MySweetCharity Opportunity: Mission Ole

According to 18th Annual Mission Ole Co-Chairs Ann Kellogg Schooler and Margaret Spellings,

Ann Schooler (File photo)

Margaret Spellings (File photo)

Trinity River Mission (TRM) provides educational and social opportunities that inspire K-12 students and their families to dream, believe, and achieve.   It our hope that you will join us in raising much needed funds by attending the annual Mission Ole event on Saturday, October 28, 2017 at Chicken Scratch and The Foundry. The evening will be a fun-filled Dia de los Muertos in West Dallas.  Festivities include cocktails, dinner, silent and live auctions and dancing.   We are pleased to have generous donors Lisa and Clay Cooley serving as honorary co-chairs of the event.

Mission Ole 2016 (file photo)

Trinity River Mission is a volunteer-based community learning center serving the intergenerational education needs of children, youth, and families in West Dallas. TRM began in the early 1960s by a devoted group of volunteers to help in the relocation of Native Americans from Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Various church and civic groups later joined in to provide, food, clothing, transportation, and educational assistance.

Trinity River Mission*

Since 1988, TRM’s focus has been to promote literacy, augment academic skills, and develop educational success among children, youth, and families, with the understanding that language proficiency and educational achievement opens doors to satisfying jobs and productive futures. TRM services the needs of all children without regard to race or ethnicity. At present, however, TRM’s program participants are overwhelmingly Hispanic because of the agency’s location in West Dallas.

Please visit www.trinityrivermission.org to join in the festivities for a great cause.

The Conner Gals And Julie Bagley Will Bring The Inner Child Out For Dallas Afterschool’s Annual Recess At The Dallas Arboretum In March

Even in the oldest codger, there is a kid just looking for an excuse to get out. Sure, doing a cartwheel may be out of the game plan, but there are other activities that are just too good to resist. And those activities and food groups will be part of 2017 Recess according to Event Co-Chairs Anne Conner and her daughter-in-law Ryan Conner, who will be joined by Honorary Chair /former Co-Chair/Recess Co-Founder Julie Bagley.

Ryan Conner and Anne Conner (File photo)

Julie Bagley (File photo)

The trio has arranged to have the Dallas After School fundraiser at the Dallas Arboretum’s Rosine Hall on Friday, March 23. If you’ve ever been to Recess, the you just know it will be a total kid event for big kids with a night of music, games, food, and adult juice boxes. And even the most gelled nails will be digging in Recess Sandbox for prizes galore.

Recess*

While school uniforms will not be the dress of the night, neither will business attire. This one is strictly comfy clothes.

Proceeds will support Dallas Afterschool’s mission “to improve the quality and availability of afterschool and summer programs in our community.”  Sponsorships are available now!

*Graphic courtesy of Dallas Afterschool

 

 

Girl Scouts Of Northeast Texas Celebrates National S’mores Day With News Of Last Year’s Winning Cookie Return And Online Purchasing

The Girl Scouts scored a new big hit last year, and they ain’t gonna let it be a one-time wonder. It was the debut of Girl Scout S’mores Cookie. Not only was it a hit, but it was “the most popular flavor to launch in the 100 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies.”  

And the Girl Scouts are smart cookies themselves, so  they’ve taken advantage of today being National S’mores Day with news — the S’mores Cookie will return to the cookie lineup in 2018.

Girl Scouts S’mores*

Jennifer Bartkowski (File photo)

According to Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO Jennifer Bartkowski, “We are excited for the return of Girl Scout S’mores, which our girls and hungry customers alike have loved! S’mores have strong ties to our organization’s history, and this cookie brings a new delicious way for consumers to support girls and the experiences that help them develop leadership skills through Girl Scouts.”

To celebrate the day and the return of the marshmallow, chocolate and cracker cookie, GSNT will host 100 Girl Scouts at its STEM Center of Excellence today from 10 a.m. to noon “to make traditional campfire s’mores, creates s’more GORP, invent a s’mores recipe and more” s’mores stuff.

There is just the slightest hiccup in the news. The S’mores are going to be a tad bit more expensive than some of the other Girl Scout cookies. The reason? In addition to being embossed with the Girl Scout’s Outdoor badge, it “contains no artificial flavors or colors, high-fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, making it the first cookie of its kind at Girl Scouts.” Oh, how much more? Relax. It will just be a dollar more, making the price $5 a box.

Old-fashion S’mores*

Girl Scouts S’mores and Somoas*

It will be interesting to see the Samoas fans ramp up their purchases to top S’mores.  Maybe the two cookies could get together for a “S’moroas”?

Funds netted from the GSNT 2018 cookie program that runs from Friday, January 12, thru Sunday, February 25, will stay put in North Texas.

Girl Scout at computer*

Another new development for the GSNT cookie program will be the availability of the cookies. In addition to personalized customer service from every Girl Scout in the neighborhood, all the cookies (Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Trefoils, Do-si-dos, Savannah Smiles, Toffee-tastics and Girl Scout S’mores) will be on sale at the online portal Digital Cookie that will be up during the cookie sale-athon. That means you can stay in your jammies while ordering a couple of crates of cookies. Stock up because as you have learned from years past, they seem to be gobbled up within weeks.

BTW, the GSNT have provided some “fun facts” about their cookie program:

  • In 2017, our girls donated over 90,000 packages of cookies to military troops
  • In the past five years… our girls have sold nearly 16 million packages of Girl Scout cookies
  • In 2017, the average troop profit in Northeast Texas was almost $1,200
  • In 2017, over 140,000 boxes of S’mores were sold throughout Northeast Texas

Girl Scouts around the campfire*

P.S. — The GSNT provided loads of photos for the announcement. However, most of the girls were bundled up in down vests, knitted scarves and sock caps. Evidently, they weren’t photographed in Texas recently.

* Photo provided by Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas

The Family Place’s Dream Of 50,000-Square-Foot Ann Moody Place Became A Reality For Those Escaping A Nightmare Of Abuse

Paige Flink

While gobs of women gathered in the Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom to learn about leadership and opportunities at the D CEO Women’s Leadership Symposium on Friday, June 2, The Family Place CEO Paige Flink was standing on a couch in the Ann Moody Place lobby. She had wanted to attend the Anatole event, but on this day her priority was leading the army of workers and staffers in preparing for the Sunday reception for the new Ann Moody Place, with an expected attendance of 300. At this moment she was personally placing the artwork so it was just right.

Major donors for Ann Moody Place

But the artwork on two other walls in the reception area were Paige’s pride and joy. They were masterpieces — simple signs with the names of the major donors who had made this remarkable place come into being.

When TFP opened in the 1970s, domestic abuse was still in the closet and remained there for a couple of decades. According to Paige, who first volunteered at TFP and then was named executive director in 1997, that all changed dramatically in the mid-1990s. When asked what the turning point was, Paige explained, “Thanks to OJ Simpson, the world changed.” It was a wake-up call that if “a celebrity, who had made a phone call and tried to get her husband arrested and couldn’t,” how could a regular human being get help? As a result, domestic violence “became a household word,” laws started to change and “then our visibility grew starting in 1996.”

The need for shelter spurred TFP to create its Safe Campus with 110 beds in the early 2000s, but more was needed as the number of clients and their needs grew. It was in the early 2010s that Paige and TFP board undertook a daunting project to build another campus — a $13M, 40,000-square-foot facility in the medical district that would provide shelter, office and programming areas and child-care facilities. In May 2015, TFP acquired the site for their 2.42-acre dream child. Then on Thursday, October 1, 2015, it was announced at the annual Texas Trailblazer Luncheon that the The Moody Foundation had donated $5M for the project’s “The Legacy Campaign” chaired by Lynn McBee.

But as they delved into the effort, they realized more square footage and funding were needed. The size was increased to 50,000 square feet, and the goal was a whopping $16.5M.  And then there were construction surprises, like having to drill down 70 feet to hit bedrock. Still, TFP team and board directors not only managed to meet that goal, they raised $16.898M.

The facility is projected to handle 2,000 clients a year. Paige said that while the average age of their clients is 29, they do get seniors — “The oldest person we have ever served was 78 years old.”

But back to the tour of the three-story buildings that now make up the compound of safety and education.  On a wall there was a healthy smudge, evidently resulting from the non-stop moving of equipment and furniture. Paige was not a happy camper spying the imperfection. TFP VP of Development Melissa Sherrill understood, saying, “It’s like a new car. You don’t want to see the first imperfection.” But then she assured Paige that it would be gone with the final sweep of the touch-up crew.

