Dallas CASA’s Cherish The Children Patron Party Had Cars Lined Up In Linda And Rob Swartz’s Driveway And On The Street

Kathleen LaValle, Theresa Daniel and Linda Swartz

The Cherish the Children Patron Party proved to be a traffic jam on Tuesday, April 4. While the early-bird arrivals were nestled on the terrace of Linda and Rob Swartz’s home, others left their cars with engines running in the circular driveway and on the street.

Casey Gerald and Shonn Brown

Organizers admitted that the valets had a distance to park the cars. On the other hand, one valet claimed that the organizers had low-balled the estimate of guests. Perhaps it was the presence of keynote speaker Casey Gerald, who was surrounded by the likes of Luncheon Chair Shonn Brown, Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen and Michael LaValle, Theresa Daniel and Becca Haynes Leonard, Michelle Stephenson, Sharon Balaban, Karen Carney, Fran and Mark Berg, Caroline Rose Hunt, Bobbie Sue Williams, Billie Lee Rippey, Veree Hawkins Brown, Joyce Rosenfield, Greg and Hannah May and Isabel and Rob Calderin.

Regardless, the event came off perfectly and all headed home early for the Dallas CASA luncheon the next day at The Fairmont.

JUST IN: Dallas CASA’s Cherish The Children Luncheon Nets $170,000

What a perfectly wonderful way to kick off Easter weekend. The Dallas CASA bean counters have been adding and subtracting the numbers from the Cherish the Children Luncheon held on Wednesday, April 5, at The Fairmont.

Cheryl Lee Shannon, Shonn Evans Brown, Elba Garcia, Kathleen M. LaValle, Evelyn Henry Miller and Casey Gerald*

In addition to ticket sales, sponsorships and the auctioning of children’s furniture, Luncheon Chair Shonn Brown arranged for keynote speaker Casey Gerald and the National Council of Jewish Women receiving the First Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Award. The results was a gangbuster $170,000 netted for the nonprofit that “trains and supervises volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected Dallas County children living in protective care.”

According to Dallas CASA Board Member Mark Berg, who mother was a member of NCJW and one of Dallas CASA’s founders, ““CASA is about a group of mothers who could not stand to see children mistreated. Dallas CASA is now within reach of achieving what was unthinkable a few years ago – serving every child in need. We’ve all stood on the shoulders of those dedicated mothers.”

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

NorthPark’s Arhaus Had Munchkin Furniture On View For Cherish The Children Luncheon’s Patron Party

In preparation for the Tuesday, April 5, Dallas CASA’s Cherish the Children Luncheon with speaker/author Laura McBride at the Omni, Event Chair Erin Pope arranged for a patron party at NorthPark’s Arhaus. Here is a report from the field:

Kathleen LaValle and Erin Pope*

Kathleen LaValle and Erin Pope*

Dallas CASA’s Cherish the Children patron party was the evening of Sunday, April 3, at NorthPark Center’s Arhaus. The lovely evening featured food and drinks for more than 70 attendees including luncheon sponsors and designers of the children’s furnishings like Board Chair John Gibson and designers Casey and Phil Green, Emily Robinson and  Alex McCreight. The charity luncheon supports Dallas CASA’s mission to provide advocates for abused and neglected children.

Barbara Womble and Caroline Rose Hunt*

Barbara Womble and Caroline Rose Hunt*

This year’s luncheon honoree is Dallas’ own Caroline Rose Hunt, who told the patron party guests that Dallas CASA is her favorite charity. Arhaus donated a $500 gift certificate for the evening, and the lucky winner of the random drawing just happened to be Caroline Rose Hunt’s guest Barbara Womble.

Phil and Casey Green*

Phil and Casey Green*

Emily Robinson and Alex McCreight*

Emily Robinson and Alex McCreight*

As lovely as the evening and event were, the highlight was the 14 beautiful children’s chairs to be auctioned at the fundraising luncheon. Attendees got a preview of the chairs and furnishings which come in every creative shape and size, including painted chairs, upholstered chairs and detailed stools perfect for little ones. One item is shaped like a boat, with the seat opening to make a toy box. Another pair of chairs feature a beautiful, hand-laid geometric pattern of wooded blocks.

* Photos provided by Dallas CASA

Grovel Alert: Cherish The Children Luncheon

Everything is all arranged. Perfect dress, killer new stilettos, babysitter booked for Tuesday, April 5. Only problem? Forgot to make that reservation for Cherish the Children at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Yipes! Major problem! Word has it that there are hardly any tickets left.

