Hurricane Harvey’s Devastating Gulf Coast Was A Chief Topic At Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Patron Party

As the sky was cloudless and the temperatures were unusually cooler for August, the talk at the Gateway for Opportunity Luncheon patron party on Tuesday, August 29, at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s estate was southward. Despite the overwhelming ticket sales for the annual fundraising luncheon with former First Lady Laura Bush, the past days of Hurricane Harvey devastating the Gulf Coast was a concern for both supporters and staff about the evacuees leaving their homes and arriving in Dallas.

Lisa Cooley, Nic Turpin, Tracy Lange and Paula Miltenberger

Family Gateway CEO Ellen Magnis reported how they had received calls from the media on how many evacuees had sought their help. Ellen explained that the immediate assistance was being handled by the Red Cross, The Salvation Army DFW and city and county of Dallas organizations and programs.

But once the initial shock settles in, families opting to settle in Dallas would seek the services and assistance of Family Gateway.

Louise Eiseman and Richard and Betsy Eiseman

Lynn McBee, Brad Cheves and Nancy Halbreich

As the 70+ guests including Event Co-Chair Paula Miltenberger, Brad Cheves, the Eisemans (mama Louise, son Richard and his wife Betsy), Tracy Lange, Michael Faircloth, Lynn McBee, Debbie Francis and Nic Turpin arrived via cart, Honorary Co-Chair Nancy Halbreich recalled her mother/Family Gateway Founder Annette Strauss’ commitment to help homeless families and children by establishing the organization in 1986.  

David Davis and Michael Faircloth

Debbie Francis and Russ

Now Is The Time To Rise And Shine

For longer than anyone can remember, there’s seemed to be a competition between two of Texas’ siblings. The Gulf Coast boasted having one of the largest cities in the nation, the world’s most ginormous oil companies and a shoreline. North Texas laid claim to having more Super Bowl rings, a TV series called “Dallas” and the birthplace of Neiman Marcus. Both have proved to be the comeback kids. Houston rebounded from oil busts, and Dallas recovered from a presidential assassination and the Ebola virus.

In recent time when it came to weather, North Texas trumped the competition with the 2011 Super Bowl ice storm.

But be honest! Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, the Gulf Coast has won the weather woes category. This epic situation has totally redefined the word “devastation.”

(Above video courtesy of WFAA-TV)

People who have prided themselves on paying their bills have suddenly found themselves without homes. Their children, who were to start school this week, are now without even uniforms, let alone classrooms. The elderly and disabled, who have depended on others, have found themselves alone through no fault of their caretakers. Family pets that were so dependent upon their human companions are being turned in or sadly lost.

This situation has provided North Texas with a time to rise and shine. Over the years, North Texas has been known for philanthropy and generosity thanks to its residents. But now it has the chance to open its arms and provide for the hundreds thousands of evacuees seeking help, comfort and hope. Some will call North Texas home only temporarily; others will become our neighbors.

This morning when you wake up in the comfort of your snugly bed, have a warm shower and enjoy that drive to Starbucks for coffee with a blue sky above, consider those who have had to take an ax to the roof of their house to survive, who haven’t been dry in days, who have no idea if they’ll have anything to return to, and who have children asking unanswerable questions.

Luckily, this is Texas and its resilience is legendary with good reason. Thanks to Harvey, it will once again prove true.

If you’re stepping up and making a donation in any form, please make sure that the money will be used for North Texas efforts by a reputable group. Unfortunately, during these situations, there are some who just might take advantage of the kindness of others.

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.

You Only Need This Information Once To Save Your Life

As Kevin Hurst described earlier today, Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate. No matter how skinny, rich or what zip code one claims, she feels free to unload with her tornadoes, straight-line winds, hail and locusts (okay, so the locusts may not be part of the mix). That’s why during certain parts of the year, especially spring and fall, she really slams the North Texas area with zeal.

For this reason, it’s imperative to have a “WhIP“ (What If Plan). Have you got a place to hunker down? Do you know just what you need to have in your hunker-down sweet spot?

What’s that? It only hits trailer parks and places that you’ve never heard of? Oh, please! Forget that. You’re demanding an example? Okay, you’ve got it. 

Gloria Eulich Martindale (File photo)

Just ask Gloria Eulich Martindale, who is smart, gorgeous and a roll-up-your sleeves fundraiser, as well as being a lady who knows firsthand. She was at her farmhouse on Saturday, April 29, when Mother Nature unloaded. The house was wiped out and Gloria and her family were lucky enough to have a basement that had been used “to store stuff” to hunker down.

Or, if you think it only takes place in the rural areas, hit the “Rethink” button. It was just a couple of years ago that the elegant Turtle Creek area got slam-bammed by a Ma Nature temper tantrum with a sledgehammer toppling trees and devastating the area.

