Dallas CASA’s Parade Of Playhouses Closing Party Was Just Ducky At NorthPark’s Pirch

Within ten minutes of the opening of the Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses’ closing party at Pirch on Thursday, July 20, at NorthPark, the parking lot was filled to the max.

The roughly 200 guests found themselves parking outside of Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms and strolling via the air-conditioned hallways to the luxury kitchen, bath and outdoor showroom.

Stephanie LaValle, Kathleen LaValle and Dunia Borge

Becca Haynes Leonard and Jim Thompson

Inside, they found Duni Borgia handing out treats. It was just three years ago that Duni was doling out gelato and Kathleen LaValle was named executive director and president of Dallas CASA. Honorary Chair Jim Thompson was impressed with the turnout. Since moving the closing party to Pirch, the event has become a major attraction for sponsors and builders, who have donated their time, efforts and materials for the fundraising stand-still parade.

Within Pirch, word was passed to head to the wine pull in the spa area, with its wall of multi-showerheads. The soak tub was transformed into a pond for rubber ducks with bottoms marked with numbers. For a $20 donation, guests got to select a duck and a wine with the corresponding number.

Rubber ducks

Wine pull

Robert Bobo

Pahlmeyer (2013)

Robert Bobo picked a plucky duck with the number 47 on its bottom. Robert admitted that, over the years, he had collected three ducks and relocated them to his office at Pioneer Natural Resources. This year’s quacker had earned Robert a Testarossa Pinot Noir (2014).

Still on the ledge waiting to be pulled was a sweet Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red (2013) valued at $168.97.

Lynn Brooks

Corey and Priscilla Anthony

Lynn Brooks arrived solo due to husband Jeff Kindig’s being delayed at the airport… Board member Corey Anthony and wife Priscilla Anthony were all smiles. They’re co-chairing the Champions for Children Dinner on Wednesday, November 16, with Laura and John Losinger and Honorary Chair Christie Carter. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the dinner at The Fairmont Dallas will honor the Junior League of Dallas

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Dallas CASA’s Champion Of Children Award Dinner

According to Dallas CASA’s Champion Of Children Award Dinner Co-Chair Priscilla Anthony,

Corey and Priscilla Anthony*

My husband Corey and I got involved with Dallas CASA when Corey joined the board of directors on behalf of AT&T in 2013. Once we learned about the organization, its mission and the tremendous benefit to children in our own community we were ready for more.

Corey went through 30 hours of training and became a volunteer court-appointed special advocate in 2015. I joined as a CASA volunteer advocate in 2017. Corey’s work on the board continues and he serves as vice president of community outreach.

Dallas CASA Champion of Children Award Dinner*

And now we’re honored to co-chair Dallas CASA’s Champion of Children Award Dinner Thursday, November 16, at The Fairmont Dallas.

Dallas CASA has truly become part of our daily lives and we hope you’ll join us for the dinner and feel the same connection to CASA that has enriched our lives. We are co-chairing the event with Laura and John Losinger. Laura also serves as a Dallas CASA board member and works for the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence at Children’s Health.

John and Laura Losinger*

The event gives Dallas CASA a chance to honor and recognize the many tremendous people and organizations who dedicate their time and attention to the most vulnerable children in our community. This year’s Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award will be presented to the Junior League of Dallas (JLD) for their 95 years of dedication to making our community one that supports and nurtures our children. The award is named for the late Judge Sanders, a revered federal district court judge, past award recipient and a steadfast supporter of Dallas CASA.

Christie Carter (File photo)

Our honorary chair for the evening is Christie Carter, who’s been an active member and supporter of both the Junior League and Dallas CASA for many years.

Our guest speaker is Jackie Davis, a former foster child whose Dallas CASA volunteer made such an impact on his life that he pursued a degree in social work and is right back at Dallas CASA serving as a volunteer supervisor. Jackie’s CASA volunteer was there for him through the termination of his parents’ rights at the age of five, a failed adoption, numerous foster homes and a permanent adoption at age 13.

Dallas CASA has been on a pattern of growth for several years as the organization moves closer towards its goal of serving every child in need. In 2016 for the first time, Dallas CASA had more than 1,000 volunteer advocates serving children. But Dallas CASA remains a nonprofit with a personal touch. Our volunteers know our children. They know the attorneys and judges, caseworkers, foster families and therapists assigned to the cases. They work closely with the professional staff at Dallas CASA. And the personal touch is what children like Jackie remember.

“Through it all I had my CASA volunteer. Caseworkers changed, homes changed, attorneys changed, but she was my CASA volunteer and stayed. She was always happy, always glad to see me, always ready with her arms flung wide and her hands flipped just so for a hug that somehow embraced my body and soul. She brought light into my darkest places.”

The Dallas CASA family has become part of our family and we hope you’ll join us and get to know and love Dallas CASA and the children we serve as much as we have.

* Graphic/photo provided by Dallas CASA

Dallas CASA’s “Champions For Children” Salute Jan And Trevor Rees-Jones And Announce Plans For The Future

The streets were wet and the temperatures were flirting with the lower part of thermometers to get those furs out of storage Tuesday, November 5. While some headed to Harlan Crow’s library for the Sons of the Flag reception, others were valet-parking in front of the Joule to visit the Traffic LA three bears — his, hers and everybody’s boutiques — that Matthew Simon is overseeing with a twinkle in his eye and his clientele billing and cooing.