Gaston Made chairs*

Gaston Made chairs*

Yup, there was something that you’d been meaning to do, but multi-tasking has been a bit overwhelming lately. And you so wanted one of those adorable chairs that are up for bid in the silent auction and you love any occasion that celebrates Caroline Rose Hunt, who is the honoree.

Why, Event Chair Erin Pope has even arranged for author Laura McBride to be the featured guest speaker for the Dallas CASA benefit.

Not to worry, if you hustle-bustle. Get that ticket now. Otherwise your babysitter is gonna wonder why you’re all dressed up and sitting at home.

* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

Dallas CASA Has Two Opportunities For Your Consideration

Dallas CASA is busy, busy, busy on two projects. First, there’s the free one. It’s a volunteer opportunity. Dallas CASA was selected as a pilot market to see if it is possible to “recruit a volunteer for every foster child who needs one in Dallas and throughout Texas.” The campaign is called “Every child has a chance — it’s you.”

Kathleen LaValle*

Kathleen LaValle*

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director Kathleen LaValle, “CASA volunteers serve as voices for children in court, and other settings, to give them a chance at finding permanent and stable homes. The effect CASA volunteers have on children’s lives during an uncertain time is significant. With more than 4,600 children in Dallas in need of volunteers to advocate for their safety and future, there is a great opportunity for ordinary citizens to have a positive impact on a children’s lives. We desperately need more volunteers to serve our most vulnerable children.”

Whoa! Does that mean they’re looking at attorneys and folks with legal smarts only? Nope. S/he can be “an everyday citizen who is screened and trained, and then appointed by a judge to represent a child’s best interest in court. When a child enters the system because his or her home is no longer safe, these committed volunteers guide foster children through the overburdened and complex child welfare system to ultimately reach a safe and permanent home.”

The next training class is Tuesday, March 29, but the deadline for applications is Monday, March 14. So, check out the schedule of information sessions to get on board.

Caroline Rose Hunt (File photo)

Caroline Rose Hunt (File photo)

For the second project, Dallas CASA is touting its annual Cherish the Children Luncheon that will take place on Tuesday, April 5, at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Benefiting the Dallas CASA Children’s Council, the fundraiser will honored Caroline Rose Hunt.

Event chair Erin Pope has arranged to have the featured speaker be novelist Laura McBride, whose best-selling “We Are Called to Rise” is about “a family, community and the power of second chances. Of the book, Redbook magazine said ‘Your heart will break…then soar.’”

One of the event’s highlights is the auctioning of handmade children’s chairs and furniture. This year’s designers include Allison Curry of Allison Curry Interiors, Creative Room Arrangements, Kay Dalton, Casey Green of Fossil, Gaston Made, Jill Tate and Janine Townes of Go Light the World, Chelsea Green, Blake McElroy, Nancy Newbern of Rare Assets Inc., Cachet Petty, Amy Bailey of Phelan’s, Tori Pendergrass of Pigment School of the Arts, interior designer Teresa Rowe and Shannon Rae Interiors.

This year’s sponsors include:

  • CASA Angel — The Al G. Hill Jr. Family
  • CASA Protector — Kristy Hoglund Robinson/The Hoglund Foundation/Karen Carney
  • CASA Keeper — Caroline Rose Hunt, The Rosewood Corporation and Linda and Rob Swartz
  • CASA Patron — Emy Lou Baldridge
  • CASA Friend — Bank of Texas, Fran and Mark S. Berg, The Dallas Foundation – Jenny Reynolds, Suzanne and John Gibson, Kappa Alpha Theta Dallas Alumnae Chapter, Hannah and Greg May, Suzanna and Jay Rubottom, Pam Stegenga, Lyn and Guy Thomas and Myrna Vance
* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

Foster Child Survivor Ashley Rhodes-Courter Knocked It Out Of The Ballroom For Dallas CASA’s Cherish the Children

There was no way another table could have been squeezed into the Dallas County Club ballroom. Such was the case of Dallas CASA’s Cherish the Children Luncheon Thursday, May 7. The Dallas Country Club lobby was crowded enough with 350 guests checking out the adorable, one-of-a-kind chairs in the silent auction.

