MySweetWishList: Dallas CASA

According to Dallas CASA Volunteer Manager Sandra Teter,

Sandra Teter*

“My wish for Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) this holiday season is that more community members will join me and serve as volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes and are in foster care or alternative placements.

“I joined CASA’s cadre of volunteers 20 years ago in 1997. Since then I have worked 24 different cases involving 47 children. I have always been pretty altruistic and when I found CASA I knew I had found my place.

“Though I have always been one to speak up, CASA gives my “voice” the ability to affect real immediate change.  As an advocate you have to ask the tough questions and the best decision is not always the easy one. These kids deserve someone that will really listen to them and go to bat for them to ensure their wellbeing. The healing that often occurs in whole families can make positive change for future generations.

“People tend to be afraid of volunteering at places like CASA because they worry about seeing things they do not want to see. The truth is these situations happen whether we see them or not. The toughest job out there is a Child Protective Services caseworker. They see the situations the children are removed from in real time. CASA is assigned after the children are in protective care and safe and it is time to pick up the pieces.

“CASA has taught me to be more compassionate and look at every side to a story. Every time I read a new case, I get angry. I have learned there are truly so many sides to every story. Many of the children’s parents have been victims themselves and are repeating learned behavior. Though we wish there was not a need for the process, the court’s intervention provides access to services such as counseling, drug and alcohol treatment and mental healthcare. I have gained perspective and balance as a CASA volunteer and feel I gain as much, if not more, than I give.

Dallas CASA*

“I hope you will join me on this walk as a Dallas CASA volunteer. As of Tuesday, November 7, 1,264 volunteer advocates have served 2,928 abused and neglected children in Dallas in 2017. The numbers are heartbreaking but the results are amazing.

“There are more children who need advocates. Dallas CASA is currently able to provide advocates for three out of four children in need. As proud as we are all of that, it is the child without an advocate I can not stop thinking about. These children deserve our care and attention, not just during the holidays but year round.

“The first step is to go to an information session at Dallas CASA.

“New volunteer information sessions are offered weekly, go to DallasCASA.org to register.”

-By Sandra Teter, Dallas CASA volunteer manager

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA

Legendary B.J. Thomas Took The Stage For Northwood Woman’s Club’s Annual Kaleidoscope Fundraiser At Intercontinental Hotel

While the rest of North Texas was resting after a morning of runs/walks on Saturday, October 28, the Northwood Woman’s Club was in overdrive at the Intercontinental Hotel for its annual Kaleidoscope 2017 “Believe in Love” fundraiser. In addition to having The Triumphs on stage, the star of the night was the legendary B.J. Thomas. Here’s a report from the field that was delayed due to a MySweetCharity elf’s being asleep at the wheel: 

No raindrops fell Saturday, October 28, on the Northwood Woman’s Club Kaleidoscope 2017 “Believe in Love” Gala at the Intercontinental Hotel. The only raindrops at the event came later in the evening in a song when music legend B.J. Thomas took the stage and sang his Grammy winning hit “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

Upon arrival, guests mingled and explored the silent auction items and wine pull. As guests moved to their tables for dinner, they viewed a slide show featuring the beneficiaries of the event—Attitudes and Attire, Callier Center for Communication Disorders at UTD, Cristo Rey Dallas, Dallas CASA, Interfaith Family Services, St. Simon’s After-School, and NWC Scholarship Fund at Communities Foundation of Texas.

Gala chair Leslie Apgar welcomed guests into dinner as the band The Triumphs took the stage to play during dinner. The Triumphs, the original band that recorded with B.J. Thomas, added a touch of nostalgia to the evening with their familiar hits from the sixties and seventies.

Sharyl Weber, Patricia Kay Dube and Vaughn Gross*

To start the evening’s program NWC President Patricia Kay Dube welcomed everyone and thanked them for supporting the event. She then turned the program over to Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer Dean McCurry, who recognized guests from each of the beneficiary organizations, including Dallas CASA President and Executive Director Kathleen LaValle and St. Simon’s After School Executive Director Maria Vizzo.

To start the live auction, Dean urged the crowd to “bid up” on a variety of live auction items. He kept the bidding lively for hot sports items such as a Cowboys game experience that includes tickets in a suite and on field passes, and a suite at a Mavericks game for twelve people. Travel items up for auction included a vacation home in Breckenridge, Colorado and a stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in Hawaii. The live auction concluded with a trip to New York in December to see the Billy Joel concert, and this item generated so many bids that several additional trips were awarded to bidders.

B.J. Thomas*

Ready for the featured entertainment of the evening by five-time Grammy winner B.J. Thomas, the crowd enthusiastically welcomed B.J. to the stage and filled the dance floor to sing along and dance as he performed his many hit songs, including “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “Hooked on a Feeling” and many others.

The Triumphs closed out the evening with more music and dancing.

