Community Partners Of Dallas’ Change Is Good Was A Multi-Generational Funfest With Sugary Treats, Bungee Cording And Loads Of Coins

As usual, the Community Partners of Dallas were prepared for young and old to feel right at home for its annual Change Is Good fundraiser at Brook Hollow Golf Club. Just in case the Dallas Cowboys game ran into a typical overtime situation, they had TV screens in place for fans. As for the kids, there was everything from sugary treats to sky-high bungee cord flying. But the youngsters were also vying for who could haul in the most ca-ching. Here is a report from the field:

From the left: (front row – Enzo Lange, Asher Lange and Jameson Lange; (back row) Ted and Becky Lange, Reese Lange; Paul and Sandra Keck, Larry and Mary Lange and Paige McDaniel*

Change is Good Chair Family Becky and Ted Lange with munchkins Reese, Jameson, Asher and Enzo, and Honorary Co-Grandparents Sandra and Paul Keck and Mary and Larry Lange were joined by more than 625 partygoers on Sunday, October 1, at the 11th Annual Change is Good, where kids collected change to change the lives of abused and neglected kids. 

Benefiting Community Partners of Dallas, participating children and teens began collecting change over the summer by emptying their own piggy banks, going door to door, setting up lemonade stands and other fundraisers or starting their own online campaign. Through their efforts 87,640 coins were collected equaling $18,574. 

From the left: (back row) Larry and Rathna Gray; (front row) Caroline Gray, Cate Gray and Brooke* Gray

Cameron Martin, Harper Martin and Kendall Martin”

Emmy Linebarger *

All collections were turned in at the Sunday, October 1st event in exchange for chances to win exciting prizes. This year’s grand prize, a GoPro HERO4 Black 4K Waterproof Action Camera Kit, was awarded to first place winners Brooke, Cate and Caroline Gray, who collected a total of $2,788.22.  Triplets Cameron, Harper and Kendall Martin were in second place with $1,062.16, of which $680 was raised online, the most of all collections. Solo entry Emmy Linebarger came in third place with a remarkable $778.57 collected. The Gray group also received an award for most quarters collected with 9,768 quarters.

Bungee cording*

Held at Brook Hollow Golf Club, the event featured activities for all ages, including bungee jumping, inflatable obstacle courses and slide, prince/princess station, paper airplane zone, GameTruck, Rad Hatter, balloon artist, face painting, bounce houses, and a DJ dance party with CPD’s favorite DJ Bill Cody.

Hula hoops*

President and CEO Paige McDaniel took a few minutes to thank the many sponsors, who had supported the event, as well as all the kids who collected change throughout the summer. She then announced the many prize-drawing winners, and recognized the change collection winners as well as the artists who had the winning designs for this year’s commemorative t-shirt: Jaxon McKinney (front artwork) and Leila Davis (back artwork).  All child attendees received a t-shirt as their parting gift.

Jaxon McKinney and Leila Davis*

Proceeds from Change is Good benefit the abused and neglected children served by Community Partners of Dallas.  This year’s event would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors:

  • Change Champion ($5,000) – Shawn Cleveland and Winston and Strawn; Mary and Larry Lange; Becky and Ted Lange and Reese, Jameson, Asher and Enzo and Greg Nieberding/Digital 3 Printing;
  • Change for the Better ($2,500) – Lena and Derek Alley; Marybeth and Kevin Conlon and Luke Conlon and Quinn Conlon; Grant Thornton LLP; Nicola Hobeiche and Todd Hewes; Barry, Sandy, Ryan and Kennedy Moore; Al G. Hill Jr; Sandra Reese-Keck; Katherine and Eric Reeves and The Tafel Family;
  • Changing Lives ($1,250) – The Barber Family; The Kennington Families; The Clay Smith Family; Adam, Taryn, Walker, Ayla and Rilyn Spence;
  • Jar Sponsor – Park Place Porsche;
  • Media sponsors – Dallas Child and MySweetCharity.

For more information about Change is Good, visit communitypartnersdallas.org.

About Community Partners of Dallas

Since 1989, Community Partners of Dallas has ensured safety and restored dignity and hope to abused and neglected children by providing crucial resources and support to the caseworkers of Dallas County Child Protective Services.  Community Partners of Dallas provides items such as winter coats, diapers and formula, holiday gifts, school uniforms, personal hygiene products, food and more, to send the abused children in our community the message that someone does care.  Please visit www.communitypartnersdallas.org for more information.

* Photo credit: Tara Cosgrove

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Turtle Creek Lane Tour

Jennifer Houghton and Amanda Richards

With Halloween less than two weeks away, Park Cities designer Jennifer Houghton’s Turtle Creek Lane Tour raised the hair on the back of heads, as well as raising money for Genesis Women’s Shelter on Friday, September 29, and Saturday, September 30.

Dinner table

Halloween kitty

The Houghton homestead is a favorite sight on Lovers Lane for all the seasonal holiday. But Halloween is a real thrill, both indoors and out. 

Front door

Stairway

While the post is being prepared, check out the insides and outs of Jennifer’s handiwork at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Veteran Celebs And Babes In Arm Took The Runway At Tootsies For The 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show

As the swallows return to Capistrano in March, so the season’s fashions were hitting the North Texas catwalks in September. On the heels of the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show with its dozens and dozens of professional models, The Elisa Project‘s 8th Annual Esteem Fashion Show also had fashions on the Tootsies runway on Saturday, September 16. But these models were volunteers ranging in age from infant to AARP. Here’s a report from the field:

Rhonda Marcus, Emmy Marcus and Whitney Kutch*

Event Chair Whitney Kutch, with Honorary C0-Chairs Rhonda Marcus and daughter Emmy, were joined by nearly 160 attendees for the 8th annual Esteem Fashion Show presented by Lisa Cooley, on Saturday, September 16, which benefited The Elisa Project (TEP).

Partygoers arrived at Tootsies and mingled while enjoying mimosas while perusing Tootsies collections. With 10% of all purchases benefiting TEP, patrons shopped the latest fall fashions, as DJ Blake Ward provided the vibe. Raffle tickets were available for sale featuring fabulous prizes including, a $100 gift card to Tootsies; an Elizabeth Showers Soleil station 18 karat gold chain in hand-carved white quartz over Kingman Mine turquoise; an Amanda Sterrett jewelry suite; hair and makeup services from The Makeup Zone; an original watercolor painting by Sherri Jones; and Chili’s restaurant gift cards.

Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Kim Stephens-Olusanya, Holly Davis and Landry Davis*

At 11:00 a.m., patrons gathered upstairs for the much-anticipated fashion show. Whitney took the podium and thanked everyone in attendance for their support of The Elisa Project and this year’s event. TEP’s board President Dr. Stephanie Setliff followed by adding her thanks and recognized Whitney for her hard work as event chair, as well as those in the room who had made the day possible including Executive Director Kimberly Martinez, TEP staff and board of directors, and Esteem founder, event coordinator, and board member, Rhonda Sargent Chambers. She then shared details about some of the work The Elisa Project is doing in the community through advocacy, education and support, which touches the lives of more than 31,000 individuals suffering from eating disorders each year.