Children’s pantry shelves

As busy as the move-in scene may have sounded, the years of planning, designing, discussing and fundraising were coming together, with the results being bigger and better than even Paige had first imagined. Nothing had been left out. There were various dining, food preparation, counseling, training, meeting, quiet and groups rooms, as well as a computer lab, a one-chair hair salon (“JoAnn’s Room”) and a wing for children’s needs provided by Crystal Charity Ball. Proudly, Paige pointed to a large storeroom with shelved walls for canned goods and toys. Why would canned goods be needed? Paige explained that for clients making the transition out of an abusive home life, they might have to explain their whereabouts to their abuser upon returning home and could simply say they went to the food bank.

Food pantry shelves

Thanks to a relationship with UT Southwestern Medical School, second-year residents will be brought to the Place by a doctor to see the clients at the in-house mini-clinic that includes examination and dental rooms. But, always searching for more, Paige adds, “The other volunteer opportunities here are for medical doctors to come to give me some night-time clinic. I have a pediatrician, but I could use more pediatricians and general medicine and gynecology.”

Dental facility

Examination room

Throughout the multiple levels were signs re-enforcing the purpose of TFP — “Take a breath. You are safe,” “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other” and “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” Even the pillows from the Pillow Bar are embroidered with “Dream BIG.”  

Ann Moody Place signage

Ann Moody Place bed

Bedroom suite bathroom

The residential area of apartments were painted in a blue that Paige had discovered in Charleston, South Carolina, because it was both soothing and timeless.  There are family suites and individual rooms with bathrooms and closets.

Paige Flink Healing Garden in center courtyard

In the center of the campus was a two-level courtyard. The upper level was the Make It Count Children’s Playground. The lower was the Paige Flink Healing Garden. When asked if the children’s area could use a misting system to combat the summer heat, Paige didn’t hesitate, “If someone would give me one, I wouldn’t hesitate!”

Bird Flying free of a cage sculpture

Judy Walgren’s photos

There were interior designers  like Jan Showers, Mecox, Shay Geyer, Wisteria, Christy Drew and Mary Cates, who had provided directions and resources to create a safe and nurturing environment. Utilizing art as therapy for both adults and children, Moody Place showcases local talent. In addition to encouraging artists to contribute, art-loving Joyce Goss curated “Retail is Art” for high school students to provide the collection of art showcasing food in one of the dining rooms. It turned out that all the artists were women. Rebecca Aguilar helped get Latina artists to contribute. A former client had given two sculptures. One was a woman holding an open cage in one hand and a freed bird in the other. On the wall of Paige’s corner officer overlooking the campus were photographer Judy Walgren‘s Pulitzer Prize winning photos of past TFP clients.

Lockers

Travis Hollman and his company had created walls of lockers for the clients to safe keep documents and paperwork. Paige admitted that the need was the result of client focus groups.

Melissa Sherrill in Barkingham Palace

The SPCA had been a fabulous resource on how to run the Barkingham Palace, a kennel that included a washing machine, dryer and even a quiet room for families to spend time with their pets. While that had been underwritten, Paige admitted that the food was still in need of financial support.

Looking out on the grounds from a third-level terrace, Paige limited photography of the exterior of the building or the surrounding area. No photo could be taken that might hint of Moody Place’s location. Security had been a priority in every aspect of its creation because that was the first step for her clients’ recovery from lives of fear and abuse. As Paige said, “Once you’re behind the walls, you’re totally secure.”

Ann Moody Place is breathtaking and unfortunately so needed. That’s why Paige admitted that her future will be filled with fundraising for its operation. Her hope is you will support Moody Place, but never need it.

For more photos of Ann Moody Place, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: Ann Moody Place

For years, the Ann Moody Place was just a dream for those living in a nightmare. It was the hoped-for place of safety, where women could escape lives of domestic abuse and learn how to make a new and better life for themselves and their families.

Paige Flink Healing Garden in center courtyard

But thanks to The Family Place’s CEO Paige Flink, her staff, Legacy Campaign Chair Lynn McBee, TFP board and the North Texas community, Ann Moody Place became a 50,000-square-foot facility in the Medical District. Just before the Sunday, June 4th reception for supporters and the full-blown opening in July, a tour was conducted of the three-story complex with everything from an mini-clinic, kennels, a center courtyard, pillows embroidered with “Dream BIG” to artwork throughout.

Bird Flying free of a cage sculpture

While the post on the tour is being prepared, check out pictures at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. Chances are you’ll never need Moody Place, but it needs your support to provide annually for the estimated 2,000 clients.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Community Partners Of Dallas’ 24th Annual Back To School Drive

According Community Partners of Dallas President and CEO Paige McDaniel,

Paige McDaniel (File photo)

Back to school is just around the corner and Community Partners of Dallas needs your help!  

We are gearing up for our 24th annual Back to School Drive, benefiting abused and neglected children in Dallas County. Beginning Tuesday, August 1, through Friday, August 25, CPD, individuals and organizations throughout Dallas will collect new school supplies for abused and neglected children served by Child Protective Services, and will prepare more than 3,500 children to start school with school supplies and uniforms.

The Back to School Drive is one of the most important activities we do all year and our goal is to serve a record-breaking 3,500 children to ensure they are ready to start school with brand new supplies, backpacks and uniforms. Each year the support we receive from the community continues to grow, and we are so grateful for their commitment to improve the school year for abused and neglected children in Dallas County.

Pencils (File photo)

In addition to supplies, such as scissors, colored pencils, glue sticks, markers, and construction paper, CPD especially needs backpacks, pencil sharpeners, block erasers, manila paper and pencil pouches. Those interested in supporting the Back to School Drive can do so through in-kind or monetary donations through Friday, August 25. All donations can be delivered to Community Partners of Dallas’ Central Location, 1215 Skiles Street in the Wilson Historic District  or visit  www.communitypartnersdallas.org for additional supply drop-off locations.

For a full list of school supplies needed, visit www.communitypartnersdallas.org or contact Corinne Karp at 214.624.7588.

WFAA Provides $46,000 With Melted Crayons And Ringing Phones For Community Partners Of Dallas’ “Back To School Drive”

WFAA was on a tear the past week. Last Thursday they wanted to do something different to showcase North Texas three-digit weather. Sure, they could have tried cooking some food product on the sidewalk, but that’s been so overdone (no pun intended). Somebody got the bright idea of positioning a 22” by 28” white canvas against a wall in the afternoon sun between a clock and a thermometer. At the top of the board were 64 crayons pointed downward. As the clock ticked and the mercury rose, the crayons drooled down the board creating a waterfall of rainbow colors.

So, that was nice, but what do you do with this hot (okay, so this pun was intended) artwork? The WFAA brain trust decided to auction off the artwork with the proceeds going to help Community Partners of Dallas’ Back to School Program that provides school supplies for children who are in the Dallas County Child Protective Services.

WFAA’s melted crayons masterpiece*

The winning bid of $3,150 came from Create Church, but when they arrived to pick up their new masterpiece, they pumped the number up to $5,150!

Then word arrived that the Friends of Wednesday’s Children was shutting down operation on Monday. The folks at WFAA realized that the timing was right to rally viewers to pick up where the Friends had left off in providing for children in need. So, they held a phone bank on Monday at their 4, 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts to start the wheels turning for the CPD drive that would officially start on Friday, August 4. The receivers rang off the hooks to the tune of $40,850!

Cynthia Izaguirre (File photo)

Those two undertakings brought in a total of $46,000, all of which will be used to provide backpacks, construction and manila paper, colored pencils, folders, pencil sharpeners, block erasers, glue sticks, highlighters, markers, pencil pouches, red pens and scissors.

According to CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel, “We are so grateful to WFAA, and especially to Cynthia Izaguirre, for their longtime commitment to and tireless advocacy on behalf of the foster children in our community. Additionally, to everyone who called in with their generous donations, thank you! We had so many wonderful donors support this cause — with gifts from a grandmother on a fixed income to people with charitable foundations. Dallas really stepped up to help children in foster care and we are appreciative!”

Congratulations to WFAA for connecting the dots to provide assistance for children in need. In the wake of the Friends closing, WFAA managed to help fill a void financially and spread the word.

If you would like to join the supply-the-kids program, here is a list of what they need. But if you don’t have time to shop, you can always donate money.

* Photo courtesy of WFAA

 

Dallas Women’s Foundation Celebrates The Launch Of Unlocking Leadership Campaign’s Leadership Key Club On Kleinert’s Terrace

As the driest May in 90 years closed down on Wednesday, May 31, Unlocking Leadership Campaign Co-Chairs Ashlee and Chris Kleinert’s terrace overlooking Bent Tree Country Club seemed downright charming. There was just enough breeze and cool drinks to keep guests outside in the 92-degree temperature to dine and celebrate the launch of the Dallas Women’s Foundation Leadership Key Club.

