Children’s Medical Center Foundation Benefactors And Friends Are Shown Appreciation For Providing $44M In 2017

Christopher Durovich

Brent Christopher

While the Saints and the Vikings were battling for the NFL Division title in Minneapolis on the evening of Sunday, January 14, Children’s Health President/CEO Christopher Durovich and Children’s Medical Center Foundation’s Brent Christopher, John Mitchener and Bill Braem were thanking benefactors and friends at the Dallas Country Club for their support.

John Mitchener

Bill Braem

The fact that many had the next day off, thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, allowed the 200 or so guests like Children’s First Lady Christina Durovich, Barbara and John Stuart, Carol Seay, Monica Egert Smith and Susan and Dave Scullins to leisurely enjoy the buffet in the grand ballroom.

Christina Durovich and Carol Seay

John and Barbara Stuart

As the Vikings battled en route to pulling off a last-second win, Foundation President Brent was looking very pleased for another reason. Having just completed his first full year in his position, he reported that $44M had been tallied, the third-highest amount in the Foundation’s history. That sweet number was only surpassed by a whopping $71M in 2015 and $55M in 2012.

Family, Friends And Officials Celebrate The Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway Designation With Memories And Champagne Toasts

There was a chill in the air and the forecast of light snow in the days ahead. But neither that nor Annette Simmons‘ in-recovery cough was going to prevent a special announcement from being made regarding Annette’s late husband, Harold C. Simmons, on Friday, January 12.

Jerry Fronterhouse, Amy Simmons Crafton, Annette Simmons and Don Huffines

Even state politicos like Sen. Don Huffines and State Rep. Morgan Meyer with their staffs had arranged to be on hand for the occasion at Annette’s and Jerry Fronterhouse‘s home. Morgan, who’d just returned from a legal proceeding in New England, hadn’t let the big northeastern blizzard keep him from pulling up in his SUV in Simmons’ driveway.

The day had been a long time coming. While entrepreneur/philanthropist Harold had died in 2013, his legacy was continuing, thanks to his widow Annette and their blended family.

Morgan Meyer, Lisa Simmons Crafton and Joe Crafton

Before the “official” part of the event began, guests gathered in the home’s formal living room to chat. Morgan and Simmons’ daughter Amy Simmons Crafton were comparing notes about the new four-legged additions in their families. Amy and husband Joe Crafton had Grace, a four-month-old Golden Retriever, and Morgan had a four-month Retriever named Scout that had already had a run-in with the Meyers’ son, Asher.

Signed Act designating Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway

The last to  arrive was Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was immediately welcomed by Annette.

Over on a table was the official paperwork signed in October that designated the section of Preston Road (aka State Highway 289) from Northwest Highway to Royal Lane as the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway, thanks to the Simmons family, Greg, Don and Morgan. 

Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

As the group assembled in the living room, the Simmons’ longtime friend Texas Tech University Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance kicked things off, recalling Harold’s sense of humor. According to Kent, when Harold “called to congratulate me on becoming chancellor, I said, ‘I dreamed last night that you gave Texas Tech $100 million.’ Harold said, ‘You must have had a nightmare.’”

Next up was Don, who stood next to Greg and applauded Harold’s brilliance at entrepreneurship and patriotism. “He believed in America, in American exceptionalism, and in the great state of Texas,” Don said. “He loved the Republican Party … I don’t think we can find a better patriot—a [more] virtuous patriot—and Harold was that. The least we can do is honor him with a couple of signs on Preston Road.”

Don was followed by Morgan, who noted the late billionaire’s longstanding support of nonprofits. At the time of his death, Harold and Annette Simmons’ charitable contributions had provided many hundreds of millions of dollars to countless nonprofits, ranging from the Mineola Volunteer Fire Department to the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. Just the year before his death, Harold personally gave away millions, including $50,000 to the Rayfield Wright Foundation, $60,000 to Hunger Busters, and more than $1 million to Buckner Children and Family Services.

Jerry Fronterhouse, Lisa Simmons and Don Glendenning

After Don and Morgan spoke, Annette assembled the people who had supported the Simmonses through the years—including their drivers, security people, and house staff—to be formally recognized. Besides Joe and Amy—she had donated a kidney to Harold—also on hand were Harold’s daughter Lisa Simmons, Annette’s son Andy Fleck with Andy’s son Austin Fleck, and Harold’s longtime lawyer Don Glendenning.

