to the torrential flooding that resulted in the loss of an off-duty officer on Tuesday, his mother-in-law, Willine Gunderson, who had lived with the Rawlings family, had died Monday. She had been more than an in-law for the mayor. At night after putting in a long day of running the city, he would go to her room and talk with her before joining the rest of the family. Just hours before the downtown ambush, he had attended her funeral in Canton. Now, just past midnight, he was mourning the loss of officers and consoling his city.

But he was also letting the world know that Dallas would not tolerate the assassinations. Backing him up was Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who was commandeering the fluid developments. Not only was the city under siege, the situation also provided a ripe opportunity for widespread vandalism. Luckily, the latter was stopped before it could take hold.

But even at this time when Dallas city and county leadership was rising to the occasion, there were some who evidently didn’t realize the gravity of the situation.

In the days ahead, there will be funerals and healing. In the weeks and months ahead, there will be revelations. In the years ahead, this nightmare will require patience, understanding and grit for Dallas and the rest of the country.

A Passing: Jo Guerin

Jo Guerin (File photo)

Jo Guerin (File photo)

It was always easy to spot Jo Guerin in a crowd. With her blonde hair, teal-blue eyes and her never-ending smile, she was known for having an enormous collection of friends and being a tireless supporter of a wide variety of nonprofits.

Hailing from Arkansas, she found her way to SMU back in 1956, where time and time again she made her presence known thanks to her beauty (Rotunda Beauty, SMU Modeling Squad, etc.) and her talent (SMU Arden Club, President of the Neiman Marcus College Board, etc.).

Her appearing in SMU theatrical productions came as no surprise, since her older blonde sister/the late Martha Bumpas Gaylord was a favorite leading actress in Dallas theaters.

However, following college Jo married Dean Guerin in 1960 and shifted her focus to community involvement that included the Junior League of Dallas, Big Sisters, Children’s Medical Center, DAR, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts League, Crystal Charity Ball, Les Femmes du Monde, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, Dallas Garden Club, Susan Komen Foundation, Dallas Heritage Society, Flora Awards, Dallas Civic Opera and Dallas Arboretum Women’s Council.

But Jo was also known for her style. Whether it was being selected to the Crystal Charity Ball’s Best Dressed and its Hall of Fame or living and entertaining with Dean in the only Texas home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Jo was a standout.

We regret to report that Jo died Sunday, April 24. A memorial service will be held at Sparkman Hillcrest on Friday, April 29, at 2 p.m.

Our condolences are extended to Jo’s family, friends and those who benefited from her efforts.

Hilton Anatole’s Towne Park Service Once Again Left A Yucky After-Taste For Fundraising Luncheoners Thursday

Tim Gunn’s talk for Community Partners of Dallas’ Chick Lit Luncheon on Friday, April 1, at the Hilton Anatole was a home run. Only strikeout was the valet parking. One guest waited an hour before the Anatole’s in-house valet staff admitted, “Sorry, but somebody moved it.” Luckily, the vehicle was found. But as the driver left he saw about 50 guests still waiting for their wheels.

Hey, what’s the problem? It was a big luncheon crowd of over 1,200 and “oop’s” do happen. But then it happened again yesterday at the Anatole. And this time it was on a much grander scale, resulting in an automotive tsunami and two major fundraisers having to delay their POA and having guests arrive late for the program.

It might have been excusable if the two events had been handled by two competing valet services, but the Anatole’s in-house parking service Towne Park was in charge. One would think that the in-house staff would be prepared with a game plan for such an undertaking and loads of parkers.

And what was the challenge? The New Friends New Life’s “Wings” luncheon with Amal Clooney as the featured speaker was scheduled for the Chantilly Ballroom, with a projected attendance of more than 1,500. The VNA’s “Legends and Leaders” luncheon with journalist Jim Lehrer in the Imperial Ballroom was scheduled to have more than 650.

Insider info: As anyone in the hospitality industry knows, evening events usually have two people per car, while lunches tend to have more single-driver cars.