If schools and commercial buildings have fire drills, think about holding your own. Here are some things to check:

  • Do you have people who will check on you if they don’t hear from you following a weather sweep?
  • If you have a VIP documents (i.e. insurance, birth certificates, passports, etc.) and a home computer, should they be part of your escape plan?
  • Have you had a dress rehearsal?
  • Do you have an app that will alert you of threatening weather in your area? If not, check with the local media. They’re free and more than willing to alert you. Despite Arianna Huffington‘s suggestion at the recent Genesis Luncheon of not sleeping with your cellphone on your bed stand, do it. If Arianna complains, tell her to check with us. There’s a time and place for everything.
  • What about the elderly? If you have a “vintage” member of your circle, have you checked on their game plan? They may pat you on the head and tell you not to worry. Don’t fall for it. Nicely demand that they show you where they would go and how to contact them, just in case.
  • What about your critters? How will you handle them in such a crisis? Having them micro-chipped can be a life saver. 

Tonight may result in another “Duh” occasion, but why not use it as an opportunity to do that drill and to let each in your household take responsibility, if a weather or whatever crisis should arise?

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

Following Oakland’s Ghost Ship Tragedy, Dallas County Fire Marshals’ Clamping Down On Codes May Seem Justified

There have been recent grumblings among the media and party venues about the Dallas County Fire Marshal’s Office clamping down on arrangements. Especially feeling the pinch of the ramped-up of regulation enforcement is the art community that has become a lively part of the North Texas scene with pop-up galleries and events. At a community meeting in July. Mini-Gallery’s Lara Lenhoff said, “They’re killing us. Something needs to be done.”

The problem has been that for a long time the codes were lightly enforced. That has “recently” changed and caught many by surprise. Some suggest that the codes needed to be readdressed. Others claim that there is a reason for such codes.

Today Oakland city officials are being questioned why fire and city codes weren’t enforced, as 36 bodies have been found in the aftermath of  Saturday’s “Ghost Ship” tragedy.

Our condolences extend to the Oakland community and their losses. May we learn from their tragedy and still allow for fundraising and for the art community to flourish.

Oops Alert!: Local Monthly Publication Suffers Awkward Boo-Boo In Publishing 2016 Crystal Charity Ball “Ten Best Dressed”

Some of the best things end up on the cutting room floor. For instance, Kevin Costner’s speaking role as Alex Marshall in the flashback scenes in “The Big Chill” didn’t make it to the big screen. Johnny Depp’s performance in “Platoon,” Charlie Chaplin in the “Keystone Cops,” and John Lithgow’s super-agent Harry Zell in “L.A. Story” all suffered the same fate.

Whatever the reason, directors lived to regret the elimination of such talented types.

So, folks at a local newspaper are wringing their hands about their recent publishing of Crystal Charity Ball‘s “Ten Best Dressed.” It seems that in their September issue, in which they printed Q&As with the 2016 crop, they had an “oopsie.” They left out one of the 10 and ironically it was the one who dutifully followed instructions, filled out the questionnaire and promptly returned it.

While her absence from the article was in all probability not intentional, it was awkward and unfortunate at best.

Pat Harloe (File photo)

Pat Harloe (File photo)

Oh, you’re wondering: Which one was MIA? None other than one of everybody’s favs, the adorably diminutive Pat Harloe.

Unbeknownst to Pat, the MySweetCharity crew managed to get a copy of her questionnaire and present it here for your consideration:

  • Tell us about your family — “I am married to John (an investment manager), and we have five adult children — ages 30 to 37 — with careers running the gamut:  law, medicine, design, marketing and sales — and all living east coast to west coast and in between –“
  • List three community/charitable/civic activities in which you are currently involved or you currently support (with a sentence or two about the cause) — “(a)  TexProtects — past event chair and current supporter; TexProtects’ mission is to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect through research, education and advocacy. (b)  One Heart Project — current supporter; One Heart Project’s mission is to mentor incarcerated and at-risk youth, ages 13 to 17, in six Texas counties so that they have a positive re-entry into their community (c)  And, of course — my heart — Crystal Charity Ball — active member and life supporter.”
  • What is your current support/involvement in the 2016 Crystal Charity Ball? — “I am working hard in three areas:  Underwriting, Children’s Book, and Silent Auction/Special Gifts (my favorite — love bringing in top hotels and resorts).”
  • What is your educational background? — “Greenbrier College for Women and Southern Methodist University.”
  • What is your current/previous career or work history? — “Always sales and marketing:  up until five years ago, residential and high rise real estate; prior to that, high-end 19th and 20th century art.”
  • Please complete this sentence: My favorite thing about the Crystal Charity Ball is … — “Hands down, the impact we have with at-risk children’s lives.  Sitting through long days of Charity Selection, there are times when there is not a dry eye in the room, and we wish we could fund every candidate put before us.  In the end, it is all about giving every child a shot at a better life …”
  • My favorite fashion icon is — “Coco Chanel — who could not resist a woman who embodied humor, grand gestures and drama all at the same time?”
Carolina Herrera (File photo)