Floating flamingo

The jumbo flamingo floating in the pool was so inviting that it was surprising that none of the guests didn’t hop in for a dip.

Haven’t heard of Key Club since high school? Well, the DWF one is a bit different. It doesn’t involve high school students. But both organizations share in the common denominator of leadership. While the high school group is made up of young people who encourage leadership through servicing, the DWF version is “a new recognition level for those who have contributed $100,000 of more” to the DWF’s Unlocking Leadership Campaign that will target to specific areas for women:

  • Economic Security Initiative that will strengthen the economic security of 16,000 women and girls by 2021, and to date, has already reached more than 8,750 women and girls.
  • Leadership Initiative that will provide 60,000 women and girls with leadership training and opportunities, and thus far has reached nearly 28,000 women and girls through grant-making and programs.

According to Ashlee, “The future of North Texas is directly tied to the economic security and potential of leadership of women and girls in our community. It’s impossible to create a brighter future for North Texas communities without focusing specifically on the current condition, immediate needs and potential of women of all ages and backgrounds.”

Ashlee and Chris, Ros Dawson Thompson and Paula Parker

 

Michael and Janice Sharry

Toni Munoz-Hunt

The Kleinerts, their fellow co-chairs Paula and Ron Parker and DWF President/CEO Ros Dawson Thompson were celebrating the launch of  the club that included initial members Ellenore and Kirk Baker, Lucy and Henry Billingsley, Cecilia and Garrett Boone, Kalita and Ed Blessing, Erin and Bob Botsford, Jill and Jim Cochran, Serena and Tom Connelly, Ka and L.L. Cotter, Peggy Simmons Dear, Kaleta A. Doolin and Alan Govenar, Lauren Embrey, Julie and Bob England, Beverly Goulet, Trish Houck and Lyssa Jenkens, Heather L. Hunt, Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Anne Knight, Sarah Losinger, Ann E. and Fred Margolin, Maribess and Jerry Miller, Retta Miller, Toni Muñoz-Hunt and Dan Hunt, Diane S. Paddison, Paula and Ron Parker, Betty S. Regard, Lisa and Matt Rose, Janice and Michael Sharry, Lisa K. Simmons, Sue and Paul Spellman, Betty and Stephen Suellentrop, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Rex W. Thompson, Patricia A. Vaughan and Barbara S. Turner, Martha and Max Wells, Donna M. Wilhelm, Shawna D. Wilson and Trea and Richard Yip.

Ann Margolin and Retta Miller

Ka Cotter

 

Ellenore Baker

Kirk Baker

Thanks to the Key Club, DWF’s Unlocking Leadership Campaign is standing at $36.5 and inching closer to its $50M goal. If you want to “key” into the march to success, contact Shawn Wills at 214.525.5318.

It’s Their Time’s First Fundraiser Paid Off With A Six-Figure Grant For Dr. Roger Rosenberg’s Alzheimer’s Research

Leave it to Leslie Ann Crozier to get her dander up about a problem and do something about it. When Alzheimer’s hit a family members, she did more than  just talk to doctors. She put together a foundation — It’s Their Time — and held a splashy get together  at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek on  Tuesday, May 23 with the likes of Dr. Roger Rosenberg and Pete Delkus. And, boy, did it pay off! Here’s a report from the field:

Roger Rosenberg, Leslie Ann Crozier and Pete Delkus*

Established within 116 days ago by founder Leslie Ann Crozier, It’s Their Time held a Kick-Off Celebration on Tuesday, May 23, to a sold-out audience at The Mansion on Turtle Creek. As a result of the event, Dallas’ newest foundation committed to advancing research for Alzheimer’s was able to present a $100,000 grant to award world-renowned Dr. Roger Rosenberg of UT Southwestern Medical Center for his DNA Vaccine. 

Mark Goldberg and Anne Lacey*

Tom Bevins and Clint Henderson*

Jana Hayes, Nancy Solomon, Diane depoi and Barbara Moroney*

“It was a magical evening filled with love, laughter, and lots of support. The generosity of all our May 23rd guests including Tom Bevins, Clint Henderson, Anne Lacey, Melissa and Steve Brooks, Dr. Mark Goldberg, Jana Hayes, Nancy Solomon, Diane Depoi and Barbara Moroney was overwhelming. Being able to award Dr. Rosenberg a $100,000 Grant from the evening proceeds exceeded all of our Committee’s expectations, especially given that the Charity is only a couple of months old,” confirmed Leslie Ann Crozier.

Guests enjoyed a festive cocktail celebration filled with lots of surprises . . . and pictures with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Dallas’ favorite meteorologist, WFAA Pete Delkus, was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies and was welcomed by “thunderous” applause, as the ballroom filled with sounds of thunder and lightning!  Pete was to leave halfway through the program to get back to the TV station; however, he was having so much fun that he stayed until the Live Auction and rushed to make the 10:00 p.m. ABC News. During the 10:00pm broadcast, Pete shared fun pictures and evening highlights.

When Leslie took the stage and shared five shocking Alzheimer’s statistics with the audience . . . you could have heard a pin drop. One of the most surprising facts was that women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s during their life as they are to develop breast cancer.

After a powerful video introduction, the evening’s recipient, Dr. Roger Rosenberg, took the stage to a standing ovation. He unveiled his UT Southwestern Medical Center Press Release, sent out just hours earlier, announcing that his DNA Vaccine “is on a shortlist of promising antibody treatments” that may prevent or cure Alzheimer’s.

Aubree-Anna*

Popular singer songwriter Aubree-Anna sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “Over The Rainbow” as tears flowed throughout the ballroom. 

The evening wrapped up with a spectacular Live Auction that included 3 of Leslie’s young 20-something nieces/nephews bidding $8,500 and winning the Lady Gaga Box Suite.  The audience was in shock, as Leslie’s nephew, Collin, took the stage and explained that they really only had $85 . . . however his 90-year-old grandparents, who could not attend, bought the package absentee to support the family and the Charity! 

The It’s Their Time Committee deserves a heroic round of applause, especially Strategic Planning Chair Steve Crozier, Event Chair Carol Hall, Advertising and Public Relations C0-Chairs Barbara and Stan Levenson and Creative Co-Chairs Alison Wood and Paula Feinberg

Evening Sponsors whose contributions helped make the evening an even greater success, include:

  • Champions of Hope ($10,000) — Lee Bailey, Melissa and Stephen Brooks/Grand Homes and Leslie Ann Crozier
  • Advocates for Advanced Research ($5,000) — Chris Bright, Gordy Ceresino, Jana Hayes, Hot On! Homes and Nancy and Gerald Solomon

As the first fundraising chapter comes to a close, It’s Their Time friends and supporters are looking forward to a rewarding journey creating a storybook filled with many more events, and many more memories.

For more information on It’s Their Time or to support It’s Their Time’s ongoing efforts for Advancing Research for Alzheimer’s, visit www.itstheirtime.org.  

* Photo provided by It's Their Time

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Dallas Women’s Foundation 32nd Annual Luncheon

According Dallas Women’s Foundation Luncheon Co-Chairs A. Shonn Brown and Lisa Singleton,

Lisa Singleton and Shonn Brown (File photo)

If you’ve always wanted to hear from one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Influential People and a New York Times best-selling author, while also supporting the Dallas Women’s Foundation, then we invite you to join us on Friday, October 20, for the 32nd Annual Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.

Our speaker this year is Dr. Hope Jahren, a brilliant scientist whose achievements as a paleobiologist are rivaled by her achievements as an author and advocate for gender equity in science.

Hope Jahren*

Dr. Jahren is recognized as a change maker. According to Time: “It is a rare breed of scientist who is both a leader in her field and a great writer, but Hope Jahren is both. (She) has built a career and a reputation in science by unearthing secrets hidden in fossilized plant life. Her work has resulted in at least 70 studies in dozens of journals, but it’s also given her a platform—a megaphone, really—to talk about something else: widespread sexual harassment and discrimination in science. On her blog, in op-eds and in her memoir, Lab Girl, which debuted on the New York Times best-seller list, Jahren wields her influence to call out a culture that has caused women to flee the field she so loves…And whether she’s writing about lab funding, discrimination or deciduous trees, she has a way of making you love it [science] too.”

