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.

JUST IN: Multi-Award Winner Jennifer Hudson To Headline CitySquare’s 2017 A Night To Remember On September 9 At The Winspear

Leave it to the CitySquare fundraisers. They always manage to come up with a performer who guarantees a sell-out. Last year’s Jerry Seinfeld was nearly a done deal before the ink on the contract was dry. Others who have been filled the Winspear Opera House for CitySquare have been Gladys Knight, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, Clint Black, Steve Martin, Kirk Franklin, Jay Leno, Lyle Lovett, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Hall and Oates.

Jennifer Hudson (File photo)

And the stellar talent roll-call keeps coming in, with the reveal that the headliner for A Night To Remember 2017 will be all-around winner (Academy Award, Grammy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award) Jennifer Hudson.

Her voice is incredible and her presence on stage is memorable.

Co-chairing the event for the Saturday, September 9th fundraiser will be Wendy and Boyd Messmann,Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins and Brandon Hawkins and Sherel Riley.

Tickets and sponsorships are available now. Proceeds from the event will support CitySquare’s “17 social service programs that address hunger, health, housing and hope with more than 50,000 human touches annually.”

So, while you’re chilling on your vacation, make plans now for a cool evening with Jennifer. Keep your fingers crossed that she might sing “Hallelujah.”

The Stewpot Alliance Crowd Gathers At Margie And Ray Francis’ Home For Soup’s On! Check Presentation And To Hear About 2018 Lunch Move

Margie and Ray Francis*

On Thursday, April 27, Soup’s On! Luncheon Honorary Co-Chairs Margie and Ray Francis opened their home for guests like Hank and Barbara Schlachter, Stewpot Alliance board members Zac Evans and Kristine Schwope, Susan and Rob Dillard, Eric and Carla Moore and Carol Adams to hear about the past Stewpot Alliance fundraiser and the upcoming one.

Hank and Barbara Schlachter, Zac Evans and Susan and Rob Dillard*

It was such a perfect evening that folks enjoyed the terrace overlooking Turtle Creek.

Carla and Eric Moore and Carol Adams*

First on the agenda was the presentation of the check by Alliance President Julie Marshall and 2017 Luncheon Chair Heather Sauber to Stewpot Alliance Executive Director Rev. Dr. Bruce Buchanan in the amount of $230,000!

It was then time to reveal plans for next year’s luncheon. The 2018 co-chairs will be Mary and Mike Terry Family Foundation Executive Director Allison Salas and US Trust Philanthropic Relationship Manager Kelly Donohue.  

Kelly Donohue and Allison Salas*

The ladies announced that the fundraiser is shifting direction in locations for the Soup’s On! tenth anniversary. It will be held at The Statler on Monday, January 29.

Both gals have another special event in their future. They’re planning September weddings. Allison is marrying Christopher Fasy and Kelly is getting hitched to Grant Garlock.

In the meantime, why not check out Brad Oldham‘s and Christy Coltrin‘s Sculpture Wall at The Stewpot’s Encore Park. It’s free for the viewing.

* Photo credit: John 
Strange

The Family Place Opened Texas’ First Shelter For Male Victims Of Domestic Abuse

There’s a misconception that domestic abuse only victimizes women and children in a household. Not true. The thinking is that real men just don’t get abused. That’s not true. It’s often not reported because of the humiliation that a male victim has “not stood up for himself.”

The Family Place*

For more than 15 years, The Family Place has been working with such men on a limited basis, due to financial resources. They’ve had to resort to using hotels and apartments, and that has been costly and not the most satisfactory solution. Just last year they “provided shelter for 32 men and nonresidential services for 50 men.”

That’s why The Family Place team rolled up their sleeves and committed to creating a true facility for men and their children to seek protective shelter for healing and undertaking a better life. Their goal was to provide 21 beds and private rooms for men with children.

Construction got underway in 2016 and the house was opened this month. However, there was no grand opening due to the fact that its location must remain undisclosed.

These clients will have access to counseling, emergency relief services, case management, childcare, healthcare, legal aid, transitional housing and rental assistance.

Funding for the shelter was achieved through grants.

* Graphic courtesy of The Family Place

“Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts Shared Her 3Ds At The Sold-Out 2nd Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon

There were those who swore on their iPads that the Interfaith Family Services could not possibly top last year’s inaugural Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon with “Today Show’s” Hoda Kotb at the Dallas Country Club. But on Friday, March 31, the 2nd Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon returned to the DCC with “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts for another sold-out event and home run. Here’s a report from the field:

Anna Moss, Molly Thomas and Megan Filgo*

Interfaith Family Services held a successful and sold-out luncheon to fight family homelessness in Dallas. The 2nd Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon took place on Friday, March 31, at the Dallas Country Club with Megan Filgo, Anna Moss and Molly Thomas as the event co-chairs and Francie Moody-Dahlberg serving as the honorary chair. The luncheon was able to net $109,183.34 to help families and children escape the cycle of poverty.

Missy Leon, Francie Moody Dahlberg and Ashley Rupp*

Kimberly Williams and Whitney Tolliver*

The keynote speaker for the afternoon was Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Roberts took the podium after Whitney Tolliver, an Interfaith graduate who shared her testimonial. The entire room was teary-eyed as Tolliver told her story of becoming homeless with her 1-year-old son after she lost her home in the 2016 tornadoes, then lost her job the following month. On the day of the luncheon, Whitney was moving in to her own apartment, having graduated from Interfaith that week and ready to continue her journey towards self-sufficiency.

Robin Roberts*

As Roberts approached the stage, she thanked Whitney for her strength and courage to tell her story. She then began to lighten up the mood with words of encouragement. Roberts showed her humorous side when she opened her speech by sharing the 3 D’s she lives by: Discipline, Determination and “Da Lord.”

Roberts emphasized trusting God to lead you to the right path. She also spoke about how her initial dream of becoming a sports broadcaster took a detour and how she learned the importance of trusting her journey.

Roberts gave both a heartfelt and thought-provoking speech of the life lessons she continues to learn through her struggles with illness and adversity. When Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer, she remembered what her mother told her: “Make your mess your message.” Roberts carried that motto throughout her recovery and decided to publicly share her story in order to save others.

By calling attention to dreaming big but focusing small, Roberts was able to leave the audience with the key message “Everybody’s Got Something.”

Proceeds from the luncheon supported Interfaith’s Hope and Horizons Children’s Program as well as Interfaith’s Home and Hope Transitional Housing Program that provides housing and support services for nearly 100 families in crisis each year.

Sponsors included:

  • Give Families Hope ($15,000) — Katy and Kyle Miller, Robyn and Don Conlon and The Hegi Family
  • Give Families Hope For A Home ($10,000) — Anna and Ryan Moss, Benchmark Bank and Benchmark Title, Nancy Carter and The David B. Miller Family Foundation
  • Give Families Hope For A Hand Up ($7,500) — Kamela and Kenneth Aboussie and Mrs. Wilson Johnson
  • Give Families Hope For Stability ($5,000) — Lincoln Property Company, Melinda and Jim Johnson, Nancy and Neil West, Prairie Creek Partners, Southwest Kia, Susie and John Adams and The Moody Foundation

For almost 30 years, Interfaith Family Services (Interfaith) has been a leading resource for working poor families and a haven for homeless children who long for stability and hope. Today, we are even more committed to our mission to empower families in crisis and break the cycle of poverty.  At the core of our work is a simple yet effective program formula: Stability + Self-Worth + Skills = Self-Sufficiency. First, we stabilize about 100 homeless families (nearly 90% of them female-led) each year by providing them with fully-furnished housing for up to a year in one of the 26 units that we own debt-free, and we offer daily children’s programs tailored to the unique needs of homeless children. Next, we increase their self- worth through on-site counseling for parents and play therapy for children. Finally, we develop their skills via career coaching, financial coaching, and life-skills classes for parents and daily homework assistance and individualized tutoring for children. These comprehensive holistic services lay the foundation for the families’ long-term self-sufficiency. Our outcomes prove that our model works.