Carolina Herrera (File photo)

And, don’t go worrying about the Friday, September 16th presentation at Neiman Marcus Downtown. Pat will be there along with the other nine BD-ers (Anita Arnold, Katherine Coker, Janie Condon, Tucker Enthoven, Heather Esping, Mary Clare Finney, Margaret Hancock, Julie Hawes and Piper Wyatt), Hall of Famer Betsy Sowell and legendary designer Carolina Herrera, who will receive the prestigious Neiman Marcus Award.

If you already have your ticket to the ultra-sold-out fundraiser, we’ll see you there. If not, we’ll see you here following the fashion fest!

A Behind-The-Scenes Peak at Corporate Philanthropy In Times Of Disaster

Since Thursday night’s tragedy, Dallas’ fortitude has amazed people throughout the world. From the city leadership to the memorial building at Dallas Police Headquarters, the shooting has only brought the community closer together to heal. One group that deserves a pat on the back includes the various companies that have immediately stepped in to help the victims and support first responders, especially the Dallas Police Department. Reports have been flying into MySweetCharity about restaurants offering free meals for police, Uber providing free rides to people who were stranded in downtown Dallas Thursday night, and offices making space for workers who were unable to get to their own offices located within the crime-scene zone.

Those in the philanthropic sector have not only been finding ways to provide funding, but have joined in lockstep to find the best ways to help. Thanks to their mutual interest in supporting North Texas, many already had a network in place to help each other immediately. One example is the note sent by Neiman Marcus Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hurst. It provides a behind-the-scenes look at the philanthropic process undertaken by many corporation and reveals why North Texas is a standout when it comes to pitching in. For your consideration, here is Kevin’s note:

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

Kevin Hurst (File photo)

“It is certainly crazy times…not just in Dallas, but across the land.

I saw your story on Topgolf this morning.  Having been through my first major crisis in Dallas, I was amazed at how the community came together so quickly to support those in need.  In fact, I thought you might appreciate a behind the scenes look on the corporate philanthropy side.

“Like everyone on Thursday evening, I watched the late breaking news to see how things unfolded.  When I finally turned off the television, the devastation was not at its worst. When I awoke Friday morning at 4:30, I immediately checked the news.  That is when reality set in. That is when I went into ‘philanthropy’ mode. As the Director of Charitable Giving at Neiman Marcus, among other things, I oversee the Disaster Relief fund. Although we are a National Disaster Relief Partner with the American Red Cross, there are some crises that need different attention. It should be noted that the Neiman Marcus Disaster Relief fund is entirely funded by the generosity of associates during the annual giving campaign.

“The first step to determining support is to understand the need and identify the appropriate partner(s). In the case of the Dallas attack (and even the recent massacre in Orlando), it is about victim support. This is where the research and due diligence begins. For me, Assist the Officer Foundation (ATO) immediately rose to the top. What most of Dallas may not realize is that there is a network of philanthropy professionals from Dallas companies both large and small. I immediately reached out to my peers at the Dallas Corporate Citizens Network. Although we meet in person on a regular basis, we often email and talk to share best practices and collaborate. Friday, July 8, was one of those days that the spirit of teamwork excelled. We immediately started sharing ideas and names of organizations that we were each considering. As we learned of new initiatives and funds being established during the day (United Way, Dallas Foundation, and Communities Foundation of Texas…to name a few), we shared. In the end, we were all able to make informed decisions about what we deemed best for the community and our respective companies. It was truly remarkable to see how expeditiously and efficiently decisions were made and instituted.

“Throughout the corporate offices of Neiman Marcus, a similar decision-making process began in the wee hours. Decisions and recommendations included staff from the executive offices, human resources, security, marketing, public relations, internal communications, corporate visual, social media, and philanthropy. In the end, the corporate offices and Downtown store remained closed on Friday (safety concerns for associates and greater community), internal messages from the CEO were sent to associates, a corporate message was posted to our clients through social media, memorial windows were designed and installed in the two Dallas stores, and charitable partners were identified. The store memorial window was installed on Friday at NorthPark and on Saturday at Downtown once the store was re-opened. The Neiman Marcus family is always extraordinary; however, there was something about the day and the efforts that made Friday uber-extraordinary.

Neiman Marcus window at NorthPark*

Neiman Marcus window at NorthPark*

“The Neiman Marcus story is certainly not unique. I think there is an opportunity to highlight the amazing efforts of the corporations that react and support the community on a regular basis…more than the usual gala and event support…the quiet support that happens behind the scenes. I personally collaborated with American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte, WFAA, Fossil, and of course, our valued partner, Communities Foundation of Texas.

