2017 La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas Team Handed Out A Whopping $462,750 To 15 Park Cities Non-Profits

Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning

As the sun was slowly switching place with a perfect full moon on Thursday, September 7, the North Texas Food Bank’s Harvest underwriters were gathering at Mud Hen to celebrate the upcoming Friday, September 15 fundraiser. Across town in Highland Park Village’s Mockingbird Room, there were more happy faces. The occasion was the check distribution of 2017 La Fiesta Des Las Seis Banderas checks. Needless to say, when it comes to doling out the dough, the crowd is polished shoulder to shoulder.

Euan Blackman and Anne Besser

The biggest smiles were on the faces of La Fiesta Co-Chairs Rebecca Gregory and Nancy Monning along with Gala Co-Chairs Anne Besser and Michelle Johnson and Las Fiesta Board President Mary Hubbard. There was good reason. The take for the Saturday, June 10 black-tie fundraiser was $462,750. Just who says fundraising dries up in the summer?

On hand to accept checks and provide big old smiles were HPISD Superintendent Tom Trigg and wife Julie Trigg, The Family Place’s Paige Flink and Habitat for Humanity’s Euan Blackman.

Mary Hubbard, Michelle Johnson, Amy Hughes and Paige Flink

Tom Trigg, Kelly Walker and Jim Hitzelberger

The check presentation included:

  • Dallas Heritage Village — $5,000
  • Moody Family YMCA — $3,500
  • CARE (Chemical Awareness Resources and Education) — $12,640
  • Connecting Point of Park Cities — $19,500
  • The Elisa Project — $18,500
  • The Family Place — $10,000
  • Friends of the University Park Public Library — $30,500
  • HP Arts — $60,000
  • HPHS Community Service Council — $8,000
  • HPHS Habitat for Humanity Campus Center — $10,000
  • HPHS Science Festival — $1,600
  • HPHS Counseling Department and Student Council — $3,000
  • Highland Park Literary Festival — $26,000
  • HPHS Student Emergency Fund — $4,000
  • Highland Park Education Foundation — $250,510

More good news included the fact that Anne will cho-chair 2018 La Fiesta with her buddy Elizabeth Gambrell for the fundraiser that return to the Hilton Anatole for a summer sojourn.

At Mary McDermott Cook’s House, Readers 2 Leaders Celebrates Five Years

Philanthropist and community activist Fran Tynan is on the board of Readers 2 Leaders, a nonprofit whose mission is to develop and grow the reading skills of children in West Dallas. She’s also a neighbor of Mary McDermott Cook. So, thanks to Fran’s persuasive skills, Mary’s stunning, glass-and-wood home high above the Belmont Hotel in West Dallas was the setting for Readers 2 Leaders’ fifth anniversary party on Thursday, October 13.

“We’re about improving literacy in West Dallas,” explained Norma Nelson, the group’s executive director, as about 65 guests sipped drinks and munched hors d’oeuvres and admired the stunning views from Mary’s living room. “In 2015 we served 420 kids and 575 families,” Norma added, with initiatives including a core tutoring program called Team Read. It targets elementary-age students in West Dallas during regular school hours, after school, and during the summer months.

Not far away from Norma, attorney Ted Schweinfurth was chatting with friends. Schweinfurth, a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP, founded Readers 2 Leaders and chairs its board of directors. (Ted also had a big hand in founding the VMLC nonprofit.) He proudly noted the progress Readers 2 Leaders has made, including gaining some funding from the Dallas Independent School District and just being selected as a three-year Community Impact grant recipient of funds from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Later, as guests including Janet Horton, Giles Davidson, Christina Hanger, and Daniel Waldmann looked on, Norma and Ted told the crowd how far Readers 2 Leaders had come in five years. It’s all thanks to the group’s “meticulous approach that moves the kids forward,” said Norma. Added Ted: “We have made an impact, even if we’ve only scratched the surface.”

There was also praise for Fran, who after all had made the party happen at Mary Cook’s house. “Fran Tynan’s gotten me into more ******* things than I can mention,” Mary jokingly told the crowd. Then came a shout: “Yay, Fran!”   

North Texas Giving Day Booster: Friends Of The Mansfield Public Library

“When Ingrid Villar decided to stay home to raise her three children, one of her girlfriends told her, ‘You’ve got to find a library. You’ll be amazed to see how many things they offer for kids.’ So Villar did, and now she wishes everyone was aware of what a gem the Mansfield Public Library is.

“’I don’t think people realize how much the library offers,’ said Ingrid, a weekly patron. ‘They think it’s just books without realizing how much there is to enrich their lives.’

“Since moving to North Texas from California about two years ago, Ingrid and her three kids – now three, five and seven – go the Mansfield Public Library nearly every Wednesday for story time and, of course, to check out books.

Friends of Mansfield Public Library*

Friends of Mansfield Public Library*

“The weekly visit has become an anticipated event in the Villar household and is a big part of Ingrid’s parenting. She loves the learning opportunities that story time provides for her children beyond reading comprehension, which is crucial in education. ‘This is all preparing them for school, so when their teacher says, “You have to listen to me,” they’ll know what to do.’

“The Villar family story underscores an important message librarians have been spreading this year –libraries change lives, whether that’s through child literacy programs, free Internet access so people can search for job opportunities, or adult art classes that foster camaraderie. Libraries are more than places to check out books.

“Earlier this year Mansfield Public Library became one of the first libraries in Texas to offer WiFi hotspots for checkout. The community institution is also establishing a Family Place Library for early childhood development, and will soon offer U.S. citizenship classes.

“To aid the hard-working staff of Mansfield’s only library, the all-volunteer nonprofit Friends of the Mansfield Public Library was established to support the library through fundraising, promotion and advocacy.

“The Friends believe in the library’s power to transform lives, which is why we raise money to purchase things that aren’t in the normal budget. This year our donations went toward many things – a one-year public performance movie license, tables and board games for family programs, supplies for new adult programs – with the biggest donation helping to fund the summer reading program, which can be one of the busiest times at the library with students on summer break.

Amanda Eyre Ward talks at the annual Mansfield Reads! program put on by the Friends of the Mansfield Library at the Evening With The Author event.

Amanda Eyre Ward talks at the annual Mansfield Reads! program put on by the Friends of the Mansfield Library at the Evening With The Author event.

“The Friends also host Mansfield Reads!, an annual award-winning program where they bring authors like Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler and New York Times best-sellers Sandra Brown and J.A. Jance to speak to the community. With the tagline ‘One City, One Book,’ the free event fosters a sense of community through reading and public dialogue about the selected literature.

“’This is our first year to participate in North Texas Giving Day, and we are so excited,’ said Carol Ann Grantham, president of the Friends. ‘Mansfield is growing quickly, and our organization needs to keep up with the city’s development to continue to support our already fantastic library and its services.’

“By participating in Giving Day, the Friends hope to increase awareness about their group, the library’s services, and raise more money to purchase items for the library that aren’t funded by the regular budget.”

-By Lindsey Perkins Wade, Mansfield Reads! Vice President

* Photo provided by Friends of the Mansfield Public Library
______

In seven years, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $119 million into the North Texas community. In 2015, $33 million was raised through more than 118,000 gifts benefiting over 2,000 nonprofits.

On Thursday, September 22, support Friends of the Mansfield Public Library by linking here and spreading the word. #NTxGivingDay

Wildenthal Gift, Cheryl Pollman’s Award And Sons Of Serendip Highlighted VMLC’s “Wings Of Spring” At The Perot

A lot of fellas probably would have made plans for Monday, April 4, to head home, get in some comfy clothes, and settle down in their fav chair with a brewski in one hand and a snack a reach away to watch the NBA finals.