2017 Esteem models

Emcee Courtney Kerr, founder and editor-in-chief of KERRently.com, took the podium and got right to the fashion show, which featured notable community members wearing the latest looks from Tootsies with children’s fashions provided by KidBiz/The Biz.

Jenny Anchondo and Brighton Valentina*

Courtney Kerr and Kellie Rasberry*

2017 models were: FOX4-TV’s Emmy-award winning news anchor Jenny Anchondo with 15-week old daughter Brighton Valentina; Carlotta Lennox, Kim Dawson model and entrepreneur; Landry Davis with friends Aubrey and Gracie O’Banion; community volunteer Yvonne Crum with granddaughter Samantha; designer and creator of BAHZ jewelry Britt Harless; host of nationally syndicated morning show, Eye Opener, blogger and fashion expert Hilary Kennedy; Jane McGarry, host of WFAA-TV’s “Good Morning Texas;” Sabrina Harrison, co-owner and interior designer Mint Dentistry and founder of Equipped by Faith Ministries, with children Christian and Camila; Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Scott Murray; Melissa Rountree, owner of activewear brand Level 3 Active and board member of The Elisa Project; licensed professional counselor and CEO of Park Cities Counseling, Elizabeth Scrivner with daughter Katherine; Catherine Lowe, owner of local luxury stationary company LoweCo, with son Samuel; host of “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning,” Kellie Rasberry; honorary co-chairs Rhonda Marcus, and daughter Emmy; and event chair and TEP board member Whitney Kutch.

Carlotta Lenox and Courtney Kerr*

Melissa Rountree*

As the show came to a close, Kimberly Martinez announced the lucky winners of the raffle prizes before encouraging all in attendance to continue shopping in support of The Elisa Project. Before departing, patrons grabbed their swag bags which included goodies from Tootsies and stationary from LoweCo.

Esteem is a celebration of body image and self-Esteem. In its 8th year, Esteem helps increase awareness about eating disorders and the importance of positive body image, Esteem encourages people to love themselves while striving to be healthy. Proceeds support The Elisa Project (TEP) and the important programs dedicated to fighting eating disorder illnesses through awareness, education, support and advocacy.

* Photo credits: Bob Manzano and Thomas Garza

 

Sold-Out Luxury And Supercar Showcase Drives Home A Whopping $30K For Salesmanship Club Of Dallas’ Momentous Institute

Out at the Four Seasons Resort And Club Dallas at Las Colinas, a whopping 2,500 people gathered on Saturday, September 9, to enjoy some of the world’s most exotic, luxury, and high-performance vehicles. The inaugural Park Place Luxury And Supercar Showcase, a sort of mini-Concours d’Elegance, was held in part to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ken Schnitzer‘s Park Place Dealerships. But it also was intended to benefit the Momentous Institute, owned and operated by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas since 1920.

Bugatti and future drivers

Surrounded by car lovers checking out nearly 200 autos—from new Bentleys, Bugattis, and Rolls-Royces sold by Park Place to vintage cars, like Robert Ostrowski‘s 1948 Plymouth Convertible and a ’65 Shelby 427 Cobra—Schnitzer recalled the event’s origins. “We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary, so we thought, what can we do that would be special and memorable?” he said. “So we came up with this sort of mini-Concours event, which has never been done in Dallas before. We completely sold out of tickets, and we even had to turn people away. We want to make it an annual event.”

Vintage vehicle

In addition to the cars, there were fashions from NorthPark Center on display, as well as specialty boutiques with offerings by the likes of Bachendorf’s, Mulberry, Montblanc, and Niven Morgan.

Lee Bailey and Niven Morgan

At one point Niven greeted Lee Bailey, one of the guests and a major aficionado of high-end cars (she currently owns a Rolls convertible, plus two Aston-Martins). Niven told Lee that he drives a Range Rover himself and is “doing all the candles” for the opening of Schnitzer’s new North Texas Land Rover dealership.

Also lending a hand was Brad Oldham, who partnered with wife  Christy Coltrin to create the “Spirit of Park Place,” an original sculpture that was presented to three big winners of the day’s car show. “Bachendorf Crystal” awards were also given to winners in the Vintage, Classic, Contemporary, and Exotic/Supercar categories. Before the trophies were given out, though, Ken presented the Momentous Institute with a giant check representing a $30,000 contribution from Park Place.

Later, just before a private dinner at the Four Season’s LAW Restaurant hosted by Rolls-Royce, the company’s communications head, Gerry Spahn, gave Lee and a few others an up-close look at the 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom, which had just arrived straight from Pebble Beach for its Texas debut. Park Place’s Heath Strayhan said the Dallas-based dealership expected to sell four or five of the top-of-the-line Phantoms in 2018, “give or take two or three.” 

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

Community Partners Of Dallas’ Change Is Good Kick-Off Was A Family Affair With T-Shirt Designing, Green Balloons And Coins Galore

Change can be good. And when it comes to the Community Partners of Dallas, change is for good literally. Each year CPD holds one of the most absolutely fun events for munchkins. Not only do they play games, get face painted and have the times of their life, they also have the opportunity to turn in the change that they have collected to support CPD’s efforts. But to get things rolling, this year’s Co-Chairs Becky and Ted Lange their kiddos Reese, Jameson, Asher and Enzo got this kicked off on Saturday, August 26. Here’s a report from the field:

Community Partners of Dallas kicked off the 11th Annual Change is Good on Saturday, August 26, at CPD headquarters with a celebration and day of volunteering for event sponsors and members of the event’s host committee.

From the left: (back row) Sandra Keck Libby Lange, Enzo Lange, Mary and Larry Lange, Ted Lange, Asher Lange, Becky Lange, Reese Lange, Paige McDaniel; (front row) Jameson Lange*

Chair family Becky and Ted Lange with Reese, Jameson, Asher and Enzo, welcomed more than 65 attendees like Nikki and Crayton Webb with their brood (Cabot Webb, Nelson Webb, Mitchell Webb and Lucy Webb), Tameka Cass with youngster Jaxon Cass and Kristin Mitchell with Molly Mitchell and Teige Mitchell for a day of fun. As families arrived, the kids in attendance were encouraged to create their own design for the annual t-shirt, which will be unveiled at the upcoming Sunday, October 1, event.  

From the left: Cabot Webb, Lucy Webb, Crayton Webb, Nelson Webb, Mitchell Webb and Nikki Webb*

Tameka Cass and Jaxon Cass*

Kristin Mitchell, Molly Mitchell and Teige Mitchell*

Midway through the event, President/CEO Paige McDaniel welcomed everyone and thanked event sponsors, then gave special recognition to the Change is Good chair family, the Langes as well as honorary grandparents Sandra and Paul Keck and Mary and Larry Lange. She also thanked all the kids for collecting all their pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and bills over the summer to help change the lives for other kids!

Attendees were then separated by age to help CPD put together hygiene kits and back to school supplies for the abused and neglected children they serve. 