“I personally hope that we never have to go through this process again in Dallas…or anywhere…but the reality is that we are in different times.  It is comforting to know that we have the compassion, professionalism, and ability to collaborate for the good of the greater community.”

* Photo provided by Kevin Hurst

UPDATE: Companies Are Already Taking Up Topgolf’s Invitation To Donate To Assist The Officer Foundation

It seems that Topgolf scored a hole-in-one with its being one of the first to donate $10,000 to Assist The Officer Foundation (ATO) and inviting other businesses to join in. It was just reported that the invitation was taken up by PlainsCapital, which donated $25,000 to ATO. In addition, RBC Wealth Management-U.S. is donating $10,000.

The airlines also got on board. Not only are they offering to help fly in families affected by the tragedy, American Airlines is donating $50,000 to ATO and Southwest Airlines is kicking in $75,000.

These contributions are truly amazing when you realize that there was probably nothing budgeted for such a situation. Yet these companies and countless others found the funds to help the victims and their families.

It simply amazes one to think the challenges that this area has faced — a Presidential assassination, a Delta Airline crash, a Super (Ice) Bowl, the Ebola Virus, killer storms and now Thursday night. And yet, the people and companies meet the challenges each time by coming together with resilience, compassion and grace.

Topgolf Initiates Healing Process To Financially Help Dallas Shooting Victims And Their Families

Despite the shock of last night’s shootings, area companies and people are already stepping up to help the victims. The folks at Topgolf have undertaken a “grassroots effort of Dallas businesses supporting local law enforcement after last night’s tragic events downtown.”

According to Topgolf’s Amanda Hill, the Dallas-based company is “pledging $10,000 to the Assist The Officer Foundation, an organization dedicate to making a difference in the lives of families of fallen officers… We’re asking other Dallas-based businesses to join us in donating to the Assist the Officer Foundation.”

There are 12 families, whose lives have been shaken to the core within the last 18 hours. While the emotional loss is daunting, the financial impact is something that the community can assist by donating here.

The foundation provides such services and programs as confidential counseling program, finance assistance (injury/illness), Dallas officer/reserve death benefits (on or off-duty) and line-of-duty benefits.

And this opportunity to help is not limited to companies. Individuals are more than welcome to donate.

Thank you, Topgolf, for providing the input of information and seed money. It is an important step in the healing process.

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.

The Burning Issue Facing 4th Of July Celebrants

Fireworks are both dazzling and dangerous. The folks over at Parkland Health and Hospital System’s Regional Burn Center report that “on average, 230 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In 2014, nine people died due to eight fireworks-related incidents, and in at least two of those cases, the victims were not the users.”

Parkland itself has had 10 patients requiring hospitalization in its Burn Center due to fireworks in the past couple of years. Needless to say, they’d like to have no one needing the Center this 4th of July. To achieve this zero-patient goal, they’ve provided the following safety tips regarding fireworks:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse
  • Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them

Interesting fact: According to Parkland Burn Program Manager Stephanie Campbell, “If you, a family member or friend are injured, call 911 immediately,” Campbell said. “Don’t use ice to cool fireworks burns or place them in a tub or pool of cold water. Immersing the whole body causes core body temperatures to drop dangerously.”

And the old adage of applying ointments, butter or steroidal salves to burns ain’t such a great idea “because they seal in the heat.”

Two-Legged Critters Are To Blame For Vicious Canine Mauling And Killing

MySweetCharity loves critters. Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, welcome to the MySweetCharity universe! But like two-legged animals, all dogs aren’t lovable. Sure, there’s the debate that their perfections/imperfections are due to genetics and/or owners, but until dogs can drive cars and fill out IRS forms, they are still subservient to humans.

Over the past few days, a deadly situation took place where a woman was viciously attacked and killed by a pack of dogs. These animals will no doubt pay the price for their crime and their human owners will be charged for allowing this dangerous condition to exist.

But that’s not the answer. And neither is blaming Dallas Animal Services. This problem is one that continues to divide this community. The occasional stray dogs in parts of the city are snatched up immediately and returned to their grateful owners, thanks to microchips.

In other parts of town, litters are born and blown off to survive according to the age-old rule of survival of the fittest. These creatures know no hugs, no healthcare, no tags. They are turned out and revert to their basic animal instincts because their owners allowed them to be born.

The answer is not massive euthanasia at the hands of the DAS staffers. The long-term solution is to prevent their being born thanks to humans being responsible and not channeling their own primal urges.

When Dallas puts an full-court press in irresponsible areas of the community and enforces the rules and regulations, the atrocities will subside. But this will only happen when constituents stop looking at this problem as a “cute puppy” issue and address it as the critical health and crime problem it is.

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.