Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Celebrated The Close Of Family Gateway’s 30th Anniversary Year With Laura Bush Recalling A Little Boy Left Behind

Family Gateway’s CEO Ellen Magnis had a real challenge on her hands. Last year’s Gateway To Opportunity kicking off the 30th anniversary of the organization had really been a hit with Jenna Bush Hager on stage in a chat with WFAA’s Ron Corning in the Trinity Ballroom. The blonde former first twin had also scored points at the meet-and-greet in the Fair Park Room, where she even offered to do selfies with VIPs.

Betty Schultz, Laura Bush and Paula Miltenberger

But this year’s luncheon was to be the grand finale for  the 30th anniversary year of the organization for homeless families established by the late, former Mayor Annette Strauss. Ellen with Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz came up with quite a recipe for success. The speaker would be former first lady Laura Bush and the honorary co-chairs would be Annette’s daughters, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr. Was it a success? Evidently so, judging by the turnout that doubled the crowd from the last year and necessitating the move from the 15,418-square-foot Trinity Ballroom to the 31,733-square-foot Dallas Ballroom.

Janie McGarr, Nancy Halbreich, Penny Tower Cook, Laura Bush, Jeanne Tower Cox, Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt and Christine Schuepbach

All was set for the Thursday, September 7th luncheon with a couple of unforeseen oop’s. But what’s an event without a little challenge. For the meet-and-greet, the floorplan diagram had been created like an architectural work of art. No detail had been left out. Only problem arose when the organizers arrived to find that the Omni crew had done their own interpretation that was nowhere near the diagram. After requests to follow the original POA, Omni managers sheepishly arrived to say they didn’t have enough poles and curtains to satisfy the requirements. Seems there were two other events going on and they just ran out. Quickly, the Gateway team and the Bush folks redesigned the plan to achieve their goal with the limited resources.

Rachael Dedman and Vicki Chapman

Lee Ann White, Michael Faircloth and Gene Jones

Despite starting a few minutes later that planned, the meet-and-greet went so smoothly that it finished on time with all being photographed with Laura including Jeanne Cox, Rachael Dedman, Michael Faircloth, Gina Betts, Alison Malone, Tracy Lange, the Tower sisters (Jeanne Tower Cox and Penny Tower Cook), Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt, Christine Schuepbach, Lynn McBee, Becky Bowen and Underwriting Co-Chairs Lisa Cooley and daughter Ciara Cooley. The only one who wasn’t photographed with the former first lady was Ellen. Seems that she was in the lobby helping the check-in staff that had been flooded by the number of guests like Gail and Gerald Turner, Vicki Chapman, Gunnar Rawlings, Lee Ann White and Gene Jones checking in. But that situation was resolved, too.

Gerald and Gail Turner, Alison Malone, Ciara Cooley, Lisa Cooley and Becky Bowen

Promptly at noon, following KDFW’s Clarice Tinsley‘s welcome and Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Paul Rasmussem’s invocation, Ellen briefly told of Gateway’s partnering with Matthews Southwest in the creation of a complex in Hutchins with 336 units for families seeking affordable housing. When a client first works with Gateway, their case manager’s first goal is get them in housing and then to work with them on education completion, job training, financial literacy, parenting education and self-care. But she added that part of their mission was to learn and apply new strategies.

Following a video, Paula told how she had gotten involved with Gateway. It was three years ago and her plan had been to keep her boys occupied. Instead she learned the need for solutions. The boys, on the other hand, suggested that they just have the homeless move in with them.

Robert Munoz and Deanna Reyna Munoz

Deanna Reyna Munoz then provided a testimonial, telling how her mother was 16 when Deanna was born. Her father was incarcerated. That’s when they found Family Gateway and for the first time she had her own room, bed and closet. The Gateway staff then helped her mother change into a responsible person resulting in her having her own home. Deanna became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. She got a job at the Dallas Cowboys and “bought her own home with a pool and married her boyfriend (Robert Munoz) of 10 years. My success stems from the tools provided by Family Gateway.”

That powerful presentation was followed by auctioneer Wendy Lambert’s shout out for funds with a goal to match $225,000. This awkward segment tends to cast an aura of guilt in the room among those who don’t rise to occasion. In this case, the results hauled in $154,000. Or so folks thought as they finished up their meal. But post-event checks and online donations, the challenge was met!

It was now time for the main act with Presenting Sponsor MetroPCS District Manager Brad Pott’s introducing Laura.