Creative Room Arrangements' auction item

Creative Room Arrangements’ auction item

The designs had been created by Matthew Benys, Couture’s Nicholas Villalba, Creative Room Arrangements, Kay Dalton, Desilynn Faith, Fossil’s Casey Green, Chelsea Green, Liz Conrad Graphic Design, Blake McElroy, Muralicious, Nancy Newbern of Rare Assets Inc., Phelan’s Amy Bailey, Pigment School of the Arts’ Tori Pendergrass and Susie Brennan Interiors. Right next to a door leading to the ballroom was another auction item, a painting created by impressionist-expressionist painter Leoma Lovegrove.

But just as the temperature level was rising in the lobby, the ballroom doors opened to a very cool ballroom with tables so close together that only size 4 waiters could squeeze through.

Off to a table near the stage, a red-haired gal sat looking over some notes. She was not a local. She was Ashley Rhodes-Courter, but more about her later.

Madeline Freberg

Madeline Freberg

Kathleen LaValle

Kathleen LaValle

After Luncheon Chair Madeline Freberg welcomed guests, a video was played and Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle reviewed the capital campaign and recognized the CASA Angel Awardee(s) — Kappa Alpha Theta Dallas Alumnae Chapter that included guests Francie Johnsen, Lynn Van Amburgh, Toni Alles, Barbara Cervin and Maury Cunningham.

Francie Johnsen, Lynn Van Amburgh, Toni Alles, Barbara Cervin and Maury Cunningham

Francie Johnsen, Lynn Van Amburgh, Toni Alles, Barbara Cervin and Maury Cunningham

Resounding Harmony then performed and it was revealed that they would be doing a benefit concert — Through the Eyes of A Child — for Dallas CASA on Saturday, June 27, at Dallas City Performance Hall.

Resounding Harmony

Resounding Harmony

It was now time that Ashley took over the program. Admitting to still suffering from post-baby weight and a cold, Ashley let a video tell of her 10 years in foster care that seemed doomed after being rescued from a neglectful mother and countless foster homes. One of them was a two-bedroom house trailer where 16 foster children were housed, abused and starved. Another placement ended up with her witnessing her “guardian” being killed following an argument with a neighbor.

Ashley Rhodes-Courter

Ashley Rhodes-Courter

But Ashley was stubborn and wasn’t going to be held captive by a dysfunctional foster program system in Florida. Still, she needed an ally. This person was CASA volunteer Mary Miller, who heard of the young girl’s pleas and doggedly investigated her allegations and championed Ashley’s cause. It was because of this CASA volunteer that Ashley more than escaped the nightmares of bureaucracy to be adopted, go to college, get marry, have her own children, foster children and become a New York Times best-selling author.

Ashley Rhodes-Courter

Ashley Rhodes-Courter

While Ashley’s tale has been eloquently told in “Three Little Words,” the passion and inspiration cannot be conveyed like Ashley in person. Sure, she may have suffered at the hands of an overburdened system — 14 different foster homes in nine years and some of them abusive! And she may have had a cold and was still suffering from baby hormones, but Ashley’s talk was truly deserving of the standing ovation she received at Cherish the Children.

If you missed the luncheon, buy the book and volunteer with Dallas CASA or make a donation. Future Ashleys would truly appreciate it.

Round Robin April 22: Callier Cares, Cherish The Children And Legends And Leaders Patron Parties

Once again North Texas was being threatened with all types of storms on Wednesday, April 22. Gee. This is getting old. Still, the Heroes and Handbags held a wrap-up party at Alexander McQueen in Highland Park Village; Battle of the Chefs was waging a foodie fight at Frontiers of Flight Museum for the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation; and AWARE patrons were OMG-ing at Margaret McDermott’s home-sweet-home with Barbara Sypult chairing. Needless to say, nobody wanted to leave Margaret’s “cottage.”

Other patron parties taking place throughout the area included:

Callier Cares Patron Reception

Over at Libby and David Hunt’s home in Volk Estates, it was a family affair. The occasion was the Callier luncheon’s Callier Cares patron party for the fundraiser luncheon on Thursday, April 30, at Brook Hollow.

Mike and Sharon McCullough and Ruth and Ken Altshuler

Mike and Sharon McCullough and Ruth and Ken Altshuler

The family angle was Mike McCullough, who would receive the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Award for his years of advising Callier. If you’re brand new on the subject or are just having a momentarily “Can’t remember” second, Mike is the dad of Libby Hunt. See the connection?

Tiffany Divis, Libby Hunt, Tom Campbell, Betsy Cullum, Sissy Cullum and Barbara Stuart

Tiffany Divis, Libby Hunt, Tom Campbell, Betsy Cullum, Sissy Cullum and Barbara Stuart

Another connection for the night was the gathering of past and present Callier Cares chairs Barbara Stuart, Libby, Sissy Cullum, Betsy Cullum and Tiffany Divis (2015).