The 11th annual Change is Good will be held on Sunday, October 1, from 3 – 6 p.m. at Brook Hollow Golf Club. The fun-filled day will feature activities for all ages, including bungee jumping, prince/princess station, paper airplane zone, GameTruck, Rad Hatter, balloon artist, face painting, bounce houses, and a DJ dance party. Participating children and teens will turn in the change they collected over the summer in exchange for chances to win exciting prizes.

Tickets are $75 per adult and $35 per child and are on sale now. To purchase tickets or for more information visit communitypartnersdallas.org or contact [email protected].

* Photo provided by Community Partners of Dallas

The Sounds Of Campers’ Laughter And Cheers Filled Callier Center’s Cochlear Implant Summer Listening Camp In July

Imagine a vacuum of sound. At first blush, it may not seem like a big deal. For oldsters, it may mean say, “What did you say?” to a spouse on a regular basis. But real true loss of hearing means that the other senses like sight, touch and taste are ramped up to sensory overload to compensate. Someone appears without warning. A slight pat on the shoulder is a shock.

That’s why cochlear implants have been a breathtaking development for those with hearing challenges.

But the implants are just part of the journey for those with hearing challenges. Especially youngsters going through the usual aging process may feel like they are truly the only ones in this world of audio developments. True, they are unique, but they are not alone.

And that’s why Callier Center for Communication Disorders’ Cochlear Implant Summer Listening Camp from Monday, July 24, thru Friday, July 28, was so important. During this time, 43 munchkins from four to 11 years old and a team of graduate students from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas serving as counselors gathered at Cross Creek Ranch in Parker County to discover that they could play games, scamper through the outdoors, dance, do crafts and just be playmates.

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Callier Center campers

Despite the 90-degree temperatures, the kids didn’t mind one bit racing with beach balls and trying to captures bubbles.

But the big eye opener was grownup Richard Neely. He had an aura of happiness and success about him. But what got the kids’ attention were his cochlear implants. With his smile and proudly letting them see his cochlear implants, he was a rock star.

Another standout adult was a counselor, who had been one of these munchkins years ago.

Eavesdropping on the activities were the Callier Cares and Chi Omega representative Jane Porter. Callier’s Cochlear Implant Program had been selected to be one of the 2017 Chi Omega Christmas Market beneficiaries.

Jane Porter

John Stuart

Beth Thoele

Tricia George

Bennett Cullum and Tom Campbell

Kristi Shewmaker and Linus Wright

As the Callier Center types like Callier Center Foundation President John Stuart, Bennett Cullum, Callier Cares Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele, Sara Martineau and Tricia George watched, they were amazed that despite the July weather, the campers were in overdrive laughing, teasing and just being kids.

As one counselor smiled looking at the campers running about, “They’ll sleep well tonight.”

For more photos of the Callier Camp, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Attorneys Serving The Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon Scored A Summer Hit With Junior Players And “Hamilton”‘s Christopher Jackson

Inside the Hilton Anatole’s Carpenter Ballroom, organizers and VIP guests were starting to arrive before 11 a.m. on Friday, June 23. Even the most “been-there, done-that” boldfacer had a look of anticipation. In an adjacent room, fewer than a handful of chairs were set up for an interview with the keynote speaker for the Attorneys Serving the Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon benefiting Junior Players.

KERA reporter Hady Mawajdeh had all his equipment set up as Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award-winning Christopher Jackson arrived. It was obvious from his height and demeanor why he had scored a Tony nomination for his portrayal of George Washington in “Hamilton.” As Chris settled back in the chair, he proved even more so with his articulate responses to Hady’s questions. Highlights included:

Christopher Jackson and Hady Mawajdeh

  • Junior Players — “They (children) have the distinct perspective of seeing the world as it should be perhaps and as is. Who better to hold up that mirror than the children, especially organizations like the Junior Players, where you’ve got kids from all over the economic spectrum and who are learning what it means to communicate with and express themselves? It’s an organization that can provide a palette for that. There is no higher pursuit in our society than giving kids the opportunity to experience something like that.”
  • The first role —“I grew up with middle-child syndrome. So, acting was pretty much my only way to garner any kind of attention in the house… I participated in every Sunday service every week. So getting up in front of people was never really something I had a hard time with. Pretty much I was the ham. [Laughter]”
  • Career — “A career in the arts is not for everyone. But I would say that 90% of what I get to do is to have fun with my friends. Who doesn’t want to do that for a living? But the same could be said about someone who works in social sciences or teachers or engineers or astronomers. Once you find that passion and a way to it, that’s it right there… For me, it’s as much the pursuit of what I don’t know as it is seeing the finished product on the show or in the song.”
  • Hip Hop — “Hip Hop rap is probably the best form of modern-day storytelling and maybe the latest great, pure American art form… But it depends on what part of the country you come from. Hip hop is very regionalized and that happened very, very quickly toward the end of the ’90s, where every market, every group wanted to have their own sound and created their own sound. The same could be said for rock; the same could be said for gospel music. It’s a testament to how big our country is. And it’s a testament to the different kinds of cultures within our society and there’s room for all of that.”
  • Hamilton — “You’d be amazed how many people have come up to me said, ‘I’m a little nervous about the rap.’ But it’s much like Shakespeare. If you’ve ever seen a Shakespeare play, the first five minutes you have no idea of what’s going on. You don’t know what anybody is saying. You’re not accustomed to people speaking in iambic pentameter. And yet in that first five minutes your ear gets attuned to it and off you go.”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda — “Lin has been regarded as a modern-day Shakespeare in the way he uses verse to communicate the story and I honestly believe that it certainly descends from that.”
  • Sesame Street — “The idea of writing for ‘Sesame Street’ was a dream come true.”

Peter Altabef, Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Christopher Jackson, Jennifer Altabef, Rosaura Cruz Webb and Beth Bedell

Christopher Jackson and Kathleen LaValle

Michael Holmes, Sophia Holmes and Cathleen Holmes

With that the interview ended at 11:10 a.m., as one of the organizers said, “He’s got a long line out there.” They were speaking of the people lined up along the Carpenter Ballroom wall for the meet-and-greet. Without hesitation, Chris posed for a photo with Hady and headed straight to the sponsor backdrop. Chris accommodated one and all including Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Honorary Co-Chairs Jennifer and Peter Altabef, Junior Players Executive Director Rosaura Cruz Webb, and Kathleen LaValle with autographs, cellphone snaps and chats. Ten-year-old Sophia Holmes’ twin sister, Addison Holmes, couldn’t attend, but Sophia had brought along a “Hamilton” book for Chris to sign. After seeing, “Hamilton” in NYC, Sophia fessed up that Chris’ George Washington was her favorite character.

At 11:30 the doors to the Grand Ballroom opened for nearly 1,000 guests including Ellen Magnis, Joanna Clark, Angie Kadesky. Shelly Slater arrived to be prepped for the onstage chat. Had she met him? No, but she had seen him on YouTube.

The Junior Players arrived and approached the production platform rapping, “Hamilton.”

Jeremy Coca in vest surrounded by Junior Players

, who had been in the first Junior Players musical production three years before when he was attending Booker T. Washington, reported that he had seen Chris in “The Heights.”

Rosaura Cruz-Webb told how the night before, when they were setting up for the luncheon, Chris had come down from his room and chatted and charmed them all.