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Kay Bailey Hutchison

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Kay Bailey Hutchison

On the other hand, hundreds were at the Ritz-Carlton for Dallas CASA’s “Champions for Children” dinner. There was a VIP reception for honorees Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones in the Oak and Cedar rooms, but it seemed to just be an extension of the main reception in the lobby. Nobody was ID-ed or turned away. Rather the honorees greeted all like old buds, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. While Trevor excused himself to get a beer before heading into the ballroom, Jan graciously accepted congratulations with a beauty queen smile.

Jan Rees-Jones

Jan Rees-Jones

After the doors to the ballroom opened, the crowd of volunteers, supporters and judges with medals on red, white and blue necklaces continued the cocktail conversation inside.

Woody McMinn, Scott and Paula Orr, Jay and Vickie Utley and Mindy McMinn

Woody McMinn, Scott and Paula Orr, Jay and Vickie Utley and Mindy McMinn

When the guests including John Wiley Price, Debbie and Nickey Oates, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Billie Leigh Rippey, Marla and Mike Boone, Christie Carter, Sarah Losinger, Mindy and Woody McMinn, Paul and Jay Utley and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal finally took their seats and the program got underway, Event Co-Chairs Robin and Bill Smith welcomed the audience and introduced CASA Board of Directors Chair Mark Berg, who hinted that big plans would be announced later. He then introduced Kay B.H., who said that she was indeed honored to be part of the dinner presenting the Judge Barefoot Sanders Champions for Children Award to the Rees-Joneses. She told how when she was in the Senate, they were able to “find a little money — not as much as Trevor and Jan have been able to do! — for this great organization [CASA] to start chapters around the country.” Kay added, “It’s not like they [Jan and Trevor] were given everything. They worked so hard for everything and made strategic decisions to give back.”

At dinner tables the conversation was on the occasion and the CASA mission. Dallas County Truancy Court magistrate Larry Rayford described his handling of youngsters who come before him. He asks, “What’s going on?” For some kids, this opens up the reason they’ve missed school. It may be family problems, their own frustrations with school or a problems that can be handled in better ways than having the book thrown at them. Having grown up in the projects of Detroit, Larry appreciates the challenges of youngsters, especially 15-, 16- and 17-year olds.

Young man and his CASA

Young man and his CASA

Following dinner and a video spotlighting the work done by the advocacy volunteers, one of the young people whose life had made a dramatic change thanks to his advocate stepped up to the podium with “his CASA.” Brushing away tears, he thanked those in attendance for providing the CASA program and his CASA. As the young man left with his CASA’s arm around him, the audience responded to his thank-you with a standing ovation.

CASA Executive Director/President Beverly Levy then recalled when Jan found out about the extent of child abuse and neglect taking place, she said, “I understand. But where is the outrage?” Beverly announced that CASA’s goal was to have an advocate for every child in the area that needs one by 2020 adding, “What are we waiting for?”

Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones and Beverly Levy

Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones and Beverly Levy

She then presented the Champions for Children award to the Rees-Joneses, who have provided major funding for area children’s programs. With his deep Texas accented voice, Trevor admitted total disgust at the “heinous” crimes against children with which CASA deals. Looking out into the audience, he said, “We thank you so much. We can’t thank you enough. We want to thank you for all you do.” He continued saying, “We define ourselves as a people and society by how we respond to those with very tragic circumstances, the most vulnerable among us, who have every right to believe that their parents will take care of them and protect them. When that fails, we have a responsibility to step up and help them recover.”

It was a brief acceptance speech, but it was on target with strength.

Campaign for Dallas CASA Chair Jim Lozier then announced the launch of a capital campaign for $37M. While some in the audience took a deep breath trying to get their arms around that number, Jim explained why this money was so important. In 2013 CASA served 1,750 kids, about 40% of those who needed CASA. They’re projecting that by 2018 they will need to double their capacity to handle 3,500 children. By 2019, they hope to serve 100% of kids who need them. To do this, they have to do more than double the number of volunteers from 700 to 1,400 and their resources. This will cost $78M over the next 10 years; $41M of that will be generated “naturally,” organically.

Still the shock of the $37M! To the relief of most in the room, Jim said they had already raised $30M of it.  An anonymous foundation had offered CASA $10M as a matching challenge. Thanks to $1M gifts from Pioneer Natural Resources and the Annette and Harold Simmons Foundation; a $7.5M commitment over the next five years from the Rees-Jones Foundation; gifts totaling $400K from others; and an additional $2.5M raised by the board, the challenge was met.

In the months ahead, the focus would be on raising the remaining $7M.

Sarah Losinger and Christie Carter

Sarah Losinger and Christie Carter

In the meantime, thanks to the CASA underwriting committee (Robin and Bill, Greg May, Scott Orr, Mark S. Berg, Christie Carter and Linda Swartz), the evening raised $435,000 for its “general operating fund to recruit, train and supervise volunteers, who are voices in court for abused children.”

Yes, it was a lot to absorb, but it was all good news.

Coffee and hot chocolate bar

Coffee and hot chocolate bar

Table of sweet to-go and rubber duckies

Table of sweet to-go and rubber duckies

A tip o’ the hat to event organizers: As guests headed for the valet, they discovered a roped-off area to queue up for their vehicles. While the line extended around the room, there was an oasis along the way. In addition to a couple of coffee bars complete with the most delicious hot chocolate, there was a table filled with sweets, complete with to-go boxes and CASA rubber duckies. Perfect for waiting in line and munching on the way home. Sure, there was a wait for cars, but the pain was a lot less thanks to a hospitable sweet touch.