Bob and Ann Dyer

Bob and Ann Dyer

Patricia Meadows and Carol Seay

Patricia Meadows and Carol Seay

As Ruth and Ken arrived, Carol Seay, Patricia Meadows, Richard Neely, Carolyn Lupton, Jean Lattimore, Paul Divis, Dr. Tom Campbell and John Stuart were already in place to learn that Angie Kadesky has agreed to chair the 2016 luncheon benefiting Callier.

Cherish The Children Patron Party

Dallas CASA was just plain being adorable with acclaimed impressionist-expressionist artist Leoma Lovegrove at the still-new Dallas CASA headquarters. Leoma’s work of art will be auctioned off at the Cherish The Children Luncheon on Thursday, May 7, at the Dallas Country Club.

You can expect a lot of Thetas in the room. The reason? They’ll be the honorees for their work in raising funds for Dallas CASA.

Legends And Leaders Patron Party

While mom Margaret McDermott was hosting the AWARE patrons at her home, daughter Mary McDermott Cook was having a party for the VNA‘s Legends and Leaders Luncheon patrons.

Perhaps it was ironic that the party was being held on Earth Day at Mary’s “Dump Top,” a home that’s set atop a blend of glorified recycling items.

Mary McDermott, Dan Patterson and Tom Brokaw

Mary McDermott, Dan Patterson and Tom Brokaw

Still the glorious Bill Booziotis-designed creation continues to be jaw dropping. Some may not know that Mary and VNA featured speaker Tom Brokaw share a wrist-twisting interest — fly fishing. While some waited in line to have photos taken with Brokaw or have their books signed by the noted journalist/author, Mary and Tom compared wrist techniques.

 John and Lynne Sears and Mary McDermott Cook and Dan Patterson

John and Lynne Sears and Mary McDermott Cook and Dan Patterson

Before discussing fishy ways with Tom, Mary was recalling school days at Dallas Country Day School on Lomo Alto with fellow grad John Sears. She told how her dad (Eugene McDermott) and John’s lawyer grandfather had been great friends. They never mentioned the fact that both men were outstanding leaders in 20th century Dallas.

Rena Pederson

Rena Pederson

Mary recalled how Sundays had the kids lined up and asked what they had learned during the week by John’s grandfather. If their answers were right, he rewarded them with a dollar. Mary lived to collect those dollars.

Others in the crowd included Lyda Hill fresh from receiving the 2015 Mary Harriman Award. She didn’t have much time to kick back and enjoy the accolades. She was headed to South Africa in connection with the National Geographic project that she’s supporting…Rena Pederson blushing over the accolades that she’s been receiving about her book, “The Burma Spring.”

As for Tom, he looked a bit weary, and why not. The man, who just turned 75, had just announced in December that he was in remission from his battle with cancer.

Round Robin April 8 (Part I): Linz Award, Cherish The Children And Just Say “Yes!” Luncheons

Tuesday, April 8, was one of those days that poets write about. The skies were magnificent with just enough clouds to break up the all blue look. The temperatures were so friendly that new spring clothes made their seasonal debut without fear of needing a pashmina. It was almost as if Mother Nature realized that the day would be filled with countless fundraising activities and she’d better cooperate.

Due to the number of events, the day’s Round Robin is broken into two posts — daytime and night-time. Thank you for bearing with the MSC team.

85th Annual Linz Award

85th Linz Award program and friend*

85th Linz Award program and friend*

Attendees at the VIP reception before the 85th annual Linz Award luncheon at the Omni Dallas were a virtual who’s who of Dallas civic leadership. From Ruth Altshuler and Jennifer Sampson to Walt Humann, Caren Prothro, Laura Johnson, Kate Newman, Bea and Walt Humann, Pat Patterson, Dolores Barzune, Susan McSherry, Carol and Don Glendenning, Margot Perot, Bobby Lyle, Erle Nye, Margaret Keliher, Kern Wildenthal and Luncheon Chair Sandy Ammons, the group was beyond stellar. Then again, what would you expect at an event honoring Forrest Hoglund, the man who raised more than $185 million toward construction of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and one of the most respected civic leaders in Dallas?