As the guests started to take their seats, Junior Players one at a time popped up throughout the room performing. Seamlessly, they grabbed everyone’s attention that the program was underway. Chris watched with a smile of admiration at the young performers pulling off a perfect launch for the day’s affair.

At 12:06 Shelly welcomed the group and introduced Kara, who was joined by Beth in presenting the ASC Friend of the Community Award to the Hilton Anatole Senior Catering Sales Manager Catherine New, who has orchestrated many of the area’s major fundraisers.

Beth Bedell, Catherine New and Kara Altenbaumer-Price

Following Rosaura’s telling how Junior Players had turned around her life as a young person, a video was shown with the audio ramped up and the house lights so dim that one guest had to use her cellphone flashlight to find her way out of the ballroom.

Lisette Sandoval

As the video ended, a young woman who had been seated at the far end of the head table took her place at the podium. Her name was Lisette Sandoval and she told how it hadn’t been that long ago that she had felt her destiny was to get pregnant by 15 and drop out of school. Instead her brother directed her to Junior Players, where her life took a different road. Lisette admitted that at one point suicide had been an option. What dashed that thought was news that she had been picked for the cast of “Taming of the Shrew.” She is now going to college on a scholarship.

Lisette was followed by Honorary Co-Chair Peter Altabef and a video of Renee Elise Goldsberry, who had originally been slated to be the keynote speaker. When she had to pull out due to scheduling, Renee arranged for Chris to sub in.

Chris started off by admitting, “Good afternoon, my name is Christopher Jackson and I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. I don’t know any lawyer jokes. None of that would surprise or astound you…. I am an artist. A profession that is historically a few rungs lower than a garbage collector, but if all the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players, I beg your patience and indulgence today. I want to sincerely thank ASC for having me here today. Thank you very much. The fact that I have been sweating since I sat down here might be an indication that I am more than a little intimidated being in a room full of people who are clearly smarter than I am.”

Using his own journey from his childhood in Cairo, Illinois, he told of the turning point in his childhood when a teacher handed him a text from “The Crucible,” and invited him to join the speech team. “I don’t what it was that made me said yes, except that perhaps I was so desperate to distinguish myself in some way or the other. I quickly realized that this acting thing was different. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t concerned with what didn’t work. I wasn’t consumed with what I didn’t have. I began to see the world from a character’s perspective and that helped me to develop my own perspective. It was terrifying and exhilarating and it changed my life forever.”

At the age of 17, he moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. In 1997, he was hired to be the understudy for Simba in “The Lion King,” just an hour before the first rehearsal.   

He claimed that if it hadn’t been for that “key”—when he received “The Crucible”—he’d probably be selling caskets in Cairo. Chris was serious. “True story. My family owns a funeral home.”

Chris then praised and encouraged support for the Junior Players for their 55 years of providing a key for thousands and thousands of children “to emerge from utter darkness and seeing an entire galaxy.”

Christopher Jackson

Leaving the podium, he was joined in chairs on stage with Shelly to discuss

  • Getting the role of George Washington — “Lin allowed his imagination to run wild and he saw these characters (in “Hamilton”) in a different way. Lin is one of my best friends in the whole world. I knew very early on that he was on to something because I thought he was crazy. The story is that we were doing a performance of ‘In the Heights,’ and during one of the numbers… he had just come back from vacation and he kinda looked over at me and said, ‘Got the next thing.’ Okay, great! I said, ‘What is it?’ (He said,) ‘It’s about the treasury secretary.’ A few days later, our director Tommy Kail approached me and said, G-dubs!’ I asked, ‘What does that mean?’ ‘George Washington… GW’ I thought, ‘Oh, great! We have shorthand. What does that mean?’ He said I was going to be George Washington. I said, ‘Great! I don’t know anything about George Washington. ‘
  • “Hamilton”’s first preview — “’Hamilton literally began at the White House. Lin was asked to perform a song about the American experience at the Evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word. This was in 2009 and he didn’t want to do something from ‘In the Heights.” He was just getting an idea of what ‘Hamilton’ was going to be, so he wrote what would become our opening number and he performed it. Everybody including President Obama looked at him like, ‘What is wrong with him?’”
  • Bro-hug with the President — It was years later when the cast of “Hamilton” was invited to perform at the White House that following the performance, President Obama gave Christopher a “bro hug.” As Christopher recalled, “Moments like that aren’t supposed to happen to a young boy from Cairo. My grandmother, who marched and was a union organizer and civil rights organizer and a black entrepreneur when it was definitely hard to be that in the South, raised me to understand that nothing was impossible… Always be aware of limitations so you can know how to get past them. She raised me to that moment, but she didn’t dream that moment for me.”
  • As a parent — “I’m really at the point where I’m trying to get my kids to pick their shoes up. I’m trying to get them to handle some light chores. I mean, I don’t want them to live like ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ but they can take the trash once in a while and wash their hair. My kids are Neanderthals. I can’t show them how to feel…but I can show them about justice. And I can teach them about inequality and equality. And I can teach them about respect — all the things that I was given and we were all given when it comes to just wake up in the morning, put your shoes, look people in the eye, be honest, look out for someone who has less than you, take up for the kid who is being bullied, stand up for the weaker one of us. It is all of those principles that I was given and try to live by….”

While summer heat may shoo locals to cooler places, the ASC’s 31st Annual luncheon made staying in North Texas seem like the coolest place in the world, thanks to Chris and the Junior Players.

Dallas Zoo Residents Are Ready For A Herd Of Visitors For Thursday’s Dollar Day! Special

The Dallas Zoo folks snuck up on a lot of folks. Instead of waiting until August scorches the area, they’re holding the infamous Dollar Day! this Thursday. That’s a $14 saving for adults and a $11 saving for youths and seniors.

Not only is admission going to be a dollar, but the following will be available for a buck each:

  • selected snack items (canned drinks, water, hot dogs and chips)
  • nectar to feed the lorikeets
  • bird food at the Travis and Zach’s Birds Landing

Giraffe (File photo)

And if you want to splurge and look like a big spender, here are some other bargains for this one-day-only special:

  • $2 T-Rex Express mini-train
  • $5 Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail
  • $5 giraffe feedings (and, yes, the giraffes do have long black tongues)

Since parking is going to be $8 and traffic is expected to be limited, try out the DART Red Line.

Hippopotamus (File photo)

BTW, prepare yourself for the Simmons Hippo Outpost. These two are more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

BTW, don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses and cameras.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: 2017 Parade Of Playhouses

According to Dallas CASA Board Chair John Gibson,

John Gibson*

Looking for a cool way to run off some of your children’s energy while also helping a good cause? Grab your kids and head to Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses July 7 through 23 at NorthPark Center.

With 14 perfectly pint-sized playhouses decorating the halls of NorthPark, Parade of Playhouses is the perfect way to let your kids’ imaginations go wild while also learning about children in our community who need help.

For 22 years, NorthPark Center has played host to the playhouses, which are donated by local builders, designers and corporations and available to win through raffle at the end of the 17-day event. What child doesn’t want to imagine his or her own miniature house? This year’s designs include a house in the image of an owl, an activity house with a climbing wall and even a house shaped like a cuckoo clock. House designers and builders pour skill, creativity and love into these unusual creations.

