Hurricane Harvey’s Devastating Gulf Coast Was A Chief Topic At Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Patron Party

As the sky was cloudless and the temperatures were unusually cooler for August, the talk at the Gateway for Opportunity Luncheon patron party on Tuesday, August 29, at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s estate was southward. Despite the overwhelming ticket sales for the annual fundraising luncheon with former First Lady Laura Bush, the past days of Hurricane Harvey devastating the Gulf Coast was a concern for both supporters and staff about the evacuees leaving their homes and arriving in Dallas.

Lisa Cooley, Nic Turpin, Tracy Lange and Paula Miltenberger

Family Gateway CEO Ellen Magnis reported how they had received calls from the media on how many evacuees had sought their help. Ellen explained that the immediate assistance was being handled by the Red Cross, The Salvation Army DFW and city and county of Dallas organizations and programs.

But once the initial shock settles in, families opting to settle in Dallas would seek the services and assistance of Family Gateway.

Louise Eiseman and Richard and Betsy Eiseman

Lynn McBee, Brad Cheves and Nancy Halbreich

As the 70+ guests including Event Co-Chair Paula Miltenberger, Brad Cheves, the Eisemans (mama Louise, son Richard and his wife Betsy), Tracy Lange, Michael Faircloth, Lynn McBee, Debbie Francis and Nic Turpin arrived via cart, Honorary Co-Chair Nancy Halbreich recalled her mother/Family Gateway Founder Annette Strauss’ commitment to help homeless families and children by establishing the organization in 1986.  

David Davis and Michael Faircloth

Debbie Francis and Russ

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

According to Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz,

Paula Miltenberger (File photo)

Laura Bush (File photo)

Here is your opportunity to help Family Gateway provide stability and life-changing supportive services to children and families affected by homelessness.  The Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon, presented by MetroPCS, will feature keynote speaker Laura W. Bush on Thursday, September 7, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.  We are thrilled to have civic leaders Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr, daughters of Family Gateway founder Annette Strauss, serving as honorary co-chairs of the event.

Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States (2001-2009) is a leading voice for spreading freedom and promoting human rights across the globe.  She advocated the importance of literacy and education to advance opportunity for America’s young people and to foster healthy families and communities.  Today, Mrs. Bush pursues her work on global healthcare innovations and empowering women in emerging democracies through the George W. Bush Institute.  We are honored to have her join us at this important fund-raising event for Family Gateway.

By supporting the Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon you will enable Family Gateway to address the devastating effects of homelessness in our community. Visit for sponsorship opportunities and ticket information.

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

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

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

But wait! There’s more.

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

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

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

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

SOLD OUT ALERT: Family Gateway’s 25th Anniversary Celebration

Sorry, but we warned you. Now it’s too late. Dang. You’re gonna miss The Family Gateway’s 25th Anniversary Dinner at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.

It’s going to be an especially wonderful occasion because it will honor Ted Strauss, the husband of the late Annette Strauss, who was the driving for The Family Gateway 25 years ago.

To think that Annette’s project 25 years ago would be more necessary than ever today.  But then Annette was like that time and time again. Once she recognized there was a need, she took on the mission to rally others to provide the assistance.

Money raised from the evening will help The Family Gateway to provide housing for homeless families.

TACA’s Silver Cup Award Celebrates 33 Years With Smiles And Tears

When the late Annette Strauss introduced the idea of the TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon,  the purpose was to “recognize one man and one woman annually for outstanding volunteer leadership and contributions to the performing arts in our community.” Perhaps that was the mission, but it wasn’t the outcome. For the past 33 years the luncheon has done far more that honor two people. Not only has it been a celebration bringing together all parts of the North Texas community for the sake of the arts, it has also helped to provide vital fund raising for TACA’s support of the arts.

Last Friday’s event organizers dedicated the remarkable luncheon to Annette “in celebration of her vision and numerous contributions to the arts in Dallas.” For those in the Chantilly Ballroom at the Anatole who knew Annette, it was so appropriately done. Not a lot of hoopla–just a page in the program and a few words from the podium.

No, Annette would have insisted that the spotlight be focused on the recipients, Sarah Perot and John Eagle. Interesting to note that when the first Silver Cup in 1979 was given to Margaret McDermott and the late Henry S. Miller Jr., Sarah was just 18 and John was 26.

But back to the 2011 celebration that kicked off with a pre-lunch reception in the Wedgewood Room. Like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in ages, hugs, smiles and slaps on the back were everywhere.

John Eagle

Recipient John arrived looking like homecoming king with wife Jennifer on his arm. When one guest approached him and called him, “Mr. Eagle,” he quickly told the guest with a smile, “I’m just John.” Shaking his head and looking just a little embarrassed, he went on to say that he was humbled by the whole day realizing the people who had preceded him.

Hill Perot, Jerry and Leah Fullinwider, Ross Perot Jr., Sarah Perot, Margot and Ross Perot, Sarah Catherine Perot

And talk about homecoming royalty, Sarah entered the room glowing like any top-notch homecoming queen would. Looking around the room, it appeared to be a Perot family reunion with three generations of Perots in attendance. Usually Mr. Proper, Sarah’s husband Ross Jr. was rather endearing as he took photos of Sarah and John surrounded by past Silver Cup recipients. Proud as punch he was. . . like a proud pop taking photos of his kid at graduation. And, no, he was not using a multi-gillion-dollar, 3-D camera. It was a compact point-and-shoot type.