Thus, these two groups converged upon the Anatole complex at the same time for the events starting at 11:30. Instead of having off-duty police directing traffic at the intersection of Wycliff and Stemmons frontage road, one lone uniformed man was at the hotel’s Wycliff entrance. Another policeman turned away cars approaching from Market Center Boulevard and large planters blocked other entrances. The result was hundreds and hundreds of cars trying to wedge into less than three entrances, and traffic backing up on both roads. Unfortunately, frustrated drivers trying to cross Wycliff ended up blocking the cross section with 18-wheelers and cement trucks playing “musical lanes” with Mercedeses and Priuses. At times it looked like a vehicular version of the La Brea Tar Pits of vehicles.

One guest who had left their office in the Turtle Creek area at 11 didn’t make it to the Wings luncheon until past noon due to the traffic jam.

A VNA organizer delayed the luncheon program  after hearing tales from arriving guests of 30-minute waits in traffic. That person said it wouldn’t be as bad afterwards, because the VNA had arranged to stagger their event to end after the Wings luncheon, thereby relieving the congestion.

Alas, the best laid plans of mice, men and event planners don’t always happen. One VNA guest who was one of the first to hand in their valet ticket waited 40 minutes for the car to be pulled up. Another woman in a wheelchair moved faster than the cars in the porte-cochere. While guests holding purchased centerpieces patiently searched the horizon for their cars, some Towne Park management types with bellies hanging over their belts were seen laughing at the situation. Or, perhaps they were just sharing a joke?

The luxury hotel’s in-house valet service continues to be its Achilles heel. It tends to be a recurring issue for money-conscious nonprofits. Why? It’s the money, honey. If the fundraiser uses an outside parking service, the hotel charges the organization a fee (usually $3) “per plate” for the use of its parking lot. That’s in addition to paying the outside valet service. In other words, if you’re expecting 500 cars, that’s $1,500 on top of the independent valet charges.

In capturing sponsors, many nonprofits offer valet parking sponsorships. And naturally, the cheaper the sponsorship, the more likely it’s going to be scooped up. But what sponsor wants to be known for providing frowny faces and tapping toes waiting for a car that’s “just over there”?

Suggestion to sponsors: If you’re approached about sponsoring valet parking at the Anatole, ask which service will be used. If it’s one of the independents like Jack Boles or Gold Crown, go for it. If it’s Towne Park, your name just might be taken in vain by potential customers.

Two Great Fundraisers Were Victims Of A Head-On Collision

An unfortunate situation took place Friday, April 1. It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. It was the taking place of two fundraising luncheons that divided the efforts for those in need. At the Hilton Anatole, Community Partners of DallasChick Lit Luncheon was celebrating its 10the anniversary with 1,100 and Tim Gunn on stage.

Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn

Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb

Over at the Dallas Country Club, Today Co-Host Hoda Kotb was the featured speaker for more than 350 at the Interfaith Dallas – Family Services‘ (formerly known as Interfaith Housing Coalition) Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon.

Both speakers were beyond remarkable, with guests from each event swearing theirs was the best in ages. But one has to wonder, “What if….?”

What’s that? “What if….what?” It’s, “What if they had been held 24 hours apart?” The guests probably could have squeezed enough money out of their budgets and time to attend both, thereby supporting CPD as well as Interfaith. In turn, they would have been the recipients of two memory-making programs.

Sure, organizers are at the mercy of speakers’ and entertainers’ schedules, but if such a collision of fundraising can be prevented, it really benefits all.

One way to avoid similar situations is to check the MySweetCharity Calendar. If a fundraiser is already on a particular date, then it might be wise to pick another date. Basic MSC Calendar listings are absolutely free to provide the information for one and all. Bells and whistles can be added for a minimal cost.

Nonprofit Brags About Auctioning Off Three-Pound Puppy — Twice

Back on Wednesday, February 3, MySweetCharity posted about a group that auctioned off a puppy at its annual fundraiser. The name of the organization was not included because it may have been an innocent mistake, even though it was an illegal action and it wasn’t the group’s first “rodeo.” In fact, it was the sixth time that this event has been held.

From the Carson Leslie Foundation email

From the Carson Leslie Foundation email

However, with the arrival of an email blast from the organization this morning, it appears the nonprofit didn’t get the message, so all bets are off.