Ruth Altshuler, Margot Perot , Lyda Hill and Caren Prothro*

Ruth Altshuler, Margot Perot , Lyda Hill and Caren Prothro*

“We love the Hoglunds,” Paige McDaniel of Community Partners of Dallas was saying, referring to Forrest and his wife Sally Hoglund. “They give to every nonprofit in town. And, they really care. They’ll call and ask, ‘How’s it going?’ That’s why you see so many agencies here today.” Not far away, Forrest was basking in congratulations from, among others, Lyda Hill, Lee Jackson and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. How did he feel, being chosen for the prestigious Linz honor? “I’m surprised,” Forrest replied. Really? “Well, you know,” he went on, “everybody else does all the work, and I get the credit!”

David Dewhurst*

David Dewhurst*

Inside the ballroom, where 700 had gathered for a luncheon of garden spinach brie en croute, petit filet of beef, seasonal vegetables, and chocolate or key lime pie desserts, SMU President Gerald Turner reviewed the history of the Linz Award, which is presented annually by the Zale Corp. and the Dallas Morning News. Turner pointed out that Hoglund represents the “rock chop [University of Kansas] Jayhawk” contingent in Dallas. “But, due to a twinkle in his eye named Kelly, SMU is a close No. 2,” Turner contended. “Forrest had hoped Kansas would win the NCAA [basketball tournament], and then we’d just slide on into this. At least he got in the tournament! Some of us are still smarting from that …”

Forrest Hoglund*

Forrest Hoglund*

Next Jim Moroney of the DMN said the Linz was awarded in part for Hoglund’s “civic engagement,” while Jack Lowe, a board member for Zales, lauded Forrest’s money-raising—$30 million so far—on behalf of Reasoning Mind. That’s a pioneering, Web-based program that helps elementary students learn math, including students in the Dallas Independent School District. Then Nicole Small, former CEO at the Perot museum, called Hoglund the “ultimate cheerleader, “a man caller ID almost put out of business,” and “a big thinker who’s not afraid to challenge” the status quo.

Forrest, for his part, made an acceptance speech that was brief, gracious and to the point. Calling the luncheon “a rush” for him, Hoglund thanked a number of people including his wife and daughters, applauded Small, and humorously recalled one of his first fundraising experiences, in Houston at the age of 26. Calling on a crusty oil-and-gas mogul on behalf of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Forrest said the energy magnate told him point-blank: “I ain’t givin’ no friggin’ money to no museum.” But, Hoglund hastened to point out, the donation would be to benefit the Houston community, not just the museum. Retorted the oilman: “I hate this g-d city.”

But Dallas, Forrest concluded, is “on a roll [these days] like I can’t imagine. … Everybody’s trying to do great things in Dallas—and getting them done.” If that’s true, the 85th Linz awardee is one big reason why.

Cherish The Children Luncheon

Tea party chair

Tea party chair

Like Goldilocks, the 300+ guests at the annual Dallas CASA’s “Cherish the Children” fundraising luncheon had to check out the designer chairs and furnishings in the silent auction at the Ritz Carlton’s lobby. There was a white chair all prettied up with satin trim and pillow that included a “goodie basket of MacKenzie Childs.” Nearby was an art “full” toy chest. On the other side of the tables of items that extended the full length of the lobby were two chairs with teddy bears in coveralls and yellow plastic “hard hats.”

A treasure chest of art

A treasure chest of art

But the one that literally stopped traffic was the green lounger near the check-in. Valued at $1,700, it was a magnet for eyes and try-ons. While guests like Caroline Rose Hunt and Dedie Leahy watched, others like Lara Tafel and CASA Executive Director/President Beverly Levy gave the “Fit” chair a try.

Beverly Levy, Caroline Rose Hunt and Dedie Leahy

Beverly Levy, Caroline Rose Hunt and Dedie Leahy

But the luncheon was more than bidding and sitting. It was “to raise critically needed funds for Dallas CASA to recruit and train volunteer advocates who help ensure that abused and neglected children are safe, healthy and protected with loving families.”

To inspire guests, decorated U.S. Marine vet/Princeton and Harvard Business School grad/author Donovan Campbell was the keynote speaker. In addition to sharing “how he led his men through some of the worst battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was able to translate those experiences into a life of servant leadership upon his return home.

“Campbell described the three values that underlie his belief in servant leadership:

“Be humble — ‘At its essence, humility is nothing more than a realistic and unflinching view of yourself and your relationships.’

“Give your best everyday — ‘Today I have given all that I have, that which I have kept I have lost. Effort is good, but direction is better.’

“Challenge yourself — ‘What is it that I want to be known for when my life is over?’”

Regarding troops returning from overseas, he stressed that “the best way to say ‘thank you’ . . . is to make sure that they come home to a country worth fighting for.”