Interfaith families earn more ($13.51/hour), save more ($1,631 on average), reduce more debt ($1,167 on average), and remain self-sufficient longer than the members of any other transitional housing providers that report their outcomes publicly.

For more information on Interfaith Family Services or to discover other ways you can support Interfaith’s work, please contact Marketing and Media Coordinator Destiny DeJesus or visit www.interfaithdallas.org.

* Photo credit: Michelle Oesterricher

No Tie Dinner And Dessert Party Patrons Walked A Cheetah-Printed Carpet To Tricia Sims’ Mansion And A Bounty Of Wolfgang Puck Edibles

The No Tie Dinner And Dessert Party Patron Party on Saturday, March 18, proved to be a mini-version of the 12th annual AIDS Services of Dallas fundraiser on Saturday, April 8, at Frontiers of Flight Museum. There was plenty of food, libations and eye-catching guests. Even the carpeted walk up to hostess Tricia Sims‘ mansion was not your every-day welcome mat. Here’s a report from the field:

David Nelson, Nicole Barrett, Tricia Sims and Amber Griffin*

This year, rather than a traditional red carpet, Chair David Nelson requested cheetah print. Such was the introduction and welcome to the patron event for the 2017 No Tie Dinner and Dessert Party, themed “An Artful Life,” at the opulent home of Honorary Co-Chair Tricia Sims. The No Tie Dinner and Dessert Party, presented by Purple Foundation, is the largest fundraiser for AIDS Services of Dallas, a non-profit that is celebrating 30 years of helping to improve lives of economically disadvantaged individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.   

Dennis Kershner and John Moreno-Kershner*

Brilliantly witty and entertaining, No Tie Chair David Nelson, who has served in the chair position for the last seven years, greeted guests and showered appreciation to No Tie’s numerous supporters. Although Honorary Co-Chair Dr. Alan Berg was not in attendance, he was the man of the hour by sponsoring Wolfgang Puck Catering for the evening. Hedda Layne took center stage on the grand balcony outside, delivering an explosive performance as guest mingled by the pool and Greek goddess statues. The signature cocktail, The Warhol, made with Reyka Icelandic Vodka, club soda, and angostura bitters, proved to be the refreshing drink of choice for the warm evening. Ben E. Keith provided wine and beer to complete the festive occasion.  

Don Maison and Ellen Sweets*

The patron party was attended by approximately 150 guests including ASD President and CEO Don Maison, former ASD Chairman of the Board Dennis Kershner, former Honorary Co-Chairs LeeAnne Locken and Patricia Deason, Entertainment Co-Chairs Deanna and Rob Cahill, as well as Chad Collom, Nicole Barrett, Ekaterina Kouznetsova, Donna Richardson, Ellen Sweets, Phyllis and CJ Comu, Sheri and Patrick Moneymaker, among others.

* Photo credit: Kim Grubbs

JUST IN: Top-Tier Moms And Daughters Are Coming Together For Family Gateway To End Homelessness For Children And Their Families

This year’s Family Gateway’s Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon on Thursday, September 7, at the Omni Dallas is simply brimming with all types of mother-daughter relationships. To begin with, the organization was founded by the late Mayor Annette Strauss 31 years ago to “create sufficient stable housing and to expand availability and access to life-changing services to that every homeless child and their family has a path out of poverty to a brighter future.” With Annette’s inspiration in mind, Luncheon Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz have arranged to have Annette’s daughters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr to serve as honorary co-chairs.

Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr (File photo)

But wait! There’s more.

The keynote speaker will be former first lady Laura Bush, whose daughter Jenna Bush Hager addressed the group last year with mom in the audience.

According to Family Gateway CEO Ellen Magnis, “We are honored to have Mrs. Bush’s involvement in our Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon and to have her support of our agency. As an advocate for education and the empowerment of women and girls, Mrs. Bush understands how critical early childhood education is to breaking the cycle of homelessness. Education is an important part of our program at Family Gateway, and we are grateful for Mrs. Bush’s efforts to raise awareness.”  

With MetroPCS as the presenting sponsor, underwriting co-chairs will be another mom-dotter team —Lisa Cooley and her daughter Ciara Cooley.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available now. How about getting that Mother’s Day gift locked down now?

The 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Bus Tour Of The Eight Beneficiaries Resulted In Flowers, Tears And Inspiration For The $5.8M Goal

Like many nonprofits, there comes a once-a-year decision of how the raised funds will be distributed. For 65 years, Crystal Charity Ball has had that come-to moment for the Dallas area children’s nonprofits. To think. There are grown-ups who have survived devastating diseases and overcome miserable home lives and then have had amazing lives, thanks to the committee of 100 women.  

On Thursday, February 16, CCB Chair Pam Perella, CCB Underwriting Chair Leslie Diers and a busload of ladies undertook a day of visiting the eight beneficiaries thanks to Briggs Freeman | Sotheby’s International Realty’s Layne Pitzer‘s and Joan Eleazer‘s underwriting the tour. It was at one of those stops where the membership saw firsthand how one child and his mother represented the thousands of faceless and nameless other kids who were in need. More about that later.

Before the tour got underway with Andre in the driver’s seat, though, tour director Fredye Factor reminded the group that this year’s “working theme” was TV shows. Since the tour had been tagged as “All My Children,” they had arranged for Susan Lucci‘s cousin Pucci Lucci to address the ladies. Pucci turned out to be CCB member Pam McCallum, whose Pucci was more Blanche Devereaux than Erica Kane.

Big Brothers Big Sister Lone Star — $500,000

Bill Chinn

But it was time to get down to work and things started off with two representative making presentations on board the bus. First up was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lone Star President Bill Chinn, who told how the July 7th shooting in downtown Dallas had spurred them on with a project — Bigs in Blue, which would connect first responders like policeman, fire fighters and city personnel as mentors for at-risk children to “establish strong and enduring one-to-one relationships.”  

Rainbow Days — $500,000

Tiffany Beaudine

Next up was Rainbow Days Director of Development Tiffany Beaudine, who reported that the CCB’s contribution would span three years to purchase a new van for transporting supplies to children living in motels, as well as adding “one new full-time program manager and a portion of four staff members who will assist in implementing programs, and partial salary for the program director.” Rainbow Day’s Project Hope program would also “deliver food weekly including snacks, school clothing and hygiene products as well as an opportunity for homeless children to attend summer day camps and holiday celebrations.”

The children whom they serve often suffer from fear. Too often their lives are filled with gunfire at night and the fear of playing outdoors.  

The Autism Treatment Center — $582,020

Neil Massey

Then the ladies were driven to the Autism Treatment Center to learn firsthand about its Early Intervention Therapy and Educational Capital Campaign. Thanks to the contribution, 101,100 square feet of the present facility will be “reconfigured and remodeled to increase the number of educational classrooms, therapy rooms, counseling offices and other important spaces.” The additional space will allow the Autism Treatment Center to quadruple the number of students who will receive help.

In showing the outdoor playground with its misting umbrella for hot days and the growing garden that provides both education and accomplishment, Development Director Neil Massey looked at the open lot next door. Having outgrown their current facilities, he said that they had tried to buy it from the present owner but had had no luck.