The email bragged that the three-pound puppy had not just been auctioned off once but twice. True, they said they had made a follow-up to check on the puppy that is now named after the organization. And, true, the money raised will help children suffering from cancer. But they broke the law and may have led other nonprofits into believing that they, too, can break Dallas city ordinance Sec. 7-7.6, if the intentions are all right.

Won’t work. Even the best of intentions does not make it right, if it’s against the law.

A Passing: Rusty Rose

Rusty Rose, who was known for everything from being a successful businessman, Texas Rangers co-owner, art collector and philanthropist to being “Lela’s and Will’s dad” and “Deedie’s husband,” died last night.

Rusty Rose (File photo)

Rusty Rose (File photo)

While the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard Business School graduate was at home with business titans and U.S. Presidents, he was just as comfortable watching the birds of the sky or others shine in the spotlight.

Deedie in accepting the 84th Linz Award in April 2013 thanked her husband saying, “After 48 ½ years of marriage he still doesn’t agree with me on everything, but has supported me in everything.” It was that partnership that helped establish the Deedie and Rusty Rose Foundation, create The Pump House and was part of the group that made “unprecedented gifts of their private collections” to the Dallas Museum of Art in 2005, among so many other contributions.

Most recently Deedie and Rusty presented a $1M gift to Trinity Park in September and served as honorary co-chairs for the Perot Museum’s annual fundraiser in November.

His death leaves a void in numerous lives, projects and organizations. Hopefully, the memories of his achievements and the twinkle in his eye will continue to inspire others to carry on in his stead.

Our most heart-felt condolences go to his family, universe of friends and those who have been touched by his generosity.

The Scams Are Popping Up Like Fire Ants And Just As Nasty

Gee, the scammers are already swarming the area to take advantage of the weekend’s tornado furor. Roofers, construction gypsy types and fake fundraisers, who couldn’t pronounce “Mesquite” or “Waxahachie,” are skulking like buzzards in the devastated areas.

Evidently, someone claimed to be working with FEMA and Operation: Kindness. Whoa! The OK team was more than suffering vapours. The staff took to Facebook expressing their OMG shock:

We have received many questions and would like to clarify that Operation Kindness is not partnering with Operation Rescue Paws on the ground in Rowlett. Early this morning, we personally reached out to all local animal shelters that have been affected by the storms and offered assistance with housing, transporting, or fostering animals in need. We are following the appropriate protocol so that we will not interfere with rescue and clean up efforts in the community. Operation Kindness is on stand-by in case any local shelters do need our assistance. Thank you.

Ah. come on. You’re a smart cookie. You know the tried-and-true teams that manage to squeeze positive results out of every cent donated. They’ve been around in the good times and the now-times. And now is the time to let them know that you’re there for them.

Another source to check out the good guys from the bad ones is Charity Navigator. It’s an excellent source when it comes to trying to determine the legitimacy of a nonprofit.

But let’s not discount those individual offerings like the teacher, who lost practically everything. Her students’ parents are rallying with a Give Forward program. Still before contributing to such opportunities, check to make sure that you really, truly know those behind the effort.

North Texans Discover A Devastated Landscape And Neighbors In Need

Last night Dallas took it on the chin with Rowlett, Garland, DeSoto and Collin County really taking the brunt of the tornadic storms. While the weather guessers and emergency sirens did an excellent job warning people to take cover, such conditions were truly overwhelming. As most in the North Texas area were spared, thousands discovered the brutality and cruelty of nature’s forces.

Today the experts were surmising that Garland alone had an EF4 tornado killing eight people and destroying home after home. In the world of tornadoes, an EF4 is only trumped by an EF5. That means Garland had 200-mile winds that made a deadly cut through the city as it marched from DeSoto northeast toward Farmersville.