Andy Fleck, Kent Hance and Austin Fleck

With Annette seated next to him, Greg said that Harold would be remembered for “doing everything [he could] to protect the freedoms that have made America the greatest country in the world.”

Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

With a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous smile, Annette looked at Greg and recalled a Dallas Cowboys football game where “you were visiting with [Harold]. I said to him, ‘What were you two talking about?’ And he said, ‘I just asked him how much he needed.’”

There were also small, personal memories of Harold. It seems, for example, that Harold’s sense of humor was not diminished after he had his kidney transplant, courtesy of Amy. Following the surgery, he gave Amy earrings and a necklace to commemorate their “relationship.” Every now and then Harold would tease her to wear his “kidney stones.”

Amy Simmons Crafton, Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

The group then moved into the study for the unveiling of a prototype of the two signs that were being installed on Preston at that very moment. The room was dominated by a portrait of Harold at age 68 or so, and another of the Simmonses’ Springer Spaniel, Duke, which had been painted by their friend, former President George W. Bush.

Duke

Upon checking out the new sign proclaiming the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway, Don and Greg jokingly debated whether the color tended to be Aggie maroon.

Joe, looking at Greg, asked with a laugh whether the Simmons highway designation meant it’s “true that Amy cannot get a speeding ticket on the Harold Simmons Memorial Highway?” Retorted the governor in the same spirit: “Just wait until we add another three lanes on either side!”

Greg Abbott and Annette Simmons

With that, Annette and Jerry asked everyone to join them in a champagne toast to the naming of the highway.

Don Huffines

Don Huffines

Don then did a double presentation. First, he presented a framed photo of the signing of the legislative act designating the miles in Harold’s name. Then, a copy of Harold’s biography, titled “Golden Boy,” was presented to Greg. When Annette and Jerry realized that Greg had not read the book yet, a pen was produced and Annette personalized it for the governor.

Jerry Fronterhouse and Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

After all the accolades and toasts had been completed, Jerry raised his glass one more time, this time to honor Annette, saying how her efforts to salute her late husband’s accomplishments were to be applauded. “She shaped his thinking, I’m sure,” Jerry said. “You all were a great team—probably one of the most powerful husband-and-wife teams in Texas.”

For more photos from the reception, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: LaunchAbility And My Possibilities Merge Thanks To Assistance From The Better Together Fund

There’s been a lot of chatter about groups with similar goals and programs partnering up. As a result, the Better Together Fund was created on June 7, 2017, to assist in nonprofits coming together.

My Possibilities (File photo)

On Monday, January 15, such a merger officially took place between My Possibilities and LaunchAbility. Made perfect sense. My Possibilities has been “a pioneer in vocational learning for adults with Intellectual and Development Disabilities (IDD).” Founded in 1963 LaunchAbility “supported employment and job placement for adults with IDD.”

LaunchAbility (File photo)

While it didn’t take place overnight, the two organization’s boards reviewed the prospects of merging for “a greater impact on this under-served community by combining the resources of both organizations.”

Moving ahead, the combined effort will “retain the name My Possibilities, and the programs of both organizations focused on the vocational training, placement and supported employment will combine and function as the LaunchAbility Career Center at My Possibilities Campus for Higher Learning.”

According to LaunchAbility Board President Bill Murray, “Throughout our discussions with My Possibilities, we were gratified to learn that the services of both organizations were highly complementary. We clearly believe that the combined organization offers more resources to our clients and leads to greater independence.”

The new My Possibilities University Campus in Plano is currently under construction with plans to open in April including the LaunchAbility Career Center.

According to My Possibilities Board Chair Charmaine Solomon, “My Possibilities is extremely excited to have LaunchAbility join our team. LaunchAbility’s reputation, along with their highly-regarded staff, will create more possibilities for our Hugely Important People (HIPsters) and the IDD community in North Texas. The alignment of our missions and desire to serve this extraordinary population made this decision incredibly easy.”

JUST IN: KidneyTexas Distributes $144,639 To Six Organizations

KidneyTexas President Andrea Alcorn looked relieved Tuesday night at Tootsies. She revealed that thanks to the KidneyTexas committee efforts especially the Runway Report Luncheon chaired by Christine Martin and Susan Russell, they had met their goal — $144,639.