Special thanks to our current sponsors:

  • Platinum Sponsor: U.S. Trust Company and Bank of America Private Wealth Management
  • Speaker Sponsors: Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt and The Suzanne Ahn, M.D. Speaker Endowment Fund at Dallas Women’s Foundation
  • Diamond Sponsor: Kimberly-Clark Corporation and Freeman
  • Emerald Sponsors: AT&T, Inc., Ellenore and Kirk Baker/Carter Financial Mgmt., Lucy and Henry Billingsley, Chatham Hill Investment Partnership, Toni Muñoz-Hunt and Dan Hunt, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Service King Collision Repair, Betty and Steve Suellentrop and Toyota
  • Gold Sponsor: Bank of Texas, Phyllis F. Bernstein, Nancy P. Carlson, Serena Simmons Connelly, Sheila Gallagher and Kay M. Winzenried, Haynes and Boone LLP, The Hart Group, Inc., Al G. Hill Jr., Alice and Erle Nye and Trinity Industries, Inc.
  • Silver Sponsors: Bank of America Plaza, Julia Bleicher and Gail Griswold, Veree Brown, Melissa Fetter, Marion T. Flores and Margaret Keliher, JP Morgan Chase, Jackson Walker, L.L.P., Junior League of Dallas Inc., Neiman Marcus, Cecilia and Tim Norwood, Julia A. Simon, The University of Texas at Arlington, TIAA and Katrina Watland
  • Media Sponsors: Dallas Business Journal, D CEO, MySweetCharity.

Luncheon sponsorships are still available, ranging from $3,500 to $50,000; individual tickets are available at $500 to $1,000. Sponsorships are available at www.DallasWomensFdn.org/luncheon or by calling 214.525.5318

The Foundation is in the midst of a campaign raising $50 million, with $35 million of that already achieved. Monies raised at the October 20 luncheon will further the cause of investing in women and girls to have positive ripple effects in families, communities and the globe.

Guests Came From Near And Far For The Sweet Sounds At The Sapphire Gala For Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra

It takes more than talent to perform at such venues at the Meyerson. It takes money to fine tune that talent. So The Sapphire Gala under the leadership of Venise Stuart did just that for the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra on Sunday, May 18. Guests came from as far away as Colorado for the evening of dining, bidding and listening to young musicians at the Meyerson. Here’s a report from the field:

Through the ages, sapphires have been treasured for their sparkle, romance and beauty. The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra (GDYO) glittered with brilliance at the Sapphire Anniversary’s Spring Gala and Season Finale celebrating 45 years in the community. It was held on Sunday, May 21, at the Meyerson Symphony Center and is the only fundraising event for the youth orchestra.

Dallas Jazz Institute*

The shimmering Gala included a silent auction and buffet dinner with music featuring performers from the GDYO Jazz Institute. It was followed by a full concert of the top ensemble featuring guest violinist Chee-Yun, and ended with post-concert desserts.

Dolores Barzune, Venise Stuart, Larry Barzune and Larry Stuart*

Venise Stuart was extremely proud and honored to be chairing the Gala.

“The young talent the Metroplex has is amazing,” said Venise. “It takes a true passion and commitment from everyone involved to deliver the amazing experience you will have this evening. The GDYO is a hidden gem in the city and these young musicians soar under the direction of Maestro Rick Giangiulio.”

Cynthia and Brice Beaird*

Honorary Co-Chairs were Cynthia and Brice Beaird, longtime supporters of the Dallas community. Cynthia is a founding Partner/Executive VP with Allie Beth Allman and Associates. Brice is the owner of the Beaird Agency, Inc. and also a singer/songwriter. 

GDYO provides DFW’s most talented young musicians with high quality instruction, challenging repertoire and the opportunity to come together and perform at world class venues like the Meyerson Symphony Center. It was founded in 1972 by parents, educators, and members of the Dallas music community to provide music education and performance opportunities for youth with demonstrated musical ability. The program includes over 450 talented musicians, ages 8 to 18, performing in two full orchestras, three string orchestras, a wind ensemble, a flute choir, and eight jazz combos, and socializing with a diverse group of highly talented peers from more than 50 communities.

Sherwood Wagner and Marena Gault*

“Many GDYO alums continue to study music at schools like Julliard, Cleveland Conservatory and others,” said GDYO Board Member Sherwood Wagner. “Regardless of the path they choose for their career, the students receive a world class music education/performance experience and a lifelong appreciation for arts.” 

There are a few notable alumni of the orchestra. Cathy Hernandez, the recently appointed Executive Director of GDYO, has come full circle by having been a musician with the orchestra while in high school, and now many years later, she heads the organization. Another familiar alumna from the program is Denise McGovern, who is currently Vice President of Communications at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Cathy Hernandez and Don Nebhan*

Gerald and Dana Sampson*

Attendees included Marena Gault, Delores and Larry Barzune, Dana and Gerald Sampson, Norma and Don Stone, Heather and Jerry Moore, Doug Haloftis, Becky and Brad Todd and Sharon and Maurice Ballew.

Gerry and Dana Sampson moved to Colorado nearly two years ago, but flew back for the event. They were both wearing purple because Gerald is on the National Board of Alzheimer’s Association. Even his shoes were purple.

The proceeds from the evening will benefit the GDYO Scholarship Fund and the GDYO Tour Fund, allowing deserving students a chance to not only experience the GDYO Program, but to be further enriched by experiencing new cultures while traveling and preforming with their peers. Each year, young musicians in GDYO receive $20,000 in scholarships, and that number doubles in a tour year.

For more information:  www.gdyo.org

* Photo credit: Chuck Clark

JUST IN: Returning Aware President Venise Stuart Reveals The Grant Recipients And Board Members For 2017-2018

Venise Stuart (File photo)

Venise Stuart’s dance card is getting full. Not only is she chairing the 2018 Mad Hatter’s Tea for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, she is once again going to serve as president for Aware .

Venise just revealed the following ten organizations have been named Aware grant recipients for 2017-2018:

  • Baylor Health Care System Foundation – Support for the salary of a Ph.D. Neuropsychology Intern for Baylor AT&T Memory Center.
  • Center for BrainHealth – Discovery Group – Support for the Discovery Group, a program designed to help individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias focus on preserving abilities and tapping strengths to promote meaningful engagement and slow the progression of the disease
  • Dallas Museum of Art – Memory Moments – Support for teaching honorariums, supplies, and staffing for Memory Moments, a program designed to provide participants with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias ways to engage in art that are revitalizing and gratifying.
  • Jewish Family Service – Support for the salary of a Clinical Social Worker to provide independent living services to adults with Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their families/caregivers.
  • Juliette Fowler Communities – Support for group and individual therapy sessions with a Certified Music Therapist for memory care residents, and to help purchase additional instruments and therapeutic tools.
  • NorthPark Presbyterian Church – Casa de Vida – Support the Casa de Vida program, which gives relief to families/caregivers by providing one-on-one care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias at the church for programs involving art, music, games, and lunch one day per week from 9:30 until 1:30.
  • Texas Winds Musical Outreach – Support for two concerts by professional musicians in 87 nursing homes and adult daycare facilities that serve individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • Presbyterian Communities & Services Foundation – Broad Strokes – Support for the Broad Strokes program at Grace Presbyterian Village that provides music and art therapy to residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • The Senior Source – Senior Companions – Support for the Senior Companion Program matching volunteers with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their families needing assistance with meals, light housekeeping, and companionship.
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center – Support to advance Dr. Roger Rosenberg’s research and clinical trials on a DNA Vaccine to clear amyloid plaques in the brain to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Myrna D. Schlegel Aware Scholarship awardees will be Baylor University’s Nora Drutz-Rogney and TCU’s Lindsay Ross.

Part of the grant funding is achieved from proceeds from the annual Aware Affair. This year’s event — Celebrate the Moments — will take place on Friday the 13th of April with a three-course dinner, silent and live auctions and dancing. Wondering where it’s gonna be held? And who’s chairing the event? Good questions! That information is coming in the weeks ahead.

Joining Venise on the 2017-2018 Aware board will be Carol Stabler, secretary; Sue John, treasurer; Stacey Angel, membership; Myrna Schlegel, Myrna D. Schlegel Aware Scholarship Fund and Janet Broyles, past president. 

Yesterday’s Heroes And Tomorrow’s Hopefuls Celebrated At The Frontiers Of Flight Museum’s “Exploration Space 2017 Gala”

Despite threatening weather, the sky was the limit for the Frontiers of Flight Museum‘s “Exploration Space 2017 Gala” on Thursday, May 18, at the museum. For the occasion, Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise were on hand to receive the George E. Haddaway Award, along with NASA vet Mary Ellen Weber and past Haddaway awardees Walt Cunningham and Dr. Ken Cooper. But the event wasn’t just limited to yesteryear heroes. Tomorrow’s hopefuls included adorable Sofia Lee. Here’s a report from the field:

Frontiers of Flight Gala*

The 2017 Gala was all about Exploration Space – from the remarkable Apollo 13 astronauts, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, who were honored with the Museum’s George E. Haddaway Award, to nine-year-old Sofia Lee, representing the 18,000 students who participate in the Museum’s STEM education programs.