As first responders like Texas Taskforce 1 continue their search for the injured and utility crews try to restore some type of normalcy to tattered neighborhoods, families are seeking help at the following shelters:

  • Cornerstone Baptist Church, 8200 Schrade Road, Rowlett  (Ph. 972.475.4403)
  • First United Methodist, 4405 Main St., Rowlett (Ph. 972.475.3667)
  • Rowlett Community Center, 5300 Main St., Rowlett (Ph. 972.412.6170)
  • Stedham Elementary, 6200 Danridge Rd., Rowlett (Ph. 972.463.5887)
  • Red Oak Middle School, 154 Louise Ritter Blvd., Red Oak (Ph. 972.617.0066)
  • Frank D. Moates Elementary School, 1500 Heritage Blvd., Glenn Heights (Ph. 972.230.2881)

Still others are trying to locate their pets that got lost in the evening nightmare. Luckily, lost animals are being turned into area shelters like Rowlett. Dallas Companion Animal Projects is providing info and Plano Media Director Steve Stoler has been using his Facebook page trying to connect lost parents and pets.

Needless to say, insurance companies are in overdrive trying to help victims start the long, arduous process of rebuilding.

After you count your lucky stars that you made it out of the night unscratched, consider

  • donating money to the Red Cross and The Salvation Army
  • checking social media for possible friends who might be in need
  • taking food and money to area animal shelters and the North Texas Pet Food Pantry
  • preparing your household just in case another episode takes place (i.e. storm shelter, microchipping the pets, emergency plan, etc.)
  • contacting your church and favorite nonprofit to see what they are doing to help.

On the other hand, what not to do? Don’t

  • Go to the afflicted area. It’s chaotic enough with victims and professional assistance.
  • Fall for unproven scams seeking financial aid for the victims.

Any nonprofit that is offering services or is in need of assistance to specifically help the Christmas Day After Disaster (CDAD) victims, please send your requests to [email protected] and we’ll try to get the word out. But you need to get the info in by close of work Monday. Please put in the subject line: “CDAD Assistance” and the name of your organization.

Please realize that like any disaster, there are two major stages: immediate recovery and longtime rebuilding. In the days ahead, please don’t forget the second stage. Neighbors will continue to need your support.

As you settle back in your comfortable and familiar digs, think about those so would just like to find a photo.

A Passing: Dr. Alfred “Al” Goodman Gilman

At this time of year when smiles, laughter and counting blessings are synonymous with the cheer of the season, the loss of a family member, a friend, a mentor is especially poignant. But when it is a person who has been acknowledged for their accomplishments and ethics, then even strangers mourn the loss.

Alfred Gilman (File photo)

Alfred Gilman (File photo)

So it is with Wednesday’s death of Dr. Alfred “Al” Gilman.

It was just this past March that Al was one of the speakers at the dedication of the Kern Wildenthal Biomedical Research Building.

And while he was world-famous for his research and his leadership at UT Southwestern, Al was also known for having a marvelous sense of humor as was on display when he “toasted” Marnie Wildenthal and “roasted” Kern Wildenthal, when the couple was honored at The Senior Source’s “Spirit of Generations Luncheon” in 2010.

He recalled at another time that when he was a youngster, he made “a reservation for a trip to the moon.”

In addition to his leadership in research and his taking a stand about questionable practices by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, Al was awarded the Nobel Prize 1994 for his discovery of G proteins that “are known to be in nearly all cells and to play a vital role in such bodily processes as vision, smell, hormone secretion and even thought.”

But these accomplishments should not have surprised anyone. After all, his father Dr. Al Z. Gilman, had been a Yale School of Medicine professor and wrote the classic pharmacology textbook, “The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics” with Louis S. Goodman. The collaboration was such a great partnership that young Al’s middle name was Goodman. As he later put it, “Perhaps my fate was sealed from that day; as my friend Michael Brown once said, I am probably the only person who was ever named after a textboook.”

Like his father, Al went into the field of pharmacology, earning his BS in 1962 from Yale and going on to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, where he was a student of Nobel laureate pharmacologist Earl Sutherland.

In 1981 Al became the chairman of UT Southwestern’s Department of Pharmacology, thanks to being recruited by among others a 38-year-old Kern, who had just been promoted to Dean of the Medical School. Ironically, it was discovered that the two also shared the same birthdate — July 1, 1941.

Thanks to his work and ethics, Al’s contributions to the world will live on.

Our condolences to his family (wife Kathryn Gilman, daughters Amy Ariagno and Anne Sincovec and son Ted Gilman), his friends, his associates and those who have benefited from his life, his work and his sense of humor.