The event benefits Dallas CASA, a nonprofit that provides volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children navigating the child welfare system. Walking the corridors and viewing the playhouses is a great way to start a conversation with your own kids about those in our community who are less fortunate. Children in the child welfare system don’t dare dream of a playhouse with all the bells and whistles. They dream of safe and permanent homes where they are loved.

2017 Parade of Playhouses*

Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses is open until Sunday, July 23, during NorthPark’s hours. Viewing the playhouses is free and raffle tickets to win a playhouses are available for $5 each or five for $20.

All proceeds from the raffle ticket sales help Dallas CASA provide more children with advocates to serve them. For Dallas CASA, Parade of Playhouses has also become a key recruiting and community awareness event. Tables throughout NorthPark are staffed with volunteer advocates and other supporters who can tell you about becoming a volunteer advocate for abused children.

In fact, Parade of Playhouses might be the beginning of something for you to do after summer, too. A training class for volunteer advocates begins Sept. 6, right after the kids go back to school. The first step to becoming a volunteer advocate is attending an information session.

Maybe it’s your turn to dream not about a tiny house but about helping make the world a better place one child at a time.

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA

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

22nd Annual Parade Of Playhouses Is Polished Up And Rocking At NorthPark Center For Dallas CASA

Craig Beneke

It was just a couple of weeks ago in June that af architecture and fabrication’s Craig Beneke got a shout out from one of his 21-year-old twin daughters. It wasn’t for a new car. It wasn’t for a loan. It was for a house. No, not a 2,000-square-foot bungalow in the M Street hood. It was for a playhouse. She wasn’t reverting back to her childhood. Rather, she was hoping that her dad could provide a playhouse for Dallas CASA’s 22nd Annual Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark.

It seems one of the originally signed-up builders had bailed, and there was a need to fill a spot for the annual Dallas CASA fundraiser that would run from Saturday, July 8 through Sunday, July 23.

Playhouse Rock cowbell on a construction work belt

Playhouse Rock sound tubes

Playhouse Rock floor

Not only did Papa Craig answer the call-to-deliver, but he literally hit the nail on the head.  His Playhouse Rock was a musical marvel that would please anyone from Jaap to Jay-Z with a mini-xylophone built into the floor complete with mallets for playing and an assortment of others goodies — rain stick, triangle, sound tubes, etc. There were personal touches, too. For instance, the front door’s cowbell is suspended by his construction work belt.

But being a perfectionist, Craig was eyeballing the hand prints left from the move-in on Thursday, July 6. He was going to do some touch-up, so his Playhouse Rock would be perfect.

Whimsical Cottage

A few playhouses away, Doug Beaty of Beach Sheet Metal was sharing Craig’s dilemma about prints. It seems that the Whimsical Cottage’s copper roof was a fingerprint magnet. Last year, he arrived daily to polish the roof, so it was spotless. He expected to do the same this year. When someone offered to post a sign dissuading people from touching, he scoffed at the idea. He relished the idea that little ones and their parents couldn’t resist touching the shiny roof.   

Cuckoohaus

Paw Rescue

The White Owl’s Den

But those are just two of the 11 playhouses on display. Some have rock walls; some are so cozy; some have interior lighting; some are open and breezy. But they all will be raffled off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 23, in NorthPark’s North Court to support Dallas CASA’s mission “to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children, helping these children gain safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.” If you’re unable to check out the houses, you can still buy your raffle ticket here. They’re going for $5 each or five for $20.

Also, the builders are all vying to claim the title of “Favorite Playhouse.” You can vote by texting dallascasa to 41444. BTW, each vote costs $5.

Check out the Parade of Playhouses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Museum Of Art

According to Dallas Museum of Art Director of Communications and Public Affairs Interim Director of Marketing Jill Bernstein,

Do you want to stay cool and cultured this summer? Then head to the Dallas Museum of Art at 1717 N. Harwood Street in the Dallas Arts District where you and the kiddos can discover 5,000 years of human creativity without getting a sunburn!

Dallas Museum of Art*

Since Tuesday, June 13, there’s been a new experience each day (well except Monday, because we are closed)! Make family connections and memories with works of art as you enjoy story time, guided tours, and drop-in art making. The best part of all, it’s free and fun for all ages from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.!  Art will come alive through hands on gallery activities, workshops, and so much more.

You can even explore the Museum at your own pace with the DMA app. Use the interactive map to locate specific works of art and dive in with themed tours!

Dallas Museum of Art*

This summer, travel around the globe without burning a hole in your pocket at the Dallas Museum of Art. Special exhibitions do require a ticket, unless you’re 11 and under, then those are free as well!

For more information visit www.DMA.org/summer-family-fun. 

* Photos provided by Dallas Museum of Art

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Zoo

According to Dallas Zoo intern Lauren Lombardo*,

The dog days of summer may be here, but the Dallas Zoo knows just how to get families off the couch with a wild outdoor adventure. We’re debuting new exhibits and more than 2,000 animals that are sure to please the whole family. So pack a cooler and join us from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily!

Simmons Hippo Outpost*

Our new Simmons Hippo Outpost features a 24-foot by 8-foot underwater viewing window that’ll bring guests eye-to-nostril with these majestic “river horses” as they swim around their African waterhole. The exhibit is the first major addition to the Dallas Zoo since Giants of the Savanna opened in 2010, and offers an elevated view of our hippos from the Wilds of Africa Safari monorail—trust us, you’re going to want to bring the camera. Catch a daily hippo keeper chat at 2:30 p.m., and you might just see these hefty herbivores munch on a head of lettuce.

You can also find more than 80 large scale photos throughout the Zoo as part of the National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition. These larger than life images are perfect for snapping selfies or striking a pose with your favorite animal. We’re one of only three zoos showcasing this incredible collection of photos by photographer Joel Sartore through Sept. 4.

If that’s not enough, we’re currently in the midst of an adorable baby boom! Little lion cub Bahati and giraffe calf Tsavo are making daily appearances in their habitats. You can see Bahati play with mom Lina and aunt Jasiri in the Wilds of Africa as well as hand feed giraffes at the Diane and Hal Brierley Giraffe Ridge.

Admission is free for children age 2 or under and Zoo Members, $12 for children age 3-11 and seniors over age 64, and $15 for adults age 12-64.

* Much to the disppointment of the staff, Friday was Lauren’s last day at the Zoo 
** Photo provided by the Dallas Zoo

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Klyde Warren Park

Tara Green*

According to Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green,

For the past four years, Dallas’ favorite greenspace, Klyde Warren Park, has provided more than 1,300 free programing and education activities for 1 million visitors each year and every summer the fun gets even bigger. Located in the heart of Dallas, directly between downtown and Uptown, Klyde Warren Park is the perfect place for a day of family fun. All activities at Klyde Warren Park are free thanks to our sponsors and private donations made to the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation.

