Bethenny “Skinnygirl” Frankel Served Up One Of The Season’s Most Talked-About Presentations At The Annual Chick Lit Luncheon

On Friday, April 21, the annual Chick Lit Luncheon became the scene of two social earthquakes that split the Anatole’s Grand Ballroom. But more about that later. First, let’s set the scene.

Cristal Champagne

To kick off the Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser, the VIP reception was held in the Plum Blossom Room and, thanks to hosts Nancy and Richard Rogers, guests celebrated with Cristal Champagne. At the opening there were grand silver punch bowls filled with the elite champagne bottles chilling in ice. By the time the chimes called the guests to the luncheon, only a trio of partially filled bottles remained.

Tricia George, Paige McDaniel, Gail Fischer and Mary Martha Pickens

Lara Tafel

Nancy Rogers and Bethenny Frankel

Alas, keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel didn’t enjoy the bubbly, thanks to a non-stop of step-and-repeat photo session with folks like Co-Chairs Tricia George and Mary Martha Pickens, Presenting Co-Sponsor Lara Tafel, Honorary Chair Gail Fischer and daughter Elizabeth Fischer, Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Bela Pjetrovic and her sister Sabina Pjetrovic, Dee Simmons and daughter D’Andra Simmons Lock, Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin, Cheryl Joyner, Tiffany Divis, Claire Emanuelson, Christie Carter and Cindy Turner.

Tiffany Divis and Bela Pjetrovic

D’Andra Simmons Lock and Dee Simmons

Elizabeth Gambrell, Margo Goodwin and Cheryl Joyner

As the guests literally filled the grand ballroom, Bethenny was whisked off to a private spot for some quiet time. But little did anyone know that in the hour and a half to come, the grand ballroom would be the scene of two distinctly different attitudes.

Some claimed it was a generational separation. One guest snorted, “It’s those millennials!” Another declared the other side of the great divide to be behind the times. It was just that “the times they are a-changin‘” for the decade-old luncheon featuring authors.

The old days of the Chick Lit at Brook Hollow with pecan crusted chicken and G-rated speakers like Stacey Ballis, Julia Reed, Gigi Levangie, Allison Winn Scotch, Emily Giffin and Jen Lancaster were in the rear-view mirror.

Last year’s move to the Anatole with Tim Gunn charming one and all in an on-stage chat had shifted the program to a new level. It was like moving from grade school to high school, from Shirley Temples to Cosmopolitans or from Boy Scouts Camp to Quantico.

But when the announcement of Bethenny’s being the keynoter came, lovers of reality TV were ecstatic. For them, it was like having the Pope serve mass at the local parish. For those who only considered the word “Bravo” to be what was said after a stellar performance, Bethenny was a rather unknown commodity. Didn’t matter. The Chick Lit Luncheon had always been fun and a fundraiser for a good cause.

Still, there were warnings that Bethenny might raise some eyebrows and that the uneducated might need to be forewarned and study up on the Skinnygirl.

Despite warnings that Bethenny was not your same-old, same-old, CPD loyalists signed on. In the meantime, new world reality TV lovers bought in with hopes of a “tell-it-like-it-is” presentation.   

So, what happened? Well, the first “earthquake” took place before Bethenny ever arrived on stage.

Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Ella Bitzer and Tricia George

To kick things off, CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel presented the 2017 Partners for Children Award to Mary Ella Bitzer representing The Bitzer and Needleman Families and Peacock Alley. Unfortunately, whether it was due to poor acoustics or to all the chatter in the room, the presentation seemed to take place without much fanfare.

Faith Johnson

When Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson provided the invocation, she was heard throughout, thanks to the lack of talking. But the chitchat kicked back in once Paige returned to the podium, and the first of the divides created a Grand Canyon among the guests. Looking like unhappy emojis, some strained to hear Paige, while others held steroid conversation to such a point that even those frowny-faced guests close to the stage had to rely on lip reading to “hear” Paige talk about the importance of the organization’s annual Christmas toy drive and how Peacock Alley had supported it. Some tried to silence the chatterboxes by clanging their silverware on their glassware, but even that couldn’t be heard above the racket. Perhaps the talkative guests had never attended a fundraiser before?

What made it more obvious was how the room went into a vacuum state of silence after Community Partners of Dallas Board Member Greg Nieberding introduced Bethenny and she arrived on stage. How quiet? At one point in her talk, a cell phone in the room rang and Bethenny interrupted her talk saying, “Somebody need to take a call?”

The svelte brunette, who had risen to fame thanks to reality TV and her “Skinnygirl” business empire, was both charming and disarming. On one hand, she couldn’t have been more upbeat and complimentary about North Texas women and the CPD. She even did a shout-out to “my friend Fancy Nancy Rogers” at a front row table with pals Dallas Snadon, Leisa Street, Michael Flores, Cindy Rachofsky and Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner.

Dallas Snadon

Lori Jones, Nancy Rogers and Cindy Rachofsky

Leisa Street and Michael Flores

Shelby Wagner and Niven Morgan

On the other, she raised even the most heavily Botoxed brows with comments about “guano” (she didn’t use that word) and describing rich Dallas women as having Texas tea flowing from a particular body part (she put it much more colorfully). If you don’t get it, ask one of the thousand-plus who were there. They’re bound to recall the exact words.  

Some of the highlights of Bethenny’s talk included:

Bethenny Frankel

  • After having a rough childhood, she focused on “breaking the chain” in raising her daughter. She was not going to be “chained” to what others thought or what she had experienced as a child.
  • Finding balance in her life being a mother and a businesswoman.
  • Everyone has a great idea, but it’s the execution that matters, she said. Too often they get bogged down with the business plan or other aspects. “I would have never gotten into the liquor business had I known.”
  • Stay focused on your goals and don’t “look at the other lanes… I do my own thing.”
  • “25 years ago I was a bartender and had no idea I’d end up being an alcoholic… just kidding… I would end up founding a liquor company.”
  • She has founded an organization called “B Strong” to help women in crisis. “As women, we make a lot of decisions out of fear.”
  • “You can’t be pretty, tan, have sex, rich and sleep…I’m not tan, I don’t have sex and I’m  rich, but not like Dallas rich…. What the hell was I talking about?”
  • The night before on “Real Housewives of New York,” Bethenny had been confronted by another housewife over how she was dealing with her 6-year-old daughter about the fact that Bethenny had done a nude scene 27 years ago. “I just sat there and just took it and just said, I have no shame in my game. This is who I am. This is my past and I was an actress and I needed the money and I’ve done so many things in my life that got me to where I am, so I think that’s part of my owning it.” She went on, saying how “crazy it was for women trying to tear each other down.”

    Bethenny Frankel

  • “The least favorite element [of being on a reality show] is you get mired in something that you don’t even care about…You can’t believe that people can be so nasty and malicious. I think it’s a comedy. I see it as a satire. You can’t believe how fake people are. It’s amazing. You look around and any five people. You believe they are totally normal. ‘She’s so down to earth; she’s  so normal.’ She’s ‘guano‘ crazy!”
  • “I want to give you one tip. It’s changed my life. At night before you go to bed, for like five to 15 minutes, put in as much hot water as you possibly can in your bathtub and just your feet—not your whole body—in Epsom salts. It’s like a drunk. I don’t know what happens. I used to take something to sleep, but this knocks you out. It’s like detoxing and it’s crazy and it’s the simplest and oldest thing and has changed my life.”
  • Being an entrepreneur “is really hard. You’ve got to be out there. But it’s good. It’s like the ocean. It keeps changing and moving all the time.”
  • “I’m really a homebody. I like being with my daughter.”
  • When asked what the one thing she keeps in her refrigerator to make a meal, Bethenny responded, “I’m a big fan of the freezer. I travel so much that when I get home there’s always a frozen organic broccoli.”
  • Kale — “You can’t walk on the street without being assaulted by kale. I want to meet the kale publicist. What’s so great?”
  • The future for Bethenny — “I’m focused on this charity [B Strong]. I’m able to help women. Now that I’m not struggling and white-knuckling it anymore, I want to inspire women.”