During the conversation with Jim Lovell and Fred Haise about the Apollo 13 mission that was classified as a “successful failure” when the astronauts were brought home safely against many odds, Fred Haise said, “I thought it would just be an abort. My emotion initially was just sick to my stomach with disappointment. We’d lost the landing.”

Mary Ellen Weber, Jim Lovell, Mary Ann Cree, Sofia Lee, Fred Haise and Walt Cunningham*

The Apollo 13 story and the continued interest in space exploration was evidenced by the many age groups in attendance. Mary Ellen Weber, a NASA veteran of the Space Shuttle missions Discovery and Atlantis and a strong supporter of the Museum’s STEM education program, was in attendance.

Even the children today consider the astronauts American heroes. Sofia Lee was so eager to meet her heroes that she raised money for her ticket to the Gala through a lemonade stand. Sofia, who aspires to be an astronaut for her generation, met her heroes and had the honor of presenting them with the Haddaway Award. Sofia says, “I want to be an astronaut one day. I want to see things from a new perspective, to see them differently than I do from Earth.”

Capt. Lovell, who piloted or commanded four NASA missions – Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, and Apollo 13 – and Fred Haise, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 13, became the 43rd and 44th recipients of the Museum’s George E. Haddaway Award, joining the ranks of John Glenn, Walt Cunningham and Chuck Yeager.

The award is presented by the Museum annually “to those who have distinguished themselves by their accomplishments in the real of flight as pilots, aircrew members, corporate or political leadership, engineering, education or literature.”

Funds raised from the event “support the Museum’s new Exploration Space Initiative, a multi-faceted expansion of the Museum’s acclaimed STEM educational programming.”

Event sponsors included:

  • Exploration Space ($50,000) — Mary Ann Cree (Presenting Sponsor)
  • Apollo 13 ($25,000) — Gena and Dan Hamilton
  • Gemini 12 ($10,000) — Boeing / Aviall, Gulfstream, Martha and David Norton/Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley and Norton LLP and The Alinda Hill Wikert Foundation
  • Gemini 7 ($5,000) — Air-O-Specialists of Texas, Inc./dgseals.com Inc., American Airlines and Millie and Kenneth H. Cooper, Corgan, DFW International Airport, D Magazine, Dallas Love Field, Dickie+Associates, Events by Bill, Suzy Fulton/Scott Davis, Herbert Minerals Ltd./PlaneSmart! Aviation, Nancy and Pete Huff/Dr. and Mrs. David Webb Jr.,Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones and Ron Jones, Chris Jones – Purewater Baths, Elsa Manzanares/Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, Noelle and Stewart Mercer, Tom Rhodes/The Rhodes Group, Signature Flight Support,  Southwest Airlines, University of Texas at Dallas Special Collections, UPS, Virgin America, Cindy and Tony Weber and James A. White
* Photos provided by Frontiers of Flight Museum

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Girl Scouts Of Northeast Texas

Jennifer Bartkowski*

According to Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO Jennifer K. Bartkowski,

Back when I went off to Girl Scout camp decades ago, my mother was looking for an extended break and I was too – that time spent away gave me independence and both of us the rest we needed during my teenage years. 

But today, time is tight and kids are super busy so if they’re going to head to a camp, it has to offer a meaningful experience. Girl Scouts has responded to that challenge by offering an exciting and challenging all-girl leadership environment that incorporates college and career readiness. Girl Scouts, as the expert in how girls learn and develop as leaders, brings great value to new partnerships with program partners, universities, mentors and corporations, all looking to develop the next pipeline for future leaders in North Texas.

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas*

With camps that encourage girl-led, hands-on and collaborative learning, girls develop a strong sense of self, learn to seek challenges, and develop healthy relationships – the skills universities and companies say are essential for long-term success. 

The Girl Scout Leadership Institute (GSLI) offers high school girls a unique opportunity that most girls can’t get anywhere else. Offering university prep, corporate visits and job shadowing, the GSLI has leveraged extensive community partnerships to offer girls the opportunity to explore what could lie ahead. Openings are still available at:

  • USAA – Tuesday, July 11, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Ever wondered how you would select your car insurance once you begin to drive, how to find a credit card, or whether you will need renter’s insurance to lease an apartment?
  • Comerica – Monday, July 17, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.: Participate in a mini-job fair to explore banking careers, talk to a job panel of industry female leaders and more!

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas*

Our Summer Adventure Series at the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas STEM Center of Excellence offers girls a creative space to innovate and create. In June, girls discovered how to build and fly a drone through an obstacle course. In July, a group of girls is participating in an adventure in antibiotic discovery where they’re actually learning to chemically engineer antibiotics.  While the camp continues construction leading up to our grand opening in May 2018, we do still offer day-camps including:  

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas*

  • Adventures in Design: July 17-20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Girls 6-12th grade are invited to join us for “Fabulous Fashion” sponsored by Fluor and pwc.  If you have an eye for design and want to learn about patterns, production, textiles and tailoring to create your own line of products, this camp is for you!  Explore all of our session descriptions at gsnetx.org/adventurecamp
  • Adventures in Super Powers: July 24-27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Calling all Wonder Women!  Younger girls will build self-confidence through team building activities while older elementary campers will learn to use their voice to champion a cause important to them and discover how to be courageous. Sessions offered for girls K-5. 

Girl Scouts also offers the traditional summer resident camp experience at three properties across our region. Did you know, you don’t have to be in a troop to participate in Girl Scout programs and camps?  Join for $25/year to have access to member rates for all of our camps. To learn more, visit gsnetx.org/camp or call 972.349.2400.

* Photo provided by Girl 
Scouts of Northeast Texas

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Frontiers Of Flight Museum

According to Frontiers of Flight Museum’s Carla Meadows,

Looking for the coolest destination to beat the heat this summer?  Visit the Frontiers of Flight Museum.  You’ll experience the stories of aviation and space flight from the Wright Flight to the one-of-a-kind “Flying Pancake;” the Apollo VII spacecraft, 13 historical galleries, and over 35,000 artifacts; the Living History program and our acclaimed STEM education program. The Frontiers of Flight Museum is the perfect place to explore the history and progress of aviation, as mankind continues to pursue going higher, faster and farther.  

Frontiers Of Flight Museum*

Featured summer events at the Frontiers of Flight Museum:

The Frontiers of Flight Museum, 6911 Lemmon Ave., is conveniently located just north of downtown on Lemmon Avenue at the southeast side of Dallas Love Field Airport, north of Mockingbird Lane. Housed in a modern 100,000-square-foot facility, the Museum provides a focal point to explore the history and progress of aviation. Hours of operation: Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Adults $10; Seniors (65+) $8; Youths/Students (3-17) $7 and children under 3 are free. For more information, visit www.flightmuseum.com

* Photo provided by Frontiers Of Flight Museum

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Perot Museum Of Nature And Science

According to Perot Museum of Nature and Science Senior Communications/PR Manager Krista Villarreal Moore,

There’s a lot of big boredom busters in store this summer at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science! From the largest and most comprehensive Maya exhibition to tour the U.S., to the inspiring Dream Big 3D film, the Perot Museum has cool and fresh adventures plus discounts, extended hours, Discovery Camps, adults-only Social Science, sleepovers and more.

To provide greater access for active duty members and veterans of the United States military, law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics/EMTs, they can enjoy free general admission and discounted admission for family members through Labor Day.