In addition to the Children’s Park and several splash pads located throughout the park, here are a few activities that you and your family can take part in this summer:

 

  • Dallas Children’s Theater*

    Dallas Children’s Theater Activities (Every 3rdSaturday of the Month from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.) Ages: 4 and up — Bring your drama princess or prince to the Children’s Park for acting games and fun with the Dallas Children’s Theater. Children and their parents can learn acting techniques from Dallas Children’s Theater teachers and participate in mini-performances alongside other participants each session.

  • Kathryn’s Book Nook Summer Reading Club (First Sundays, July – August from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 3 – 10-years old — Hosted by local non-profit Kathryn’s Book Nook, Summer Reading Parties in the Children’s Park at Klyde Warren Park will make sure kids don’t fall into the all too familiar summer-reading slump. There will be read-alouds, games, crafts, giveaways, and performances. RSVPs are encouraged to ensure we have adequate supplies. RSVP by going tokathrynsbooknook.com.
  • Miss Kimberly*

    Music and Stories with Miss Kimberly (Every Tuesday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 0 – 4 years old — Bring the kiddos to a storytelling session in the park every Tuesday! Read along with Miss Kimberly as she features cute stories and fun tunes for little ones. Bubbles, parachutes and games round out this fun and engaging storytime. 

  • Imagination Playground (Every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: Open to all ages —

    Imagination Playground*

    Play, create and let your kids’ imaginations soar at our Imagination Playground! Bring the kids to the park where they can build a new world every time they play using the larger-than-life Imagination Playground blocks. 

  • Family Art Activities with the Nasher Sculpture Museum (Every 4thSunday of the Month from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Ages: 3 and up — Experts from the Nasher Sculpture Center will offer family-friendly activities in the Dallas Morning News Reading and Games Room. Learn painting, sculpting and other unique art techniques during this free, interactive demo. Families are encouraged to make a whole day out of it and visit the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center after playing artist for the afternoon.
* Photos provided by Klyde Warren Park

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.

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Heritage Village

Melissa Prycer*

According to Dallas Heritage Village President and Executive Director Melissa Prycer,

If you have never visited Dallas Heritage Village, Old Fashioned Fourth is a perfect occasion to pack a picnic lunch and bring the family! In fact, for many North Texas families, this annual event has become a tradition. Not only can you enjoy all of the fun fourth activities, the Village’s historic buildings will be open for touring, and costumed interpreters will be on hand to visit about what life in North Texas from 1840 to 1910.  Dallas Heritage Village, one of only five nationally accredited museums in the Dallas area, showcases a Victorian Main Street, a railroad complex, a log cabin, a pre-Civil war home, an 1860’s farmstead with livestock, a 19th century church, schoolhouse and more. 

Dallas Heritage Village*

On this special holiday, families decked out in red, white, and blue, begin coming into the gates around 10 a.m. with picnic baskets, bikes, and little red wagons to spend the day making memories together. The event runs until 3 p.m. with the highlight being the patriotic parade at noon.

Dallas Heritage Village*

In this parade the kids are the stars! However, don’t tell our Mammoth Jack Donkeys that – each year they lead the parade and like to think it’s all about them. For many years Nip and Tuck have led the parade, but they have now relinquished that duty to the young newcomers – brothers Willie and Waylon. Nip and Tuck are OK with that, but they hope you will stop by and take your patriotic pictures with them so they won’t feel left out!  And don’t forget to say hi to the sheep. They tend to get their feelings hurt with all the fuss over those donkeys.

Dallas Heritage Village*

Before marching in the parade, come by the craft station and decorate your bikes, wagons, and even yourself with patriotic items we will provide at no cost. Our Dallas Junior Historians will be hosting the annual carnival again this year, and we encourage you to bring a little extra change to participate – 25 cents for each game or 5 games for a dollar. Games include our famous stick pony race for ages 3-11, “go fishing” for prizes, and bean bag toss. And it wouldn’t be Old Fashioned Fourth without checkers games (stations will be set up to play), horseshoes and graces, as well as a July 4th craft – painting fireworks with cardboard tubes and making Uncle Sam with Popsicle sticks! This year’s guests will also be able to get sneak peek at our exciting new early childhood learning space, which will have a grand opening in September.

Dallas Heritage Village*

Dallas Heritage Village is located in the heart of the booming Cedars area at 1515 S. Harwood, Dallas, 75215, near urban living and restaurants and the popular Dallas Farmer’s Market complex. Admission for Old Fashioned Fourth is $5 for ages 13 and older. Those 12 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.  Visit dallasheritagevillage.org or call 214.421.5141 for more information! We look forward to seeing you soon!

* Photo provided by Dallas Heritage Village

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: Dallas Arboretum And Botanical Garden

According to Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden Board Chair Mark Wolf,

If the children ask you again, “What are we doing today?,” tell them that you’re going to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden located at 8525 Garland Rd., Dallas, Texas, 75218. It’s open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some nights are open even later including Wednesdays until 8 p.m. No reservations are needed, and there’s plenty to do, every day of the week. You can pack a picnic, blankets, strollers and wagons, and the children will thank you for showing them one of the top “15 Breathtaking Botanical Gardens in the World,” according to Architectural Digest. 

Picture perfection at the Dallas Arboretum (File photo)

Here are highlights, and more information is listed below.

  • ZimSculpt
  • Arboretum After Hours
  • Family Fun Fridays
  • Summer Wine Sampling Weekends (for those 21 and over)
  • Live Music Every Weekend
  • Summer Camps
  • Father’s Day Weekend
  • African Music Fest
  • Red, White and The Blues on July Fourth Weekend
  • Garden Gigs Concerts in July
  • Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden
  • August Dollar Days

Tickets range from $10 and $15 per person, and certain days have discounts (see below). Be sure to check the website, www.dallasarboretum.org and social media for the latest details. See you in the garden!

Cojoined, Victor Matafi*

ZimSculpt: Now thru July 31 — For the first time ever in the southern U.S., the Dallas Arboretum presents the international blockbuster exhibition ZimSculpt, a world-renowned display of modern Zimbabwean stone sculptures.  More than 100,000 guests have visited ZimSculpt, featuring live sculpting demonstrations daily by Zimbabwean sculptors and artists-in-residence, Aron Kapembeza and Passmore Mupindiko. Known as Shona sculpture, these contemporary pieces are carved from various types of serpentine and semi-precious stone, often weighing tons, and can be as large as seven feet tall. This sculpture is the most collected form of African art that can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Rodin Museum and in the homes of the Prince of Wales, the Rockefellers, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover and the late Michael Jackson.

Arboretum After Hours On Wednesdays: Now through October 25 — Bring a picnic, and dine al fresco in one of the prettiest places in Dallas. Every Wednesday, the garden extends its hours to 8 p.m. for families and friends to enjoy a night out. Tickets are buy one, get one free (general admission, only valid at the ticket booth.) 

Family Fun Fridays (Now through – July 28, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Bring the family to the Pecan Grove for a critter-filled petting zoo, incredibly artistic face painting and lively music, every Friday through the end of July.

Summer Wine Sampling Weekends (Saturdays 11a.m.-3 p.m. and Sundays noon-3 p.m., Café on the Green) — New for the summer! Join us for wine samplings. For $10, those 21 years old and older can taste three samples of a specific varietal, with the featured varietal changing frequently. Price does not include garden admission.