Bethenny lived up to her honest, no-holds barred comments about her life, both past and present. She was true to herself. Some loved her words; some were perturbed by her presentation. Hey, when you go to a Mexican food restaurant, you can’t expect meat loaf to be the featured item on the menu.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Chick Lit Luncheon

Nancy Rogers and Bethenny Frankel

After waiting for what seemed like eons, reality TV and Chick Lit fans gathered at the Hilton Anatole on Thursday, April 20, to hear from that lightning rod personality/author/business woman Bethenny Frankel.

Mary Martha Pickens, Mary Ella Bitzer and Tricia George

From the Cristal served at the VIP pre-luncheon meet-and-greet to the chatter during the presentation of the Community Partners of Dallas’ 2017 Partners for Children Award, the CPD fundraiser ran the gamut from class to crass. And then there were a couple of Bethenny comments that earned giggles and grumbles.

While this post is being finalized, check out the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for the peeps who were part of one of the most talked-about luncheons this season.

Not Even Traffic Hassles Could Discourage Chick Lit Patrons From Meet And Greeting Luncheon Keynoter Bethenny Frankel

Lara and Bob Tafel

Twas a perfect storm that valet parkers dread on Thursday, April 20, at Preston Center East. Construction had limited parking, and rush hour at the juncture of Preston and Northwest Highway had cars playing dosey-doe. And to add to the mayhem, Bachendorf’s was the site of the Community Partners of Dallas Chick Lit Patron Party.

Chick Lit Presenting Sponsors Lara and Bob Tafel moseyed up the sidewalk. They had opted to bypass the valet, park a block away and stroll. Bob’s outfit was highlighted by a colorful pocket square. Lara claimed it was the result of last year’s speaker Tim Gunn.

Lawrence Bock, Bethenny Frankel and Katy Bock

Mary Martha Pickens, Bethenny Frankel and Tricia George

So, a patron party in itself is a full load, but in this case the keynote speaker Bethenny Frankel was on hand. Looking at times like a swarm around a queen bee, the party was a bee hive of cellphone snaps. Nonchalance was not the order of the day.

Dan Houchard, Bethenny Frankel and Maura Houchard

Wendy and Boyd Messmann

Guests on hand included Bachendorf’s Katy and Lawrence Bock, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Maura and Dan Houchard, Anne Stodghill, Chick Lit Co-Chairs Tricia George and Mary Martha with husband John Pickens and CPD energizer bunnies Paige McDaniel and Joanna Clarke.

But it was an early evening, because the main act — the Chick Lit Luncheon — was the next day at  the Hilton Anatole.

WFAA’s Sonia Azad To Fill In At yCPD Field Day For KDFW’s Jen Myer

Well, darn it! KDFW‘s Jen Myer isn’t gonna be handling the emcee duties at Saturday’s yCPD Field Day. Ah, shoot! She’s always so much fun. But the red, curled meteorologist has a note from her doctor ’splaining why. Her planned cataract surgery was moved up a week. So, she’s definitely good for the excuse.

Jennifer Myers (File photo)

Jenny Anchondo (File photo)

Normally, Jen would have her besty morning pal/KDFW anchor Jenny Anchondo fill in for her. Not so. She has a doctor’s excuse, too. Jenny is due to deliver her first-ever munchkin any day now.

Booty Shaking (File photo)

Not to worry. The Community Partners of Dallas crew has gone across the channels and will have WFAA medical reporter Sonia Azad doing the play-by-play at The Rustic. Hope someone has warned her that the event is a combination of the Olympics and the pie fight in “The Great Race.”

Doesn’t matter. It’s more fun than having Six Flags all to your own and still helps the kids in need through CPD. Festivities start at 2 p.m. and, if you can’t pull a team together, why not just show up and watch the fun!

2016 Crystal Charity Ball Beneficiaries Celebrated Receiving Checks For More Than $5.5M

The skies were blue and the temperatures gave no sign of drizzle, let alone snow. Still, on Tuesday, April 4, it was Christmas time with 2016 Crystal Charity Ball Chair Christie Carter and her committee members handing out six-figure checks totaling $5.6M.

Anne Besser, Cordelia Boone, Kay Barry, Theresa Francis, Christie Carter and Claire Emanuelson

Hosted by Westwood Trust at Communities Foundation of Texas, the 2016 beneficiaries were downright giddy. Some, like Hope’s Supply President Barbara Johnson and Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas CEO Jennifer Bartkowski, admitted from the stage that the last time they had been there, they had been nervous in pitching their nonprofits for CCB consideration over a year ago.

Now, they were relieved that they had passed muster and were being handed checks to help them in their missions.

Drum roll. And the happy-faced beneficiaries included:

Susan Farris, Paige McDaniel and Margo Goodwin

David Krause

Cary Wright

 

  • Community Partners of Dallas for a “forever home for Community Partners of Dallas” — $1,359.236
  • Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas for “STEM Center of Excellence Girl Exploration Center” — $976,000
  • Hope Supply Co. for “hope for homeless children” — $600,000
  • Notre Dame School of Dallas for “Hearts and Hammers Campaign” — $676,020
  • Parkland Foundation on behalf of Parkland Health and Hospital System for “mobile medical clinic and pediatric screenings” — $789,002
  • Teach for America for “Elementary Education Initiative” — $500,000
  • The Family Place for “Children’s Counseling Center” —$750,000

Suzy Gekiere, Jennifer Bartkowski and Tricia George

Barbara Johnson

Gregg Ballew

Paige Flink and Eric White

Also, in attendance were Westwood Trust Senior VP Gregg Ballew, Eric White, Paige Flink, Melissa Sherrill, Pam Busbee, Lisa Singleton, Margo Goodwin, Pat and John Harloe, Ola Fojtasek, Suzy Gekiere, Tricia George, Candace Winslow, Rob Snyder, Cordelia Boone, Paige McDaniel, Joanna Clarke, Vinnie Reuben, Theresa Francis, Kay Barry, David Krause, Laura and Jason Downing, Cary Wright, Rea Foster, Tucker Enthoven, Piper Wyatt, Beth Thoele, Michael Meadows, Anne Besser, Susan Farris, Elizabeth Gambrell, Greg Nieberding, 2018 CCB Chair Claire Emanuelson with husband Dwight Emanuelson, and Vin Perella with his wife/2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella, who is already managing the haul of $5.8M for the 2017 beneficiaries.

Grovel Alert: 2017 Chick Lit Luncheon

Let’s hope the Anatole Grand Ballroom has its Spanx on for Friday’s Chick Lit Luncheon. The annual Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser is busting with folks to hear Bethenny Frankel at the podium.

Bethenny Frankel*

According to insiders, there are just a couple seats left. Hurry and get one or two of those last places because ya just know that Bethenny is gonna be quotable and memorable.

And don’t worry about setting Bethenny up on a dating apps blind date. According to her chat with People Magazine, “I wouldn’t have enough time to date online. I thought about it, but I haven’t actually done it because I wouldn’t have the time.”

“If it gets there and it’s a dry country, maybe I’ll think about it — but it hasn’t gotten to that point,” Frankel adds. “At my age I got game, who knew?”

But that was a couple of weeks ago. Who knows? Perhaps Bethenny has changed her mind about online dating.

BTW, ticket sales close Thursday at 5 p.m. Hustle, hustle, hustle!