Oops Alert!: Photos Of NorthPark Pioneers EG Hamilton And Lee Starr Are Making The Rounds With The Wrong ID’s

Event photographers are an important part of the North Texas fundraising scene. As great as it is for them to snap nice-looking photos of folks at all types of activities, they have to get the subjects’ names right, too. In many cases, the organization sponsoring the event arranges to have a “name taker” assist the photographer.

Unfortunately, the stars were not in alignment for the Neiman Marcus-NorthPark black-tie event on Wednesday, October 28. The results? Photos have been distributed by Neiman’s with a couple of major misidentifications that other media outlets are posting/publishing and photo services are offering based on the information provided. Thus, the Internet is starting to show signs of a string of misinformation.

Neiman’s has been alerted to the situation and is “notifying BFA as they provided the ID’s.”

Just in case BFA hasn’t contacted your neighborhood newsletter, the two most outrageous errors involve NorthPark legends who helped the late Patsy and Ray Nasher more than 50 years ago to create a world-famous retail center. Please note the photos below are the correctly ID-ed:

EG Hamilton

EG Hamilton

EG Hamilton, the award-winning architect who designed NorthPark.

Jacqueline Starr, Louise Eiseman and Lee Starr

Jacqueline Starr, Louise Eiseman and Lee Starr

Lee Starr, the president of Titche-Goettinger when the department store was one of four original NorthPark anchors, with his wife Jacqueline Starr and Louise Eiseman.

It may not seem like a really big deal to some. After all, these gents aren’t one of The Kardashians or a presidential wannabe. Besides, all gray-haired 90-somethings look alike, right?  Oh, please!

These two men, who worked with the Nashers and the late Stanley Marcus to create a remarkable undertaking, should be treated with the respect that they deserve.

Round Robin October 14 Part II: Champion Of Children Award And Les Femmes Du Monde Woman Of The Year Dinners

One of the MySweetCharity elves was so weary s/he missed these two events that were supposed to be posted with the October 14th Round Robin. The elf is taking some time off…an hour to be exact to catch up on their sleep needs. In the meantime, check out what Les Femmes Du Monde and Dallas CASA folks were doing the evening of Wednesday, October 14.

Champion of Children Award Dinner

Jerry and Gene Jones and Kathleen and Michael LaValle*

Jerry and Gene Jones and Kathleen and Michael LaValle*

Over at the Fairmont Dallas, the excitement was palpable at the jam-packed reception before Dallas CASA’s big annual fundraising dinner. AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson was making a rare public appearance, shaking hands and mingling with the crowd. Not far away, the Dallas Cowboys’ First Couple Gene and Jerry Jones were doing the same. All around them were guests like Event Co-Chairs Jana and Mike Brosin, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Christie Carter and Caroline Rose Hunt. Also spotted: Cortland Grynwald, lead co-chair of Attorneys Serving the Community, which named Dallas CASA its 2015-2016 beneficiary.

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones*

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones*

Greg May and Randall Stephenson*

Greg May and Randall Stephenson*

Dallas CASA president and executive director Kathleen LaValle was saying the dinner crowd of about 550 would be the fundraiser’s biggest ever. “We’re so excited to honor AT&T,” she said. “Three of their executives are on our board, and we’re honored to be honoring them.” Dallas CASA gave its Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award to the telecom giant at the dinner.

It also heard from Ashley Rhodes-Courter, a best-selling author whose book, Three Little Words, described her nine years in foster care. Rhodes-Courter was interviewed by Gloria Campos, the event’s honorary chair.

Les Femmes Du Monde Woman Of The Year Dinner

Across town at the Dallas Country Club, meanwhile, Realtor Virginia E. Cook was being honored as Les Femmes du Monde’s 2015 Woman of the Year. About 150 guests enjoyed dinner (Panzanella salad, Boursin chicken, Julienned vegetables, chocolate mousse) and a tastefully-done video tribute to Cook starring the likes of Herb Weitzman, Roger Staubach, Tincy Miller and Lee Kleinman.

Emcee Jody Dean kept the program moving along, delivering quips like this one about Les Femmes du Monde President Alyce Heinrich: “She asks and won’t take no for an answer. It’s like talking to a tornado,” Dean said. “A wonderful, gracious tornado.” Heinrich was ably assisted at the podium by Dinner Chair Venise Stuart, who warned before the video played: “You’re going to need tissues.”