But then they realized they had been scheduled to head to the Perot Museum for VMLC fundraiser Wings of Spring, A Celebration of Literacy. So, the coat and tie stayed put. The brewski and snack were replaced by white and red wines with a buffet supper among the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall. Instead of the well-worn chair and the basketball players on the tube, they were destined for the Hoglund Foundation Theater and the Sons of Serendip on the ground level.

Not exactly the Monday night they envisioned. But it actually turned out a heck of a lot better than even the most negative guy had expected.

Mike and Kathy Crow, DeeDee Lee, Piper Wyantt, Claire Emanuelson and Lee Papert

Mike and Kathy Crow, DeeDee Lee, Piper Wyatt, Claire Emanuelson and Lee Papert

From the moment guests like Underwriting Chair Kathy Crow and husband Mike Crow, DeeDee Lee, Claire Emanuelson and Piper Wyatt arrived on the third level for the buffet, the place was filled with smiling guests of all ages. After filling their plates at one of the really amazing buffet lines, they found tables throughout the area. One group lucked out and got a table next to the Land Dynamics in the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall, where guests tried out the feeling of an earthquake. Pity the gals in heels who shook, rattled and giggled.

Just seconds before 8 p.m., guests were advised to adjourn to the theater for the evening’s presentation. But, alas, once at the theater door, they were told things weren’t quite ready, and that they should check back in at 8:10.

As guests settled in the lobby and the Museum Café, some noticed an individual walking by with a guitar case. Then another fellow strolled through the Café wearing a hat; he was followed by a third and a fourth. Someone asked, “Were those the Sons?”

No answer came, but really, who cared. At 8:10 the doors opened and the guests took their assigned seats.

Muna

Muna

Event Co-Chairs Diane Brown welcomed the SRO crowd and introduced Rabbi Nancy Kasten, who in turn introduced VMLC grad Muna. Eloquently, the Iraqi native told how Cheryl Pollman had helped her learn English and helped her prepare for her U.S. citizenship test. Cheryl even came to Muna’s home to help her husband study for his test. Both passed on their first try.

Cheryl Pollman

Cheryl Pollman

VMLC Executive Director Sarah Papert then told the group that Marnie and Kern Wildenthal had made a substantial donation for VMLC programs. For this reason the annual literacy award was being renamed the Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Legacy Award in Marnie’s honor. Sarah then officially presented the first Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Legacy Award to Cheryl, who graciously accepted it.

Cheryl told of the number of students who had fled their native countries to start new lives in Dallas. But their transition had also meant their learning an entirely new language. And that’s where VMLC volunteers like Cheryl had come in.

Cordaro Rodriguez

Cordaro Rodriguez

Micah Christian

Micah Christian

Kendall Ramseur

Kendall Ramseur

Mason Morton

Mason Morton

Following Cheryl’s acceptance, cellist Kendall Ramseur wearing a hat entered the room taking his place on the stage. He was joined by pianist Cordaro Rodriguez, who sat behind a keyboard with a guitar nearby. Then towering Mason Morton slid in alongside a harp. The last to arrive on stage was singer Micah Christian. These were the Sons of Serendip, who had come in fourth place on TV’s “America’s Got Talent” show competition in 2014. The foursome had gotten together following their graduate studies at Boston University.

Micah Christian, Kendall Ramseur and Mason Morton

Micah Christian, Kendall Ramseur and Mason Morton

Micah warned the audience that a couple of the songs would require their involvement. Such a threat usually has people heading for the door or ducking pretty far down in their chairs. Not in this case. Whether it was singing along or clapping, the guests really got into it. The quartet’s singing and music impressed even the most diehard basketball fan.

In between the tunes, the audience learned:

  • Coming from Boston that was being hit with a late snowstorm, Micah told how impressed the group had been with Dallas. Not just the weather, but everyone being so friendly. In Boston he said motorists tend to drive over pedestrians, but here they actually stop to let the people walk by. And Dallasites actually smile back at you.
  • How the foursome had gotten together. Cordaro was actually a lawyer and Kendall, Mason  and Micah were teachers.
  • Kendall and Cordaro initially had needed to make money to pay off their education loans. So they tried playing traditional tunes in the Boston subway. At first it didn’t seem to be a good fit. But then they tried playing their own music, and it changed their lives.
  • When the foursome went to Madison Square Garden to try out for “America’s Got Talent,” it was also the scene of a basketball game. Despite Mason toting along his harp, security kept telling them to head to the location of the basketball event.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Authors Nicholas Kristof And Sheryl WuDunn Explain The Power Of Books In Achieving Success To Students

Authors were abounding in Dallas on Tuesday, March 22. While noted historian Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan was at the Dallas Museum of Art for Art In Bloom, husband-and-wife Pulitzer Prize winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn were talking with joint gathering of the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School and the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy about the power of books. Here’s a report from the field:

Nicholas Kristof, Lisa Curry , Sheryl WuDunn and Nakia Douglas*

Nicholas Kristof, Lisa Curry , Sheryl WuDunn and Nakia Douglas*

Today, Pulitzer Prize winners and best-selling authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn spoke to students at Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, a partner school of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network. The two are best known for their books, “Half the Sky” and their work with The New York Times. Both Rangel students along with the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy students listened to the authors, who are also married, on experiences of covering Darfur (Sudan), inequality, sex trafficking, parenting and more. Students asked compelling questions with the first being, “How do we solve these difficult issues?”

Barack Obama's Stevie May*

Barack Obama’s Stevie May*

Kristof replied with this advice:

  1. Find some issue that speaks to you and your friends.
  2. Research the issue.
  3. Gather friends and start a club. The club could be raising funds or writing letters to elected officials. An example would be addressing the 62 million girls around the world who don’t have access to education.

Inequality among women and girls was another topic. “Society will be better off when everyone can reach their highest potential,” remarked WuDunn.

Lynn McBee and Irma Rangel students*

Lynn McBee and Irma Rangel students*

Kristof concluded, “Terrorists know that the biggest threat is a girl with a book. I wish we would fund girls’ education as much as we fund drones,” said Kristof.

“And we need to fund boys with books, too,” WuDunn added.

* Photos provided by Irma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School

Sold-Out Alert!: Wings Of Spring

Monday evening the Perot Museum is going to be filled with music, singing, dining and award presenting. The occasion is “Wings Of Spring: A Celebration Of Literacy” benefiting VMLC. Over the past four years, the event has raised more than $1M to help VMLC’s mission of changing lives through literacy.

Sons of Serendipity, who were 2014 finalists in “America’s Got Talent,” will be providing the music and singing in the Hoglund Theater.

As for the Literacy Legacy Award, it will be presented to Cheryl Pollman, who is “a dedicated volunteer, advocate, board member and friend to VMLC since its founding days. Whether teaching basic English to adults, recruiting friends and family to volunteer with her, or tutoring students to pass their U.S. Citizenship test, Cheryl has impacted the lives of countless individuals and their families as they pursue their American Dream.”

If you’ve already gotten your tickets, how smart you were because the event is sold out! However, they’re probably still open for a donation to help their work with 1,200 adults and 330 children annually. Or, if you’re shy of funds, why not volunteer.

Dallas Uncorked Provided Sip And Scene With Talking Tidbits About Oscar Predictions And Local News

Leave it to local film-meister Gary Cogill to share his predictions for the upcoming Academy Awards on Sunday, February 21, just a week before the Oscars were doled out. He did it as part of Dallas Uncorked’s “Wine and Film, the Perfect Pairing With Gary Cogill — 88th Annual Academy Awards Preview” at Veritas.

Sure, it was rainy, but that didn’t dissuade movie lovers from getting the inside poop on the Academy contenders, while having Dallas Uncorked founder/Gary’s wife Hayley Hamilton Cogill pouring the vino.

How many guesses did Gary get right? Compare his guesses with the outcome here.

Gary Cogill and Hayley Hamilton Cogill

Gary Cogill and Hayley Hamilton Cogill

Sarah and Lee Pappert

Sarah and Lee Papert

Debra Nelson and Holly Reed

Debra Nelson and Holly Reed

Pat Holder and Wayne Ritter

Pat Holder and Wayne Ritter

But before Gary took the mic, chit chat was making the rounds. In between serving up wine, Hayley was looking to the future and the Dallas Chapter of Le Dame d’Escoffier International’s annual “A Dame Good Celebration — Raiser Grazer 2016” on Sunday, April 3, at the Dallas Farmers Market’s The Shed. She’ll be heading up the beverage committee and promised “tasty cocktails”…Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert was hinting about the upcoming Dallas International Film Festival that will be taking place from April 14 to 24… And Lee wasn’t the only Papert with future activities around the corner. Lee’s wife, Sarah Papert, who heads up VMLC, has been busy making plans for the Wings of Spring fundraiser on Monday, April 4, when Cheryl Pollman will receive VMLC’s Literacy Legacy Award. Following a cocktail reception and dinner, there will be a performance in the Hoglund Foundation Theater by Sons of Serendip. You know them. They were 2014 America’s Got Talent finalists. This year the event is taking place at the Perot Museum .… Gal pals Debra Nelson and Holly Reed were just back from holiday. It was hard to believe that some folks didn’t know that Holly is no longer with AT&T. She’s working with Ron Kirk on the Texas Central Railway. She’s already been to Japan to check out their super-duper, high-speed bullet trains … Over at a high-top table Pat Holder was looking downright giddy about her Valentine’s proposal at the Mansion by Wayne Ritter. Yup. Pat accepted and the nuptials are in the planning stage.

Marnie And Kern Wildenthal Establish $100,000 Endowment Fund For VMLC

In each of the last four or five years, current and previous board members of the VMLC (Vickery Meadow Learning Center) have gotten together to catch up and trade ideas about the nonprofit’s work teaching English literacy skills to non-English-speaking adults and young children in diverse, low-income neighborhoods. And, this year was no exception.

On Friday, February 12, about 50 of them—including VMLC advisory board members like Ruben Esquivel— gathered for breakfast in The Library Bar at the Warwick Melrose Hotel. On the menu, besides the excellent bacon and eggs: an announcement that longtime volunteer Marnie Wildenthal and her husband, Dr. Kern Wildenthal, have established a $100,000 endowment fund for the VMLC.

To manage the new fund—to be called The Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Fund—the couple has selected the Dallas Foundation. It also was announced that, to further honor Marnie, the group’s Literacy Legacy Award will be presented biannually and will be renamed the Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Legacy Award.

Marnie, who’s been a VMLC teacher and volunteer since 2002, a board member, a president of the organization, and a 2014 recipient of the Literacy Legacy Award, was introduced to the group by Kern. He noted that, “next to our kids and grandkids,” VLMC is Marnie’s “passion.”

After thanking Kern (“When it comes to business and money matters, he’s the consultant”), Marnie said the VLMC plays a vital role in the community. “Fourteen years ago, [the clientele was] mostly Hispanic,” she said. “Now, the population reflects the terrible things that are going on in the world.” VLMC offers its clients “not just literacy instruction,” she went on, “but an opportunity to think about something other than what they’ve been through.” It’s important that the nonprofit’s board members and volunteers “be advocates for the immigrant community,” Marnie concluded.

Kern had been introduced by current VMLC board president Camille Owens, whose remarks followed a report to the group by Sarah Papert, VMLC’s executive director. Sarah noted that the group is now serving 1,200 adults and 330 children with 300 weekly volunteers. It operates at sites in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood, in West Dallas, and in East Dallas.

MySweet2016Goals: Norma Nelson

According to Readers 2 Leaders Executive Director Norma Nelson,

This month, I have had the tremendous blessing (and honor!) of being named Readers 2 Leaders’ first Executive Director!

“Readers 2 Leaders is a non-profit organization founded in 2010, whose mission is to develop and grow the reading skills of children in West Dallas ages 3-10 so that they succeed in school, graduate and leave school prepared to live productive lives. We offer in-school reading tutoring, a community lending library, high quality after-school programs and parent education centered on early literacy.

“In serving R2L as its first employee as well as our first Program Director, it has been amazing to see the growth of our programs and the impact we have had on West Dallas children. This year we are serving 240 children at six program sites (including five DISD schools) and our staff has grown to 14 total. Last year, the average student accelerated their reading level by 150%!

“Additionally, R2L partners with over 100 community volunteers who help out by reading with a child just one day a week for 30 minutes.

“My goals for 2016 are simple: to never lose sight of our mission, to humbly serve the West Dallas community and to get the word out in our community about the children in West Dallas who need our help! I am excited to take on this new role and continue to bring early literacy programs to West Dallas.

“For more information on Readers 2 Leaders, please visit us on the web at: www.readers2leaders.org.”

Dallas Children’s Theater’s “A Year With Frog And Toad” To Help Youngsters In The Housing Crisis Center Program

Hmmm, “A Year With Frog and Toad”? Sound like a freshman dorm roommate assignment? Nope. It’s the Tony-nominated musical production about friendship that runs from Friday, January 29, thru Sunday, February 28, at the Dallas Children’s Theater. And leave it to those wonderful folks at DCT, they’ve partnered up with the Housing Crisis Center to help children whose families are homeless.

It’s a tradition for the DCT to use “their first production of every new year to spotlight a community partner.” As part of the collaboration, the DCT patrons are asked to make a donation to the HCC.

The DCT is also reserving tickets for some of the HCC children to attend the musical.

Ah, but there’s still more. DCT Co-Founder/Executive Artistic Director Robyn Flatt and her crew are “collecting books and blankets for children ages 3-12” to be provided for the HCC munchkins.

Robyn Flatt (File photo)

Robyn Flatt (File photo)

Sherri Ansley (File photo)

Sherri Ansley (File photo)

It makes so much sense. As HCC Executive Director Sherri Ansley put it, “Housing Crisis Center is implementing a new program called Imagine Time to bring therapeutic learning experiences to the children in its programs designed to allow them to heal from their situation and protect against many of the issues related to homelessness. By providing children a safe place to learn and grow, they will be given the space and time to process their previous — often traumatic— life experiences.”

MySweet2016Goals: Anne Reeder

According to The Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder,

Anne Reeder (File photo)

Anne Reeder (File photo)

“My goal for 2016 is to recruit additional members for the Wilkinson Center Board of Directors. We are looking for experienced and strategic community leaders who have a passion for our mission and are willing to lend their time and talents to protect and promote our crucial work.

The mission of Wilkinson Center is to transform the lives of Dallas families by creating pathways to self-sufficiency with dignity and respect. New board members will join the all-star members of the current Board.”

MySweetWishList: United Way Of Metropolitan Dallas

According to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas CEO and President Jennifer Sampson,

“During this holiday season, all of us at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas are grateful for our generous supporters, investing in change that lasts. To borrow a line from Dr. Seuss, ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’

Jennifer Sampson reading at Uplift*

Jennifer Sampson reading at Uplift*

“We know this community cares about making North Texas a better place to live, work and raise our families. You’ve proven it time and again. And together, we are focused on creating solutions that produce healthy, well-educated and financially stable individuals and families.

“As we unite to forever change lives, my wish is that you’ll join United Way in January to Change a Child’s Story. Two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have no books at home. With a 38% child poverty rate in Dallas, we know there are thousands of local children who don’t have the simple luxury of owning a book to read.

“For a child, reading is critical to the foundation of all future learning. Children learn to read through 3rd grade. In 4th grade, they begin reading to learn. Without gaining the necessary verbal, literacy, and comprehensive skills that reading provides during the early years, starting and staying behind in school can be the inevitable result.

“United Way’s ‘Change a Child’s Story’ digital campaign will collect donations to get books to children who need them and encourage parents to read to their kids at least 20 minutes per day. ‘Change a Child’s Story’ officially launches the first week of January, but we’re encouraging you to show your support early by registering to become involved at https://unitedwaydallas.org/change-a-childs-story/.

“We’re counting on you to make our wish come true… to rewrite the stories of thousands of North Texas children in need in 2016. As Dr. Seuss and I predict, ‘And will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)!’

“Wishing you the joy of the season- and the joy that comes by giving the gift of reading to a child.”

-By Jennifer Sampson, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas president and CEO

* Photo provided by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

North Texas Giving Day Booster: VMLC

“Imagine if you and your family suddenly had to flee the United States and go to a county where you did not speak the language and you had no access to resources such as education, healthcare or employment. Imagine if your child became sick and you couldn’t communicate with the doctor. Or if you wanted to enroll your child in school, but couldn’t talk with the school staff. How would you be able to support your family – even apply for a job – without being able to speak, read and write in the new language?

VMLC*

VMLC*

“For our students at VMLC, they don’t have to imagine this. They have come here to Dallas, Texas from countries all around the world and are succeeding today by focusing on learning English, both adults and their young children together, with the help of caring, compassionate community volunteers.

“You may not know that a startling 21% of adults in Dallas County cannot read and write in English at a basic level. Without these skills, individuals cannot find employment at a livable wage, advocate for their children’s education, or address healthcare concerns.

VMLC*

VMLC*

“VMLC tackles this important community issue by providing free English literacy and life skills programs to immigrant and refugee families in some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Dallas: Vickery Meadow, West Dallas, East Dallas and Bachman Lake. When VMLC was founded in 1997 as Vickery Meadow Learning Center, we started with a handful of volunteers teaching English in apartment clubhouses in Vickery Meadow. Today we serve 1,250 adults and 330 children annually with the help of 275 volunteer teachers.

“With the help of our volunteers and through private donations including those raised on North Texas Giving Day, we are able to provide all of our services free of charge to those who need us most.

VMLC*

VMLC*

“Since its inception in 2009, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $86 million into the local community, benefitting more than 2,000 nonprofit agencies. North Texas Giving Day is an important part of VMLC’s giving tradition – last year raising $40,130. With your help, we hope to serve even more.

“Do you want to make a difference? Get up and Give on September 17 at www.NorthTexasGivingDay.org to VMLC or any of the other non-profit organizations participating in North Texas Giving Day.”

-By Sarah Papert, executive director of VMLC

* Photo credit: VMLC

Nancy Nasher And David Haemisegger Celebrate NorthPark’s 50th Anniversary With NorthPark50: Fifty Years Of Giving

Oldtimers love to play the memory game of playing the “Remember when…. at NorthPark?” Such names as Kips Big Boy’s hot fudge sundaes, “Mrs. Pierce” at The Carriage Shop, Magic Pan’s Cherries Royale Crepes, The Melody Shop’s Jack Jacobs and, of course, Ron Chapman hosting “Sump’n Else” with “The Little Group” — Joanie Prather, Delpha Teague, Kathy Forney and Calleen Anderegg. The game has been the favorite topic of late thanks to the 50th anniversary of the legendary shopping center that was built because of the determination of Patsy and Ray Nasher.

To celebration anniversary, Patsy’s and Ray’s daughter Nancy Nasher and her husband David Haemisegger staged a great reveal on  the exact day — August 19 — and time that 50 years ago NP opened in 1965.

Before the 250 nonprofit representatives and longtime NP friends took their seats in NP’s North Court on Wednesday, August 19, numerous memories were being exchanged. NP General Manager Billy Hines, who has probably worn out countless shoes walking the grounds, reminisced about his 40+ years at NP. He had seen the center through the transition of the family ownership, the massive expansions and more holiday shopping that the NP Santa. When asked how he felt about being part of the NP family, he looked across the court at Nancy and David receiving congratulations, smiled and said, “I am honored to have been a part of it.”

James Bias and Billy Hines

James Bias and Billy Hines

No sooner had the words been spoken, then Billy was tapped on the shoulder by the SPCA’s James Bias. They’re old buddies like Dallas CASA’s Kathleen LaValle and other nonprofits that have benefited from NP’s support.

As pianist Gary Beard and trumpeter Ryan Anthony serenaded the group, guests like Dallas Women’s Foundation’s Ros Dawson, University of North Texas’ Susan Collins Sanders, The Family Place’s Paige Flink, Children’s Kern Wildenthal and Lori Wagner, Crystal Charity Ball’s Michal Powell, Team Connor’s Carolyn Alvey, Jamie Singer and Kathryn Copple, Genesis Women’s Shelter’s Jan Langbein, Dallas Habitat for Humanity’s Bill Hall, Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Jonathan Martin, Vogel Alcove’s Karen Hughes, Nasher Sculpture Center’s Jeremy Strick and Jill Magnuson, Dallas Museum of Art’s Max Anderson and so many others took their places.

Nancy Nasher

Nancy Nasher

Nancy welcomed the invited guests plus onlookers telling them that the tune that Gary and Ryan had just played — “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” —was the same one played 50 years ago with the late Gordon MacRae singing. She briefly recalled being a 10-year-old handing our programs and wearing a dress and a pin that her mother had designed for her. (Nancy didn’t mention that the next day was her birthday.)

David Haemisegger

David Haemisegger

Just for a moment she seemed to be back in that day when a retailing legend was introduced to the world despite naysayers. Yes, there were those who thought a enclosed shopping center with pieces of artwork on display was pretty gutsy. And the very idea of plopping it down in a cow pasture across from a cemetery miles away from downtown Dallas? Well! But her parents had a vision for both NorthPark and Dallas and she and David picked up the banner and carried it on.

One of those ways that Nancy and David were continuing the legacy was by supporting the area nonprofits. To do that they announced the creation of a unique program — NorthPark50: 50 Years of Giving. Following a brief video, it was announced that 50 area nonprofits would reap benefits for the next 50 days. How that would take place was alluded to, but nothing definite was announced. Instead guests were told to check social media daily for status reports.

Fifty Years of Giving (File photo)

Fifty Years of Giving (File photo)

Brent then took the podium telling of Dallas’ national reputation for generosity in supporting the nonprofits. He kept his remarks brief because he wasn’t telling this group anything they didn’t already know.

It was also revealed by Brent that unlike years past when NTGD was held with various activities throughout Dallas, it would be held at NorthPark in North Court on Thursday, September 17.

NorthPark50 guests

NorthPark50 guests

Nancy returned to the stage and told of Ryan’s battle against multiple myeloma and how impressed she was at “Blow for Cancer” when Ryan the country’s finest horn musicians performed. She asked Ryan to come to the stage and perform one more tune —“Gabriel’s Oboe” — that he had performed at the March fundraiser. As the haunting notes floated through the air, all activity in the center seemed to stop. Perhaps it was proof that thanks to funding for cancer research and treatments, even cancer couldn’t quell Ryan’s talent. At its conclusion, Ryan received a standing ovation.

NorthPark50 group photo

NorthPark50 group photo

Then Nancy thanked all and asked for representatives from the NorthPark 50 nonprofits to come to the stage for a group photo. This gathering proved to be entertaining as various stagings were attempted to fit all 50 plus on the stage, off stage, with chairs on stage, with chairs off state. Nobody minded. After all, they had 50 days of surprises ahead.

North Texas Giving Day Booster: Heart House

“Life in Vickery Meadow is no easy task. As refugees and immigrants, they must adjust to a new environment. They have to learn a completely new language. They often have to learn a new vocation. They have to rebuild a life.

Heart House*

Heart House*

“Their children have similar difficulties. They must assimilate into a new culture, often times without parental support and engagement. Working over twelve hours per day in low-wage jobs, their parents barely know the language. They certainly don’t know the complexities of US schools system.

Heart House*

Heart House*

“Consider Biak and Yousef. Yousef is from Iraq and well educated. Writing from left to right has proven to be difficult. Biak is from Myanmar and is illiterate. Our system views them as English Language Learners (ELL’s), and assumes they have the same needs. We take a different approach.

“Some programs focus on grade levels and create a single curriculum matching the same standards. We assess students’ individual needs and tailor a program that focuses on major concepts and cater to our students’ specific growth areas. Some programs focus on character as a secondary part of they program. We recognize our students deal with toxic stressors daily. We include social emotional support as a core part of what we do.

Heart House*

Heart House*

Heart House provides opportunities that not only help to expand our students’ horizons, but also opens their eyes to new possibilities. Ana was shy, embarrassed, and lacked confidence because she could not speak English well. We partnered with Lemonade Day, to introduce her to entrepreneurship and fiscal responsibility. This experience opened Ana up to a whole new world. She engaged with instructors and had one of the most successful lemonade stands in our agency.

Heart House*

Heart House*

“From its origins in 2000, Heart House has existed as an apartment-based, local nonprofit with a global reach. We provide safety, education and opportunity to refugee and underprivileged children. Since we have such humble origins, we don’t have the national attention of other organizations. North Texas Giving Day helps our bottom line, giving us access to regional resources. This allows our children to experience an average of 25% increase in reading fluency over two school semesters.

“Imagine you are the hiring manager of a local company and sitting across from you is a candidate that speaks 2-3 languages, has a knack for creative problem solving, and has immersed and adapted to a variety of cultures. That is the average Heart House student.

-By Lenita Dunlap, MPA, MA, Executive Director

* Photo credit: The Ogal Company

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Mission Olé 2015

According to Mission Olé 2015 Chair Greg Nieberding,

Greg Nieberding (File photo)

Greg Nieberding (File photo)

“Trinity River Mission — a volunteer-based community learning center that promotes literacy, encourages academic success, and develops effective life skills among disadvantaged youth — will host its 16thannual Mission Olé on Thursday, October 29, 2015 from 7:00–10:00 p.m. at 3015 at Trinity Groves in West Dallas. This year’s event will incorporate a new theme, “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) and will include cocktails, authentic Mexican cuisine, Lotería, which is Mexican bingo, entertainment and more. Partygoers are encouraged to wear Dia de los Muertos-inspired costumes in celebration of this long-standing holiday.

Mission Ole 2015*

Mission Ole 2015*

“We hope the theme not only creates a fun evening for TRM donors, but also provides an opportunity to make a deeper connection with both TRM and the clients they serve in West Dallas, who are 98% Hispanic. Many of the agency’s clients often say that Trinity River Mission is a ‘second home and family’; the familial atmosphere of Dia de los Muertos allows us the opportunity to invite Mission Olé guests to be a part of the TRM family as well.

“Some of TRM’s clients will also get in on the fun by working with local artist Sal Barron to create many of the decorative items associated with Dia de los Muertos over the summer that will then be used at Mission Olé.

Tickets for Mission Olé are $175 each and sponsorships begin at $1,000.  To purchase tickets or sponsorships, please visit www.missionole.com or contact Michelle Mora-Lopez at 214.744.6774 ext. 109 or [email protected].”

* Graphic provided by Trinity River Mission

JUST IN: 14th Annual Celebration Of Reading Has New Ticket Pricing Levels And Sponsorship Perks Available Now

Despite Papa George H.W. Bush taking a tumble and in the hospital, Mama Barbara Bush isn’t letting this slow down her 14th annual Celebration of Reading on Monday, October 12.

The tickets just went on sale and this year there’s been some added levels of participation. And they range from less expensive to added perks for sponsorships.

For guests who want to attend the pre-event reception, the presentation of best-selling authors (Harlan Coben, Dana Perino, Jodi Picoult, Scott Simon and Markus Zusak) in the McDermott Concert Hall at the Meyerson plus have “a light dinner” afterwards, the tickets are $250 each.

Michelle Staubach Grimes (File photo)

Michelle Staubach Grimes (File photo)

But for those who just want to hear the authors and skip din-din, the price of a ticket is just $100. They’ll still get to attend the pre-event reception and have a reserved seat. Now, that’s a deal.

At the other end of the spectrum, for generous sponsors there will be the Celebration Luncheon with members of the Bush family and the authors as well as a VIP reception prior to the presentation! Of course, they’ll have reserved seats at the presentation and dinner.

Also, you can expect to see some of the Staubach clan in attendance since children’s author Michelle Staubach Grimes is now chairing the Dallas fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

Suggestion: After you finish reading “Go Set A Watchman,” check out the Celebration of Reading authors’ handiwork.

A Celebration Of Reading 2015 May Not Have Bushes, But It Has A Staubach At The Helm

The same old, same old structure of Barbara Bush’s A Celebration of Reading has had some restructuring. Think of it as not a major face lift but rather some nipping and tucking.

Since Barb is staying pretty close to Poppy in Houston and Mandi and George P. have relocated to Austin for his duties as Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, there are no Bushes available to spearhead the annual Dallas fundraisers.

Luckily, a Dallas first family member has stepped up to chair the literary event. Marianne and Roger Staubach’s daughter/author Michelle Staubach Grimes will chair the Monday, October 12, fundraiser at the Meyerson.

And Michelle has just announced the final roll out of authors of her first time. Here’s the play list: Harlan Coben, Scott Simon, Jodi Picoult, Markus Zusak and Dana Perino, who was just here.

The funds raised support various reading programs including Teen Trendsetters that pairs teen mentors with first-, second- and third-grade students. In 2014, “Celebration of Reading help launch 15 new programs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”

The evening will include a presentation by the authors followed by a light supper in the Meyerson lobby. Don’t worry about it being held on a school night. Folks usually are home in time for the 10 p.m. news or the last quarter of Monday Night Football.

Sponsorships are available, but tickets will be on sale at a later date. Stay tuned for that announcement.

As for the full dossier on the authors, just follow the jump. [Read more…]

SOLD OUT ALERT: Great Big Jam

Let’s start the week off with good news. This Saturday’s ChildCareGroup’s very first ever Great Big Jam is sold out! What? You didn’t know about it? What’s it about? No, it’s not a get together to make preserves.

Great Big Jam*

Great Big Jam*

It’s kid-oriented at the Dallas Country Club from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with activities and crafts. Ah, but the real emphasis is going to be on literacy. To do that, Great Big Jam Co-Chairs Elizabeth Malone, Leigh Mundinger and Winifred Mundinger have arranged to have New York Times best-selling author Eric Litwin entertain the children. Eric not only wrote “Pete the Cat” but also the new musical series, “The Nuts.”

According to Leigh, “We are so excited about the overwhelming response to the first-ever Great Big Jam. There are very few fundraising events in Dallas where children can get involved and engaged in philanthropy. We are thrilled that the Great Big Jam provides that opportunity, in a fun, family event.”

In addition to wearing their fav PJ’s, munchkin guests “are asked to bring new pajamas to donate to the children served by ChildCareGroup.

While he’s in town, Eric will also perform for the youngsters and families at ChildCareGroup’s MLK Center. And Half Price Books is donating books for the children at MLK.

* Graphic provided by ChildCareGroup

Dallas Turns Red To Launch Big D Reads’ “True Grit”

Anyone just visiting Dallas or even some oldtimers might have thought Dallas was ablaze in fire engine red. No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke. It was the official kick-off of Big D Reads month encouraging students to read Charles Portis’ legendary “True Grit.”

To set the mood, organizers arranged with certain “outstanding” points of interest to turn their usual lights to red. Get it — “red” and “read.” Still confused? Here’s the story:

“This month, Big D Reads unites the city of Dallas around reading and talking about one book, Charles Portis’ ‘True Grit.’  The kickoff started last night with a bike ride throughout downtown Dallas where 40 bicyclists took photos and videos of buildings downtown, such as the Omni Hotel, Bank of America, Reunion Tower, and Hunt Building, lit up to ‘Paint the Town Well-Read.’ Special thanks to MoneyGram for presenting this event and to Joseph Haubert for this gorgeous shot.

Big D Reads turn the city red*

Big D Reads turns the city red*

“Throughout the month, Big D Reads will organize book discussions, movie screenings, and other activities all devoted to ‘True Grit.’ Big D Reads’ goal is to immerse Dallas in a shared reading experience, with a specific focus on increasing reading among ninth-grade Dallas ISD students. For the latest schedule, visit http://bigdreads.org.”

* Photo credit: Joseph Haubert

VMLC Expands Its Reach And Promptly Boosts Attendance At Its Annual “Wings of Spring” Literacy Fundraiser

At the “Wings of Spring: A Celebration of Literacy” fundraiser for VMLC—formerly called Vickery Meadow Learning Center—at Fashion Industry Gallery on Friday, March 20, English teacher Leti Bustamante was proudly talking up all the exciting things VMLC is doing at its new campus in East Dallas.

The campus is “new” because, earlier this year, the nonprofit dedicated to improving English literacy among non-English-speaking adults and children merged with Bustamante’s ELM (short for English Language Ministry Inc.) facility on East Dallas’ Peak Street. The acquisition gives VMLC three campuses now—in Vickery Meadow and West Dallas in addition to East Dallas—and the ability to reach more students.

“We’re currently teaching 85 adults and 40 children,” Bustamante said of the former ELM campus. “But now that we’ve merged with VMLC, we’ll be able to offer more classes—not just in the mornings, but in the evenings as well.”

Don and Cathey Humphreys, Sarah Papert, Susie Simon and Camille Owens*

Don and Cathey Humphreys, Sarah Papert, Susie Simon and Camille Owens*

The recent merger also was on the mind of VMLC Executive Director Sarah Papert when Papert addressed the crowd of 313—up from 200 at last year’s “Wings”—that had gathered for a cocktail reception and a performance by the Time for Three musical group.

With a current roster of more than 250 volunteer teachers, Papert said, VMLC entered in the ELM merger negotiations last fall, then “decided to get married” in January. The goal, she explained: “To be more efficient and more effective, and to serve more people.”

Patricia Massey, Ashley Coleman and Megan Nicholson*

Patricia Massey, Ashley Coleman and Megan Nicholson*

Following Papert’s talk—and a nicely done video about the nonprofit’s efforts—event Chair Ashley Coleman and Co-chair Patricia Massey announced that, this year, “Wings of Spring” had raised more than $307,000 for the group’s various programs. Among them: a Family Literacy Program, a Workforce Literacy Program, and an Early Childhood Education Program.

Zach De Pue, Ranaan Meyer and Nick Kendall*

Zach De Pue, Ranaan Meyer and Nick Kendall*

Then it was time for Time for Three, a high-energy trio that calls itself “the world’s first classically trained garage band.” Tf3 was back “by popular demand,” organizers said, after appearing at the “Wings” fundraiser last year. With members Zach DePue (violin), Nick Kendall (violin) and Ranaan Meyer (double bass), the talented group showed off its versatility, blending elements of classical, country-western, gypsy and jazz music.

When the performance was over, guests including Joyce and Harvey Mitchell and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal (Marnie’s a longtime VMLC volunteer teacher) showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. Others joining in the hearty applause included Honorary Chairs and presenting sponsors Cathey and Don Humphreys, presenting sponsors Joyce and Les Coleman, presenting sponsor Susie Simon, and VMLC Board President Camille Owens and her husband Patrick Owens.

* Photo credit: Holly Kuper

Big D Reads Is Crowing With Activities Thanks To Rooster

Gee, Kara and Randall Goss just held a party last night to announce plans for the John Wayne Film Festival this fall. But if you can’t wait until September for your “Duke” fix, then the folks at Big D Reads have just what you’re hankering for — “True Grit.” No, not the movie… the novel by Charles Portis about a young girl’s search for her father’s killer in the 1870’s American west.

The month of April is dedicated to getting area high school freshman to read the book that was eventually made into a movie starring John Wayne. He even won his one and only Academy Award for his portrayal of U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn.

Big D Reads*

Big D Reads*

If you would like to share the adventures of Mattie Ross and Rooster, you can donate to help purchase books for the area’s ninth graders. $3 will buy a book for a student.

In the meantime, here is full list of the activities being held in connection with Big D Reads and “True Grit.”

Thursday, April 9-Saturday, April 18: Kettle Art Gallery Show

  • Kettle Art will exhibit Dallas’ grit, as portrayed by several local artists.
  • Hours: 7-10 pm (Thurs.-Fri.); 4-10 p.m. (Sat.)
  • Price: Free
  • Location: Kettle Art Gallery, 2650-B Main St.

Friday, April 10: FOE Double Feature & Steak Night

  • The Fraternal Order of Eagles will screen both versions of “True Grit” at its Steak Night, which includes grilled steak, a baked potato, corn on the cob, salad, rolls, and dessert for $10.
  • Hours: 7 p.m.
  • Price: Free for the movies; $10 for the steak dinner
  • Location: FOE, 8500 Arturo Dr.

Saturday, April 11: Community Conservative Action Day at the Trinity Audubon Center

  • Big D Reads is collaborating with the Trinity Audubon Center on its native prairie habitat restoration activity. Attendees will participate in the center’s clean-up day, tour the prairie habitat area, and learn how it relates to the setting in “True Grit.”
  • Hours: 9 am—noon
  • Price: Free; 20 attendees only
  • Location: 6500 South Great Trinity Forest Way

Tuesday, April 14: Downtown Dallas, Inc. Presents: National Grits Day

  • Downtown Dallas Inc. will host a screening of “True Grit” at Main Street Garden, where we’ll pass out books and Joe Groves will serve grits on the patio. Before the film, in collaboration with Women in Film Dallas, we will host a discussion of women’s roles in film and how they’ve changed from the original “True Grit” film and the Coen Brothers adaptation. Panelists include: Julia Dyer, Angie Bolling, Cynthia Mondell, and will be moderated by Reis McCormick.
  • Also on this day, Cafe Momentum will hand out grits (complete with a toppings bar) at Thanks-Giving Square from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Hours: Grits handout, noon to 2 p.m.; panel, 7 p.m.; movie, 8-10 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: Thanks-giving Square, 1627 Pacific Ave.; Main Street Garden, 1902 Main St.

Friday, April 17: Dallas Comedy House Takes on “True Grit”

  • Jokes, books, and emerging comedians unite to take on grit.
  • Hours: 7:30 pm
  • Price: $8-$10
  • Location: 2645 Commerce St.

Saturday, April 18: True Grit Day at Dallas Heritage Village

  • Take a trip back in time. Dallas Heritage Village will bring “True Grit” to life with shootouts, stops at the general store, and all the elements that made Mattie’s adventure so exciting.
  • Hours: 10 am—4 pm
  • Price: Free with proof of book
  • Location: 1515 S. Harwood St.

Saturday, April 18: Bank of Texas Presents: Stories Around the Campfire

  • Join Half Price Books and REI for an interactive camping demo/experience and discussion of grit. Krys Boyd of KERA’s Think will read a selection from the book, and architect/adventurer Gary Garmon will share some of his wildest camp stories.
  • Hours: 2-3 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: 5803 E. Northwest Highway

Tuesday, April 21Dallas’ Gritty History: A Conversation on Race

  • Join Jim Schutze (“The Accommodation”), Michael Phillips (“White Metropolis”), and
    Reverend Peter Johnson as they talk about grit, race, and Dallas.
  • Hours: 7-9 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: Wild Detectives, 314 W. Eighth St.

Saturday, April 25: EY Presents: Big D Reads Festival at Klyde Warren Park

  • Join us as we celebrate a month of reading together. We’ll have line dancing, discussions about grit, a special performance by Howard Goldthwaite, Western Olympics, surprise performances, and a pet meetup with Nelson the Goldendoodle, Walter the Wolfhound, and Bacon the piglet, followed by a screening of “True Grit.”
  • Hours: 1-5 pm; movie screening starts at 8 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway

SELECT DALLAS LIBRARY EVENTS:

Saturday, April 4; Saturday, April 11: Urban Grit Poetry

  • Connect with your creative self-using free verse poetry. During this two-day experience, we’ll be taking on the subject of urban grit in downtown Dallas. Participants will be provided a memo pad and pencil and will explore the downtown landscape to find their inner-muse. Writers of all levels are invited to participate. Individuals will choose their favorite poems for an exhibit of selected works. Space is limited so please call 214.671.8378 to register.
  • Hours: 1 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: Erik Jonsson Central Library, Children’s Center, 1515 Young St.

 Saturday, April 4; Saturday, April 11: Urban Grit Photography

  • Explore the urban landscape of downtown Dallas and discover gritty beauty beyond the shining skyscrapers. With this two-day experience, photographers of all levels will go on a group expedition to photograph downtown Dallas. Each participant will receive a disposable camera and will choose favorite photos for an exhibit of selected works. Participation is limited so please call 214.670.1400 to register.
  • Hours: 1 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: Erik Jonsson Central Library, Children’s Center, 1515 Young St.

Wednesday, April 8: Lunch ’N’ Learn Brown Bag Event: The Mighty Millers of the Wild West

  • Local historian Donald Payton will talk about the Miller Brothers’ Influence on the Wild West, featuring cattle trails through Dallas and a famous Wild West show credited with the invention of rodeo. Find out about how the Miller family found its way to Dallas as well as the Indian Territory and had a powerful influence on western life after the Civil War. William Brown Miller was an early pioneer of Dallas County and his cousin George Washington Miller established the 101 Wild West touring show that included at various times Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Buffalo Bill and Geronimo.
  • Presented by the History and Social Sciences Division
  • Hours: 12:15 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, Dallas East/West Rooms, 1515 Young Street

Thursday, April 9: “True Grit” in Graphic Novels

  • Join us for a discussion of the “True Grit” graphic novel (available free at http://www.truegritmovie.com/intl/uk/novel/TRUE-GRIT_MEAN-BUSINESS.pdf) and the common themes found in other graphic novels.
  • Hours: 6:30 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 4th Floor, 1515 Young St.

Saturday, April 11: Lil’ Horses Western Storytime

  • Stories and songs with miniature horses from Equest Horse Therapy.
  • Hours: 11 a.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: Polk-Wisdom Branch Library, 7151 Library Lane

Thursday April 16: Big D Reads Bilingual Storytime

  • This special story hour will include books and songs in English and Spanish highlighting cowboys and vaqueros. Stories will be told around a special indoor campfire and followed up with a western themed craft.
  • Hours: 6 p.m.
  • Price: Free
  • Location: Prairie Creek Branch Library, 9609 Lake June Road
* Graphic provided by Big D Reads

The Spirit Of Taos Filled The Lot Thanks To The Friends Of Wilkinson

Many Dallas folks either have a second home in Taos or wish they did. The New Mexico town has the charm of Santa Fe without the hype. The nearby mountains also provide just enough chill to make chimineas with pinion, sweaters, boots and turquoise simply perfect any evening by moonlight.

On Friday, November 7, the Friends of Wilkinson Center transported that feel for a sold-out crowd at The Lot for The Spirit of Taos benefiting the The Wilkinson Center. The slight dip in the temperature made it ideal to bust out those cashmere and leathers. Even the moon cooperated, peeking through the trees.

Haley Dugas, Caroline Atkins and Beth Tomlin

Haley Dugas, Caroline Atkins and Beth Tomlin

However, instead of snow bunnies greeting you, Haley Dugas, Caroline Atkins and Beth Tomlin were right at the front door to check guests in.

Ann Dyer and Anne Reeder

Ann Dyer and Anne Reeder

The three Ann’s (Honorary Co-Chair Ann Dyer, Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder and Anne Conner) seemed to have gotten the memo proclaiming black leather and turquoise were the look of the night. Co-Chair Bob Dyer was late in arriving. Traffic was murder, but Ann carried on without a hiccup.

On the other hand, Pat McEvoy, just back from France, admitted that the only thing in her closet that was near western were her boots.

Charles and Pat McEvoy

Charles and Pat McEvoy

Liz Mayo and John Hansen

Liz Mayo and John Hansen

The sold-out event for 210 had guests all over the place. While Liz Mayo and John Hansen took to the dance floor, Rose Farley and Tom Korosec joined Sara and Gary Ahr in a nearby booth. Outside in the beer garden, Terry Conner caught up with Holly and Stormy Greef.

Anne and Terry Conner and Holly and Stormy Greef

Anne and Terry Conner and Holly and Stormy Greef

Rose Farley, Tom Korosec and Sara and Gary Ahr

Rose Farley, Tom Korosec and Sara and Gary Ahr

Co-Chairs Missy Huber and Cathy Saxon arranged for Frank in the Middle to start off the entertainment for the evening. Eventually Taos fav/former Dallasite Michael Hearne took over, including “Spirit of Taos” in his repertoire.

Even the list of raffle items had that Sangre de Cristo flavor with trips to Taos, turquoise jewelry and fashions.

Spirit of Taos in some ways was better than being in Taos. You didn’t have to waste time getting there. You had great food, music and friends. And you helped the Friends raise funds for The Wilkinson Center.

Barbara Bush Foundation For Family Literacy’s Celebration Of Reading Even Had The Deaf Interpreter Providing Giggles

Despite the morning thunder-bumpers that rattled locals with memories of the past Thursday’s slam-bang-theater, Monday, October 6th’ evening was picture perfect.

Perhaps former First Lady Barbara Bush had negotiated the deal with Mother Nature.

Even though Barbara wasn’t on site, her presence was felt at the Meyerson from the VIP reception, presentation in the McDermott Hall to the light supper in the lobby.

George P Bush, Lynne and Roy Sheldon

George P. Bush, Lynne and Roy Sheldon

Mandi Bush and Shelby Boyuls

Mandi Bush and Shelby Boyuls

Having lived through husband George “41” Bush’s 90th birthday and his parachute leap of faith from overhead to preparing for her own upcoming 90th birthday (she guarantees that no parachutes will be involved with the celebration), Barbara sent in the heavy hitter jump generation Committee Co-Chairs Mandi and George P. Bush and cousin Pierce Bush to host the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy‘s Celebration of Reading.

Pierce Bush

Pierce Bush

The trio B’s had just arrived from Ellie LeBlond‘s (Doro Bush Koch‘s daughter, Barbara’s granddaughter) wedding in Kennebunkport with photos showing off 41’s burgundy colored socks.

While Celebration of Reading guests gathered in the lobby for the readathon, authors Kelly Corrigan, Eric Draper, Emily Giffin, Gary Haugen and Brad Meltzer and VIP’s attended a private reception in the lower level suite.

Benaye Rogers, Gerneise and Terry Flowers

Benaye Rogers, Gerneise and Terry Flowers

Mandi reported that baby Prescott was turning 16 months and the perfect baby as she made the rounds with Shelby Boyuls… George P. across the room looked like Santa the day after Thanksgiving as guests lined up to chat with him. He looked right at home, but had an associate advising that politics were verboten for the evening…Lynn and Roy Shelton were celebrating his recent “medical” challenge and their 37th anniversary…After revealing to Marianne Staubach that she had left Contact Hotline to be development director at St. Philip’s School and Community Center, Benaye Rogers joined Gerneise and husband/St. Philip’s headmaster Terry Flowers at the reception…. Margaret and Lester Keliher brought along her 90-year-young dad Jim Coleman. When told that he still goes to work every day, the question arose, “What’s his secret?” Margaret answered, “Exercise.” Jim simply said, “Keep moving.”…Mary Jalonick was catching up with Lyda Hill, who had spent the summer in Colorado…While waiting for wife Jan to arrive Trevor Rees-Jones chatted it up with author Gary Haugen…Author Emily Giffin was thanking Michelle Staubach Grimes for introducing her to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy…Red-haired Pierce Bush proved that he had not lost his spunk for making friends. After doing volunteer work at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Houston and meeting Little Brother Jaylyn, Pierce traded in his corporate job to become executive VP of the Houston organization.

Margaret Keliher and Jim Coleman

Margaret Keliher and Jim Coleman

Liza McFadden

Liza McFadden

Barbara Bush Foundation President/CEO Liza McFadden pointed out that 36M U.S. adults are only at the most basic literacy level, and that 40% of Dallas parents dropped out of high school. She added that 80% of poor readers in the third grade are predicted to drop out of high school. To help the literacy problem, the foundation will be opening 20 new programs in Dallas.

 Jim and Debbie Francis

Jim and Debbie Francis

Holly Reed and Craig Holcomb

Holly Reed and Craig Holcomb

Before you knew it, Mandi, George P. and the authors disappeared. Just as their absence was noticed by the roomful of guests, the chimes alerting the crowd to move to the main event in the McDermott Hall. There they joined folks like Debbie and Jim Francis, Holly Reed, Craig Holcomb and Carol Reed.

Then the show commenced with heady types like President Barack Obama joining former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush via video. Each admitted that Barbara Bush and her project had indeed made a big difference in the lives of children and adults.

Then the program began. More than 40 kids from The Combined Show Choirs from Richardson ISD, Legacy from Richardson High School and Forte from JJ Pearce High School, sang Pharrell’s “Happy” song. George P. arrived at the podium and reported that George H.W. is “already saying when he turns 95 he wants to [jump] again.” He introduced Liza, who in turn introduced Kennedy Anderson, 14, a ninth grader at Uplift Academy in Fort Worth. In a very grown-up way she briefly told how the literacy program had changed her life.

Then Pierce came out telling an anecdote about being recognized as looking like George W. in Venice Beach, Calif. Though at first complimented, he was sorta taken back when the fella said, “That must piss you off!”

He then ended his comments saying that his grandmother would want him to cut it off. So, he introduced author Kelly Corrigan. Sounding a bit like a 21st century Erma Bombeck, she read from her book, “Glitter and Glue.” At one point the word “kegel” was mentioned. Looking at the deaf signer at the edge of stage, Kelly wondered aloud how the word would translate. All eyes shot in the direction of the blushing female deaf interpreter, who made a sign that all understood. The gals giggled and the guys rolled their eyes.

Emily Giffin and Michelle Staubach Grimes

Emily Giffin and Michelle Staubach Grimes

Bringing the room back to some sort of decorum, George P. introduced Eric Draper, former White House photographer, who described both a personal and professional view of being a photographer of the George W. Bush era. With photos on the screen behind him, Eric told how he got the job and the ups and downs of being a camera away from the first family for eight years.

Mandi introduced Emily, who talked about lunching earlier in the day with Laura Bush, whom she now calls “Aunt Laura”, and watching the Cowboys win a game with the Staubachs. Unlike her predecessors, Emily didn’t read from her book, but just talked about it. Known for her “chick literature,” she congratulated Kelly for having mentioned “lady parts.” The usual frothy Emily had a serious tone in her talk stressing the importance that literature had played in her life.

Trevor Rees-Jones and Gary Haugen

Trevor Rees-Jones and Gary Haugen

Next up was Gary Haugen of “The Locust Effect”, who told how 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law. He started by telling of his idyllic childhood in California and earning his B.A. from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Chicago. It was serving as director of the United Nation’s investigation of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 that changed his life and led to the creation of the International Justice Mission.

Mandi introduced the evening’s final speaker, Brad Meltzer, who in addition to writing thrillers like “The Tenth Justice” also  has produced children’s books. She claimed that 16-month–old Prescott had already read “I’m Rosa Parks.” But shoot! With Barbara Bush genes, who was going to quibble? Brad did. He said jokingly: “The last time I saw Prescott, he was totaling reading ’The Fifth Assassin’ ” (another book Brad wrote). In his talk, Brad advised, “We are starving for heroes.” He told of nugget of history that are included in his children’s books. For instance, a young Abraham Lincoln standing up to a group of youths piling hot coals on the back of a turtle (“let the turtle go”) and youthful Amelia Earhart’s first airborne flight thanks to her building a roller coaster structure (“I was flying!”).

To close the evening, the choir returned to the stage performing a couple of patriotic tunes with a background of videos of America.

With that the thousand-plus crowd adjourned to the lobby for dinner and discussion of the evening. As they headed home, they had gift bags with books for more food for thought.