Andrea Alcorn, Susan Russell, Dustin Holcomb and McKamy Tiner Looney

Then she played Santa doling out the following checks:

  • Baylor Health Care System Foundation: $30,000 for five year study of kidney transplants;
  • Camp Reynal: $19,500;
  • Children’s Medical Center Foundation: $20,500 for hemodialysis and blood pressure machines;
  • Parkland Foundation: $30,500 for kidney dialysis Unit;
  • Texas Health Resources Foundation: $14,214 for hemodialysis machine; and
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center: $29,925 for kidney related research.

Crystal Charity Ball Committee Husbands Are Feted With A Picnic

While the harvest moon was a shade slimmer, the season’s earliest cold front had dropped temperatures from the low 90s to the lows 70s on Wednesday, October 11.

Caren and Pete Kline

And in Preston Hollow, it was dreamy at Caren and Pete Kline’s estate for the Crystal Charity Ball’s picnic salute to the committee member husbands. There was no check-in at the front door. Instead guests like Tanya and Pete Foster, Leslie and Bryan Diers, Lisa and Clay Cooley, Vinnie and Malcolm Reuben, Janelle Walker and Patty and Mark Leyendecker left their cars, like Rich Enthoven’s snazzy blue vintage Corvette, in the circular driveway and took the brick pathway to the backyard with its covered terrace adorned with buffet, the pool, bars along the wall and candle-lit lanterns.

It was a bravo project for the Klines. Just a month before, Caren’s 91-year-old father, Robert Whiteman, had died.

Michael and Shelle Sills and Malcolm Reuben

In one part of the grounds, Shelle Sills reported that after supporting Michal Powell’s chairing The Salvation Army’s “Doing The Most Good Luncheon” on Thursday, November 16, she would be the underwriting chair for the 2018 Celebrating Women Luncheon.

Husband Michael Sills was concerned over the fires blazing in California. While his favorite vineyards were pretty safe from the fires, he indicated that until the final flicker was out, the state’s economic health was still to be determined.

Speaking of California, Neiman’s NorthPark GM/VP Malcolm Reuben told friends that the day after Christmas, he and wife Vinnie Reuben were starting his retirement by heading to California.

Chris Branscun and Mary Clare Finney

Mary Clare Finney reported that she was redecorating her two Park Cities homes. While she claimed that she initially had planned to redo only two rooms in one of the houses, she hinted that Chris Branscun had been the one who encouraged her to expand her plans to include the entire place. Chris protested that he shouldn’t be blamed for the bigger picture.

And speaking of re-doing, 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella has already started planning for post-CCB life. Taking a couple of months off following the Saturday, December 2nd fundraiser at the Anatole, she’ll start the redecoration of the Perella homestead. But Pam added that the year had flown by and she had loved it.

Rob Bowlby

At 7:45 p.m. BB&T North Texas Region President Rob Bowlby addressed the group. Unlike previous event sponsors, like Comerica’s Ralph Babb’s simply congratulating CCB for their efforts, Rob with notes in hand told of the company’s involvement in the area and thanking CCB ladies.

Richard Dix and Claire Emanuelson

But as the sun set, so did the lighting. One guest, upon being greeted by “a friend” and told she looked terrific, admitted that she couldn’t see who had given her the hug and good words.

Still another guest giggled, “The lighting is perfect. It makes the wrinkles disappear.”

Claire Emanuelson in stilettos and Richard Dix in tie admitted this was not their normal picnic garb. Due to previous commitments, they had to go high-brow.

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

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

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

Christopher Jackson and Hady Mawajdeh

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

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

Christopher Jackson and Kathleen LaValle

Michael Holmes, Sophia Holmes and Cathleen Holmes

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

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

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

Jeremy Coca in vest surrounded by Junior Players

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

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

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

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

Beth Bedell, Catherine New and Kara Altenbaumer-Price

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

Lisette Sandoval

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christopher Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giraffe (File photo)

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

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

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

Hippopotamus (File photo)

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

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

Children’s Donor Reception Was Prepared For A Cowboys-Packers Showdown With A Flatscreen In The Dallas Country Club Ballroom

Sundays are usually sorta ho-hum. There are church services and brunches, but otherwise it’s rather calm. And on Sunday, January 15, it should have been especially so, since it was the Martin Luther King Jr. three-day weekend.