Live Music Every Weekend (Saturdays and Sundays, 11a.m.-2 p.m., throughout the garden) — Enjoy different live performances tucked away in various locations through the garden every weekend this summer.

Summer Camps at the Arboretum: Varies weeks — These camps provide children ages 4 years to entering 7th grade with hands-on explorations in nature, science and art to spark imagination and inspire environmental stewardship. Register online.

Red, White & the Blues–July Fourth Weekend: July 1-4  (July 1-4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Pack a picnic, bring the family and celebrate Independence Day. Various blues bands will perform throughout the weekend to provide a cool, relaxing backdrop.

  • July 1: Linny Nance Network
  • July 2: Buddy Whittington Band
  • July 3: Linny Nance Network
  • July 4: Rob Holbert Group

Garden Gigs: July 14-28 — Friday evenings, 7:30-9:30 p.m. — Discover hidden gems-music by local musicians, adventurous choices from food trucks and off-the-beaten path spots in the garden. Admission $10 (non-members), $8 (members) and includes free parking.

  • July 14: Jonathan FoxZach CoffeyBecky Middelton
  • July 21: David TribbleJohn Lefler and CamilleMicah Peacock
  • July 28: Kate Minor, Shayne Green, TBD

Music Performances: Varies

  • Performance by Bandan Koro (July 22, 10 a.m.) — Move to the beat of African drum and dance ensemble on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn.
  • Performance by Kupira Marimba (July 22, noon) — Listen to high-energy, family friendly music from Kupira Marimba on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn.
  • Performance by Zimbabwe Choir, Lover’s Lane United Methodist Church (July 22, 2-3:30 p.m.) — Enjoy the inspiring voices of the Lover’s Lane United Methodist Church Zimbabwe Choir located at the DeGolyer Pergola.
  • Performance by Bandan Koro (July 23, 11 a.m.) — Move to the beat of African drum and dance ensemble on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn.

Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden Activities: All Summer — This eight-acre children’s garden is where science and learning become one. Each learning area teaches science in a fun and interactive way. Try out your experimenting skills in the lab, and learn the parts of a flower in Plants Are Alive, where everything is larger than life. See below for select activities during special days/weekends in the garden.

Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden’s plaza (File photo)

  • Mask Making with the DMA (June 24-25, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Create a mask with the Dallas Museum of Art’s Teen Advisory Council.
  • Craft Corner: The Stars and Stripes (July 1-4, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Entry Plaza) — Stop by the Craft Corner table and create a fun, patriotic craft using the colors of the American flag.
  • Click here for a full list of summer programs for the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden.
  • A Study of Zimbabwe (Horti)Culture (July 15-16, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) — Come and go workshop.

August Dollar Days: August 1-31 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) — Round up the whole family and come to the Arboretum for $1 main garden admission per person for the month of August.

Discounts: BOGO Wednesdays, which are buy one get one free general admission and include Nature Nights, are available at ticket booth, with a limit of one purchase per person. Senior Thursdays offer discounted admission of $11 for seniors 65 and older and a 20 percent discount in the Hoffman Family Gift Store.

* Photo provided by Dallas Arboretum

MySweetCharity To Launch Mini-Series — “Summer Pitch”

MySweetCharity

North Texas is now at “that point in the summer.” The kids have seen all the movies including the losers. The good old swimming hole is starting to look like it could boil lobster. Summer camp is either in the rear view mirror or still a couple of weeks away.

What’s left for the summer of 2017? Lots!

Thanks to North Texas nonprofits, there are still loads of gotta-dos available. Some are obvious and well known; others are off the traditional radar. But they’re all family oriented and the results of North Texan generosity.

In the days ahead, MySweetCharity is going to run a brief series — MSC Summer Pitch — for these organizations to describe their things-to-do for your consideration.

Why not give ‘em a try and don’t forget to take photos.  

Under A Bright Sun, The Star Shone With Great Taste, Cowboys, Chefs And North Texas Food Bank Fans

After the ups and downs of weather days combining cashmere shawls with Daisy Dukes, Sunday, May 7, was bright, shiny and in the 80s. It was especially shiny at the Dallas Cowboys’ Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, where the North Texas Food Bank’s fundraiser, Taste of the Cowboys, was preparing for 1,000 guests. Presenting sponsor for the event was Caliber Collision.

There had been changes from the past. It was no longer called Taste of the NFL. It was no longer at AT&T Stadium. It was no longer led by he-who-used-to-be-known-as Kent Rathbun, although there was a chap non-cooking on the premises with his family (wife/restaurateur Tracy Rathbun, son Max Rathbun and daughter Garrett Rathbun).

Garrett Rathbun,, Max Rathbun and Kent and Tracy Rathbun

While the Star’s mini-Jerry World is still a project in progress, there was some confusion about where to park and check in. VIPs like Susan and John Farris, Larry James of  CitySquare, current Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick, and former Cowboys star Preston Pearson were to enter for a 5 p.m. start, but evidently some general-admission early birds nestled in a line before their 6 p.m. official get in.

John and Susan Farris

Preston Pearson and Larry James

As signage directed all to general parking a block or so away, smart VIP-ers headed around the corner to the valet check-in. Once on foot, though, the confusion continued. Folks lined up 10 deep to check in, only to finally learn: “Oh, you’re supposed to go outside and the lady there will direct you.” Alas, there was no woman there, so humbled VIP-ers wandered down the walkway like children lost at the State Fair. Soon they discovered an outdoor mini-stadium field surrounded by food stations and topped with a stage with bands performing (the headliner set for 8:30 p.m. was to be Reckless Kelly).

Taste of the Cowboys stage

The good news was that, despite the lack of signage directions, the in-the-flesh NTFB staffers were more than willing to help get things straightened out.

Once inside the air-conditioned lobby between the indoor and outdoor playing fields, there were a Mirmir Photo Booth, a Kendra Scott set-up, and a number of silent auction items.

Dunia Borgia

Aaron Hardwick and Tina Um

Chris Memme

Outside, there sure wasn’t any A/C. But there were a heck of a lot of local chefs cooking up a storm. Dunia Borgia of La Duni Baking Studio had replaced her frozen treats (at last year’s event) with sweet empanadas; Tina Um and Aaron Hardwick were showing off their General Tsao’s Chicken from Howard Wang’s China Grill; and BIRD Bakery proprietor Elizabeth Chambers Hammer, famed for her cookies, cupcakes, and mini-cupcakes, was enjoying the afternoon with Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch. Other eateries represented included Mi Cocina, Seasons 52, Off the Bone Barbeque, and The Common Table. 

Jamie Poper, Jill Bailey, Taylor Wencis and Ben Austin

Blythe Beck

Craig Walter

Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Taste Of The Cowboys

With the sun shining bright overhead, The Star was filled to the brim with food and football lovers like former Dallas Cowboy Preston Pearson and current Dallas Cowboy Travis Frederick on Sunday, May 7 for the Taste Of The Cowboys benefiting the North Texas Food Bank.