Here are a few of the big happenings:

Stelae*

  • Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” (through Monday, Sept. 4) — History, mystery and culture collide in the largest traveling exhibition about the Maya ever to tour the U.S. Presented by Highland Capital Management, the exhibition brings together nearly 250 authentic artifacts and immersive environments to explore the astonishing accomplishments of one of the most powerful indigenous Mesoamerican civilizations, that still has millions of living descendants today. Through hands-on activity stations, guests of all ages can decipher hieroglyphs, learn cultural and architectural techniques, and explore an underworld cave, ancient burial site, mural room and more. The bilingual exhibition, presented in English and Spanish, requires a surcharge for members and non-members. Members always enjoy free general admission and get up to half-off on tickets to “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed. To expand accessibility for families, the Perot Museum’s Community Partners Ticket Offer   provides $1 general admission and $1 admission to “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” for individuals and families enrolled in qualified state and federally supported assistance programs. The offer is valid for up to seven immediate family members through Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 4).
  • Programs — There’s always something new to do at the Perot Museum! From a new Architecture Tour, and adults-only Social Science events, to family-fun Discovery Days on the second Saturday of the month, Discovery Camps, sleepovers and more, the Museum has non-stop summer fun sure to create smiles and brighten brains.
  • Big Summer Discounts — This summer, the Perot Museum is pleased to offer complimentary general admission for active duty members and veterans of the United States military, law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics/EMTs and $3 off general admission for members of their immediate families (up to six family members) through Labor Day (Sept. 4, 2017).
  • 3D Films — Donning 3D glasses, guests can sit back and experience colossally cool films featuring young inspiring engineers, dinosaurs and today’s enchanted animal kingdom in The Hoglund Foundation Theater, a National Geographic Experience. The line-up includes
    • “Dream Big 3D,” an inspiring feel-good film narrated by Jeff Bridges that celebrates the human ingenuity and heart behind engineering marvels big and small;
    • “Walking With Dinosaurs 3D,” narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, which lets audiences see and feel what it was like when dinosaurs ruled the Earth; and
    • “Wild Africa 3D,” which takes viewers on a ride across, over and through the magical realms of Earth’s most dramatic continent. To view trailers and film schedules, go to org. Films are presented locally by Primrose Schools.

And the Perot Museum offers free general admission year-round to educators in Texas and its bordering states. Find details about all admission discounts at perotmuseum.org/discounts.

Through Monday, Sept. 4, the Perot Museum is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday with new expanded Sunday hours from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Members enjoy exclusive access to the Perot Museum and “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” from 9-10 a.m. every Saturday and 10-11 a.m. every Sunday. The Museum will be closed for routine annual maintenance Sept. 5-7. Regular hours from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. will resume Friday, Sept. 8.

The Perot Museum is located at 2201 N. Field Street in Dallas, Texas. Museum general admission is $20 for adults (18-64), $13 for youth (2-17), $14 for seniors (65+) and free for children under 2. “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” requires a surcharge for a total admission cost of $30 for adults (18-64), $21 for youth (2-17), $22 for seniors (65+), and free for children under 2. Admission to the theater is $6 for a short film (20 minutes) and $8 for a long film (40 minutes). Films and general admission for children under 2 are free. While reservations are not required, if guests purchase tickets online at perotmuseum.org they can enjoy a $2 discount on general admission per person (for a limited time). Plus, by purchasing online, guests can bypass ticket lines.

For more information, please visit perotmuseum.org or call 214.428.5555.

* Photo courtesy of the Science Museum of Minnesota

Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott And Joanna Hernandez Demonstrated The Importance Of After-School All-Stars For Middle Schoolers

Settle back: This post is a long one, but it’s worth it.

If Dante Alighieri was updating his “Purgatorio,” he surely would have added Middle School to his Divine Comedy. Even the most blemish-free runway model recoils when recalling those days between elementary and high school. Teachers serving time in classrooms during this tenure should receive combat pay. Kids on their way to adulthood via the way station of puberty are being hit by their physical changes as well as peer pressure. Parents who years ago changed their babies’ diapers and made their peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches are transformed into Golfimbul on steroids.

Needless to say, this period of life is trying to say the least. But more about this later.

Brad Sham and Charles Haley

Rising Stars Luncheon organizers were looking a tad bit nervous around noontime on Wednesday, May 17, in the entry of the Dallas Country Club as they gathered for the After-School All-Stars North Texas fundraiser. Keynote speaker/Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was 20 minutes late. Dallas Cowboys voice/the day’s emcee Brad Sham assured them not to worry. Dak was probably stuck in the traffic lineup of vehicles on Mockingbird waiting to turn into the club.

In another area of the DCC, Dallas Cowboys vet Charles Haley was having a great time with the Brad.

Cliff Fischer, Dak Prescott and Charles Haley

Ken Schnitzer and Dak Prescott

Lee Bailey, Gina Betts and Tracy Lange

Bailey Lange, Livia Lange and Dak Prescott

As the lineup of 100 guests including Luncheon Chair Gina Betts with husband Ken Betts and son Jack Betts, Lee Bailey, Lisa Cooley and daughter Ciara Cooley, Tori Roark, Tiffany Divis, Tanya Foster, Lange kids (Bailey, Livia and Luke), Gregory Dunbar, Nancy Gopez, Shannon and Ted Skokos, Roz Colombo and Cliff Fischer surged to more than 200 for the meet-and-greet in the Founders Room, Dak’s handlers seamlessly moved him from the porte-cochere entrance to the grip-and-grin via the kitchen.

Shannon Skokos, Dak Prescott and Ted Skokos

Nancy Gopez and Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott and Stuart Macatee

Tori Roark, Dak Prescott and Ciara Cooley

Tanya Foster, Dak Prescott and Tiffany Divis

Emerging from the hallway, Dak registered a momentary look of surprise at the number of smiling faces. Taking his place in front of the ASAS sponsor board, he met his adoring fans of all ages. It should be noted that as the line continued to grow, Dak only took a two-second break for a gulp of water.

With each new BFF, he flashed that trademark Dak smile.

Arriving with his mom, Jonika Nix, Cash Nix was a standout wearing a Cowboys #4 jersey.

Cash Nix, Dak Prescott and Jonika Nix

Just as Dak was about to make his getaway for the ballroom, Cliff Fischer and Charles Haley arrived for a photo. And, of course, Charles just couldn’t contain himself trying to give Dak a smooch. Doing a great dodge, Dak moved just out of lip shot.

It was interesting to note that one of the last to appear was Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with son Jake Cuban. While Mark waved off a photo with Dak, he smiled on the side as the football player had a photo taken with Jake.

Fredye Factor, Dak Prescott and Haden Wolf

Inside the ballroom, it was a battle royale for guests taking selfies with Dak and Cubes. Poor guys hardly had a chance to eat. Speaking of which, it should be noted that the room had a larger showing than usual of young males. It seems that ASASNT Advisory Board Chair Ben Lange‘s blonde wife Tracy Lange had picked up on the abundance of little girls attending the “A Place to Soar” luncheon featuring Simone Biles. So, realizing that parents and grandparents like Fredye Factor might want to have a similar turnout of little boys for Dak, they prepared a menu just perfect for that age group: chicken fingers and French fries. And to be perfectly honest, there were many an adult who eyed the fingers and fries enviously.

Chicken fingers and fries

To keep the program rolling, Gina announced at the podium, “Please keep eating while we’re talking.” With that, silverware hit the plates. Gina explained that presenting sponsors Nancy and Richard Rogers were unable to attend because they were house moving.

She described the raffle prizes: First prize was a signed jersey by Dak, while the second prize was a trip to L.A. to player poker with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his friends. Upon hearing the latter, Dak piped up that he wanted a raffle ticket. 

Gina then got to the meat of the fundraiser: helping middle schoolers who get out of school in the afternoon and go to empty homes because their parent or parents are probably at work. Said Gina: “There is no one to greet them; no one to make them a sandwich; sometimes there’s no TV; and there’s certainly no one there to encourage them to do their school work.”

That’s where ASASNT comes in, Gina added. Between 3 and 6 p.m., “when those children would be on the streets hanging out with their friends or people they shouldn’t be hanging out with, instead they stay after school, where a volunteer comes and helps them with their homework, gives them education and then they get to do something fun.”

ASASNT Executive Director Marissa Castro Mikoy recalled how the year before, this luncheon event had taken place at Arlington Hall with about 100 guests. Today, the room was filled with more than 300 people. Speaking of numbers, she reported that, within Dallas County, more than “125,000 kids go home after school unsupervised. Only nine out of 42 DISD middle schools had any type of onsite after-school programs.” In addition, Marissa reported that “Dallas County has the fourth-highest juvenile crime rate in Texas.”

Joanna Hernandez

Following a video, ASASNT Program Manager Tori Schwarzlose introduced ASASNT 9th grade student Joanna Hernandez, who smartly did a shout-out to ASASNT JCPenney Signature Sponsor for her outfit. She then launched into a talk about her mom, who was from Waco, and her dad, who hailed from Mexico. They instilled in her the fact that they wanted better things for her. She admitted that “school wasn’t really hard for me and I like to read and really worked hard for my classes,” but what was challenging for her was “fitting in. In middle school, people are so quick to judge and I hated that. I felt like the loner in the corner, but when I started seventh grade, it sucked … really.” Joanna hit a chord that the majority in the room shared laughing with her.