That’s why “the Christophers” (Children’s Health President/CEO Chris Durovich and Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher) figured it would be ideal for the 2nd Annual Thank You Donors reception at the Dallas Country Club.

What wasn’t predicted was Cowboys wunderkind rookies Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott. Thanks to the Cowboys making it to the NFL playoff and the game being played at AT&T Stadium starting at 4 p.m., the snoozy Sunday was no longer so sleepy.

Then there was the Liener Temerlin’s memorial service at Temple Emanu-El’s Stern Chapel at 3 p.m.

Chris and Christina Durovich

This Sunday was truly going into uber drive.

But then, of course, Mother Nature had to add her two cents with rain.

Luckily, Chris and Brent were prepared for the situation. As Brent chatted in the lobby area, Chris and Christina Durovich officially welcomed guests and let them know that a TV was broadcasting the Cowboys-Packers game at the back of the ballroom just past all the tables filled with goodies.

Randy Muck, Carol Bieler and Brent Christopher

When one guest asked Brent, Carol Bieler and Randy Muck about the Cowboys game, Randy quickly corrected the guest saying it was a “Packers game.” Bow-tied Brent smiled, “Randy’s a Packer’s fan.”

Among the early arrivals were new Communities Foundation of Texas President/CEO David Scullin with his wife Susan Scullin, Fran and Bill Carter and Caroline Rose Hunt with Bob Brackbill. Katy and Ken Menges arrived reporting the latest score as they checked in. Katy will be having hip surgery and is glad to have it over with. Annette Leslie sans 25 pounds reported that the Carson Leslie Foundation had ramped up with greater structure.

David and Susan Scullin and Fran and Bill Carter

Katy and Ken Menges

Bob Brackhill and Caroline Rose Hunt

Magda and Dr. Halim Hennes told former Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Kern Wildenthal that the Children’s ER was on its way to being open. 

Kern Wildenthal and Magda and Halim Hennes

Kern had been an honorary pallbearer at Liener’s services, which were simply flawless with three generations of Temerlins recalling “Papa.” Despite the eloquence of daughter Lisa Temerlin Gottesman and grandson Blake Gottesman, it was great-granddaughter Avery Johl’s telling the story of “The Invisible String” with Rabbi David Stern that was the true memory maker.

In attendance at the service were Gail and Gerald Turner, Marnie Wildenthal, Martha Tiller (sans husband David Tiller, who was preparing for back surgery), Nancy Dedman, Nancy Halbreich, Barbara and Stan Levenson, Melina McKinnon and Michael Cain and Wick Allison.

But back to the Children’s reception. As the party closed down with a hair-pulling end to the Cowboys-Packers game, Ma Nature took over the spotlight with tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms. While disappointed Cowboy fans found themselves holed up at AT&T stadium, the Children’s guests were safe at home.

2016 Crystal Charity Ball Chair Christie Carter Thanks Her Team With A Happy Hour

It was a farewell to embracing arms. The occasions was 2016 Crystal Charity Ball Chair Christie Carter‘s “happy hour” at the Dallas Country Club on Thursday, December 5, in the Founders Room. From the hugs around the room, one would have thought it was a big, old thank you party and that’s exactly what it was.

Steve Walthall, Cindy Ethel, Christie Carter and Eric Jez

Christie was hosting the event to thank her committee, the CCB staff (Cindy Ethel, Jennifer Hinze and Bevin Shaw), event producer Tom Addis, Garden Gate chieftan Junior Villanueva, public relations specialist Terry Van Willson and the security chiefs (Steve Walthall and Eric Jez) with Tommy De Salvo at the baby grand.

Melissa Macatee

Tommy DeSalvo

Margo Goodwin, Pam McCallum and Pam Perella

In turn everyone including 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella and 2018 Chair Claire Emanuelson were showing their appreciation for Christie’s leadership through the past 12 months to haul in $5.6M+ for Community Partners of Dallas, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, Hope Supply Co., Notre Dame School of Dallas, Parkland Foundation on behalf of Parkland Health and Hospital System, Teach for America, The Family Place and Crystal Charity Ball Educational Scholarship Project.