Skinnygirl Sangria And Margaritas Plus Peanut Butter Balls Were On The Menu For Community Partners Of Dallas’ Chick Lit Toast

Skinny Girl beverages and Chick Lit glassware

Like a glamorama pep rally, the Community Partners of Dallas Chick Lit Luncheon crowd held forth at Chick Lit Honorary Chair Gail Fischer’s Preston Hollow estate for the Skinnygirl Toast on Tuesday, March 21.While Skinnygirl Founder/Chick Lit Headliner Bethenny Frankel was ways away from the ZIP code making headlines, she was well represented thanks to pitchers filled with Skinnygirl drinks — Grapefruit and regular margarita, White Cranberry Cosmo, White Sangria and Chardonnay — at the bar and making the rounds.

As one gal said, “The sangria is healthy. Just look at all the fruit.”

Cassandra’s peanut butter balls

Across the way on a buffet table loaded with edibles was the star of the yummies — Cassandra Tomassetti’s peanut balls smothered in dark chocolate. A couple of those would fatten up even skinny Bethenny. One gal looked as if she was going put one or two in her purse for a late-night snack.

Jana Nobles, Mary Moore and Paige McDaniel

For the toasting occasion, CPD masterminds Paige McDaniel and Joanna Clarke had the drinks served up in stemless glasses boasting the Chick Lit Luncheon logo. Little did the guests know that they would have similar glasses and mints to take home. 

Laura Pickens, Mary Martha Pickens and Gail Fischer

As the 100 guests Like Luncheon Co-Chair Mary Martha Pickens with her niece Laura Pickens, Cindy Turner, Suzy Gekiere, Susan Farris, Jan Nobles and Mary Moore filled the home, Gail fiddled with her remove control navigating the Smart TV’s music categories. She wanted to play the right music, but husband Cliff Fischer, who is usually the one in charge of remoting, was out of town on business. With a try at jazz, Carol Seay played advisor, suggesting to move on to something a little more upbeat.

Cindy Turner, Suzy Gekiere and Susan Farris

Tickets for the Friday, April 21, CPD fundraiser presented by Lara and Dr. Robert Tafel at the Hilton Anatole are available here. Proceeds from the event will help CPD serve “more than 20,000 of Dallas County’s abused and neglected children this year.”

Plans Announced For Grown-Ups-Only 3rd Annual yCPD Field Day At The Rustic

Perhaps the Community Partners of Dallas brain trust realized that adults were envious of the organization’s annual “Change Is Good” providing a plethora of kid-oriented activities in the fall. After all, that bounce house and bungee jumping looked pretty inviting even in wet weather.

The CPD Young Friends Group came up with the perfect solution — yCPD Field Day in 2012. It had teams of six competing in three-legged and wheelbarrow relay races. Overtime, the activities got more off-the-wall as the number of teams grew.

Jennifer Myers (File photo)

Hershey Kiss Relay (File photo)

Booty Shaking (File photo)

Word just arrived from yCPD Field Day Co-Chairs Tanner Hartnett and Crystal Lightbody that this year’s games will return to The Rustic from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, with KDFW red-curled meteorologist Jennifer Myers emceeing. In addition to the grown-up libations and live music, the competition will be just made for people watching. Just imagine trying to unwrap a Hershey’s kiss wearing mittens!

According to insiders, game-mistresses Paige McDaniel and Joanna Clarke are threatening to come up with some new outlandish games just made for cell-photoing.

Sponsorships start at $500 and teams are $350.

MySweet2017Goals: Mary Martha Pickens

Mary Martha Pickens (File photo)

According to Chick Lit Luncheon 2017 Co-Chair Mary Martha Pickens,

“One of my goals for 2017 is for the community to join my Co-Chair Tricia George and me for the 11th annual Chick Lit Luncheon presented by Dr. Robert and Lara Tafel benefiting Community Partners of Dallas (CPD) on Friday, April 21. This year’s event will feature best-selling author, natural foods chef, reality TV star, self-made businesswoman and mom, Bethenny Frankel, as the keynote speaker – you will not want to miss it!

Lara and Robert Tafel (File photo)

Gail Corder Fischer (File photo)

“Tricia and I, along with our underwriting chairs Katy Bock, Marybeth Conlon and Lori Anna Dees, are planning an unforgettable luncheon, whose proceeds will support the abused and neglected children served by CPD. To that end, we are so excited to announce Gail Corder Fischer as this year’s honorary chair. We are so grateful to Gail for her ongoing dedication to the children in our community and her support of the Chick Lit Luncheon.

“As well, CPD will be presenting the ‘2017 Partners for Children Award’ to the Peacock Alley Bitzer and Needleman families for their longtime support of Community Partners of Dallas. The Partners for Children Award is presented annually and celebrates the recipient’s commitment to the philanthropic needs of our community and their years of service meeting the needs of abused and neglected children.

“The 11th annual Chick Lit Luncheon will be held on April 21, at 10:30 a.m., at the Hilton Anatole. The event will include a wine reception followed by a seated luncheon and remarks by Ms. Frankel. Tables begin at $1,750 and are on sale now; individual tickets will go on sale in early April if space permits. For more information, visit communitypartnersdallas.org.  We look forward to seeing you on April 21st!”

JUST IN: Bethenny “Skinnygirl” Frankel To Be Keynote Speaker At Community Partner’s Of Dallas’ 11th Annual Chick Lit Luncheon

Chick Lit Luncheon*

There were naysayers who doubted that Community Partners of Dallas could actually come up with an author/speaker for their annual Chick Lit Luncheon to top their 2016 speaker Tim Gunn.

Bethenny Frankel*

Well, it looks like they’ve gone and done it — Bethenny “Skinnygirl” Frankel!

According to CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel, “We are absolutely thrilled to announce Bethenny Frankel as the featured speaker for this year’s Chick Lit Luncheon. Following last year’s record-breaking tenth anniversary event, we know Bethenny’s straight-forward and witty approach to relationships, nutrition, business, parenting and all things-‘Real Housewives’ will certainly keep our devoted attendees entertained. This year is not to be missed!”

If you’re new to Bethenny world, hold on to your gelled nails. A week in her life is the stuff that keeps “Page Six” reporters salivating. In addition to creating the Skinnygirl brand of cocktails, chocolates, etc., she shot to fame thanks to reality TV (Bethenny Ever After, Bethenny Getting Married?, The Real Housewives of New York City and you know the drill).

But long before she became the reality boob tube darling/diva, her childhood was fraught with drama. When she was four, her father left her mother Bernadette Birk. A year later her mom remarried. Bethenny has described Bernadette as “trying to commit suicide in the kitchen in front of me. We had abuse, we had alcohol, we had gambling. What mother would ever do that to their child?” That may explain their 12-year estrangement.

But wait, there’s more. Just this past year she divorced husband #2 Jason Hoppy after battling in the divorce courts for four years, got depressed this past year and found happiness six months ago with multimillionaire Dennis Shields, who is married to a high school chum of Bethenny. You can’t make this stuff up!

In her spare time, she has written books with the most recent book seeming appropriate — “I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To: 10 Rules For Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After.”

Mary Martha Pickens (File photo)

Tricia George (File photo)

Chances are that by the time Bethenny hits Dallas for the Friday, April 21, luncheon at the Hilton Anatole, she’ll have even more tantalizing tales to tell about her life as the “skinnygirl.” The luncheon is being co-chaired by Tricia George and Mary Martha Pickens with Katy Bock, Marybeth Conlon and Lori Anna Dees co-chairing the underwriting.

Table sales and sponsorships are available now! As for individual tickets, they will be available in April… “if space permits.” Translation: Get your buddies together and lock down that table pronto.

* Graphic and photo provided by Community Partners of Dallas

The Gingerbread Stroll Nears The End Of The Road, But There’s Still Time To Bid And Vote On A Confectionary Cottage

Thursday may be the first day of December, but, alas, it’s the last day of the 5th Annual Gingerbread Stroll in Highland Park Village. If you haven’t made it yet, stop pussyfooting around and check out the marvelously decorated cookie cottages at Betta Gallery, Bistro 31, Kiehl’s, Leggiadro, Market Highland Park, Robert Talbott, Roberta Roller Rabbit, Royal Blue Grocery, Stella McCartney, Trina Turk and Village Barber Shop.