After the SMU Stampede singers serenaded Virginia with tunes like “Blackbird” by the Beatles and “My Girl,” Heinrich took to the dance floor to cut an elaborate rug with her longtime dance instructor. “You’ve heard of ‘War and Peace’?” Alyce’s dance partner asked when the couple finally took a break. “I’m Warren Slaughter.”

* Photo credit: Lara Bierner

Update On Kristina Bowman

Inquiries have been flooding in about the status of photographer Kristina Bowman, who took a nasty spill Saturday morning at The Dallas Opera First Night after party.

Short answer: As of this afternoon, she is at Presbyterian Hospital in Hamon Tower following surgery on Wednesday.

Long answer: Kristina was taken to Baylor’s ER Saturday morning, where the staff said the break of her right kneecap was so severe they felt a specialist was needed. As one doctor told her, if she had taken a chisel and hammer and hit the sweet spot, she couldn’t have done more damage.She was sent home with pain killers because there was a lot of pain. BTW, her bedroom and bath are upstairs, but she struggled to make it to bed.

As soon as possible, she got into see a specialist on Tuesday expecting to go home and return for surgery. But, no! The doctor sent her straight to Presbyterian, where surgery was performed Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until Kristina was under that they discovered the damage to the knee was far worse than the X-rays initially showed. Her 34-year-old (“I’m old enough to be his mother!” -Kristina) surgeon, Dr. Donald Hohman, was amazed that she endured the pain.

She was told that this operation would be just the first of several, a blood clot was discovered under her knee and the knee was to remain totally immobile for eight weeks. Then they would decide how to proceed.

Liz Perales and Kristina Bowman

Liz Perales and Kristina Bowman

The good news is that Kristina’s longtime partner Liz Perales, who was scheduled for surgery herself, has postponed it and has been by her side throughout. Kristina has received calls from loads of friends and even this morning Jack Knox was at her bedside with a box of La Madeleine goodies and a Café Pacific sweatshirt.

On the not-so-good-news side is that this time of year is the peak season for photographers and her income is pretty well shot. No, take that back. It’s really shot (no pun intended). Kristina has no idea how much business she’s lost, since clients are already scheduling other photographers when they would have used her. (Suggestion: If you were going to use Kristina, let her know, so she can know you were thinking of her.)

Now that Kristina is recovering from surgery, she’s accepting visitors, calls, cards and good thoughts. You might want to call to make sure that she’s still at Presby and that she’s not sleeping.

Queenie Builds A Doghouse

MySweetCharity

MySweetCharity

The MySweetCharity morning shift of elves were hard at work when they heard pounding outside the MSC headquarters. Lo and behold, they discovered Queenie building a doghouse next to the MSC compost pile. On their chocolate milk and graham cracker break, they scurried outside to see the new puppy, but there was no dog. And they wondered why Queenie would put a puppy near the stinky heap.

A vote was taken and Ellery Elf was elected to ask Queenie if the pooch was on its way.

Without losing a beat in her pounding of nails, Queenie responded, “What makes you think we would be getting another dog?”

Ellery said it was the doghouse that she was constructing.

Queenie stopped her work and turned to look at Ellery. “Why would we ever put an animal outside and away from us?”

Ellery then asked what the doghouse was for.

Queenie told all the elves to gather around for a story.

It seems that last week a nonprofit put a shout-out to the media to gather for an announcement about the organization’s future plans. Following the press conference, a release was distributed quoting the head of the nonprofit.

Only problem? The statements were made by a man, not the female head of the group. She was out of town.

When the person who issued the release was asked about the misidentification of the speaker, no response came.

In another case, there was a presentation by another major nonprofit. Following the big event that had a number of the area’s leaders presenting others with awards, the PR person distributed the release with the wrong information about those involved. Two media outlets ran the articles based on the release. Luckily, MySweetCharity was not one of them.

“Oh, sweet Queenie, how can this be?” Ellery said, as tears of guacamole started streaming down the faces of the elves. They had never heard of such a thing.