Autism Treatment Center

But it was the classrooms where the ladies learned that patience was a key to working with autistic boys and girls. Structure and patience were not just paramount for the children’s learning to adjust to their special conditions. But those lessons were important to being included in the family life. One lesson was that when an autistic children got frustrated and got physically upset, it was important for them to be ignored until they realized that their actions would not produce results. One CCB-er, upon hearing the comment said, “That probably proves true in all our lives.”

Presbyterian Communities & Services Foundation — $541,098

Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation board member Mary Ann Hyde

Next on the itinerary was the T. Boone Pickens Center. The timing of the visit was perfectly planned. It just so happened that the Center’s board was meeting that day with Board Trustee Mary Ann Hyde backed by the board members to greet the ladies in front of the magnificent facility.

So, it may have initially seemed curious to have CCB that benefits children to be providing funds for a hospice facility, but there was a very important aspect of the Pickens Center that affected children — the Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program.

Breaking into groups, the membership was shown the facilities that would assist not just those completing their lives, but would also help family, especially children, to be part of the final farewell and adjust to the loss. The 36-bed facility featured suites especially designed to comfort the patients with breathtaking views of the lake, doors that could accommodate the patient’s bed being moved to the room’s patio, and the out-of-sight medical equipment.

Presbyterian T. Boone Pickens Center guest suite

But the main point of the tour was how the Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program would help children through the process of grieving the loss “in a healthy and healing way.” There were the Marnie and Kern Wildenthal Education Center and the Harold Simmons Foundation Inpatient Care Center that provided both areas of play and adjustment to loss.  

Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program play room

In one room was a playhouse with super heroes on the walls. While in other rooms were materials for kids to vent their feelings regardless of their ages to social workers, counselors, music therapists and art therapists, who “will encourage healthy emotional growth, and bring unique comfort to children who have lost a sibling, parent or grandparents.”  

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance — $527,770

The next stop was the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance in the West End. While it was perfectly planned to coincide with a group of students, it reinforced the need for the Holocaust’s need to expand to a larger facility. CCB and high schoolers found themselves on top of each other learning about the horrors of World War II and the demonstrations of remembrance.

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance’s Paul Lake

One such example was the placement of stones representing the persons who were victims of the Holocaust. One teenager’s attempt to place a stone found their effort falling on the floor, resounding throughout the room. Ironically, the sound of the stone hitting the hard stone floor seemed to draw attention to the solemnity that had filled the room.

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance

For a three-year period, the CCB contribution will allow “thousands of Title 1 and economically disadvantaged students to the Museum, free of charge, and will provide their teachers necessary curriculum support.”

Children’s Medical Center Foundation — $1,111,735

Just blocks away from Children’s Medical Center, the CCB-ers donned hard hats and safety glasses to tour Children’s Health’s Comprehensive Gait and Mobility Program that was under construction. Planned to officially open with full services in May, it allows youngsters with movement challenges resulting from injuries or chronic illnesses to access all the treatments in one facility. The rooms would provide everything from aquatic treatments to padded rock climbing.

Comprehensive Gait and Mobility Program aquatic facility under construction

Thanks to CCB’s contribution, it would be possible to purchase “five pieces of state-of-the-art robotic gait and mobility training equipment: The ErigoPro early mobilization tilt-table, the LokomatPro robotic based partial-weight-bearing treadmill system, the Andago body weight supported mobile robotic gait system, the Natus balance and gait assessment system and the HydroWorx therapy pool. Training for staff and robotic software upgrades are included with the purchase of this equipment.”

Thanks to this “centralized accessibility, thousands of Dallas County children will be able to seek services designed for patients from two to 18 years of age.

As the committee gathered in the main room, they were told of a surprise. It was indeed a surprise. Britt Cupp, who had suffered a trauma to his brain due to a skateboard accident years ago, arrived with yellow roses and a personal note for each of the women. As his mother, Angela Cupp, looked on, Britt handed out the flowers. Unfortunately, when Britt had his accident, he and his family were forced to seek assistance at different facilities throughout the country. Many of the CCB-ers who had children Britt’s age looked on in amazement at the mother and son who had been through so much and were spearheading the creation of such a facility.

Pam Perella, Angela Cupp, Britt Cupp and Brent Christopher

After a massive group pic with Britt, the CCB-ers with flowers in hand gathered outside for the traditional group picture. Inside Angela had one request — a photo of Britt with 2017 CCB President Pam Perella and Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher. Little did she know that Brent had made a similar request, saying, “Britt is my hero.”

Hunger Busters — $1,192,500

The CCB bus now headed to West Dallas for the Hunger Busters operation behind a tall wrought-iron fence topped with razor wire. On the side of the small building, the air condition units were padlocked.

Iron fences topped with razor wire at Hunger Busters

New father/Hunger Busters Executive Director Trey Hoobler explained, “We’re in a turf war here caught between two groups.”

But despite the Spartan and tight conditions, Production/Volunteer Manager Gumaro Castillo in the kitchen’s prep area explained how Ford would be proud of the assembly line of volunteers prepping the meals for DISD schools and after-school programs. Having been there eight years, Gumaro pointed with pride as volunteers put together sandwiches.

Hunger Busters volunteers

Thanks to the CCB contribution that would be used over a three-year period, the Feed the Need program would be expanded, “representing a 150% increase in the number of children served, from 2,000 to 5,000 daily. An additional new delivery van and staff support will allow Hunger Busters to serve children and schools on their waiting list for a total of 300,000 additional meals each year.”

Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy — $850,000  

Sandra Helton

The final stop of the day was Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy, where Sister Sandra Helton pointed to an open lot adjacent to the school where a cafeteria would be built. She then showed why the new facility would be needed, as she led the group to the present room where children eat. If the current lunchroom was needed for another event, the tables and chairs had to be removed and then replaced afterwards. If a funeral was to take place in the nearby sanctuary, meals would have to delayed.  The kitchen was barely larger than a jet liner’s kitchen.

Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy

While the tour was going on, some youngsters took naps on the classroom floors, some practiced in the music room under Brandon McDannald‘s direction and others were hard at work at desks in classrooms.

Thanks to the CCB commitment, a 12,500-square-fooot cafeteria and fine arts center will be built that will be “available weekends for 1,300 children who attend religious education classes and also for Science Fairs, Band and Choir concerts, fundraisers like their Fall Festival and Grandparent’s Day. Funds will also be used for a dedicated fine arts center, giving Santa Clara students many more options in band, music, choir and art with designated classrooms where they can safely secure their instruments and supplies. Additionally, funds will provide a parish office and conference room, allowing for more students in the existing school.”

It was then homeward bound and ten months of fundraising to provide $5.8M for the children of Dallas.

For more photos from the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball bus tour, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

2017 Soup’s On! Had Union Station Filled To The Rafters With Chefs, Advocates For The Dallas Homeless, Parkies Types And Gloria Campos Who Isn’t Dead

Ray and Margie Francis

As the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy Jazz Band set up downstairs for the 10th Annual Soup’s On! Luncheon at the Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station on Tuesday, January 31, early arrivals like Honorary Co-Chairs Margie and Ray Francis had a great opportunity to check out the items in the silent auction in the Stationmaster’s Lounge.

Over in the main ballroom, it was a totally different setup from years past. Luncheon Chair Heather Sauber and Stewpot Alliance President Julie Marshall had changed the arrangements. The stage was facing the window with two large screens on either side. Due to the setup there were a couple of tables that were going to have to rely on 52” flatscreens to see the action on the stage. After all, the event was so very sold out. Even the main service line between the rows of tables seemed on the thin side. Hopefully, the serving team was all a size two.

The same tight situation was slated for the parking to fit 300 projected cars in 150 spaces.

But Heather was bound and determined to make this Stewpot Alliance fundraiser a moneymaker. She even managed to save on the speaker’s fee by having a panel of local leaders address the homeless situation that has been making headlines with the closure of tent cities.

Mike Rawlings and Robert Wilonsky

Keven Ann Willey

Jeff Tooker

Florencia Velasco Fortner

For the panel discussion, there would be no table and stiff-back chairs. Instead the panelists (Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas Morning News VP/Editorial Page Editor Keven Ann Willey, The Concilio President/CEO Florencia Velasco Fortner and Dallas Police Sgt. Jeff Tooker) and moderator DallasNews.com Managing Editor Robert Wilonsky would be in comfy brown easy chairs on stage.

From the left: (standing) Andrew Swanson, Scott Girling, Andrew Chen, Andrew Dilda, Omar Flores, Dennis Kelley and Jeramie Robison; (seated) Danyele McPherson, Abraham Salum, Brian Luscher, Janice Provost and Melody Bishop

With the sun shining and the temperature in the early 60s, it wasn’t one of those must-have-soup days. But it was a day when the Dallas homeless situation was the main course with soup and salads at the tables thanks Soup Chief Chef Brian Luscher and his team of area Souper Duper Chefs (Melody Bishop and Dennis Kelley of Lark on the Park, Andrew Chen of Monkey King Noodle  Co. and Monkey King Banana Stand, Andrew Dilda of Independent Bar and Kitchen, Omar Flores of Whistlebritches and Casa Rubia, Scott Girling of The Graph, Danyele McPeherson of 80/20 Hospitality, Janice Provost of Parigi, Jeramie Robison of Uchi Dallas, Abraham Salum of Salum and Andrew Swanson of Wolfgang Puck).

Mike and Micki Rawlings

Robin Bagwell

David Nichols and Mike Allen

Allison Salas and Kelly Donohue

As Brian reviewed the final preparations and presentation of the soups and chefs in the kitchen, the activity out front was heaping. It was one of Micki Rawlings’ first outings since having back surgery on Friday, January 13. In four days, she and husband Mike Rawlings would be heading to Mexico for son Gunnar Rawlings’ wedding to Gabby GutierrezRobin Bagwell reported that husband Norm Bagwell had given her the best Christmas gift ever, despite agreeing not to do Christmas gifts. He created a charitable trust for her!…Jennifer Clifford had flown in from North Carolina for the lunch. Despite husband Joe Clifford’s taking his new role as head pastor at Myers Presbyterian Church in North Carolina back in August, Jennifer just completed her tenure with Communities Foundation of Texas in December… She also thanked Abraham Salum for making the Clifford son’s senior graduation dinner “so special”…Renowned for his Hermes ties, David Nichols was tieless. Since scaling back on his residential realty responsibilities, he was going for the more casual look…. Allison Salas and Kelly Donohue were receiving congrats on tackling the 2018 Soup’s On! as co-chairs.

As for the program, Rabbi Debra Robbins provided the invocation and was followed by emcee former WFAA anchor Gloria Campos who asked, “Remember me? I retired. I didn’t die.” The rest of the program was a bit overwhelming with a parade of speakers —Heather, Julie, Margie, Ray and Stewpot Executive Director Rev. Dr. Bruce Buchanan extolling their sincere commitment and admiration for The Stewpot.

Bruce admitted that one of the issues close to his heart is The Stewpot I.D. Program, which helps the homeless establish legal identities. The Stewpot provides “documentation assistance to more than 6,000 persons annually, which is essential for jobs and housing.”

They also recognized the founding board member of the Stewpot Alliance (Karen Ware, Jennifer Clifford, Catherine Bywaters, Marty Coleman, Margie Francis, Nancy Gillham, Jan Hegi, Kathy Jackson, Martha Lipscomb, Martha Martin, Joan Mason, Suzanne Palmlund, Micki Rawlings, Carolyn Walton and Trish Weigand). Thanks to these women launching the Alliance, $2,367,500 had been provided for The Stewpot’s mission of helping the homeless with meals, healthcare, counseling, case management and therapeutic and vocational activities.

Stewpot factoid: The Stewpot serves 364,792 meals a year.

The panel discussion eventually got underway, starting off with former Dallas Homeless Czar/Mayor Mike saying that he wanted to create an inter-governmental program that would be accountable for housing the homeless. In the coming weeks, he hoped that announcements would be made regarding such a government undertaking, but it had to go through the Dallas City Council and Commissioners Court. While he admitted that there are a lot of people working to solve the issue, “We don’t have an integrated strategy.” Having a City Council person, a County Commissioner, the head of Parkland and the head of the mental health provider network have a plan, instead of various plans, would be a major step forward.

Keven Ann shared her frustration about the situation, saying that the Commission on Homelessness came out with a report including “a variety of ideas…I’d kinda like to see two or three cases out of that report that could be accomplished in the next eight, ten months, so that we can begin to see tangible progress.”

Mike said that he would like to see the November bond election include a million dollars for housing. While he admitted that it would be a big step, he added that it would make a big difference.

(Editor’s note: While the call-out for support of the Dallas bond election was praised, it was interesting to note the number of Park Cities types who won’t be able to support the effort.)

Jeff admitted that putting the homeless in jail doesn’t help the problem in the long run. He told how officers drive around with clothes in their car to provide for the homeless, but he added that “We need to do more than just say, ‘Would you like a ride to The Bridge?’” He added that for the homeless, just making their way “through the system” on their own can be overwhelming. That’s why organizations like City Square can help provide the assistance and direction to get off the street. He also said that just placing them in an apartment was not always a solution. One homeless person told him that he felt safer on the streets than living in some apartment complex. He admitted that while the police need to enforce the law, “We could do better to create better relationships and a rapport with the homeless.”

However, Mike admonished the audience, recalling former Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s message that, “We ask too much of our police.”

Florencia said that The Concilio’s infrastructure was not made to serve the percentage of homeless Hispanics.

Mike told how the numbers reported by the Task Force on Poverty were “shocking.”

Kevin Ann returned to Mike’s bond election and asked what was needed. Mike responded that people needed to let their City Councilperson know that the homeless issue needed to be included in the bond election.

In conclusion, Robert asked for the panel’s wishes:

Florencia asked that people get more involved and to think of the homeless as real people.

Jeff said that you could have a bond proposal, but “there are so many people, so many of us that can make a difference. It’s not just about money…that’s a big part of it… it’s about service. There are a lot of great people who are homeless and we need to reach out to them.”

Keven Ann suggested leveraging current funds to hire more caseworkers, who really make the biggest difference and give people the services that they need. Also, to get landlords to be more receptive to programs that benefit the homeless.

Robert suggested people should get involved with the “Point In Time” Homeless Count next year.

For the closing remarks, International Human Rights Activist Peggy Callahan congratulated the number of folks who had been involved with The Stewpot for a couple of decades. She also made a case for financial support for The Stewpot and made the final request for donations for $100,000 that would help 25,000 people.

For more photos of the 2017 Soup’s On! champions, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Soup’s On! Luncheon

This winter hasn’t exactly been a Sub-Zero experience, at least in North Texas. So the demand for soup may not have been the high priority of years past. But when it comes to The Stewpot Alliance’s Soup’s On! Luncheon, the liquid stuff is a draw thanks to Chief Chef Brian Luscher and his team of chefs and the topic du jour — the homeless situation in North Texas.

From the left: (standing) Andrew Swanson, Scott Girling, Andrew Chen, Andrew Dilda, Omar Flores and Dennis Kelley; (seated) Danyele McPherson, Abraham Salum, Brian Luscher, Janice Provost and Melody Bishop

In fact, this year’s sold-out fundraiser chaired by Heather Sauber on Tuesday, January 31, was so filled that there was hardly room for the servers at Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station to squeeze through.

Mike Rawlings and Robert Wilonsky

Florencia Velasco Fortner

Keven Ann Willey

Jeff Tooker

While the post is being prepped, check out the chefs, the panelists and guests over at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.     

JUST IN: Vogel Alcove’s 26th Annual Arts Performance Event To Have Cocktails On The Lawn With Loggins Inside

Leave it to Vogel Alcove to be combine a longtime favorite with something totally different and new. That’s what Co-Chairs Ricki and Andy Rabin and Lisa and Scott Wilson have arranged for Vogel Alcove’s 26th Annual Arts Performance Event on Thursday, May 11.  

Kenny Loggins*

The “longtime favorite” is Grammy-winning Kenny Loggins, who has been making beautiful music for dancing and listening for four decades. While some folks can’t help but start dancing when they hear his “Footloose,” others cruise his current tunes with country trio Blue Sky Riders. And Kenny is even reaching out to an audience that’s not old enough to drive a car with his “Children’s book called ‘Footloose,’ based on his mega-hit song for the eponymous film.”

And to provide the music for the after-party dancing, it will be none other than the Emerald City Band, which Mayor Mike Rawlings has tapped as “The House Band of Dallas.”

Now, for the “something totally different and new,” the Rabins and Wilsons are going to have the whole shindig at the Omni Dallas Hotel. So, what’s so new about the Omni? Well, the cocktail reception is not going to take place in the Trinity nor Dallas lobbies. It’s going “to be held for the first time on the Pegasus Lawn.” Then guests will amble across the driveway into the hotel for an elegant meal presented by McKool Smith and the entertainment.

If it rains…well, guess the whole kit and kaboodle will be indoors.

Tickets for the reception, dinner, performance and after-party start at $750. And, of course, sponsorships are available.

Suggestion: Leave the tuxedo and the frou-frou gown at home. Go shopping for something that goes well with spring lawn parties and dancing.  

* Photo credit: Stephen Morales

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

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

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

Ryan Conner, Anne Conner and Catherine New

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

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

Lisa Cooley, Larry Hackett and Susan Farris

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

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

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

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

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

Sold-Out Alert!: 2017 Soup’s On!

Two of the most wonderful words in fundraising were making the rounds at the Soup’s On! patron party tonight — “Sold Out!”

Yup! If you thought this chilly-willy weather had inspired you to get a soup bowl spot or two at Union Station on Tuesday, January 31, open up a can of Campbell’s and cry in your ho-hum soup bowl.

Julie Marshall, Brian Luscher and Heather Sauber

According to the 9th Annual Soup’s On! Chair Heather Sauber, it’s sold out with 642 bowls in need of filling and a panel discussion on Dallas’ homeless situation with a stellar group of veterans in the issue scoring headlines locally.

Congrats to Heather, The Stewpot Alliance President Julie Marshall, adorable Honorary Co-Chairs Margie and Ray Francis and Souper-Duper Chief Chef Brian Luscher and his team of chefs on scoring the very first “Sold Out” of 2017 in Dallas fundraising.

Let’s keep these “Sold-Out Alerts” coming on in.

Housing Crisis Center’s Patriot Party Brought Out The Red, White And Blues At The Mansion On Veteran’s Day

Thanks to the stars and calendar lining up in sync on Friday, November 11, the day of celebrating the nation’s veterans flourished. While the day’s parades and festivities went on under sunshine, the Housing Crisis Center’s Patriot Party at the Mansion proved to be a nighttime crowd pleaser.

Katherine Wynne and John Baer

Cindy Stager and Oscar Durham

Roz Colombo, Amy Turner, Sunie Solomon and Laura Moon

Paul and Tiffany Divis and Kim Hext

Jamie Williams

In keeping with the Patriot Party spirit, the red, white and blues were the colors of choice for the night thanks to Katherine Wynne, Sandy Schwan, Tiffany Divis, Amy Turner, Sunie Solomon, Cindy Stager, Roz Colombo and mama Gigi St. Pe, Jamie Williams, Anita Braun, Shannon Brame, Holly Mayer, Eliza Cochron, Darlene Elison, Tasha Harden, Katy Bock and Lisa Cooley, who accessorized her outfit with a sparkly clutch. According to their choices of ties, it appeared the gents like Paul Divis, Lawrence Bock, Clay Cooley, Thomas Harden and Event Chair John Baer evidently got the color memo, too.

Lawrence and Katy Bock and Lisa and Clay Cooley

Anita Braun and Shannon Brame

Heath Oakes and Jenny Anchondo

KDFW anchor/evening emcee Jenny Anchondo was sporting more than a fresh glamorama makeup do. Little did she and husband Heath Oakes let on that they were on the verge of announcing that they’d be expecting a baby girl in May.

As if the reception didn’t prove heady enough with its countless silent-auction items, the main disco act in the Mansion ballroom created a bit of a stir when one over-exuberant blonde slipped and fell on the dance floor.

Ken Cooper

Jonathan Jaffin

Then there were the chat-about types who insisted on chit-chatting nonstop when Dr. Ken Cooper and Jonathan Jaffin talked about the importance of military service and our brave veterans and how, despite their selfless service, there are 40,000 homeless vets in the U.S. On the other hand, there were others who listened intently and afterward recalled stories that their parents and grandparents had told them about past military service.

The newly renovated ballroom’s A/C was working nicely. So much so that some staved off the chill with fur wraps, while other naked-shouldered lasses just harvested goose bumps.

Helene Cronin

Speaking of which, one poor gal’s bare-shouldered cocktail dress required some occasional hitching up as the décolletage went southward. Luckily, a gal pal came to the rescue helping her bud redirect the errant gown northward.

After Americana artist Helene Cronin sang a touching, original tribute to the military called “Lucky Me”—it was based on a true story, she said—it was time for the live auction. The auction proved to be a patriotic success, with the Napa Valley wine experience going for $3,000, the New York Broadway package luring $3,250, and a dinner with Fox4’s Mike Doocy bringing in $2,250.

The Last Tree On The Lot

Years ago there was a child who was at that age when the belief in Santa, elves and flying reindeer was starting to fade. As she sat next to her father driving home from Christmas Eve dinner, she told him of her doubts about the season of miracles. Her father, who was dreading this talk more than the one about the facts of life, pulled into the garage and told her a story that his father had told him decades ago. On this Christmas Eve, we share the story with you.

That night was the coldest and windiest Christmas Eve ever. The seasonal Christmas tree lot was bare except for one little fir. People had wanted bigger, robust trees for their homes and the tiny tree just was passed by each time.

But despite the frigid temperatures, the tree and her guests huddled together and stayed warm. The little sparrows joined the mockingbirds and Mourning Doves in singing Christmas carols. The squirrels and mice applauded with great enthusiasm for each song. The little tree’s heart was warmed by all the happiness.

As the night went on, so the wintry conditions grew. Finally, just as the first ray of sunlight began to appear in the east, a great whoosh of breeze spun around the tree and there was silence. The tree and her friends discovered they had been joined by a sleigh, reindeer and Santa himself.

One of the mice peeked out from the tree’s branches and asked, “Perhaps you have a gift or two left?”

Mice can be a bit pushy, you know.

“I am pleased to say we had exactly the right number of gifts for children this year,” Santa replied.

“That’s remarkable,” said the tree. “How marvelous it must have been for all of my tree friends to be surrounded by presents. Just think what is happening right now? People are laughing and smiling and enjoying the happiness of Christmas. How lucky my tree friends are.”

“They probably are,” said Santa. “But unfortunately, I have a problem and must ask your help.”

The tree was surprised that Santa would ever need help.

Santa and a Christmas tree (File photo)

“You see,” Santa continued, “I forgot to get a tree this year and Mrs. Claus is going to be very disappointed if I don’t return with one. When I passed overhead just now, I was advised by the reindeer of a singing tree. Well, I know it’s rather late, but I was wondering if you and your friends would let me take you home to the North Pole.”

Before the tree and the little creatures could reply, Santa added, “By the way, we’ll need you for quite a while. You see we celebrate Christmas year round. It helps the elves keep focused.”

With that, Santa carefully lifted the tree into the sleigh and told all the creatures to hop on board for a trip to their new home. 

MySweetWishList: AIDS Services Of Dallas

According to AIDS Services of Dallas CEO Don Maison,

AIDS Services of Dallas*

“As the saying goes, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” Now imagine not having a home for the holidays – or any time of the year. No place for shelter, for warmth, for safety, for a hot meal. Our holiday wish is to provide a home for the 122 economically disadvantaged individuals living with HIV/AIDS who have been on our waiting list year after year.

AIDS Services of Dallas (ASD) provides quality, affordable, service-enriched housing, food, transportation and support services for 225 men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. The largest organization in Texas providing these kind of services and shelter, we currently have four facilities and are ready to grow in 2017. We are now raising much-needed funds to build a new housing structure to provide additional homes for residents.

“2017 will be ASD’s 30th Anniversary. Help us make it an iconic year with your donation by clicking here, or visit www.aidsdallas.org to learn more about our organization.

“Wishing you the happiest holiday season.”

-By Don Maison, AIDS Services of Dallas president and CEO

* Graphic courtesy of AIDS Services of Dallas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Clifford (File photo)

Jennifer Clifford (File photo)

Jan Hegi (File photo)

Jan Hegi (File photo)

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

Suzanne Palmlund (File photo)

Suzanne Palmlund (File photo)

Brian Luscher (File photo)

Brian Luscher (File photo)

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

Omar Flores and Danyele McPherson (File photo)

Omar Flores and Danyele McPherson (File photo)

Janice Provost and Abraham Salum (File photo)

Janice Provost and Abraham Salum (File photo)

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

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

Dallas Animal Services Is Having A Free-For-All From Black Friday To Cyber Monday Thanks To Zappos’ “Home For The Pawlidayz”

The Dallas Animal Services has such a special deal going on from Black Friday to Cyber Monday!

Adopted cat

Adopted cat

Adopted pooch

Adopted pooch

Thanks to Zappos’ “Home For The Pawlidayz” program, all animals at DAS will be free for adoption. Yup, that’s right. So, why wait in line or wear your manicured nails on the keyboard searching for the purr-fect (sorry, but couldn’t resist that one) gift, when s/he is just panting for you to come get ’em?

BTW, Zappos’ goal is to have 9,000 pets adopted nationally to “honor the 9,000 dogs and cats killed in America’s shelters each day simply because they do not have a safe place to call home.”

Smokey John Reaves Delivers A Powerful Message At Reconciliation Outreach’s Legacy Of Hope Luncheon

For a second day in a row, one of the Park Cities main arteries was blocked on the verge of creating a traffic heart attack. While the itty, bitty Callier Cares Former Chairs Luncheon had had guests parking on the curb due to the golf tournament, that was nothing.

On Thursday, October 13, a flood of Reconciliation Outreach guests created a mind-blowing back-up on Mockingbird. Whether it was turning right or left onto the club property, it had vehicles backed up.

Some guests just gave up the challenge of making it to the porte-cochere’s valet and just found one of the limited parking spots and huffed it to the club house. Here’s a report from the field:

The Annual Legacy of Hope Luncheon benefiting Reconciliation Outreach was held on Thursday, October 13, at the Dallas Country Club to a sold out audience. Jan Pickens and Alison Farrow were Honorary Chairs with Nena Boyd and Faith Stazzoni serving as Luncheon Chairs.  The luncheon raised $135,400.

Nena Boyd and Faith Stazzoni

Nena Boyd and Faith Stazzoni

Guest Speaker Smokey John Reaves challenged each guest to “be available to do what needs to be done in your community.” To the amazement of the guests at the end of his presentation he asked those in the audience who would make a commitment to stand and publicly pledge to bring honor in their lives by agreeing to be “available to God and to your neighbor.” Everyone stood!

“I have heard many luncheon speakers and Smokey delivered one of the most authentic messages I have heard,” said Lisa Troutt as she left the DCC.

Dorothy Moore presented the Servant’s Heart Award to Eloise and Tom Chapman and the Junior Servant’s Heart Award to Keaton Kinard for their commitment of time and volunteer work at Reconciliation Outreach (RO).

Lifetime Achievement Awardee Nancy Beth Robert recalled, “Almost 30 years ago, Dorothy and I walked the drug infested neighborhood now the campus of Reconciliation Outreach and visualized how it could serve East Dallas and transform lives with your support true hope and change are occurring daily in our neighborhood.”

Founded by Dorothy Moore in 1986, RO stands as a beacon of hope to people in Dallas, providing residential and non-residential programs for people who have life-controlling problems such as abuse, homelessness, and addiction. RO also serves the children of East Dallas through its After School Program and Reconciliation Academy. RO’s mission is to establish and maintain a strong Christian community within the inner city, and to provide a safe and loving environment for healing lives and restoring families and individuals to a productive lifestyle. Funds raised from this event will support both RO’s youth and adult programs.

Offering leadership direction for the Legacy of Hope Luncheon were Luncheon Advisor Katherine Coker and the Advisory Committee consisting of Marilyn Augur, Nell Bush, Amy Simmons Crafton, Leah Fullinwider, Margaret Hancock, Sarah Perot, Carol Seay and Lisa Troutt.

Major donations were given by the following:

  • Legacy Platinum ($20,000) — Amazing Grace.Life
  • Legacy Gold ($15,000) — Faith and Ray Stazzoni
  • Legacy Silver ($10,000) — Marilyn Augur Foundation, Highland Park Presbyterian Church and Morning Star Family Foundation
  • Promise ($5,000) — Anne Compton, Lisa and Clay Cooley, Empower Dreams Inc. and Alison Farrow and Jan Pickens
  • Hope ($3,000) — Martha Lou and Dan Beaird, Nena and Ken Boyd, Eloise and Tom Chapman, Dorothy and Bob Moore and New Covenant Foundation
  • Outreach ($1,500) — Brad Gresham, Michael Held and Stacey McCord
  • Partners ($1,000) — Barbara Croft, Maureen Lupton and Judy and Keith Martin

Critter Lovers Head To House Of Blues To Release Their Inner Animal For A Howling Good Time

For decades the words “spay” and “neuter” have been the mantra of local animal activists. Because of the recent tragedies involving stray dogs and the report by BCG, the call to arms has been ramped up. But to “fix” the problem requires funding and lots of it for those who can’t afford the procedures.

Loads of dogs*

Loads of dogs*

On

Howl At The Moon*

Howl At The Moon*

Saturday, November 12, the Dallas Companion Animal Project is encouraging folks to “release your inner animal” at its fall fundraiser, “Howl at the Moon.” It will take place in the Cambridge Room of the House of Blues from 7 to 10 p.m. with loads of music, food, cocktails and a silent auction specially designed for animal lovers.

According to Event Organizer Brooke Scruggs, “This is about raising funds for spay-and-neuter days, community outreach, and other programs that are so valuable for animals in Dallas. But we also wanted to have some fun. It’s an opportunity to have a great time and do it for a good cause.”

If DCAP is new on your pet radar, it’s a non-profit “created to focus on the future of the community by strengthening the connection between people and animals. One of the services offered is SpayDay that provide free and low-cost spay/neuter to low-income families who could not otherwise afford to alter their pets.

* Graphic and photo provided by Rebecca Poling

Former First Twin/Author/”Today” Show Jenna Bush Hager Brought The Importance Of Family To Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

Despite a presidential debate taking place the night before, former First Twin Jenna Bush Hager had nary a question about politics at the meet-and-greet for Family Gateway’s “Gateway to Opportunity” on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

One guest at the meet-and-greet in Fair Park II Suite brought a a copy of Jenna’s “Our Great Big Backyard” that she had co-authored with her mom/former First Lady Laura Bush. Another guest also brought her daughter….well, sorta. Seems her daughter wanted to attend but couldn’t. So mom had a head cutout on a stick made of her daughter and held it proudly when she  had their picture taken with Jenna.

As folks lined up to be photographer with the “Today” contributing correspondent, someone noticed that co-author Laura Bush had arrived. Still Jenna was the Bush of the hour.

One event planner admitted amazement how accommodating Jenna was posing for cellphone selfies and flashing a homecoming queen smile for each shot.

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

And since Family Gateway is dedicated to help families, it was a family driven event. Co-Chair Paula Miltenberger managed to get shots of her boys (Bo Miltenberger and Brady Miltenberger), her mom (Dianne Bosler) and hubby (Bay Miltenberger) with Jenna. Co-Chair Tracy Lange also had photos taken of husband (Ben Lange), daughter (Livia Lange) and son (Luke Lange) with Jenna.

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

It was touching to have sisters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr at the luncheon. Their mother, the late Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss, founded Family Gateway to provide “supportive housing, access to early childhood development, after-school tutoring and mentoring” 30 years ago.

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

No sooner was there a last call for a photo with Jenna made, then she left to join the crowd in the Trinity Ballroom. As the guests began to leave the room, some mighty big and fine checks showed up from Matthews Southwest and Sammons Enterprises much to the delight of Family Gateway Executive Director Ellen Magnis.

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Inside the Dallas Ballroom, the guests (Honorary Co-Chairs Tracy and Kent Rathbun, Underwriting Co-Chairs Ciara Cooley and Lisa Cooley, Bela Piertrovic, Bianco Filio, Anne Davidson, Ana Carty, Ruth Altshuler, Lisa Troutt, Michael Faircloth, D’Andra Simmons, Gene Jones, Angie Kadesky, Missy Falchi, Jeanne Cox, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Jack Matthews, Scott Galbraith and Gina Betts with her longtime associate Joan Rose, who is retiring) were taking their places.

Emcee/WFAA co-anchor Ron Corning welcomed the crowd and had Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Susan Robb provide the invocation.

Anne Johnson

Anne Johnson

Following lunch, Ron introduce Family Gateway Chairman of the Board Anne Johnson, who told of a client, who was juggling a job, running a household and raising children. When Anne asked her how she was handling it all, the woman responded, “I’m doing great. I have a plan. At Family Gateway they treat me like an adult with respect. My kids see that and I feel for the first time that like I can do this.”

Ellen told how during the first 25 years, Family Gateway served approximately 55 families annually. Last year, it provided safe housing and services to almost 500 families. Of the families help, most are single mom situations. One of the differences of Family Gateway is that they have all types of families. Some have grandparents, single fathers with children and married couples with children. It will also accept boys of a certain age that most shelters will not take in resulting in the youths to be sent to a men’s shelter.

Ellen admitted that one of the frustrations facing Family Gateway is affordable housing for clients. However, she was pleased…no, more than pleased to announce a partnership with Matthews Southwest to develop such housing providing 336 units near the International Inland Port of Dallas in Hutchins.

Shanjula Harris

Shanjula Harris

As proof of their efforts, Tracy and Paula introduced former client/mother of three Shanjula Harris, who told how she rose from the darkest depths of her life as a mother unable to provide for her children thanks to the volunteers and staff at Family Gateway. She admitted that the hardest part was being scared alone. Thanks to Family Gateway, she was freed of that fear and was no longer alone. Today she has a place for her family, a job that she looks forward to and wants to make a difference in the world. “I hope I am living proof that you have made a difference. For those of you who have been a member of Family Gateway family, thank you for believing in me.”

Following a call to offer financial assistance, MetroPCS Director Ethan Stubbs reported that in addition to be the 2016 presenting sponsor, it had signed up for 2017. In addition to financial support for Family Gateway, they were also rolling up their sleeves to provide hands-on involvement on events throughout the year. He then introduced Jenna and went off script saying that he had put her most recent book — “Our Great Big Backyard” — to the test with his six children ranging from 18 months to 13 years. “We read the book and they stayed engaged the entire time which is not an easy thing to do.”

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

Before starting Jenna admitted that she cries at the drop of a hat. Throughout her talk, she teared up whether it was talking about her children, recognizing Shanjula for her testimonial, acknowledging Annette for creating Family Gateway and thanking those who have followed her lead.

But her message was one of how important the family was and the lessons that are handed down from generation to generation. Just as her grandfather, former President George “Gampy” H.W. Bush had learned about giving back from his mother. “He wrote about it in a letter in 1997, “Early on my mom gave us profound advice. It sounds simple now, but when I became President I knew just how sound it was — “Be honest; tell the truth; be kind.”

This message of compassion and giving back had really hit home with her since the birth of her two daughters — Mila Hager and Poppy Hager. As she recalled how fortunate her own daughters were to have been born with a home, loving parents and grandparents, with warm water for baths and rooms full of books, her voice choked. Her hope was that she could “teach them the luck that they were born, so they can spread luck to other kids who live in the same circumstances.”

At this point, she decided some comic relief was needed and brought the group up to date on her family.

  • “My mom is now commanding the ex-commander-in-chief to pick up his dirty towels and underwear.”
  • “My grandparents — Gampy and Gammy — are doing very well. You may have heard that my grandfather was sick several years ago and was hospitalized. It was actually Christmas Eve and we were in Richmond, Virginia, where my husband’s family lived. If you think this has been interrupted by emotion, you should have seen that meal when my parents called” to get to Houston “to say good-bye.” In the ride to the hospital, they all agreed they were not going to cry. They were going to upbeat. But Jenna, who was six months pregnant, Gampy touched her stomach and whispered, “The circle of life. I can’t wait to meet this baby.” The entire room broke down crying. While the rest of the family was prepared for the worst, Bush matriarch Barbara Bush knew he would pull through. “She’s known as the enforcer in our family. And when she speaks, we listen. She told him about all the things he had to look forward to — two great grandchildren being born, my dad’s library opening here in Dallas — and he had no choice but to live.”
  • Her dad (former President George W. Bush) has been working on his golf game and his art. “I just can’t believe he’s an artist.” According to Jenna, there was a period when he “would only communicate through his art.” He would send a sketch of an airplane saying “Flying to Arizona.” With a twinkle in her eye, she said that “Barbara (Jenna’s twin sister) and I were actually secretly worried about him.” When they would ask what time he would be landing, he would respond with the drawing of a clock. Jenna described that time, “We were playing Pictionary every day.” His art has moved from portraits to pets to landscapes and “now world leaders. If you haven’t seen his Putin, you really should.”
  • Describing her mom, who was seated nearby, she asked if anyone else in the audience had had a librarian for a mother. When one person responded, Jenna said to the woman, “So you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it seems like the fun would just never end.” In working with her mom on a new book about the national parks, Jenna described Laura as “a tedious editor. I don’t recommend you ever sending anything to her unless the grammar is absolutely perfect.”

Getting back to the day’s mission, she recalled how despite having earned her teaching certification, she still wasn’t prepared for 24-nine-year-olds or the poverty in inner city D.C. and west Baltimore… “No class could have taught me what to say to a child who had witnessed a stabbing on the way to school or comfort a young man who learned his father was going to jail. My kids were/are brilliant, but the odds are stacked against them like many of the kids from Family Gateway. They were hungry. Their parents were working multiple jobs to support them. And society in many ways dictates that they won’t be successful and they won’t graduate. I will say, though, that my sixth grade class from the school in Maryland not only all graduated from high school a couple of years ago, but they all 100% got into a college.”

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

In the fall of 2006 Jenna moved to Latin America and met Ana, a 17-year-old single mother with HIV AIDs. She, like Shanjula, talked about being alone and how supportive programs helped her. At the women’s conference, where Jenna met Ana, the young mother grabbed the microphone and said, “I want everyone to know that we are living with HIV. We are no longer dying from it. So, let’s make our lives matter. Let’s live to make a difference. Let’s make our lives count.” As a result, they met throughout Jenna’s nine months in Latin America resulting in the book, “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope” and her job with NBC’s “Today” show.

Ron returned to chat with Jenna and opened with, “So who do you think won last night’s debate?” (Laughter) Jenna responded, “I don’t think my mic is working.”

Jenna Bush Hager with "the boys"

Jenna Bush Hager with “the boys”

  • Young volunteers — When asked what got her into this service mode, she responded that it was by her parents’ example. Jenna then pointed out impressed she was by the “little boys,” who had been helping at the luncheon.
  • Teachers — She stressed the importance of today’s teachers and how they do much, much more than fulfill the requirements. “Show the teachers in your community that their job isn’t necessarily ‘cute,’ but it’s hard and it’s really, really important.”
  • Her job on “Today” — She was originally to cover education seven years ago, but it’s evolved to all subject matters. “Tomorrow I’m interviewing Reese Witherspoon.”
  • Cellphones — “It’s not just our kids looking down. Parents need to put their phones down and listen to their kids.”

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

Blonde Jenna Bush Hager may seem to be living a dream life. Having had a grandpappy and daddy as U.S. Presidents meant home was more than a big, old “white house.” Her post-White House days have been pretty ideal, too, including marriage, motherhood and being an author and correspondent for the “Today” show.

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Tracy Lange

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Tracy Lange

But guests at Family Gateway’s Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel, learned that her life has also involved a world of children, who haven’t had the “luck” of a home, a family and security.

Ruth Altshuler, Janie McGarr, Anne Johnson and Nancy Halbreich

Ruth Altshuler, Janie McGarr, Anne Johnson and Nancy Halbreich

While the length post is being prepped, get a gander of the folks who got to meet Jenna and learned about life outside of the White House at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Former Fort Worthian Grandparents Dianne And Jim Bosler Hosted Gateway To Opportunity Patrons At Their Dallas Home

Paula Miltenberger’s folks Dianne and Jim Bosler were talked into moving from their Fort Worth acreage to cozier territory in Preston Hollow. Well, that’s if you can call an estate “cozy.” The draw was Paula and husband Bay Miltenberger’s adorable, red-haired boys. What grandparent wouldn’t want to be within walking distance of their grandkids, especially during the pre-high school years?

Tracy Lange, Dianne Bosler, Paula Miltenberger and Lisa Cooley

Tracy Lange, Dianne Bosler, Paula Miltenberger and Lisa Cooley

But on Tuesday, September 20, the grandkids stayed at the Miltenberger home and the grandparents opened their house for the Family Gateway’s Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon patrons. One reason for the hosting was Paula was co-chairing the fundraiser with Tracy Lange.

Alas, because of the sweaty, three-digit temperatures, the Boslers’ palatial grounds were just for a looky-look from behind the windows and glass doors. But no tears were shed, since the mansion’s interior was just made for entertaining.

As one couple held a “charged-up conversation” in the dining room, Tracy and Paula were in the family room surrounded by Gina Betts, Cindy Stager, Luncheon Underwriting Co-Chair Lisa Cooley, Family Gateway Executive Director Ellen Magnis and Ben Lange. Of course, the co-chairs’ conversation turned to the Tuesday, September 27th luncheon featuring Jenna Bush Hager at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

Jim Bosler, Gina Betts, Cindy Stage and Ben Lange

Jim Bosler, Gina Betts, Cindy Stager and Ben Lange

When someone asked if Jenna would talk about the upcoming presidential election, that idea was nipped in the bud. A passerby sniffled, “Oh, please, this is fundraising, not fuss making!”

7th Annual Mosaic Family Services Gala Patrons Shop, Sip And Celebrate At Abi Ferrin And Kendra Scott

With the kickoff of fall fundraising, the 7th Annual Mosaic Family Services Gala patrons partied at more than just one spot in West Village on Tuesday, September 20. Both Abi Ferrin and Kendra Scott provided a shop-and-sip-around at their digs. Here’s a report from the field:

Mosaic Family Services honored sponsors, committee members and supporters of the 7th Annual Gala at a cocktail reception on Tuesday, September 20, from 5 – 9 p.m. at Abi Ferrin and Kendra Scott in West Village.

Steve Kemble, Abi Ferrin and Chad Collom*

Steve Kemble, Abi Ferrin and Chad Collom*

More than 75 partygoers arrived at Abi Ferrin in West Village and sipped cool drinks while shopping Abi’s eponymous collection. DJ Lamont Carlis kept the vibe going, as guests enjoyed savory fare donated by Cru, including artisan cheese and charcuterie with house made fig jam and fresh Turkish honeycomb, mini meatballs with tomato sugo and shaved Manchego, smoked salmon rillettes and arancini with roasted pepper tomato sauce.

With the nearby Kendra Scott boutique sharing the hosting duties for the evening, patrons mingled in both stores, while they shopped knowing a percentage of proceeds would benefit Mosaic Family Services.

Ashley Anderson and Jo Mattison*

Ashley Anderson and Jo Mattison*

Shannon Mukundan and Nusia Sookarow*

Shannon Mukundan and Nusia Sookarow*

Tam Tran, Tina Witkoff, Marta Knutson and Leanne Moye*

Tam Tran, Tina Witkoff, Marta Knutson and Leanne Moye*

As the evening came to an end, posh patrons like Ashley Anderson, Jo Mattison, Mirjana Omeragic, McKenzie Hoopfer, Catherine Langlois, Tam Tran, Marta Knutson, Leanne Moye, Shannon Mukundan, Nusia Sookarow, Kristin Paul, Meagan McLauchlin and Tina Ingram were treated to homemade cake balls by Tina Witkoff and a gift bag of Mary Kay’s Satin Hands signature products.

Jennifer Staubach Gates and Lana Byrne*

Jennifer Staubach Gates and Lana Byrne*

The upcoming 7th Annual Mosaic Family Services Gala will be held on Thursday, October 20, 2016, from 7 – 11 p.m. at The Empire Room in the Dallas Design District. Chaired by Melissa Green and Elizabeth Weathersby with honorary chair Lana Byrne, the gala will include cocktails, dinner by Stock & Barrel, master of ceremonies Steve Kemble, silent auction curated by Auction Chair Nusia Sookarow, raffle, casino, and music by DJ Lamont Carlis. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the 2016 Champion of Human Rights Award to Councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates.

Tickets and sponsorships are still available; tickets are $150 each; sponsorships begin at $500. For sponsorship and ticket information, visit classy.org/mosaicgala or contact Le Ta, 214.821.5393 x263 or let@mosaicservices.org.

* Photo credit: Bob Manzano