Just Say YES! Pointing Youth In The Right Direction Luncheon

Lisa Troutt and Dan Bailey

Lisa Troutt and Dan Bailey

It was a spectacular day with just the right amount of sunshine, breeze and temperatures to enjoy the outdoors. Ah, a true rarity in these parts. But the perfect spot to enjoy these conditions was Lisa and Kenny Troutt’s estate. For about 300 very fortunate guests at the annual “Just Say YES Pointing Youth in the Right Direction Luncheon,” they not only got to take in the incredible grounds during the reception, they learned and were inspired by the work of Just Say YES! established by Dan Bailey back in March 2002.

_MG_5388 Dan BaileyThe program helps “equip teens to succeed by educating them through student assembly speakers and classroom curriculum. Our goal is empowering students to say ‘Yes’ to their dreams and goals and ‘No’ to destructive choices.”

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson

On this day, the guests got a double whammy! Not only was the speaker Gabe Salazar, but he was introduced by Luncheon Chair Avery “Coach” Johnson, whose legendary basketball acumen is quickly being surpassed by his motivational talks.

Sue Bailey and Gabe Salazar

Sue Bailey and Gabe Salazar

And, yet, the young Latino Gabe gave Avery a run for his money in the speaking department. The adorable Latino with his wife, Nancy, tableside told of his first-hand knowledge of being homeless, gang influence and being the first in his family to go to college. Blending humor with touching compassion, his message ranged from a skit depicting a disabled teenager to frank talk regarding the following:

Too many kids are wishing and not dreaming big.

No teenager’s goal is to be homeless, in jail, strung out on drugs or dead.

There is hope. No one was born an accident. When students tell him, “I was an accident. My parents were married. My mom was a teenager, etc.” Gabe’s response is, “Your life is not an accident. You are here for a purpose.”

Tavia and Clark Hunt, Knobel Hunt and Nancy and Gabe Salazar

Tavia and Clark Hunt, Knobel Hunt and Nancy and Gabe Salazar

Turning to the adults, like Honorary Chairs Tavia and Clark Hunt with their son Knobel, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, Heather and Ray Washburne, Sue Bailey, Jennie Gilchrist, Janet McColloch, Bill Nowlin, Craig Vaughn, Phillip Wise and Robbie Fusch, seated at luncheon tables throughout the room, Gabe said, “Be a mentor.” To the students, he advised, “Find a mentor.”

But there was still a third speaker, student Chris Caldwell, whose message summed up the program’s message perfectly: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”

* Photo credit: Lisa Stewart

May 15 Round Robin: Cherish The Children, Past CCB Chairs Dinner, Helping Animals And Celebrity Waiter Luncheon Kick-off

Wednesday, May 15, the nonprofits were acting like it was a Thursday with the emphasis of activity in the downtown/uptown area. From lunching in the Ritz-Carlton ballroom to checking out “thangs,” including the approaching storms in the Museum Tower and One Arts Plaza luxury residences or a Preston Hollow mansion, it was indeed busy, busy, busy.

Cherish the Children

Mark and Fran Berg

Mark and Fran Berg*

Cherish the Children at the Ritz-Carlton has earned a reputation for being more than just adorable children’s chairs being up for auction. Benefiting Dallas CASA, it’s also an opportunity to create greater awareness of the real-life issues facing children and how Dallas CASA is on the frontline for their protection.

Here is a detailed report from the field on the luncheon:

Carolee Smith, Victor Rivas Rivers and Angela Thompson

Carolee Smith, Victor Rivas Rivers and Angela Thompson*

“Keynote speaker Victor Rivas Rivers shared his powerful story of growing up in an abusive home and witnessing severe domestic violence with attendees like Caroline Rose Hunt, Charlotte and Niklas Heuveldop, Angela Thompson, Anne Crews, Hannah and Greg May, Lauren and Scott Maggard, Lucy Wrubel, Carolee Smith, Tess Kinsler, Penny Tower Cook, Fran and Mark Berg, Diane Scovell, Christie Carter, Christina Norris and Leigh Anne Haugh.

Greg and Hannah May

Greg and Hannah May

“Because of his personal experiences with domestic violence and severe abuse, Victor encouraged guests to be vigilant about standing up for abused children in our community by supporting Dallas CASA. Victor couched his entire speech with this question: “How are the children?” A traditional greeting of the Masai people in east Africa, the question reflects the truth that when a community’s children are safe, healthy and protected, so will be the community.