Feeling sorry for the elves for losing their innocence, Queenie explained, “Public relations people are hardworking folks, who try to be the go-between their client and the media. That is not an easy job at all. However, when they knowingly provide totally incorrect information, they are ill serving their clients and damaging their credibility with the media.”

Seeing the elves shaken by such news, Elder Elf asked, “Oh Most Benevolent Queenie, what does this dastardly dilemma have to do with the doghouse?”

As Queenie turned around to hammer the last of the nails in place, she was heard to say, “It’s for those who think misinformation is acceptable.”

A Passing – Ebby Halliday

Dallas lost a legend Tuesday night — Ebby Halliday. Her life was one that covered not just 104 years of living, but established standards for others to follow both personally and professionally.

Ebby Halliday (File photo)

Ebby Halliday (File photo)

It was easy to lose count of all her accomplishments and accolades, like the Horatio Alger in 2005. There were just too many of them, just as there were countless men, women and children who benefited from her example, her generosity, her wisdom and her smile.

And like the finest of vintage wines, she only became finer and finer with age. But there were those who didn’t know if that would happen. With the death of her beloved husband Maurice Acers in 1993, some worried that the twinkle in Ebby’s eye would dim and her zest for life would wane. But no! Far from it. Ebby being Ebby, she carried on inspired by Maurice’s memory, creating a legacy that will continue for generations to come.

There will be articles written about her childhood in Kansas, her moving to Dallas, her selling hats and her eventually moving into something called residential real estate. But the real gems will be the stories that people who encountered Ebby will relate. Like the time that Ebby attended a reception for a newlywed couple. She called over the strolling guitarist and asked him to play “Hawaiian Love Song.” As he played and the guests stood spellbound, her eyes glistened with tears. That had been the song that she and Maurice had shared.

Perhaps it is best if instead of thinking of Dallas’ loss, one thinks of Ebby now smiling as she plays “Happy Days Are Here Again” on her ukulele to the delight of Maurice. With all those harps up above, heaven could use a great ukulele and another angel with a twinkle in her eye.

The Cubes Ain’t Speaking Thursday As Published

Mark Cuban (File photo)

Mark Cuban (File photo)

MySweetCharity has been barraged today with questions and complaints that MSC didn’t post Mark Cuban‘s appearing at the North Texas Commission’s 44th Annual Members Luncheon on “How to Think Beyond the Pitch.” Evidently some word got out via print media that it was Thursday. Thank goodness the Internet scribes corrected that “Oops”!

Come on and take a chill pill. The Cubes is indeed going to talk-the-talk for the North Texas Commission at Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas, but it’s gonna take place on Thursday, September 24.

Yipes! Translation: Mark is going to be the luncheon headliner the same day that Carrie Fisher is going to be the featured face at the Meals for the Mind luncheon at the Hilton Anatole and the Dallas Kappa Alpha Thetas are going to be flying kites over Lublu’s Kira Plastinina being the talker at Brook Hollow.

Alas! Choices, choices, choices — business icons, film legends, fashionistas. Results? No excuses for chowing down at the desk on oh-hum lettuce.

Northwood University To Cease Residential Operations At Cedar Hill Campus In June

Dallas Business Journal’s Bill Hethcock broke the news last week that Northwood University is closing down its residential operation at the end of June, along with its student activities including its athletic program and student government.

While the university will still offer its Adult Degree Program and the DeVos Graduate School of Management, it will mean 60 full-time faculty and staff will be out of work.

More than 300 undergrads will be offered the choice of either achieving their degree through the adult degree program or completing their studies at Northwood’s campuses in Michigan or West Palm Beach. If neither of these options is acceptable for the students, Northwood will assist them in transferring to other institutions.

Martha Tiller (File photo)

Martha Tiller (File photo)

According to Martha Tiller, who had just received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university this past year, “So very sad. Alas, with so many undergrads these days needing scholarship assistance…..they could not get Texas funds to attend a school headquartered out of state. So many here have been so loyal and worked so hard. These changing times are distressful on many fronts.

“We have had interns in our office from all the surrounding schools, and I must say the Northwood students are head and shoulders above them all. Extremely intelligent with a work ethic seldom seen.  And the faculty and staff as exceptional as the students.”