The Gingerbread Stroll*

The Gingerbread Stroll*

The cuisine builders include A Sweet Life, Architecture Demarest, artist Evelyn J. Fallgren, Charlies, Chef Winter Lockwood-Frank, Chocolate Secrets, Hilton Anatole, Hotel Crescent Court, Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion, Omni Dallas Hotel and Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.

And since it is the last day of the stroll, put your bid in for one of the houses… except for one. 

Just heard from Gingerbread founding sweetie Christine McKenny that Evelyn’s  confectionary delight at Leggiadro is off the market. Seems someone snatched it up for the buy-it-now bid of $1,000. Perhaps the Dave Perry Miller folks should post a “Sold” sign out front!

Evelyn J. Fallgren's sold gingerbread house*

Evelyn J. Fallgren’s sold gingerbread house*

But Evelyn has another masterpiece over at Robert Talbott that is still up for bid. It’s quite a looker, too!

And Christine also revealed there has been a late arrival from Chef Julie Price to the gingerbread development. It’s at Nasiba Adilova’s and Miroslava Duma‘s The Tot pop-up shop. Since it is the holiday season, Christine has decided to let this adorable home stay on the auction bloc after Thursday night. But don’t wait too long to check it out and put a bid in.

Remember, all bids and votes for your favs (except the one at The Tot) end Thursday night when the stores go dark.

Since its inception in 2011, the Stroll has provided more than $40,000 for area children in need through organizations like this year’s recipient Community Partners of Dallas.

* Graphic and photo courtesy of The Gingerbread Stroll

MySweetWishList: Community Partners Of Dallas’ Annual Toy Drive

According to Community Partners of Dallas President/CEO Paige McDaniel,

Paige McDaniel (File photo)

Paige McDaniel (File photo)

“Community Partners of Dallas’ annual Toy Drive is now underway! I wish for the community to help us in providing 11,000 gift wishes for abused and neglected children in the care of Child Protective Services. CPD is accepting donations of toys through Friday, December 9.

“For thousands of abused and neglected children in Dallas County, the holidays are just another day; one more day that they are reminded that no one cares. By supporting Community Partners of Dallas’ Toy Drive, individuals, organizations and companies can grant specific gift requests to children most in need of holiday joy.

“Community Partners of Dallas’ Toy Drive is unique in that the wishes are brought to the agency by CPS caseworkers on behalf of the children in their care, and those same caseworkers will have the wonderful opportunity to deliver the gifts personally. For many of the children, these might be the only gifts they receive, and for some the first gift they have ever been given.

“A significant need this Christmas is gift cards, valued at $25 or more, for the teens we serve.  Every teen should have the experience of shopping and selecting something for themselves.  Gift cards from retailers such as Target, Walmart, Bath & Body Works, Forever21, GameStop, Academy, Old Navy or Best Buy are always appreciated. As well, popular wishes for kids of all ages include bikes, African American Dolls, learning toys for toddlers, bath and body gift sets, ANYTHING from Disney’s Frozen, light up toys, MP3 players, LEGO Sets, remote control cars, toddler push toys, small tablets, LeapFrog toys and basketballs/footballs/soccer balls.

Community Partners of Dallas Toy Drive*

Community Partners of Dallas Toy Drive*

“Toys and gift cards can be provided by companies, churches, scout troops, business offices, or individuals. Organizations and individuals can also organize a new toy drive for the undesignated toy collection used to serve additional children who come into CPS’ protective care after the wish list deadline and to fill wishes not selected by donors.

 “All gifts should be new and not wrapped. Toys must be delivered to the Community Partners of Dallas’ Toy Drive Warehouse at the Peacock Alley Warehouse located at 2050 Postal Way, Dallas 75212 no later than 1:00 p.m. on Friday, December 9.  For more information on participating in the Toy Drive or for warehouse hours, contact Corinne Karp, 214.624.7588 or [email protected] or visit www.communitypartnersdallas.org.” 

-By Paige McDaniel, Community Partners of Dallas president/CEO

* Graphic provided by Community Partners of Dallas

Change Of Plans For Stiletto Strut Slated To Benefit Community Partners Of Dallas

Remember back  in April 2014 when Community Partners of Dallas’ Paige McDaniel pulled out a couple of gorgeous stilettos from a gift box at the annual Chick Lit Luncheon? The reason was the announcement that CPD would be the recipient of the 2015 Stiletto Strut at NM Downtown. The response to the announcement was cheers. And, of course, everyone want those heels.

Jennifer Morris and Paige McDaniel (File photo)

Jennifer Morris and Paige McDaniel (File photo)

However, the 2015 Strut had to be put off due to construction on the street and other issues. Now, with CPD in the middle of its big push to complete funding for the new facilities, there just ain’t time to wedge in the Strut.

And besides the downtown traffic is so bumper-to-bumper, the days of stiletto strutting may have marched into the sunset.

Even Rainy Weather Couldn’t Take The Bounce Out Of Community Partners Of Dallas’ 10th Annual Change Is Good

North Texas is the Super Bowl for meteorologists and event planners. With all of Mama Nature’s children (northers rolling down from the Rockies, Arctic chills coming down the Midwest corridor, moist winds from the Gulf Coast and Canadian blowhards), the North Texas region is a mix master of weather.

That’s why Sunday, September 25, put the area activities to the test as wet weather, threats of thunder and promises of cooler weather hit.

The Plano Balloon Festival smartly cancelled early, but the Community Partners of Dallas had the Change Is Good prepared for whatever. And whatever was put to the test.

Mason Park and Beth and Larence Park

Mason Park and Beth and Larence Park

As the doors opened for the 10th Annual Change is Good at Brook Hollow, the weather looked promising for the event to be outdoor/indoor. Still the bungee cord jump stayed still, while the outdoor bounce house and inflated obstacle course had short ones lined up. Toddler Mason Park decided to take a pass on the obstacle course and stayed in the arms of his grandparents/Honorary Co-Chairs Beth and Larence Park.

Inflatable obstacle course

Inflatable obstacle course

Inside the smell of popcorn filled the Verandah, while palm readers got handy and Rad Hatter created millinery masterpieces.

DJ Bill Cody

DJ Bill Cody

Rad Hatter

Rad Hatter

Fortune teller

Fortune teller

In the ballroom, DJ Bill Cody had both kiddos and adults dancing underneath a netted gathering of balloons. At one side of the room was a balloon creation of “10”.

In addition to the “10,” there were families who have been sponsors since its beginning including Shonn and Clarence Brown, Jessica and Jeff Burrow, Sally and George Dutter, Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell, Heather and Malcolm Hicks, Christie and Chris Linebarger, Francie and Steve Mancillas, Emily and Todd Massey, Christina and Tim Norris, Katherine Reeves and Jody and Grant Swartzwelder.

Alas, Elizabeth Gambrell feared that this one just might be her swan song for Change Is Good. Her older two kids had outgrown the event and her baby girl Sarah Rose Gambrell was starting to look like one of the oldies despite the painted face.

Sarah Rose Gambrell and Elizabeth Gambrell

Sarah Rose Gambrell and Elizabeth Gambrell

Jack Landon and Chris Landon

Jack Landon and Chris Landon

On the other hand, those with toddlers found it easier to get around with child in arm like Lindsay and Chris Landon with one-year-old Jack Landon.

Across the room was the near-to-the-ceiling bounce house. At one point there was a group gasp as the house seemed to be tilting on its side. But the kids who were old hands at bounce houses shifted to the other side and all was right.

Still as usual the ultimate popular, line ‘em up was the face painting in the ballroom. Okay, so some fellas like William Spence weren’t so keen about the cosmetic fru-fru. But others like Co-Chair Caroline Ballotta looked right at home with her painted face and Rad Hatter. Brother William Ballotta was one of the little ones who initially was a bit overwhelmed by all the commotion.