John Eagle and Sarah Perot

In the adjacent room WRR was live broadcasting interviews with luncheon VIP’s, while Sarah and John opened the gift boxes containing their silver cups.

TACA Silver Cup Award recipients

Then all too soon it was time to head to the Chantilly for the luncheon and a delicious meal of grilled asparagus salad, chicken breast filled with boursin and spinach and chocolate caramel tart.


While the guests ate, they were entertained by members of the James Gilyard Ensemble, Orchestra of New Spain, Voices of Change, Dallas Bach Society, Lone Star Wind Orchestra and Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Lee Cullum

Mistress of ceremonies Lee Cullum once again scored with her “state-of-the-arts” review. Leading off with Bill Lively‘s return to the arts community as head of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Lee might not have noticed a couple of the guests exchanging nervous looks of, “Oh, dear, we’re going up against Bill again in fund raising.”

Heather Esping

Another highlight of Lee’s talk was her encouraging the application of part of the hotel tax to the arts. That got a nice endorsement of applause. Unlike many emcees, Lee knows how to keep her audience’s attention by making her remarks interesting and not too long. She then introduced Luncheon Chair Heather Esping and TACA Board of Directors Chair Andy Teller who welcomed the group and reported on TACA. Then Neiman Marcus Senior VP/Chief Marketing Officer Wanda Gierhart introduced the NM Performing Arts Scholarship at SMU — violinist Jaewon Ahn, who performed “Adagio and Rondo” accompanied by Elena Zyl.

Jaewon Ahn

Once again, the performance, like all the preceding talks, was just long enough and performed perfectly.

Following Jaewon, 2010 Silver Cup recipient John Cody introduced Sarah. Admitting that he “didn’t know her very well,” he had done some research on her by talking to people who did. “So I’m going to summarize them under two categories — one, leadership, and, second, Sarah the person.” He reported that he had learned that she’s a strategic thinker, a committed civic leader and a “stickler for details.” Then he paused and continued, “She not only works hard, she works smart. Once she signs on to a job, she is committed.”

John Cody

Regarding Sarah the person: “She’s extraordinarily honest. She is gracious and lovely to be with. People seek her opinion and she’s hard to say ‘no’ to.”

That last one got a ripple of chuckling through the room.

“A reccurring theme in my visits was, ‘Sarah gets it when you discuss the importance of arts in our city,'” John continued.

John concluded by saying, “Each time I mentioned her name, they would light up. Everyone wanted to tell the special qualities of this lady that is so highly respected and deeply cherished.”

Sarah Perot

Taking the podium Sarah proved John accurate saying right off the top, “I thought I was fine until that introduction.”

She went on to thank all involved in the day’s luncheon, recognized TACA’s impact on the city and congratulated her fellow recipient John Eagle.

Focusing the rest of her talk on the importance of the AT&T Performing Arts Center for the future of Dallas, Sarah again proved John right.  In addition to her family, the fifth-generation Texan then recognized the people who have impacted her efforts to support the arts — Bess Enloe, Howard Halam, Caren Prothro and Deedie Rose, all Silver Cup winners. “It is because of you and your years of work that we now have the complete Arts District. This is your legacy to the successive generations of Dallas.”

Cindy Rachofsky

Next up was 2010 Silver Cup recipient Cindy Rachofsky to introduce John Eagle. Unlike John Cody, Cindy admitted that she and John Eagle were longtime friends. “I cannot think of a more deserving person in the world than my dear friend John Eagle to receive the TACA Silver Cup award today.  I’ve known John for a very long time. Our daughters are great friends, so we had the distinct pleasure of going through the teenage years together. But we do other things together, too.  . .We travel together looking at weird and crazy art. And I even drive one of his cars. And since I’m married to Howard, we support John through the John Eagle Collision Center.”

That last one got a great round of laughter especially from Howard.

Cindy then went on to list just a smidgen of John’s many accomplishments. Ending her talk she said, “Now it is my distinct honor to introduce you to a man who I’ve always said could sell socks to a rooster.”

John Eagle and Cindy Rachofsky

John Eagle and Cindy Rachofsky

With the audiences laughing and applauding at Cindy’s introduction, John and Cindy hugged.

Eloquently John thanked Cindy, congratulated Sarah and thanked everyone from past recipients to the day’s organizers. As he launched into his remarks, one couldn’t help but wonder if he and Cindy had the same speechwriter.

“So I guess you all are asking yourself this question, ‘Why is a used car dealer interested in the arts?'”

He went on to tell how his dad, who collected western art, “would drag” John and his brother to museums all around the country looking at art. “I can remember one time asking him about a contemporary painting that was on view in the museum we were touring. And he said something very profound that I carry with me today. He said, ‘Son, I don’t know what that art is about, but don’t discount it. That artist is trying to tell you something in a very different way.’

John Eagle

“He was right. Art makes us think in new ways. It is more than entertainment. Art is fuel for the human spirit and the language of humanity. Art is about our past; it is about our present; and it is a look into our future. It is so important in the development of our children. This is why I am so proud of what the Dallas Museum of Art is doing with the education program by engaging people with the power of art.”

John, like Sarah, emphasized the importance that art will play in the future development of Dallas and the need to use the art facilities to their fullest extent.

He closed by recognizing his partners, his father (‘he’s always been my hero”), his daughters (“who inspire me every day and are living art”) and “last but not least my lovely wife Jennifer, who is the most important person in my life and without whom I would not be standing here today. I love you. Thank you.” John just barely made that last recognition as tears started forming in his eyes and his voice slightly choked.

Annette would have loved it.