For more photos, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2016 Crystal Charity Ball Happy Hour

After taking a couple weeks to tidy up all the party decorations and making sure all the silent auction items were on their way to their new homes, the Crystal Charity Ball crew was hosted to a happy hour by the 2016 CCB Chair Christie Carter in the Founders Room at the Dallas Country Club.

Steve Walthall, Cindy Ethel, Christie Carter and Eric Jez

From security types like Steve Walthall and Eric Jez, pianist Tommy DeSalvo and event producer Tom Addis to the past and future CCB Chairs office team like Cindy Ethel, Jennifer Hinze and Bevin Shaw, they all turned out on Thursday, December 15, to celebrate their meeting their goal of $5.6M+ for Community Partners of Dallas, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, Hope Supply Co., Notre Dame School of Dallas, Parkland Foundation on behalf of Parkland Health and Hospital System, Teach for America, The Family Place and Crystal Charity Ball Educational Scholarship Project.

Vinnie Reuben and Tom Addis

Tommy DeSalvo

While the post is being prepped, some of the happy and relieved faces are at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

After ‘Filling In’ 38 Years Ago, Cathy McCormack Maher Will Retire December 31 as Dallas Bar Association’s Executive Director

Back in the 1970s, the Idlewild debutante season dominated the Dallas social scene from October through January. Nonprofit fundraising was scarce because of the mega-storm of debutante teas, brunches, dinners, cocktail parties and balls.

And while some people might think that the young gals in white ball gowns simply evolved into socialites who spent their afternoons at country clubs and managing their household staffs, they would be short-shrifting many, like Chris Jonsson, Laura Bayoud Hunt, Linda Perryman Evans, Missy Gunn Falchi and others.

Cathy Maher*

One of those former debs will be retiring after working at the Dallas Bar Association for 38 years. Come Saturday, December 31, DBA Executive Director Cathy McCormack Maher will have cleaned out her desk and headed to retirement.

Not a bad career when you realize she joined the DBA in 1978 to fill in for a staff member who was on maternity leave.

When Cathy notified the DBA back in September 2015 of her plans to retire, DBA President Jerry Alexander admitted in the Bar’s newsletter, “Part of the process of hiring a new Executive Director of the Dallas Bar Association (you note I didn’t say ‘replacing Cathy Maher,’ because she is irreplaceable) is coming up with a job description.”

Jerry then had Cathy compile The Book, in which she would describe in minute detail the executive director’s daily responsibilities. He thought he would simply incorporate the information in the job description, but it turned out to be such an epic piece that he decided that during the interview process, the candidates would be able to see The Book and be asked a very simple question: “Do you think you can do all of this?”

After a national search, they found the candidate who answered “Yes” in Alicia Hernandez, who has worked for the association for 15 years.

Known to old friends as “Mac,” Cathy admits that she’s proud of having helped lead the $14M fundraising campaign that resulted in the building of the Belo Mansion’s Pavilion, where countless events are held. She has also instituted various programs that resulted in “the organization having twice received recognition from the American Bar Association for outstanding diversity initiatives such as the Dallas Minority Attorney Program, the Minority Attorney Business Development Initiative and the Minority Participation Committee.”

For her efforts, she received the Dallas Minority Attorney Program’s Legacy Award this past April.

When asked by Attorney at Law Magazine why she decided to retire, Mac said, “As you can imagine, I am very close to the Dallas Bar Association. It has been my life since I was 26 years old. But at some point, you know it is time to pass the torch. We have great bar leaders and staff, and the Bar is in excellent shape. The board has appointed Alicia Hernandez as the new executive director beginning January 1. Now is the time to get out and smell the roses. But, my heart will always be with the Dallas Bar Association — the best bar association in the country.”

And what does that smelling of roses include? According to Mac, she’s going to take some time off and then she’ll “be working on a biography of Colonel Belo with former Dallas Morning News historian Judith Segura.”

So, next time you hear somebody scoffing about debutantes, think about Cathy, who was just filling in back in 1978.