Preston Pearson and Larry James

Travis Frederick

While the stations surrounding the field served up everything from from Chef Chris Memme‘s tuna tostadas to Dunia Borgia‘s empanadas, Reckless Kelly was on stage.

Chris Memme

Dunia Borgia

The post is almost complete. But the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery is already served up!

Canine Companions For Independence Graduation At Kinkeade Campus Changed Lives For Both Humans And Their New BFF

Linda and Terrence Marler

May is filled with graduations and that applies to pooches as well as youngsters. On Friday, May 5, Canine Companions for Independence held a graduation ceremony at its Canine Companions for Independence Kinkeade Campus at the Baylor Scott and White Health facilities in Irving. It was overflowing with humans like Jan Rees-Jones with Susan McSherry, Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy Coordinator Linda Marler and her husband Terrence Marler as well as four-legged types.

Before the graduation took place, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade, who had been the driving force for Texas’ only CCI, teased new Baylor Scott and White CEO Jim Hinton, who had just recently arrived in North Texas from New Mexico: “When Jim first got here, he asked me what are those green objects. I told him, ‘Jim, I know you’re from New Mexico, but those are trees. We have a lot of those here.’ ”

Jim and Kristen Hinton and Ed Kinkeade

Following Ed, Jim told the crowd, “I love my wife first, I love my dogs second and I love my kids third and I’m completely unapologetic about that.”

Despite the Hinton dogs still living for the time being in New Mexico, Jim confessed that he does Facetime with them. “The good news is that they recognize my voice and I’m still a little bit of a wag. I miss those dogs terribly. To me this effort is a convergence of two things that I am passionate about: one is dogs and the other one is healthcare, taking care of people. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Judge Ed Kinkeade. It is his vision; it is his passion; it is his unique way that has caused this to exist.”

Jim recalled his attending the previous graduation and “I asked the question that all first-time guests ask, ‘Why are all these Kleenex boxes sitting around?’ And so for the past several months, I’ve been building up this moment with my wife [Kristen] and she is with me today. I’ve noticed that she’s already getting a little teary and we haven’t even started the darn program yet. So, she’s going to be a mess before this thing is over. ”

Luckily, there were boxes of tissues placed throughout the room. Sure, it was Cinco de Mayo to the rest of the world, but it was a parting of relationships for some in the room and for others it was the coming together for a lifelong journey.

Canine Companion for Independence puppy in training

Canine Companion for Independence puppy graduate Dutch II

One group consisted of young Labradors that for two years had been raised through the “awkward years,” thanks to volunteer puppy raisers. These dogs had been loved, hugged and been exposed to the world. Now, they were leaving the comfort of their homes and stepping up to a new level of education that would take place at the facility for months by skilled trainers. Their goal was to become the “companions” for those in need.  

Judy Schumpert and #18

A word about the puppy raisers; they range from all types. Some are families; some are prisoners; and then there was Judy Schumpert, who was turning in her 18th dog and already training her 19th : “I’m either on a mission for God or a glutton for punishment. I’ve got to keep doing it until I can do it no more.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone living, loving and working with a puppy for two years and then giving them up. New puppy raisers Mary Catherine Lombardi and Erica Hotvedt admitted, “When we got started, I think we knew what we were getting into. But I think the final goodbyes are harder than we expected.”  They recognized that their puppy Yoshi III, however, was destined for a truly remarkable role.

That purpose became so apparent when the graduation of the new teams took place. For the past two weeks, the seven humans had arrived and lived at the facility to be matched and trained with their new best friends.

Edgar

Chosen as class spokesperson for the graduating teams, Edgar, with Chase V at his side, eloquently told of the importance of this program for the graduating humans. One was an autistic child, whose outbursts would “calm down immediately” when her pooch, Tess VI, “came to the rescue.” Thomas, whose weakened motor skills caused by cerebral palsy resulted in his dropping things to the floor, had been helped by  Atlas IV retrieving them for him. Wheel-chair-bound youngster Lauren‘s arm was subject to bouts of spasticity and limited control, but when Egan II lay down at her side, it was still and under control. Edgar himself admitted that there were times when he would fall out of his wheelchair and Chase’s bark command would sound the alert for assistance. Thanks to Dutch II, wheelchair-bound Lauren was looking forward to getting out on her own and not being “a burden on my parents.” Sara, who works with first responders in dealing with PTSD, would be assisted in the future by Aiken II, who would be “the non-judging entity in the room that helps the patients relax.” 

From the left: (seated) CCI graduate team Lauren and Egan; (standing) Puppy raisers Andrew, Ella, Mark, Angela and Lauren’s mother

Edgar continued, “These stories are a mere excerpt of what has happened in the past 10 days. Can you imagine what is going to happen in the next 10 years? All of us graduates would like to say thank you for being here today, whether you’re a donor, a puppy raiser, a volunteer. Even if this is your first time with Canine Companions, that’s how it starts. That how you get the ball rolling.”

Summing up the two weeks of team training, he addressed his fellow graduates: “We arrived as seven families, but today we graduate as one. And here we stand on the brink of a 10-year-journey. It won’t always be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. All the troubles that we deal with daily will soon be alleviated by an incredible new resource, my new best friend that is unconditionally at our side just waiting to help anyway they can. Thank you.”

As the new teams headed home for a new life of independence, the new recruits were taken to their CCI spotless digs for the next step in their education to be a life-changing partner for someone in need.   

Lauren and her mother

And that’s why the boxes of Kleenex were throughout the hall.

JUST IN: Annual Downtown Holiday Parade Is Looking For A New Host

UPDATE: The Adolphus Hotel that was one of the original sponsors of the mega-holiday festivities has signed up for the 2017 parade. Don’t you just know that Santa will have plush digs the night before.

The annual parade that marches through downtown Dallas in early December has had some “adjustments.” In recent year’s Children’s Health has hosted the parade. Out of the past five years, it’s had to be canceled twice (2013 and 2016) due to inclement weather. Describing it as “inclement” is like saying the summer is North Texas is warmish.

Children’s Health Holiday Parade (File photo)

It was just announced that Children’s Health would not be the official host of the event. According to Children’s Health spokesperson Scott Summerall, “After hosting the parade for nearly three decades, we have decided to move forward with other new and meaningful ways to bring cheer to families in our community this holiday season. We are considering ways to celebrate and honor the parade’s history in its 30th year, but are still ironing out details of a potential event. We will continue hosting the other treasured holiday events across our system, including the annual Holiday Tree Lighting at our Dallas and Plano campuses, Breakfast with Santa with the Women’s Auxiliary, and our Holiday Patient Party for families in the hospital. These events are beloved by our patients, families and team members, and are an important component of fulfilling our mission to make life better for children.”

But don’t go thinking that the parade is a goner. According to a report on WFAA at noon, THE Dance Director Jeffrey Giles and former Parade Director Cassie Collins “have filed a permit with the City of Dallas to host the parade, and will be reaching out to sponsors soon.”

BTW, over the years the parade has had such corporations as Southwest Airlines, Neiman Marcus and the Adolphus Hotel provide major support.

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

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

Parade Of Playhouses*

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

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

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

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

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

Jim Thompson (File photo)

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

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

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

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA