Can Do Luncheon Patron Party Brought Out Guests In Spring Colors And Honorees Ashlee And Chris Kleinert And Texas Real Estate Council

With winds blowing skirts and leaves every which way as a norther trumpeted it the weekend nearing on Thursday, March 23, The Wilkinson Center’s Can Do Luncheon Patron Party wasn’t ruffled at all at Tootsies.

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert and Helen Hunt and Harville Hendrix

As Luncheon honorees Ashlee and Chris Kleinert received a bouquet of flowers from Ashlee’s aunt Helen Hunt and her husband Harville Hendrix, other family get-togethers were taking place.

Kristi Francis, Chris and Ashlee, Beth, Kelcey Hamilton and Anne Reeder

In another part of Tootsies, Kelcey Hamilton, who was repping honoree the The Real Estate Council, was being congratulated by Can Do Underwriting Chair Kristi Francis.

Chuck and Beth Thoele

Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele greeted husband Chuck Thoele and admitted that she was torn between going bright or black. Evidently bright won out, since she was wearing a turquoise jacket.

The Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder’s daughter Laura Reeder reported that the EarthxGlobal Gala had had a change of plans. Originally, organizers had scheduled the gala for Saturday, April 22 at the Women’s Center at Fair Park. Then they discovered that the Art Ball was taking place on that Saturday. So, they moved both the date and the location to Friday April 21, to the Texas Discovery Garden.

Laura Reeder and Dana Fay

But on this evening the Kleinerts were receiving congrats from Chela Moros, Dana Fry, Missy Quintana, Linda Secrest, Heidi Meier, Annie Wang, Kay Weil, Meridith Myers, Angela Jones, Ann Francis, Chrystie Trimmell, Melanie Myers, Darlene Ellison, Tucker Enthoven, Bianca Sterling and Dorothy Amin Modabberi.

Tickets for the luncheon honoring the “can-do” spirit on Tuesday, May 9, at the Dallas Country Club can be gotten here. This event is one that runs right on schedule and leaves guests smiling about the accomplishments of both friends and strangers who have experienced the Wilkinson Center program.

Wilkinson Center’s Spirit Of Taos Returns To Melissa Benge Collection For A Kick-Off Party With Boots And News Galore

Melissa Benge Collection boots

Melissa Benge Collection boots

The Friends of Wilkinson Center’s Spirit of Taos was such a successful kickoff last year at Melissa Benge Collection, they did a repeat on Wednesday, September 21. It’s no wonder. With boots, turquoise, suede coats, belts, saddles, leather goods and silver buckles, the shop seemed to have brought the best parts of Taos to the Knox-Henderson neighborhood.

Melissa Benge Collection leather, silver and turquoise accessories

Melissa Benge Collection leather, silver and turquoise accessories

This year the Benge crew upped the ante by giving guests 10% off of all merchandise, donating 10% of all the evening’s proceeds to Wilkinson Center and providing guests like Anne Conner, Liz Stutts, OJ DeSouza, Michael Cooley, Emily Dunn, Sandra Pomeroy, Joe Acosta and Gary Stevener with “a decorative coffee mug from Melissa Benge Collection and a jar of La Casita Award Winning salsa as a takeaway gift.”

Anne Reeder, Missy Huber and Millie Winston

Anne Reeder, Missy Huber and Millie Winston

Evidently nobody cared when the official start time was. Everybody was there except Wilkinson Center PR gal Vodi Cook. Alas, the dedicated blonde Vodi’s recent demolition derby of a car crunch had resulted in her left arm going under the knife to repair damaged ligaments from just above the elbow to her wrist. Gee! The good news is that Vodi is right-handed.

And despite holding up bravely at the Kidney Texas lunch the day before, Vodi was not up to snuff for the Spirit KO. Luckily, Wilkinson Center’s Executive Director Anne Reeder was on hand to answer any questions.

One question hitting Anne that had absolutely nothing to do with Wilkinson was the bulldozers demolishing the former Steakley dealership at the corner of Abrams and Northwest Highway. She recalled the 1960s when most of Dallas thought anything north of the Park Cities was Oklahoma. It was at that time some very brave entrepreneurs saw the city’s future lying along Northwest Highway. While the late Ray Nasher was building NorthPark Center, Anne’s dad, the late John Steakley, built a well-known and successful Chevrolet dealership on the property where a pony ride operation had been. And while the family sold the property years ago, most locals still refer to it as the Steakley property.

Meridith Zidell, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

Meridith Zidell, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

But Anne quickly recovered from the good old days memories and told how Stephanie Taylor, Sloan Looney Dix and Meridith Zidell would chair Spirit on Friday, October 28. And, yes, it will return to The Lot just across the street from White Rock. Joining the hoop-la will be Honorary Co-Chair Steve & Cathy Saxon. And, of course, the raffle will have everything including jewelry, dining opportunities, trips and art.

A couple of the very tip-top items are

  • Taos Bling (Value: One of a kind!) — For anyone who loves Taos, they’ve just got to have turquoise  and silver in their jewel box along with their diamonds. But then one can simply never have enough of the good stuff. So “Dallas jeweler Beyond Baroque will deck you out with diamonds and turquoise: turquoise and diamond earrings, turquoise discs interspersed between silver chain necklace with vintage bone pendant accented with pave diamond heading, and collection of stackable turquoise and diamond bracelets. According to Vodi, “We thought Taos Bling would be a great item to feature since all the ladies who attend the event wear their turquoise and pave diamonds.”
  • Cookin’ With Sibby (Value: $1,200) — Unlike the usual dining-out package, how about something totally new and not in your zip code? Longtime Wilkinson Center supporter/creative maven Sibby Barrett will whip up a dinner for four guests at Onion Creek Kitchens at the Hill Country’s Juniper Hills Farm in Blanco. And since it’ll be a full night of dining and wining, the guests won’t have to scurry back to Big Old D. Sibby has arranged for a one-night stay in “two charming cottages.”
Steve and Cathy Saxon

Steve and Cathy Saxon

The Spirit of Taos is one of those events where boots, turquoise and jeans are so at home that you wish it went on for a couple of days.

Tickets/sponsorships range from $150 for outdoor tickets to $8,000 that includes premium covered seating for a table for eight.

Sold-Out 2016 Can Do! Luncheon Celebrated Food For Thought And Stories Of Success By Wilkinson Center Clients

Can Do! Luncheon

Can Do! Luncheon

Those Melnick sisters must have a great relationship with Mother Nature. Last year Leslie (Melnick) Diers chaired The Wilkinson Center’s Can Do! Luncheon under clear skies. This was a first for the annual Wilkinson Center fundraiser that had previously had all types of thunder-bumper creating issues. This year Leslie’s sister Sara (Melnick) Albert chaired the 2016 Can Do! Luncheon and despite endless days of rain and storms, Tuesday, May 10, was clear, at least at noontime at the Dallas Country Club.

Sara Melnick Albert

Sara Melnick Albert

And the crowd of nearly 250 validated the theory that good weather turns out loads of folks. Luckily, the Wilkinson team was prepared with a game plan that was designed to run like an atomic clock. It was to officially start at 11 .m. and close at 1 p.m. That’s one of the perks of the Can Do! Luncheon. It appreciates guests and their time commitments.

Cynthia Melnick

Cynthia Melnick

Ellen McStay and Craig Innes

Ellen McStay and Craig Innes

Even before the official registration table was to open, guests were already in the club’s reception area “registering and mingling.” Within a half hour, the place was jammed with the likes of Melnick parents (Cynthia and Lester), Ellen and John McStay, Linda Perryman Evans, Nancy Gopez, Marsha and Craig Innes, Brett Gray, Kristina Whitcomb, Christi Carter, Jill Smith, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix, Susan Farris, Tori Mannes, Laura Reeder, Katherine Coker and Tucker Enthoven, who had hosted the patron party.

Regina Montoya and Brett Gray

Regina Montoya and Brett Gray

Linda Perryman Evans

Linda Perryman Evans

As if the guests knew the schedule, they took their places at tables in the ballroom. While officially a sell-out, the tables weren’t jammed together in the ballroom due to the fact that a couple of table sponsors donated their tables at the last minute.

Joe Acosta

Joe Acosta

Wilkinson Center Board of Directors President Joe Acosta welcomed the group and thanked Sara and the committee and introduced Hannah Buchanan, who provided the invocation. There was then a 20-minute break for lunch (cucumber soup, pan seared herb chicken with roasted fingerling mashed potatoes, baby carrots, broccolini and asparagus and apple pecan gastrique followed by salted caramel cheesecake topped with fudge sauce and whipped cream) to be served.

At noon Sara was at the podium thanking her committee, showing the inaugural issue of the Wilkinson newsletter and reminding folks that the centerpieces could be had for $20. She then turned to a key subject of the day — the Center’s food pantry. If everyone in the room texted “Pathways” to 24700 with a $75 donation, it would stock the Wilkinson’s pantry for the summer. Cellphones were seen being put to use.

Anne Reeder

Anne Reeder

Following a video on the Wilkinson Center, the Center’s Executive Director Anne Reeder introduced another video about the clients who are served by the Center that started off in 1983  as a neighborhood resource for food and clothing. Today it has expanded to include programs for family enhancement and work education like its newly established GED testing center.

Christina Parks

Christina Parks

Seamlessly, the first two awards of the day were presented to Wilkinson Center clients. First was Christina Parks, who had emerged from a childhood of neglect and abuse. Despite her rough start, she married “Joe,” had a daughter, Alexis, and “settled down to being a new life as a family.” But Christina, Joe and Alexis were “in a horrible accident,” resulting in the death of Alexis. Life became a “day by day” process. with no plans for the future. Years passed and eventually Christina and Joe had other children, and that’s what made her want to change her life. It was in September 2010 that Christina turned to the Wilkinson Center’s Food Pantry to help her feed her family. But she found more than food. Thanks to Wilkinson Center caseworker Sonja Wright, Christina learned about the possibility of earning her GED. The only problem was childcare. But thanks to the Center’s working with Workforce Solutions, “she was eligible for supportive services including childcare.” The results? Not only was she able to enroll in GED classes in September 2015, she moved quickly to the advance program.

It was noted that Wilkinson had 15 of its clients earn their GED this past December. This Saturday Christina would be one of 50 to earn their GED.

Next up was Marilu Rodriquez, who came with her parents from Chihuahua, Mexico, to the States in 1998 looking for a better life. But that also meant challenges, like learning English, earning her GED and becoming a citizen. Due to complications, she found herself being the sole support of her family. In tackling the language barrier, she was advised to go to the Wilkinson Center to learn interviewing skills. It was here that she met Wilkinson Center’s Veronica Tobias, who through the Career Works program, helped Marilu in taking the steps to reach her career path. Yes, her language skills were challenging, but Marilu saw it as an opportunity to improve. As for her advancing from working in a restaurant, she started volunteering at Children’s Health. “In less than a year she was able to turn that volunteer position into a full-time job with benefit as a Patient Care Technician” at Children’s.

Marilu Rodriguez and Veronica Tobias

Marilu Rodriguez and Veronica Tobias

The Wilkinson Center Food Pantry Manager Steve Thompson told how the North Texas Food Bank and the Center had worked side-by-side for more than 30 years. During that time he estimated that the NTFB has distributed more than 1,250 tons of food through the pantry in the past ten years. In addition to providing food, NTFB has also taught clients how to cook and prepare healthy meals for the Center’s clients.

Katherine Perot Reeves

Katherine Perot Reeves

Following a video, Anne told how the first person who took her to lunch when she became the Center’s executive director was NTFB’s Jan Pruitt. Representing Jan in accepting the Can Do! Award was NTFB Board Member Katherine Perot Reeves, who told how last year NTFB provided 63M meals. Yup, that’s right 63,000,000 meals! The plan calls for that number to rise to 92M by 2025.

Sara then introduced a video featuring County Commissioner Elba Garcia, Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas City Councilman Mark Clayton on the day’s final recipient Regina Montoya, who besides her many accomplishments is chairing the Mayor’s committee on Task Force on Poverty.

Regina Montoya

Regina Montoya

Upon accepting the award, she thanked a number of people and organizations. Then Regina told of a play she had seen that made quite an impression on her — “All The Way” — about LBJ. Early in his career he had been a schoolteacher in one of the poorest parts of Texas, where a lot of the students’ parents were migrant workers. During his presidency, he recalled that “he could see these kids coming to his classroom at the very beginning of the school year. But slowly, slowly, he would see the fire that had been in their eyes extinguish as the school year went on because of the struggle that they had to go through realizing that their parents were working as hard as they could to try to put food on their table.” That served as the impetus for Johnson to start the war on poverty.

Regina then told that in today’s Dallas,

  • 38% of kids live in poverty,
  • 90% of children are eligible for free lunches,
  • 70% of those that are poor are working and
  • 41% of the very poor have jobs.

She pointed out Carlin Morris, who was last year’s Can Do! recipient, had started the Center’s shoe drive.

In conclusion, Regina pointed out that her grandparents had come to this country with their children, who” probably had some of those days when they weren’t sure where the next meal was going to come from.” On this day Regina’s 92-year-old father and 85-year-old mother were seated at the front row table watching their Harvard Law School graduate daughter being recognized for their—and her—“can do” spirit.

For more photos from the Can Do! Luncheon, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

 

Can Do Luncheon Patrons Enjoyed A Beautiful Evening At Tucker and Rich Enthoven’s Preston Hollow Estate

The skies were clear, but the local eyes weren’t so lucky. With all types of pollen filling the air, eyes were bloodshot, noses were runny and achoos were the song of the day. Welcome to North Texas. As one doctor once claimed, “If I were starting out, I would have been an allergist in North Texas.” Then doc admitted that the only busier practitioner would have been an allergy specialist in Houston — “Boy have they got their work cut out!”

But on Wednesday, April 27, there was not a cloud in the flawless blue sky. OK, there was a Southwest jet crossing the sky, but still.

Tucker and Rich Enthoven's backyard

Tucker and Rich Enthoven’s backyard

Just the night before the area community had been on standby for all types of scary weather stuff. But on this evening, Tucker and Rich Enthoven’s home-sweet-home and its fabulous grounds could not have been more spectacularly perfect with the tennis court, the pool and elevated terraces.

Sara Melnick Albert, Tucker Enthoven, Regina Montoya and Anne Reeder

Sara Melnick Albert, Tucker Enthoven, Regina Montoya and Anne Reeder

Anne Conner and Susan Phillips

Anne Conner and Susan Phillips

The gathering, which included Anne Conner, Debbie Oates, Linda Perryman Evans and Sara Martineau, was for The Wilkinson Center’s “Can Do Luncheon” patron party. Leslie Diers was doing front door greeting of guests as her mom Cynthia Melnick chatted with guests in the mansion and Leslie’s sister/Luncheon Chair Sara Melnick Alberts was on the terrace talking with Can Do award recipient Regina Montoya and her husband Paul Coggins… Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder was chatting with Susan Phillips about her Shih Tzu’s reactions to the previous night’s thunder and lightning.

But the real subject of the night was the luncheon on Tuesday, May 10, at the Dallas Country Club that will recognize Regina and the North Texas Food Bank that has been such a vital part of The Wilkinson Center’s efforts to help families in need. This luncheon will be the fourth year that The Wilkinson Center has recognized those with the “can-do” spirit.

Grovel Alert: 4th Annual Can Do Luncheon

With the 4th Annual Can Do Luncheon just days away, Event Chair Sara Melnick Albert is reporting that there are just a few seats left to make it a sell-out. This year’s fundraiser for The Wilkinson Center at the Dallas Country Club on Tuesday, May 10, is honoring North Texas Food Bank, Regina Montoya, Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty, Marilu Rodriquez and Christina Park.

Sara Melnick Albert (File photo)

Sara Melnick Albert (File photo)

Regina Montoya (File photo)

Regina Montoya (File photo)

Anne Reeder (File photo)

Anne Reeder (File photo)

The luncheon is a marvelous introduction for folks to learn about one of East Dallas’ little-known organizations that successfully supports people and families in becoming healthier, smarter and more productive.

Thanks to Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder, this luncheon runs on schedule, so guests aren’t late to their next appointments. But they do leave with better knowledge how they can contribute to their neighbors thanks to the services (adult education, family enhancement and food and emergency services) provided by the Center.

Tickets are still available to help Sara cross the finish line of a sellout.

The Wilkinson Center’s Can Do! Luncheon Kicks Off At Kendra Scott

There are problems when your fav nonprofit hosts an event. But then there are perks.

Anne Reeder

Anne Reeder

The latter was the case for The Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder at the Thursday, February 25, kick-off for The Wilkinson Center’s 4th Annual Can Do! Luncheon. Sure, Anne was surrounded with all types of Kendra Scott goodies, but there was a certain necklace that caught her eye. Perhaps it was its versatility. It could go casual or spiffy uptown classy. Or, perhaps the cast of colors that just mesmerized and seemed to go with everything in her wardrobe? And it certainly didn’t hurt that a portion of the evening’s purchases benefited The Wilkinson Center.

Whatever, Anne was pretty well hooked. But when Marketing/Events Manager Vodi Cook whispered a reminder that a percentage of the evening’s sales went to the Center, the deal was pretty much sealed.

Meredith Zidell, Sloan Looney Dix, Stephanie Taylor and Amy Parker

Meredith Zidell, Sloan Looney Dix, Stephanie Taylor and Amy Parker

Others checking out the goodies were Cynthia Melnick, Meredith Zidell, Sloan Looney Dix, Stephanie Taylor, Amy Parker and Anne Conner, who was helping husband Terry Conner transition into retirement.

The annual Wilkinson Center’s fundraising luncheon on Tuesday, May 10, at the Dallas Country Club is being chaired by Sara Melnick Albert. This year’s awards will be presented to Regina Montoya and North Texas Food Bank.

Regina Montoya, Cynthia Melnick and Sara Melnick Albert

Regina Montoya, Cynthia Melnick and Sara Melnick Albert

Wonder if Anne will be wearing a new necklace from Kendra Scott?

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.”