  • She started off by thanking all for supporting Family Gateway and provided an update on the Bushes. When Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coat, Barbara and George H.W. Bush were safe and sound in Maine, where Barb is no longer walking the shores with her dogs. Instead she’s rolling around in a golf cart with the pooches following.
  • George W. Bush’s painting has resulted in 98 wounded warriors being subjects, a book “Portraits in Courage” and displayed at the Bush Center.
  • Laura and George W.’s names as grandparents — “It’s like choosing a name for a cat.” George suggested that his grandchild just call him, “Sir.”
  • Laura Bush bobble head doll — A friend gave it to her and reported that “It was on the clearance shelf.”
  • Tabloids — “My daughters were getting engaged to persons I had never heard of.”
  • 9/11 — She was sitting in Ted Kennedy’s office.

Then she tied her talk back to the subject of the day — early childhood care can change the cycle of poverty. Among the 400 families served by Family Gateway last year, there were 900 children.

Laura recalled that long before her husband was governor of Texas or president, she had worked at an inner-city school in Houston and discovered a remarkable level of poverty. Such conditions result in one in three young people dropping out of high school each year, with single-parent families becoming the norm and one or both parents in jail.

When she had completed her work at the school, she decided to take some of her students to AstroWorld. In picking them up, she arrived at one house where the student came to the door in his underwear. His mother never came to the door to provide permission for him to join the group. Before Laura left, she gave the tyke a long hug.

As Laura concluded her talk at 1:04 p.m., she admitted that she often wondered what happened to the youngster. Was he still alive? Did he have a family? What had happened to him over the past decades? She said the challenge is not to forget that little boy or any of the children in need of compassion and assistance.  

Family Gateway’s Raffle Offers Courtside Seats, Movie Audience VIP Status And Fashionable Designs And Pampering

Talk about variety! That’s exactly what the Gateway to Opportunity raffle line up offers to benefit Family Gateway. There are just five items, but run the gamut from sports to self-indulgence. Here is the lineup:

Abraham Salum (File photo)

Michael Flores (File photo)

Michael Faircloth (File photo)

  • Start off the evening with Abraham Salum’s team preparing dinner for four of you at Salum’s. But make it early because you’ll want to get to the Mavericks game at American Airlines Center early to watch the teams warm up from your two courtside seats and two additional nearby seats. Thank heaven, you’ll have limousine transportation, so you can wear yourself out urging on Dirk and waving on the Mavs Fancam.
  • Who needs a media room when you have a Studio Movie Grill Black Card for two for a year? Just imagine, you’ll be able to skip the hassles of buying tickets and settle back to watch the latest movies. Let’s see. If you and a bud go every day for a year, that would run you between $4,380 and $7,665. Pass the popcorn, but don’t pass up this opportunity.
  • Your fav follicle engineer at Truvy’s Beauty Shop is gonna be heartbroken if you win this item — $1,000 gift certificate for services at the Michael Flores Salon at Neiman Marcus Downtown. Ah, the stories you’ll be able to tell your pals about being glamorized by Michael Flores and his team. Think of it a little like dining from soup to nuts. Instead it will be a feast from roots to pedicure.
  • What’s better than a nip and tuck? Jewelry. It lasts forever, don’t you know. And this 18k rose-gold amethyst pendant necklace with diamond accents designed by Lisa Nik for Bachendorf’s will simply dazzle your neckline. And to show off this dazzler valued at $3,360, what better place than Javier’s, where you’ll have a $200 gift certificate for top-shelf margaritas with Grand Marnier, Fajitas De Cabrito and Flan Al Kahlúa.
  • Is there anything more embarrassing that showing up at a black-tie gala only to see you gown on someone else? Ah, but this item can prevent that from happening thanks to Dallas’ one and only designer extraordinaire Michael Faircloth. The man with notches on his belt for dressing some of the best dressed and a former first lady will create a suit or dress valued at $4,000. And if you’ve ever experienced a Faircloth creation, then you just know Cinderella would have replaced her fairy godmother with Michael.

Going for $50 a ticket, Luncheon Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz have arranged an extra incentive. If you buy five tickets, they’ll throw in an additional one gratis. And if you’re gonna be out of town and unable to attend the luncheon featuring Laura Bush at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Thursday, September 7, not to worry. Paula and Betty will let you know which package you won.

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 www.familygateway.org 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?