But then her laughter and smile turned to the reality of the situation: “I wasn’t the only one dealing with the pressures. But it truly affected me, making me want to stay in my room and believes the lies. I used to come home every day after school, stay in my room, lock the door and wouldn’t let anyone talk to me or tell them how I feel. Mostly I was in a place where I wanted to hurt myself because of the words and actions of other people.” But eighth grade changed things, thanks to her learning about an after-school program. She asked her friends if they would come with her and they said, “Sure.” The first day they showed up for tryouts, “it was all the popular kids, and I felt so out of place. So I sat in the  back of the corner alone as always.” That changed when Tori came in, sat down and began talking with Joanna. 

That was the turning point. Joanna started making friends and having new experiences, like learning how to cook, DJ music production, and coding. Thanks to her teacher, to Tori and to others in the ASASNT program, Joanna admitted that she feels like they are family.

In conclusion, Joanna said that ASASNT can “help other students like me look at themselves differently and gain confidence. I am so grateful for this opportunity [from the] All Stars.”

Joanna knocked it out of the park. She had something that even the most polished professional speakers often lack: she spoke from the heart and from experience. The audience of all ages including Ben and Dak showed their appreciation.

Ben Lange

Dak Prescott

She was followed by JCPenney Executive VP and chief merchant/ASASNT Board Member John Tighe, who made a brief shout-out for financial support and introduced Brad Sham.

John had no soon taken his seat than Brad unleashed an announcement that he was deviating from the script. That statement from the podium naturally sends event planners into a brain frenzy. They realize that they have lost control and are now at the mercy of the man with the mic power.

Luckily, the man was Brad. He started off saying, “First of all, that was a very understated ask.” Then he asked Joanna to stand. Whoa! Things were really going off script. Sham was supposed to introduce Dak and settle down in a couple of chairs for a chat. Instead he was scrambling things up and had everyone’s attention.

“I want everyone to look at her. [Laughter, as Joanna shyly rose from her chair as bewildered as the guests]. I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry. She’s not a statistic; she’s not a number; she’s a real human person, whose life has been enriched and therefore is going to have the opportunity to enrich her community because of After-School All-Stars. Now, there’s no one over 18 in a sports coat or a tie, who ought to walk out of here today without giving some money to this organization. You care about these kids. Look around the room at these young people. These are people. These are the people who are going to be in charge in before long. We’d better help them. It’s our responsibility. It’s your responsibility.”

He then told Joanna that she could sit down, but he would ask her back on stage soon. He then asked the board members to raise their hands because he wanted to make sure to make eye contact with them about what he was going to say. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be here today. I’m here for two reasons, maybe three. The first one is that my very good friend and your fellow board member Barry Greenberg asked me to be here. Barry Greenberg has a birthday today and his butt is not here. He’s in Hawaii. I would like you to have him hear about that at the next board meeting. He didn’t mention that when he set me up to do this. The second thing is all he had to do was tell me a little bit about After-School All-Stars and I’m in. I talked to Marrissa and you hear the passion.”

Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from the conversation by Sham and Dak, but if you have the time, you might want to check the video below. Like the old saying goes, “A picture (or in this case a video) is worth a thousand words.)

Sham then explained how Dak’s presence had been the clincher for his being part of the program. With Dak sitting directly in front of the stage staring at Sham, Brad said, “He is who you want him to be. I think he’s going to be a pretty good quarterback. He’s already pretty good. He’s had a pretty good year and I think he’s going to have a tremendous career. Preferably what you want him to be is a really good quarterback for the Cowboys. But when you’re a quarterback for the Cowboys and pretty good, you then have to be more than that … and he is. Like two other guys before him under whose shadow he played because of their accomplishments … more than two but two in specific … you want those guys to be who you want them to be. Watch Dirk run up and down the floor and you say, ‘Please let him be that good as a human being’ and then you find out that he is. Dak Prescott is who you want him to be and he’s only getting started. He’s a remarkable young man.

“Here’s another example. Joanna, may I ask you to come back up here? [As the youngster made her way through the crowd, there was a rumbling of people wondering what Sham had planned.] While you were watching Joanna, I had my back to the podium, not intentionally … just how it worked out. I was watching Dak watch Joanna. And here’s why Dak Prescott is who you want him to be. He listens. When you talk to him, he listens. He cares about what you say. He was listening to Joanna. He was nodding at points of affirmation that resonated with him that you’re going to hear about in a minute.”

Then the veteran sportscaster turned to Joanna, saying, “The reason I asked you to come back up here is that though I’ve only known him a year, I think I know him well enough now to know that he wants is his picture with you. So, ladies and gentlemen, Dak Prescott.”

Needless to say, that impromptu intro nailed it, and Joanna and Dak were photographed.

The first question from Brad to Dak was, who were Dak’s role models? “My brothers and my mother were most important,” Dak replied. “To me the thing that resonates to me about such a school program is time. A lot of us don’t come home to parents. My mom was always at work. But I had two brothers who were five or six years older than me and that was who I had to look up to, to watch after me. But there was still time. You may think 10 or 15 are good ages, but we need something to do with our time. Something to better ourselves more than just the sports, the video games until mom gets home to cook for us because you get tired of Ramen noodles all the time. There are so many bad things and wrong decisions that you can make from 10 to 15. A program like this that is putting the kids in the position to get extra hours of studying and taking up new tasks, making new friends and coming out of their shells, doing something that makes you a better person and more interesting within yourself.”

While his brothers weren’t able to finish school, Dak learned from this and committed to getting an education. He admitted that he was one of the few fortunate enough to have people in front of him to tell him the right thing to do and to lead him in the right direction. He emphasized the need for ASAS because others aren’t as fortunate—or have brothers who might lead them in the wrong direction.

The subject then turned to Cowboys and football.

  • What does he do after his work day? “I’m a big video gamer. If I’m not doing something for the community, I play video games and hang out with a couple of buddies. I may try to find a pond to go fishing. I fish for anything. If there are fish in the sink, I’ll try to catch them. I’ve been trying golf lately, but I’m not into golf. I’ve taken it up, but it’s very frustrating.”
  • What was it about football that hooked you? He would go to his brothers’ little league games. “I guess I knew I was good at my first practice. I was in third grade, so I was eight years old and skipped the whole flag football.” It helped that he had played with his older brothers who had never taken it easy on him. “When I played people my age, it was a little bit different.”
  • When did the idea of being a quarterback come into play? In sixth grade, he was a linebacker. Then his brother taught him how to throw the ball.
  • Where did the leadership come from? “That came from my older brothers allowing me to always be around their friends, not really thinking about age at any point. They let me feel that I could play football and hang with them.”
  • How is his life different today compared to a year ago? “Completely.” While the way he thinks of himself and the way he goes about his work haven’t changed, “My platform has. A year ago no one would dared to have had me come up here and talk.” He said the greatest thing is that it has allowed him to tell his story and inspire others.
  • Was he disappointed to go in the fourth round of the NFL draft? “Yes. To sit there and wait two day, three days and wait … Yeah, it puts a chip on your shoulder, thinking there are 134 people that are better than me. I just have to go out and prove myself every day.”
  • Is he at the place where he can go into Jason Garrett‘s office and say what type of draft picks he wants? “No, I’m not there yet.”
  • During one of the games he was caught on camera finishing a cup of water and missed throwing it in the trash. He immediately got up and put it in. What were you thinking? “I wasn’t thinking. I was thinking, ‘How did I miss that shot?’ He was amazed that that video had garnered such attention, when it seemed like the natural thing to do.
  • Have you picked the brains of Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman? He’s spoken with both and shared text messages with Troy.
  • He’s creating a foundation called Fight, Finish and Faith. Where did that come from? When his mother passed away, the preacher told how she had said that Fight was for his elder brother Tad, who had fought for his family and the things he believed in; Finish was his brother Jace, who was there until the end; and Faith was Dak, because he believed in making a difference in the world.
  • “What was your favorite play this season?” a youngster wearing a Jason Witten jersey asked Dak. Dak said it was the one where Jason made the touchdown.
  • What was the lesson that Jason taught him at the first practice camp? Dak threw the ball to Witten, who didn’t extend to catch it and let the ball fall right in front of him. “He showed me what it takes to be in this league,” Dak said. Yes, Jason could have caught that ball, but to make it in this league Dak has to be precise and not expect the receiver to save him.
  • Why are you going to be better this year? “Hard work. Study as much as I can, get better with my teammates and just be ready to go. Get better as a team.”