* Photo provided by Cathy Maher

A Lesson In Appreciation Made The Grade At Herbert Marcus Elementary School With Cookies, Pajamas And Paper

As adorable cuties and oldies sent wishes to Santa for Barbies, Birkin handbags, Anki Cozmo robots and DJI Phantom 4 Drones,  there were others whose want was much less.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, December 21, the Neiman Marcus marketing and public relations types like Mimi Sterling, Ginger Reeder, Sandy Marple, Wendy Segal, Kristin Fletcher and others set up homemade and Celebrity Bakery Christmas cookies that were pound gainers at first glance.

Holly Wallace, Kevin Hurst and Ginger Reeder

But the scene was not at some fancy-shmancy mansion in Preston Hollow or even in an NM couture salon. It was at Herbert Marcus Elementary School in northwest Dallas as a result of NM Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hurst saying “Howdy do” to the school’s new Principal Holly Wallace earlier in the year. It made sense, since the school was the namesake of NM co-founder Herbert Marcus.

As parents escorted students and their school projects to their cars and crossing guards shielded students from afternoon traffic, the faculty gathered in the school library.

While it may have appeared to be an alcohol-fueled happy hour, not a drop of liquor was present. As today was pajama day for the staff, the teachers in footed jammies were the guests of honor for NM’s “Teacher Appreciation Party.” Thanks to a DJ in the back of the room and a sugar high, the usually quiet-as-a-mouse library had become a party room with laughter and smiles.

Midway through the celebration, Holly surprised all with the announcement that the school had been selected as one of four schools for the Momentous Institute’s program. Instead of just a few of the teachers attending the program, the entire group would participate. The news was greeted by the teachers with the delight usually only seen when a youngster’s can’t-possibly-happen Christmas wish is granted. Holly admitted that she had been on her phone all day locking down the details, so she could break the news at the party.   

Herbert Marcus Elementary School and Neiman Marcus staffs

In addition to the cookies and partying, Holly reported that the NM crew had also provided individual gifts for each of the faculty members.

And then, as if in passing, Holly pointed to a half wall of white innocuous boxes in one part of the room. With the NM team standing on the side, Holly announced that each box contained reams of paper and that each teacher would receive a box for his/her classroom.

The room exploded in excitement as the teachers cheered in delight, throwing their arms up in appreciation. The joy and surprise were so great and genuine that it amazed the NM-ers.

So, while others celebrated receiving high-tech toys, flat-screen TVs and luxury handbags and dining at world-class restaurants, an elementary school’s faculty was over-the-top for an afternoon of appreciation and boxes of plain paper.

MySweetMusic For Christmas – Part 6

You’re winding down from the food and festivities. But the Christmas aftermath is starting to sink in. There are those thank you notes and those … ugh, returns for the right size.

But give yourself a break. The dirty dishes and demolished gift wrap can wait. You deserve to settle back, turn off the TV, close your eyes and enjoy the music of the season that inspires people to pass-it-forward.

BTW, MSC elf twins Cherry T. and Jerry T. are heading for their trundle beds after 30 hours of DJ-ing. Not to worry. Queenie made sure that their stockings hanging from the MSC mantle are filled with all types of goodies.

We hope that your Christmas was filled with blessings and the knowledge that you’re so very important to the entire MSC community.

EducationalFirstSteps Pays It Forward To Momentous Institute Thanks To An Anonymous Santa

While a heck of a lot of folks have already headed out for the holidays or have taken extended lunch breaks to shop, the Momentous Institute team has been hard at work at their office. Imagine their surprise Monday when “two people wearing Santa Hats, only identifying themselves as ‘mystery guests,’ dropped by” with an envelope.

And it didn’t contain a Christmas card. Nope.

Note from anonymous Santa*

Inside was a note and a letter from the “Mystery Friend” that explained, “You should know this gift was made possible by your friends at EducationalFirstSteps. In the spirit of giving and paying it forward, I recently asked them to name another local agency whose work they admired — and they selected yours!”

Patty Pickard and Jessica Slie Trudeau*

Along with the note was a check for $10,000, much to the amazement of Momentous Institute Senior Director of Finance Patty Pickard and Senior Director of Development Strategic Partnership Jessica Slie Trudeau.

In other words, an anonymous Santa allowed one nonprofit play Santa by helping another nonprofit.

* Photos provided by 
Momentous Institute