Ray Ballotta, William Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta and Lindsay Ballotta

Ray Ballotta, William Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta and Lindsay Ballotta

An hour into the festivities, the feared rain that had hit the rest of the area found Brook Hollow. And despite the overload of kids, parents and grandparents, nobody really seemed to mind. Thought one single-child parent admitted that she was grateful just to have one kidlet.

Energized by the sugary delights of Book Hollow, the kids were in overdrive. In the ballroom where debutante parties had properly taken place and the ever-so-civilized Sweetheart Ball had raised funds, the too-young-to-have-drivers-license set scampered, danced and partied.

Lisa Catravas, Aiden Catravas and Jimmie Catravas

Lisa Catravas, Aiden Catravas and Jimmie Catravas

Shelly Slater, Hutcheson Huffstutter, Hawkins Huffstutter and Clay Huffstutter

Shelly Slater, Hutcheson Huffstutter, Hawkins Huffstutter and Clay Huffstutter

Snapshots: Aiden Catravas with a white streak in his brown hair broke from the herd and dined on carrots and veggies… While juggling her two sons Hawkins Huffstutter and Hutcheson Huffstuffer with husband Clay Huffstutter, Shelly Slater reported that she was still doing parttime work for WFAA as well as advising nonprofits and organizations. But, no, rumors that she was doing PR were so very wrong… Poor Spider Man. Upon seeing the comic superhero, two tykes burst into tears. Hey, it’s rough to be a rejected comic strip hero.

Despite the super-duper sugar high, the party wound down and just as the end came, the net holding the green and white balloons was let loose with balloons falling on the waiting guests.

BTW, the final count for the kids’ collection of change? How about a whopping 87,582 coins adding up to $19,617.55! That means that in its 10 years, 922,526 coins have been turned in resulting in $147,830 for Community Partners of Dallas. What is done with money? It goes to buying supplies, toys and clothes for children who are removed from neglectful and harmful situations.

But Change Is Good does even more than support the Community Partners of Dallas mission. It also is an opportunity for youngsters to learn about fundraising. This year’s efforts resulted in awards being given out including:

  • Most online — Harper Hinds and Haven Hinds ($1,195)
  • Most quarters — Brooke Gray, Cate Gray and Caroline Gray (1,383 quarters)
  • Most change collected —
    • 1st place — Harper Hinds and Haven Hinds ($1,598.01)
    • 2nd place — Brooke Gray, Cate Gray and Caroline Gray ($1,033.63)
    • 3rd place — Sydney Bonfield and Lola Bonfield ($953.25)

For more photos, head over to MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2016 Change Is Good

Those folks at Community Partners of Dallas don’t let pending rain warnings dampen their plans. That was the case for their 10th Annual Change Is Good at Brook Hollow Golf Club on Sunday, September 25. While other events might suffer due to drizzle, these kids and their seemed to thrive.

Inflatable obstacle course

Inflatable obstacle course

The outdoor inflatable obstacle course was even more slippery-slidy; bounce house went in-house; the face painters had ’em lined up; the sugary delights filled tables; and, of course, there was a drop of green and white balloons.

Ray Ballotta, William Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta and Lindsay Ballotta

Ray Ballotta, William Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta and Lindsay Ballotta

Kennedy Moore, Sandy Moore, Ryan Moore and Barry Moore

Kennedy Moore, Sandy Moore, Ryan Moore and Barry Moore

While the post is being prepared, check out some pretty cute folks at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

10th Annual Change Is Good Kick-Off Party Turned Work Into A Birthday Celebration with Green Cupcakes, Crayons And Checks

One local nonprofit group that subscribes to the Tom Sawyer philosophy of making work seem like fun is Community Partners of Dallas. To launch its 10th anniversary of Change is Good along with prepping supplies for young clients, they held a kick-off party on the afternoon of Saturday, August 20, at CPD headquarters complete with green birthday cupcakes, loads of crayons and checks. Here’s a report from the field:

Ray Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta, Lindsay Ballotta and Williams Ballotta*

Ray Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta, Lindsay Ballotta and Williams Ballotta*

Community Partners of Dallas kicked off the 10th Annual Change is Good on Saturday, August 20, with a celebration and day of volunteering for event sponsors and members of the event’s host committee.

Chair family Lindsay and Ray Ballotta with kids Caroline and William, welcomed nearly 100 attendees for a day of fun. As families arrived, they were encouraged to create their own design for the annual t-shirt, which will be unveiled at the upcoming Sunday, September 25th event.  With “10th birthday” as the theme, participants of all ages showed their artistic talents with their original designs.

Barry and Sandy Moore, Ryan Moore and Kennedy Moore*

Barry and Sandy Moore, Ryan Moore and Kennedy Moore*

Grayson Porwell, Valerie Prowell and Noelle Prowell*

Grayson Porwell, Valerie Prowell and Noelle Prowell*

Gracie Kong, Sarah Kong and Owen Kong*

Gracie Kong, Sarah Kong and Owen Kong*

Paige McDaniel, Henry Horvat and George Horvat*

Paige McDaniel, Henry Horvat and George Horvat*

Midway through the event, President and CEO Paige McDaniel welcomed everyone and thanked event sponsors, then gave special recognition to the Change is Good chair family, the Ballottas, as well as honorary chairs Beth and Larence Park. She also thanked all the kids for working so hard over the summer as they collected change to help change the lives for other kids – whether they emptied their own piggy banks or raised money online or through other activities. As a surprise, George Horvat (age 10) and his brother Henry Horvat (age 8) made a special presentation to Paige…a check for $300, which they raised from hosting a summer day camp, which benefited CPD.  Paige wrapped up by leading the kids in singing “Happy Birthday” to Change is Good, as well as Calum Taylor who was celebrating his 14th birthday on Saturday!

Birthday cupcakes*

Birthday cupcakes*

Attendees were then separated by age to help CPD put together hygiene kits and back to school supplies for the abused and neglected children they serve.

The 10th annual Change is Good will be held on Sunday, September 25, from 3 – 6 p.m. at Brook Hollow Golf Club. The fun-filled day will feature activities for all ages, including bungee jumping, obstacle courses, a prince/princess station, a paper airplane zone, a GameTruck, the Rad Hatter, balloon artists, face painting, bounce houses, a DJ dance party and an array of fun birthday activities to celebrate Change is Good turning 10. Participating children and teens will turn in the change they collected over the summer in exchange for chances to win exciting prizes. This year’s prize for most change raised is a 3D printer!

Sponsorships begin at $550 and are on sale now; tickets are $75 per adult and $35 per child.  For more information visit communitypartnersdallas.org.

* Photo provided by Community Partners of Dallas

JUST IN: More Than 4,000 In-Need Dallas Kids Start The 2016-2017 School Year In Great Shape Thanks To CPD And DCAC

Since SMU is now officially back in session, the Bed Bath and Beyond staff has been in recovery mode. Seems the place was busting as parents and their collegiate kids shopped for dorm room necessities. As for the Office Depot team, they’re still under siege as area students and their folks are buying everything from pens to binders.

Community Partners of Dallas' Back-To-School 2016*

Community Partners of Dallas’ Back-To-School 2016*

One group that is taking a deep breath is Community Partners of Dallas (CPD). As part of their 23rd Annual Back-To-School drive, they surpassed their goal of providing more than 3,100 Dallas public school students with uniforms and supply-laden backpacks.

In addition to FFA’s kick-off contribution, The Container Store really gave a helping hand by raising $57,000 for the program. Remember that for each dollar donated, CPD was able to buy $5 worth of supplies and uniforms. Translation: The Container Store’s contribution resulted in supplies and uniforms worth a comfy six figures.

Dallas Children's Advocacy Center's Back To School**

Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s Back To School**

Thanks to CPD and the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC), more than 4,000 in-need kids started the 2016-2017 school year in stellar condition. Both were record breaker campaigns!