“At age 12, Victor went to the local police and told them all that was happening to him, his mother and siblings. Sadly, he was told that such occurrences are ‘a private family matter.’ It wasn’t until age 15 that Victor was finally able to take then-unprecedented legal action against his father, obtaining a restraining order that allowed him to unofficially enter foster care. A series of teachers, coaches and friends helped him overcome his past and have a successful future. Victor went on to become a professional football player and a veteran actor who has starred in more than two dozen films.

“Luncheon guests had the opportunity to meet Victor and purchased signed copies of his memoir, ‘A Private Family Matter.’ In addition, more than two dozen unique and whimsical children’s chairs were displayed at the sixth annual event hosted by the Dallas CASA Children’s Council.

“Including underwriting, sponsorships, ticket sales and chair sales, Dallas CASA raised $160,000 to support abused children in our community.”

Former Crystal Charity Ball Chairs Dinner

Pete and Caren Kline and Heather and Bill Esping

Pete and Caren Kline and Heather and Bill Esping**

Reunions are wonderful occasions when you get to catch up with those who shared a particular time and/or event. That was the case for the US Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management dinner for former Crystal Charity Ball chairs at Heather and Bill Esping’s Preston Hollow residence. The timing couldn’t have been better. Just before the storm lambasted the area the group had met, eaten and departed.

Past Crystal Charity Ball chairs

Past Crystal Charity Ball chairs**

Over the past 60 years, these chairwomen and their committees have raised more than $105M for area children’s charities.

Caren Kline addressing the group

Caren Kline addressing the group**

That is why the assembled group in the Espings’ home truly appreciated the challenge facing 2013 CCB Chair Caren Kline and her committee of 100 when she announced their goal was to raise more than $5M on December 7.   

Peggy Braecklein and Dale Wigley

Peggy Braecklein and Dale Wigley**

Among them were the senior CCB chairs Dale Wigley (1955), who was CCB’s third chair, and Peggy Braecklein (1969).

In addition to Caren and US Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management Managing Director Bryan Diers addressing the group, Ken Hughes explained the absence of wife/1991 chair Dee and emphasized how important Crystal Charity has been to them over the years.



Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake**

It was then time for a fabulous seated dinner (Fennel and arugula greens with apple-toasted hazelnuts and parma ham, Honey Hill Farm Honey and citrus dressing accompanied by King Estate Pinot Gris 2010; wood-grilled Bastrop Cattle Company filet mignon, chicken-friend Maine lobster tail, pommes dauphine and grilled asparagus with Béarnaise sauce accompanied by Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2010; and the Place on Perry’s chocolate fudge cake) provided by Gil’s Elegant Catering.

Bringing The Community Together To Help Animals

Chris Watts and Jody Jones

Chris Watts and Jody Jones***

The weather outside was dark and threatening on Wednesday evening May 15, and someone even said a tornado warning had been issued. But up on the 20th floor Clubhouse at One Arts Plaza, about 30 people were more interested in Jody Jones’ progress report about how the Dallas Companion Animal Project has merged with the Metroplex Animal Coalition and Dallas Animal Advocates. The aim of the merger and the new 501(c)3 group that resulted: reducing from more than 19,000 the number of dogs and cats in our community that were euthanized in FY 2011-12.

While guests sipped wine and munched on fruit, nuts and cheese, they heard from Jones, manager of Dallas Animal Services, and others about such programs as The Umbrella, which consists of a variety of pet-placement support initiatives. They learned that the Dallas Animal Services Facebook page has hit 10,000 Likes and fans, up from just 1,530 in April 2012. They mulled over the latest spay-neuter statistics, and watched slides showing the transformation of the animal shelter with new graphics and bright new paint. “Tonight is a friend-raiser,” DCAP President Chris Watts told the crowd. “Believe me, the fundraising will come.”

Rebecca Poling, Susan Gregory and Elaine Munch

Rebecca Poling, Susan Gregory and Elaine Munch***

After mini-talks by DCAP Treasurer Rebecca Poling and Susan Gregory, a DCAP director, volunteer Joe Pyland stood up and told Jones: “I spent my life managing large numbers of people, and I’ve seen many changes since you’ve been here.” Pyland’s compliment brought a burst of applause, and then talk turned to the coming storm. “This is not a good place to be if there’s a tornado,” warned Jocelyn White, chairman of the SPCA of Texas board of directors. “I’m an old weather girl.” The reception wisely broke up a little after that.