As checkbooks were pulled out, Sham finished with, “Dak is what you want him to be.” And thanks to ASASNT, Joanna will be what you want her to be, too.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: After-School All-Stars North Texas’ Rising Stars Luncheon

Jack Betts and Gina and Ken Betts

It was only After-School All-Stars North Texas’ second Rising Stars Luncheon. And like some newbies on the fundraising scene, it can be tough to draw a crowd or get the organization’s message across. But ASAS Advisory Board Chair Ben Lange drafted Gina Betts, whose reputation in local nonprofit circles is daunting. And she proved that her rep is well deserved on Wednesday, May 17.

Dak Prescott and Brad Sham

Joanna Hernandez

Ben Lange

Thanks to “connections,” Ben and Gina arranged to have Dallas Cowboys quarterback wunderkind Dak Prescott on stage for a chat with Dallas Cowboys voice Brad Sham before an SRO crowd including Mark Cuban and Charles Haley at the Dallas Country Club.

But it was ASAS teenager Joanna Hernandez who stole the show and Dak’s heart with her story.

While the post is being prepped, check out the photos  on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Fifth Annual Can Do! Luncheon Brought Out Stories From All Walks Of Life For The Wilkinson Center Fundraiser

The Fifth Annual Can Do! Luncheon not only ran on time, it sliced off ten minutes with guests scurrying on their way to the valet ten minutes earlier than planned at the Dallas County Club on Tuesday, May 9.

It was a sell-out crowd for The Wilkinson Center fundraiser and it was a heady crowd, thanks to Co-Honorees Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, The Real Estate Council and Wilkinson Center supporters.

Regina Montoya

Craig Innes

Sara Martineau and Nelda Cain Pickens

In the crowd filling the DCC ballroom were Nancy Ann Hunt, Carolyn and David Miller, Ros Dawson Thompson, Gail and Gerald Turner, Angie Kadesky, Marsha and Craig Innes, Kristi Francis, Ellen McStay, Pam Perella, Tucker Enthoven, Stacey Walker, Cheryl Joyner, Suzy Gekiere, Leslie Diers and Sara Albert with their mom Cynthia Melnick, Jan Langbein, Sara Martineau, Nelda Cain Pickens, Regina Montoya, Jeanne Marie Clossey and Jennifer Swift.

Ros Dawson Thompson and Nancy Ann Hunt

Jennifer Swift

Marsha Innes

In keeping with other fundraisers, there was emphasis placed on text messaging donations. Whether it was Event Chair Beth Thoele or stand-up signage on tables, the message was strong to text. The problem with the text donating is that while the younger members of the audience know how to donate via their cellphones, the older crowd and the ones with the most ka-ching shied away from the idea.

Luckily, the Wilkinson message was delivered thanks to The Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder with testimony from Bank of America’s Maria Padilla, who told of her coming to the U.S. when she was 9 years old with her mother and siblings. The purpose was to get an education. She recalled the days when she had to translate for her mother and go to McDonald’s and eat while her mother didn’t, because there just wasn’t enough money. Today her brother is an architect, her sister is a teacher and Maria has not only graduated from college but has earned a saster’s degree from SMU.

Robin Minick and Kelcey Hamilton

Following a video, the first award of the day was presented to The Real Estate Council. In accepted the award, TREC VP and Foundation Director Robin Minick spoke briefly about the similarities between The Wilkinson Center and TREC, which share a mission “to improve the lives of the people of Dallas.”

Next up were the Kleinerts. Chris started off admitting that he had been impressed by the Can Do containers with flowers on the table near the stage and had told their son to grab one after the lunch, so they could give it to Ashlee for upcoming Mother’s Day. Oops! He hadn’t realized that the containers were the awards.

Then he pointed out that the spirit of the Can Do Luncheon is about encouraging entrepreneurship and used as an example a recent news story about a youngster in Rockwall. It seems 7-year-old Kaden Newton had recognized the fact that many food pantries were in short supply when it came to healthy and kid-friendly food. So he created a program for Mac and Cheese and Pancakes to meet that need. Within the first two weeks, he had raised more than 10,000 items.

Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Beth Thoele, Anne Reeder and Monique Weber

The Wilkinson Center’s Monique Weber also received a standing ovation for her story of surviving heart-rending challenges. She told how she had lost her son to a murder in Chicago and moved to Dallas, only to find herself homeless. She turned to Wilkinson Center’s Food Pantry, where she found a family of support in its staff. They not only provided food but also helped her earn her diploma and receive a scholarship to attend a community college, where she is training to become a surgical technician.

Grovel Alert: 31st Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon

It’s getting down to the bare nitty gritty. The 31st Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon on Friday, June 23, at the Anatole is just a hair’s breadth from being filled to capacity. With “Hamilton’s” Christopher Jackson as the featured speaker for the event benefiting Junior Players, it’s no wonder.

Christopher Jackson*

According to Junior Players’ Executive Director Rosaura Cruz-Webb, “Junior Players is celebrating its nearly sold out status with a Luncheon Ticket Lottery in the spirit of Hamilton: An American Musical and Junior Players’ mission to provide free arts education programs. Through the Luncheon Ticket Lottery, people who are passionate about the arts can be ‘in the room where it happens’ to hear a star of Hamilton. This, of course, was inspired by the fabled Hamilton Ticket Lottery on Broadway, in which theater fans can enter the lottery for a chance to get a pair of front row tickets to Hamilton for $10 a person. A Hamilton for Hamilton.”

The ASC Luncheon Ticket Lottery will take place on Thursday, June 15, at V-Eats Modern Vegan at Trinity Groves. Lottery entrees will start at 6 p.m. with the drawings taking place at 7:30. Here’s the trick — if your ticket is pulled, then you “will be able to receive the ticket for an optional donation of $10.” Adding to the pluses of winning, two of the ticket winners will have the opportunity to meet Christopher.

The lottery event is open to the public with V-Eats providing food and drink specials with 15% of orders benefiting Junior Players. For entertainment, there will be performances by the Junior Players, of course.

But if you’re not feeling all that lucky, then go ahead and get one of the few remaining seats here.

* Photo provided by Junior Players

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

Ann Schooler

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

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

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

Cindy Turner

Margaret Spellings

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

Heather Randall and Michelle Mora-Lopez

Mission Ole 2016 (file photo)

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

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

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

JUST IN: 2017 Rising Stars Luncheon Scored A Touchdown Netting $336,870 For After-School All-Stars North Texas

Ben Lange (File photo)

Nancy Rogers and Gina Betts (File photo)

If you see attorney Gina Betts and America’s Auto Auction CEO Ben Lange giggling and high-fiving each other, it’s not because they just won a lawsuit or sold a lot full of cars. Nope. The two just learned the results of their After-School All-Stars North Texas’s Rising Stars Luncheon fundraiser on Wednesday, May 17, at the Dallas Country Club.

Dak Prescott and Brad Sham

It was only the second luncheon fundraiser for the group, but ASAS Advisory Board Chair Ben managed to get fundraising queen Gina to chair the event that was such a sell-out that folks were nearly sitting in laps.

In addition to the need for the ASAS program being a big draw, Gina and Ben pulled in a couple of big guns — Nancy and Richard Rogers as presenting sponsors and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.on stage in a chat with Brad “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Sham.

The event was a grandstand touchdown scoring a whopping $336,870. No, that’s not the amount raised. It’s the net.

Needless to say, ASAS Executive Director Marissa Castro is thrilled because it means that middle schoolers will have “safe and structured opportunities between 3 and 6 p.m.”

Grovel Alert: 2nd Annual Rising Stars Luncheon

Dak Prescott (AP Photo)

Ben Lange (File photo)

Unlike former Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott hasn’t exactly been making the speaking rounds.  Perhaps that’s why Wednesday’s “2nd Annual Rising Stars Luncheon” benefiting After-School All-Stars North Texas is nearing SRO status at the Dallas Country Club.

According to ASAS North Texas Board Chair Ben Lange, the fundraiser that will have Brad “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Sham interviewing the football wunderkind is within one or two tables of selling out.

Nancy Rogers and Gina Betts (File photo)

Chaired by Gina Betts, the fund raiser is being presented by Nancy C. and Richard Rogers.

One of the surprises for organizers has been the number of papa and mama bears who are bringing their kids to the luncheon. Seems that the recent show of munchkins attending The Jonathan’s Place’s “A Chance to Soar” with featured speaker Simone Biles has caught on. Makes sense. Such events provide an excellent opportunity to expose youngsters to role models.

Consider this news to be a “last call” shout-out, so get one of those last spots now by emailing  Liz Arrington or calling her at 469.330.4970.

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

Building Bridges

Tony Romo autographed football

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

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

Marissa Leach and Dan Bailey*

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

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

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

David Brown*

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

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

David Brown*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Photos provided by Just Say Yes