Pats on the back for CPD, DCAC and all the individuals and companies that came together for the children.

* Graphic provided by Community Partners of Dallas 
** Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Advocacy Center

Take Advantage of Tax-Free Weekend For Community Partners Of Dallas’ 23rd Annual Back-To-School Program

Where did June and July go? That’s the thought starting to bubble in the brains of area school kids with the realization that school is just around the corner. For the Dallas Independent School District students, the very first day of the nine month education march is Monday, August 22.

Community Partners of Dallas' Back-To-School 2016*

Community Partners of Dallas’ Back-To-School 2016*

Another group that is all too well aware of that date is the Community Partners of Dallas. Their 23rd annual Back-To-School got off to a great start. Thanks to the FFA, 1,400 backpacks with schools supplies were donated. But that surge was needed because CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel and her team had created a record-breaking goal of more than 3,000. Why so high? Because there are that many Dallas County abused and neglected children in need of appropriate school supplies and uniforms.

Here’s an interesting fact provided by CPD:

“Sometimes the only difference between an A+ student and a failing student is having basic supplies to do homework and participate in class. Because 69% of the children served by Community Partners of Dallas live on a family income of less than $14,000 annually, after the most basic of needs of the family are met, school supplies may not fit into that budget.”

Pencils (File photo)

Pencils (File photo)

So, why bring this up when CPD’s Back-To-School runs through Friday, August 19? Because it’s “tax-free weekend!” That means that those items on the CPD wish list (markers, glue bottle, construction paper, manila paper, binders, backpacks, pink erasers, Kleenex, calculators, compasses, pencil pouches and other school-oriented items) can be snatched up without being taxed. Why not purchase a nifty backpack, fill it with supplies and drop it off at CPD at 1215 Skiles Street. It’s located in one of Dallas’ most treasured neighborhoods — the Wilson Historic District. Your reward will be a big old smile from the staff and a “thank you” to boot.

What’s that? You’re in Aspen and can’t get back in time for the taxless weekend? No problem. Make a donation. Thanks to CPD’s buying power, “every $1 donated is equal to $5 worth of school supplies and uniforms. With a gift of only $25, you can ensure a child starts the school year off with the right tools for success!”

Yes, you’re weary of hearing about the various back-to-school programs. After all, what’s the big deal about a pink eraser? But something as small an eraser is a big deal to a child, who’s known a life of neglect and abuse. Their way out of this situation is education, but they need the tools. You can provide it with a donation of items and/or funds.

* Graphic courtesy of Community Partners of Dallas

Community Partners Of Dallas’ 23rd Annual Back To School Drive Got A Big, Old Surprise Thanks To Texas FFA

The North Texas nonprofits are not letting summer vacations or the heat slow them down. With schools starting up in just a handful of weeks, efforts are in high throttle to help get kids all decked out. While the Dallas Children’s Advocacy’s Back-To-School program is providing 1,000 kids with two school uniforms, those gals over at Community Partners of Dallas are focused on the 23rd Annual Back To School Drive to provide both backpacks and uniforms for nearly 2,500 Dallas County kids.

With the drive just being kicked off last week, the 88th Annual Texas FFA Convention gave them a helping hand. On Wednesday, July 13, CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel and CPD Corporate Relations Director Corinne Karp found themselves on stage with Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath and Texas SFFA State VP Kaylyn When.

Kaylynn When, Paige McDaniel, Corrine Karp and Mike Morath*

Kaylynn When, Paige McDaniel, Corrine Karp and Mike Morath*

While Paige and Corinne would have appreciated any number, they were overwhelmed by the donation of more than 1,400 backpacks filled with school supplies donated by the convention attendees as part of their Texas FFA Backpack Initiative.

Texas FAA donations*

Texas FAA donations*

After recovering from the delicious surprise, Paige and the rest of her team got back to work to raise funds for the remaining 1,100 backpacks plus the much-needed uniforms.

FYI: Thanks to being very thrifty and bulk purchasing, CPD is able to obtain $5 worth of school supplies and uniforms for each dollar donated. “With a gift of only $25, you can ensure a child starts the school year off with the right tools for success!”

Oh, you’re wondering what the heck is Texas FFA Association. Besides being the largest youth-led convention with 12,000 members and guests, this organization is focused on developing agricultural youth leadership. During their week in Dallas, they attended leadership workshops, participating in events and activities, being recognized for their achievements and serving as the legislative body for the Texas FFA Association.” And, of course, the Texas FFA Association is the “nation’s largest state FFA Association” thanks to having more than 115,000 members.

A pat on the back to convention organizers for having participants from around the state help a Dallas nonprofit.

* Photo credit: Joanna Clarke

yCPD Field Day Had Hershey Kiss Relaying And Booties And Bobble Heads Shaking For Community Partners Of Dallas

Forget camps Longhorn and Waldemar. The summer camp action was at The Rustic on Saturday, May 21, and the campers were of voting age. Leave it to Community Partners of Dallas to take its annual kids-friendly “Change For Good” and create an adult version — yCPD Field Day. Only there were no bounce houses or bungee jumping.

Paige McDaniels and Joanna Clarke

Paige McDaniels and Joanna Clarke

Taking place in the heat and humidity of Saturday, May 21, mist fans were in high roll and icy beverages were just a hand off away. Funny as it may seem, the coolest millennials were gangbusting the are-you-serious activities which were dreamt up by CPD Funmeister Joanna Clarke and Event Chair Sarah Carbonnet. Adding to the off-the-wall antics was KDFW (FOX) meteorologist Jennifer Myers at the mic. (Folks didn’t realize that red-haired Jenny was at the mic-helm. She had doffed her straight auburn wig to let loose her glorious “Annie” red curls and donning Jackie-O shades.)

Jennifer Myers

Jennifer Myers

Another head-turner was the A-Team that may not have won the games, but they sure knew how to pose!

Angela Edgell, Karie Kieffer, Diana Leach, Crystal Lightbody, Bobby Martin and Paige Martin

The A-Team team members Angela Edgell, Karie Kieffer, Diana Leach, Crystal Lightbody, Bobby Martin and Paige Martin

Here’s an eyewitness report from the shenanigans:

As they checked in, the 102 participants shopped the Mystery Bag station, which featured a variety of “mystery” prizes valued at $50 or more. For $25 each, purchasers were surprised with items including Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks tickets; a four course meal for 6 people in your home by The Cuisine Counselor; gift cards to Dallas favorites spots, such as Neiman Marcus, Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano, The PilatesBarre, Trinity Groves and St. Bernard Sports; Fossil Smart Bracelets; and bottles of liquor and wine.

Sarah and Cameron Carbonnet

Sarah and Cameron Carbonnet

Emcee Jennifer welcomed participants before introducing Field Day chair Sarah Charbonnet followed by CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel, who thanked all for their support of the 2nd annual event, which is hosted by the organization’s young professional’s group, yCPD. She then shared a recent example of the incredible work CPD does in partnership with Child Protective Services, made possible by the support from the community, including those in attendance.

After Jennifer reviewed the format of the day, the competition began with 17 teams of six competing for the title of “yCPD Field Day Champion.” DJ Andrew Figueroa of Everlasting Sounds provided the vibe as competitors took the field.

Booty Shaking

Booty Shaking

After the initial Qualifying Round, where all teams competed at 10 different games, including, Egg Race, Suck it Up, Wheel Barrow Relay, Booty Shaker, Gatorade Flip Cup, Bobble Head, Hershey Kiss Relay, Face the Cookie, Noodle Toss and Social Media station, scores were tallied to whittle down the field to the top 10 teams. The top 10 teams then competed in a Potato Sack Race to identify the top 5 teams, but the initial race was too close to call between 7 of the 10 teams and so a “sudden death” potato race was conducted in order to confirm the top 5.

Bobble Heading

Bobble Heading

Hershey Kiss Relay

Hershey Kiss Relay

The top 5 teams lined up for a classic field day game – the Three-Legged Race. Teams “Beer Pressure” and “McGuire, Craddock & Strother” took the top two spots for a place in the final.

Beer Pressure Team from the left (front row) Tara Callahan, Brianna Riddell and Katie McDaniel; (back row) Nic Waldron, Kevin Allen and Ron Johnson*

Beer Pressure team members from the left (front row) Tara Callahan, Brianna Riddell and Katie McDaniel; (back row) Nic Waldron, Kevin Allen and Ron Johnson*

Where last year’s final round, Tug of War, showed who had the most brawn, this year’s round, the Obstacle Course, required a different set of skills. The round started with a Brain Teaser, where teams had to solve a word puzzle before moving to the next station. Station 2 called for each team member to leap frog over the other to the 3rd station – Tunnel Crawl. After each member of the team crawled through the tunnel to the other side, the team moved to the final station, which brought back one of last year’s favorite qualifying round activities – Sponge Relay. Both teams rushed to fill up sponges full of soapy water and wring them out in an adjacent bucket, but “McGuire, Craddock & Strother” quickly took the lead and finished well ahead of “Beer Pressure.”

McGuire, Craddock and Strother team from the left (front row) Claire Carroll and Jack Gannon; (back row) Grant Blair, Jon Mitchell, Michael Trecha, Erin Dowell, Clair Gannon and Walt Prudhomme*

McGuire, Craddock and Strother team members from the left (front row) Claire Carroll and Jack Gannon; (back row) Grant Blair, Jon Mitchell, Michael Trecha, Erin Dowell, Clair Gannon and Walt Prudhomme*

The 2016 winning team (and last year’s champions as well) was McGuire, Craddock & Strother (Claire Carroll, Jack Gannon, Grant Blair, Jon Mitchell, Michael Trecha, Erin Dowell, Clair Gannon and Walt Prudhomme).

Championship prizes for each team member: $50 gift card to The Container Store, a massage at COREhealth Wellness Center, a 2-week pass and swag bag from Orange theory Fitness, 2 class passes from Flywheel Indoor Cycling and trophy.

With the final round complete, all participants stayed for the after party featuring the Rustic’s cocktails and savory fare including double queso, brisket quesadillas, boar meatballs, onion-y rings and French fries.

2nd Annual Field Day sponsors were:

  • Blue Ribbon Winner ($2,500) – Brunswick Group and Apex Clearing;
  • Red Ribbon Runner UP ($1,000) – Orange Theory Fitness, Riveron Consulting and Shackelford;
  • White Ribbon ($500) – Embassy Suites Dallas Park Central, The Hartnett Law Firm, Sarah and Cameron Charbonnet, McGuire Craddock & Strother, Greg Beane Family Law, Premier Transportation and Paige McDaniel and
  • DJ Sponsor – COREhealth Wellness Center.

Despite the heat and humidity, this event was one that proved fundraising is cool.

* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron Smith

10th Annual Change Is Good Is Going To Have Piggy Banks Busting For Community Partners Of Dallas

One of the favorite, extremely family-friendly events is Community Partners of DallasChange Is Good, where kids can be kids and so can their parents. Every year organizers have to coordinate the fundraiser at Brook Hollow with the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule. For those years when The Boys play an afternoon game, TVs are set up throughout the club with dads keeping one eye on the screens and the other on their munchkins, who will be having their faces painted, bungee jumping, playing giant Jenga and Twister, playing in the bounce house and getting major sugar highs on all the goodies.

Bounce house (File photo)

Bounce house (File photo)

Caroline Ballotta, Lindsay and Ray Ballotta and William Ballotta*

Caroline Ballotta, Lindsay and Ray Ballotta and William Ballotta*

This year there will be no need for the split-eyed pops. The 10th annual Change Is Good will take place on Sunday, September 25, from 3 to 6 p.m. and the Cowboys won’t be facing the Bears until 7:30 p.m. Whew!

As for the co-chairs, those duties will be handled by Lindsay and Ray Ballotta and their kids Caroline Ballotta and William Ballotta.

One of the greatest aspects of the event is the opportunity it provides youngsters to learn about fundraising. Young guests are not only encouraged but can compete by “collecting change over the summer by emptying their own piggy banks, going door-to-door, setting up lemonade stands or starting their own online campaigns.” At the event the change is turned in to earn chances to win prizes.

Tickets will go on sale starting Friday, August 26, but sponsorship starting at $550 are available now!

* Photo provided by 
Community Partners of Dallas

 

2016 Crystal Charity Ball Advisory Board And 7 Beneficiaries Get Better Acquainted At Heather And Billy Esping’s Estate

Linda Secrest, Heather Esping and Beth Thoele

Linda Secrest, Heather Esping and Beth Thoele

While their magnificent pool house was still in the construction stage of life, Heather and Billy Esping hosted the 2016 Crystal Charity Ball Advisory Board and Beneficiary reception at their Preston Hollow home on Thursday, April 14.

Advisory Board member/Communities Foundation of Texas President/CEO Brent Christopher, who said that since his announcement of heading up Children’s Foundation he had been in overdrive, admitted, “Nobody replaces Kern Wildenthal. They just carry on.” When asked if he would stay on the CCB Advisory Board, Brent conceded that he would probably have to resign, since his new assignment would put him on the other side of the fundraising world. Instead of doling out grants, he would be seeking funds.

Kent Eastman

Kent Eastman

With 2016 CCB Chair Christie Carter standing by his side, Capital One Bank Texas State President Kent Eastman graciously told the crowd that Capital One’s underwriting of the event was to salute the CCB’s support of the 2016 beneficiaries including Captain Hope’s Kid/Hope Supply Co., Community Partners of Dallas, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, Notre Dame School, Parkland Foundation, Teach for America and The Family Place.

While his wife, Claire Emanuelson, twinkled in a gold blouse, Dwight Emanuelson stood by the fireplace sporting a new haircut and was fresh back from a fishing outing up north.

Jerry Meyer and Annette Simmons

Jerry Meyer and Annette Simmons

Anne Reeder and Susan McSherry

Anne Reeder and Susan McSherry

Others in the crowd of advisors and beneficiaries included newlyweds Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse, SuSu and Jerry Meyer, Cynthia and Brice Beaird, Pam and Vin Perella, Linda Secrest, Beth Thoeloe and the evening’s Co-Chairs Susan McSherry and Anne Reeder.

Fashion Guru Tim Gunn, Who’s In ‘Awe’ Of Dallas Women, Attracts Huge Crowd To CPD’s 10th Anniversary Chick Lit Luncheon

Anyone doubting the popularity in Dallas of “Project Runway” co-host/producer Tim Gunn should have checked out the scene at the Friday, April 1, Chick Lit Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole. The event benefiting Community Partners of Dallas and featuring the author and TV star drew a crowd of 1,100—up from the annual luncheon’s 650 or so that it’s usually drawn at its longtime venue, Brook Hollow Country Club.

This was Chick Lit’s 10th anniversary luncheon, but surely the huge crowd wasn’t due only to that? “I give credit to our chairs—and to Tim,” CPD President and CEO Paige McDaniel said before the luncheon at the VIP reception in the Anatole’s Stemmons Ballroom. “All girls like fashion, and he’s just … well, when Joanna [Clarke, CPD’s development VP] and I used to talk about guests at our fantasy dinner party, we each had two people in common: Tim Gunn and Jesus!

“So, it was easy this year,” McDaniel went on. “Everybody wanted to come.”

Tim Gunn, Lara and Robert Tafel*

Tim Gunn, Lara and Robert Tafel*

At that moment, the star of the day was demonstrating his charisma across the room at the step-and-repeat, where guests were lined up to meet Gunn and have their photos taken with him. Among them were Elizabeth Gambrell (she’s a CPD director), Anne Stodghill, Dee Simmons, D’Andra Simmons, and Lara Tafel, who was once again the luncheon’s presenting sponsor along with her husband, Dr. Robert Tafel.

Megan Flannagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo and Samantha Wortley*

Megan Flannagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo and Samantha Wortley*

Jennifer Evans Morris, Krissy Turner and Lauren Reed*

Jennifer Evans Morris, Krissy Turner and Lauren Reed*

Soon Dr. Bob joined his wife for a photo with Gunn, who promptly remarked on the doctor’s colorful pocket square. The TV star pulled the handkerchief out of Tafel’s suit coat, demonstrated another way to fold such an adornment, and then stuffed it back into Bob’s breast pocket—much to Bob and Lara’s delight.

Soon enough, the 1,100 guests including CPD Board Chair Krissy Turner, Jocelyn White, Lee Bailey, Lisa Cooley, Faisal Halum, Holly Davis, Lori Williams, Alissa Gearing, Jennifer Evans Morris, Lauren Reed, Megan Flanagan, Fasi Boltchi, Roz Colombo, Samantha Wortley, Katherine Coker and Simona Beal began making their way into the Imperial Ballroom upstairs.

Kristi Hoyl*

Kristi Hoyl*

Nancy Rogers and Brian Bolke*

Nancy Rogers and Brian Bolke*

Luncheon Chair Kristi Hoyl made the welcoming remarks, thanking the Tafels, Honorary Chair Brian Bolke, Underwriting Chairs Cindy Stager and Jill Tananbaum, and Paige and Joanna (“they are angels walking on the earth”). Then Kristi brought up Rev. Elizabeth Moseley from Highland Park United Methodist Church, who delivered the invocation. (Rev. Moseley, BTW, was introduced as a “minister of discipline,” rather than with her actual title, “minister of discipleship.” Hmmmm. Maybe Queenie needs to hire a minister of discipline for misbehaving elves.)

Paige McDaniel and Jill Bee*

Paige McDaniel and Jill Bee*

After lunch was served—a delicious Mediterranean chicken salad and a strawberry “Happy Birthday” cupcake—videos were played honoring Jill C. Bee with the 2016 Partners for Children Award and the Tafels, who were presented with the 10th Anniversary Champions of Hope Award. Then Paige took the stage, telling how all the guests had “agonized over our outfits” trying to impress Gunn, before launching into a tearful talk about children who’d been helped by CPD, like two toddlers nicknamed Princess and King. Paige gave way to Bolke, who introduced the featured speaker as one of two people who’ve had a profound recent influence on the fashion world (the other, he said, was Sarah Jessica Parker of TV’s “Sex and the City”).

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Tim Gunn*

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Tim Gunn*

With that, Gunn—a former chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne Inc. who’s written four books—mounted the stage along with Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, who would interview him. Kim began by asking the fashion guru what led him to write books (his latest is titled “The Natty Professor: A Master Class on Mentoring, Motivating, and Making It Work!”). Gunn, the son of an FBI agent, grew up with words and books, he replied, and developed an interest in fashion history as an academic at the Parsons School of Design. “Most of the books [about fashion] are giant snoozefests,” he said. He set out to take a livelier approach, crediting the success of such works as “Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible and “Gunn’s Golden Rules in part to his editor and co-writer, Ava Calhoun.

Kim asked next what’s behind Gunn’s “kind but firm” approach to young designers on Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” now entering its 14th season. “I can’t want you to succeed more than you do,” Gunn said he tells the fledgling designers. In lieu of direct criticism he peppers them with questions about their design choices, hoping they’ll eventually see what he sees. What’s his favorite of Gunn’s “golden rules”? “The world owes you absolutely nothing!” he replied quickly. “Even though young people don’t like it. … We each have to make our own way and establish our value.” Gunn also explained his “TEACH” philosophy with students and mentees, using an explanation for each letter in the acronym: Truth-telling; Empathy; Asking lots of questions; Cheerleading; and Hoping for the best.

Tim Gunn*

Tim Gunn*

Prompted by his interviewer, Gunn said that when it comes to fashion, “I’d rather work with women than with men. Women are more open to experimentation, and men are so ridiculously intractable. I’ll tell them, ‘Good heavens, it’s a shirt. Put it on!’ ” He also complimented Dallas women on their fashion sense, adding, “I’m in awe of you! … I’d like to take you home with me!” Expanding on fashion in general, he said most people wear their clothes too big. (“Never use the phrase, ‘I only dress for comfort’ with me,” he said. “If you want to feel like you’re in your pajamas, don’t get out of bed.”) He also ripped the current “athleisure” trend including yoga pants, tights, and leggings worn as pants. “It’s an excuse to be a slob,” he said, calling leggings “a form of underwear.”

Wrapping up with a few questions from the audience, Gunn was asked his advice for budding designers. Since designers are barometric measures of our culture, he answered, they should watch TV and movies, read blogs and newspapers, and “assimilate it all” in order to “have a point of view and know who you are. [Knowledge of] construction is important, too,” Gunn said in conclusion, “as are perseverance and tenacity.”

The thunderous applause from the big crowd that followed was a testament to the fashion guru’s tremendous popularity, as mentioned by Paige at the VIP reception. But so, too, was the long wait for their cars that some in the huge crowd had to endure in the lengthy valet line. Although the luncheon wrapped up by about 1:15, some 50 guests were still standing outdoors in the cold breeze, scanning the horizon hopefully for their vehicles, nearly an hour later. There were just too darn many cars, it seems, for the valets to easily handle.

* Photos provided by Community Partners of Dallas

Fashion Guru Tim Gunn Packed ‘Em In At Forty Five Ten’s T Room For Community Partners Of Dallas’ Chick Lit Patron Party

Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn

Not since Rob Lowe and Kevin Costner hit the North Texas area has a man been swarmed like New York Times best-selling author and overall fashion arbiter Tim Gunn was at the 10th Annual Chick Lit Luncheon Patron Party.

Laverne Nieberding and Greg Nieberding

Laverne Nieberding and Greg Nieberding

Yipes! Taking place at Chick Lit Honorary Chair Brian Bolke’s Forty Five Ten, the place should have been big enough for the guests, the fashions and Tim. But with Tim meeting-and-greeting guests like Luncheon Chair Kristi Hoyl, Melissa Sherrill, D’Andra Simmons, Anne Stodghill and Greg Nieberding with his mom Laverne Nieberding in the T Room, the place was as tight as a stamp on an envelope.

What made it more challenging was Tim somehow managed to locate himself against one of the bars. Goodness, bubbly and Tim together resulted in celebration and selfie-action as everyone wanted a flute of champagne and a photo with Tim.

One lovely evidently was new to celebrity get-togethers and decided that she was Tim’s one-and-only, resulting in more than her fair share of special time with him. But Tim proved as proper and charming as his attire, chatting it up with the gal until someone suggested that others might like some quality time with Tim, too.

Lara and Robert Tafel

Lara and Robert Tafel

Organizers were amazed at how generous Tim was. His contract limited his time at the patron party to 45 minutes, but he stayed way beyond the time limit.

Paige McDaniel and Juilette Coulter

Paige McDaniel and Juilette Coulter

Another couple of Chick Lit celebs were Lara and Bob Tafel, who have been on board in supporting the Community Partners of Dallas fundraiser since its inception. But their involvement is more than being the presenting sponsor of the annual get-together. In the midst of all the partying, Bob voiced genuine concern that recent legislative developments were increasing the need for CPD’s efforts.

And speaking of the 10th anniversary, CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel proudly wore a new piece of jewelry, a necklace spelling out sparkly Chick Lit in its signature font. She told how she and CPD Director of Development Joanna Clarke had had the necklaces especially made for those like Lara, Juliette Coulter and Kristi Bare who have attended all 10 years of the CPD fundraiser.

And while the guests kept coming and coming, it was still an early night because the luncheon was the next day at the Hilton Anatole.