Celebrity Waiter Luncheon Has Kick-Off Party

A stone’s throw away, meanwhile, more than 100 guests who turned up for Family Gateway’s Celebrity Waiter Luncheon Kick-Off Party had an even more commanding view of the gathering storm from the 38th floor of Museum Tower. Kick-off party co-chairs were Courtney Edwards and Allison Edwards.

In one crowded room of the spectacular party condo, the nonprofit’s executive director, Rob Alberts, was waxing poetic about Family Gateway’s grand plans, from opening a Montessori school for homeless pre-schoolers to putting up 150 apartments for homeless families. The group’s audacious goal: ending child homelessness in Dallas by 2017.

The Celebrity Waiter Luncheon, scheduled for September 6 at the downtown Joule hotel, will aim to raise $150,000 toward that goal. Wednesday night partygoers paused briefly to hear from the luncheon co-chairs, Lindsay Jacaman and Jamie Singer, as well as from Family Gateway board chair Jill Herz (“it’s kind of a nasty night, but thanks for coming out!”) Then, soon enough, DJ Jason Esquire resumed spinning the tunes for guests including D’Andra Simmons, Shay Geyer, Holly Forsythe and Maggie Cooke Kipp. “Celebrity wrangler” Stacy Girard reported over the din that 40 celebrities will be needed for the luncheon—to be emceed by WFAA’s Ron Corning—and that quite a few celebs have yet to be locked in.

* Photos provided by Dallas CASA
** Photo credit: Jeanne Prejean
*** Photo credit: Glenn Hunter

Margie And Ray Francis Had The Perfect Spot For “Cherish The Children” Furnishings To Kick-off Dallas CASA Fundraiser

Margie Francis

The setting couldn’t have been more appropriate for the 2012 Cherish the Children kick-off party Wednesday night. Down a hidden-away street on the outskirts of downtown Dallas, Margie and Ray Francis‘ 82-year-old, stone cottage (okay, so 6,352-square-feet may be more than the normal cottage) was the setting for the display of the “pint-sized chairs and other pieces of whimsical children’s furniture” that will be part of the fundraising for the Dallas CASA benefit on Friday, April 13, at Northwood Club.

Stuffed animals in chair

Throughout the home’s multi-level first floor, the most unique and charming wee furniture caught guests’ eye. One wooden chair was bulging with small stuffed animals. In one room was the perfect English tearoom set up including two beautifully upholstered yellow chairs with a table covered in matching tablecloth.

Ray Francis

Like a good host, Ray not only took guests on tours of his home, he also strongly recommended items on the buffet table — especially the bacon-wrapped-date canapés. When chef (don’t call him a caterer) David Daniel was asked the secret to the wrapped-up dates, he concurred with others that the “sweet/sour combination” did the trick.

Dallas Cowboys bench

Last year’s chair Kristina Whitcomb and her husband Phillip, who donated a “Dallas Cowboys” bench signed by Roger “the Dodger” Staubach, took a pass on the food offerings. They had other plans. Seems it was “date night” for the Whitcombs, so they were headed to Avner Samuel‘s for dinner before heading home to their little ones.

Beverly Levy

Unfortunately, not all children have parents like Kristina and Phillip. CASA Executive Director Beverly Levy reported there are 2,000 children in Dallas, who are presently waiting for the courts to decide where they can  live safely. Thanks to CASA, 600 volunteers take a 30-hour course to become advocates “for the best interests of abused and neglected children, helping these children have safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.”

Agreeing with Charlene Howell that Cherish the Children is a favorite event, Caroline Rose Hunt added, “Who will speak for the children? I know it can be challenging, but loves conquers all.”

Diana Hamilton

Luncheon Chair Diana Hamilton thanked the Francises, the sponsors (Lisa and Kenny Troutt, Glazer’s Distributors, AT&T, ORIX Foundation, Rosewood Corp. and Ericsson to name a few) and CASA’s friends for attending the party. She reminded them that in addition to the sale of the furniture, actress Victoria Rowell, who was raised in foster homes, will be the keynote speaker.

Dallas CASA Chairs "Cherish the Children"

Dallas CASA held their third annual “Cherish the Children” luncheon at the old Red Courthouse on Friday and beat last year’s total of $90,000 by 10 grand.

The event was the first official event marking Dallas CASA’s 30th year in operation. It “brought together local designers, artists and retailers to create whimsical children’s chairs” (pictured) that were sold at the luncheon.

Roberta and Jack Williamson served as honorary chairs (no pun intended).

(Photo provided by Dallas CASA.)