The best part of the evening was the success of the event in raising funds for NWC’s beneficiaries and scholarship fund.

* Photo provided by Northwood Woman's Club

Dallas CASA’s Champion Of Children Underwriters Enjoyed An Evening Of Food, Flowers And A Story About A Little Client

An evening at Lisa and Clay Cooley‘s estate is always filled with loads of delicious food and eye-opening touring of the mansion. But on Wednesday, November 8, the Dallas CASA‘s Champion of Children‘s underwriter party at the Cooley homestead was highlighted by a story about a nine-month client of the organization. Here’s a report from the field:

Lisa and Clay Cooley sure know how to throw a party! Gorgeous house, full of food, flowers and fall décor – everyone really enjoyed the evening of Wednesday, November 8. It was a lovely party and a terrific way to say thank you to the Dallas CASA’s Champion of Children underwriters. Here’s a report from the field:

Christie Carter and Lisa Cooley*

Lisa and Clay Cooley opened their beautiful home for Dallas CASA’s Champion of Children Patron Party, on Wednesday, November 8. The Cooleys’ home was perfectly decorated with pumpkins and flowers in muted fall shades of orange, cream and burgundy, and guests enjoyed passed appetizers in perfectly bite-sized portions including tiny crab cakes, beef tenderloin and Korean meatballs.

John and Laura Losinger and Priscilla and Corey Anthony*

But everyone was reminded of the purpose of the evening and next week’s dinner when Priscilla Anthony, one of the co-chairs of the Thursday, November  16, and a Dallas CASA volunteer advocate, spoke about the baby she’s been advocating for since May. He was removed from home after his mother was arrested and he was left with no one to care for him. She warmed the hearts of all in attendance when she described visiting the nine-month-old in foster care Monday, and shared that he recognized her and lifted his arms to be held for the first time.

Michael and Christina Swartz and Linda and Rob Schwartz*

Kathleen LaValle and Jim Thompson*

Hannah and Greg May*

The Champion of Child Award Dinner was to be Thursday, November 16, at the Fairmont Dallas. Co-chairs of the event are Priscilla and Corey Anthony and Laura and John Losinger; honorary chair is Christie Carter. The Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award will be given to the Junior League of Dallas for its commitment and dedication to the lives of children in our community. Many longtime Dallas CASA supporters were in attendance, including Sally Hoglund, Sarah Losinger, Debbie Oates and Jim Thompson. The Junior League’s president Jennifer Tobin was also in attendance.

Dallas CASA board member attendance was strong with Steve Penrose, Janice Davis, Virginia Schaefer, Mike Brosin, Kristy Hoglund Robinson, Scooter Smith, Jonathan Bassham, Linda Swartz, Retta Miller, Aubrey Labanowski and Greg May. Outgoing Board Chair John Gibson and incoming board chair Bob Schleckser ducked out early because the Dallas CASA board of directors was being honored the same evening by the Dallas Business Journal as the top nonprofit board in town.

* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

Dallas CASA’s Young Professional Added Their “Voices For A Cause” At The Rustic With Brandon Rhyder For Fundraising

While North Texas Giving Day had the phones ringing off the hook and the internet donations flowing on Thursday, September 14, the Dallas CASA Young Professionals held its second annual Voices for a Cause at The Rustic. While Signed Out and Brandon Rhyder filled the scene with music, Young Professionals President Jonathan Bassham couldn’t resist reminding guests that it wasn’t too late to donate to North Texas Giving Day for Dallas CASA. Here’s a report from the field:

Jonathan Bassham and Mark Hiduke*

Linda and Rob Swartz*

Nick Berman, Caitlin Dama, Erica Whitten and Michelle Stephenson*

Voices for a Cause at The Rustic was a blast! It was a beautiful night, with great bands and lots of young people and old friends like Robert Schleckser, Woody McMinn, Dana Swann, Reasha Hedke, Madeline Littrell, Linda and Rob Swartz, Kelsey Higginbotham, Nick Berman, Caitlin Dama, Erica Whitten, Michelle Stephenson, Nicki Sherry, Paul Stafford, Mark Hiduke and Cristina and Michael Swartz.

Nicki Sherry and Paul Stafford*

Cristina and Michael Swartz

Dana Swann, Reasha Hedke and Madeline Littrell*

Dallas CASA’s Voices of Hope concert Thursday, September 14, at The Rustic netted $6,640 for Dallas CASA and an evening of fun for attendees. With more than 250 tickets sold and a clear night under the stars, the event marked a second year of success for Dallas CASA’s Young Professionals.

Kelsey Higginbotham and Brandon Rhyder*

Dallas CASA board member Dave Kroencke’s band Signed Out was the opening act. The group played covers of crowd-popular standards like “Billie Jean,” “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” and the crow got into the act by singing along from their lawn chairs.

Headliner Texas country artist Brandon Rhyder, sang to an enthusiastic crowd as the sun set. Young Professionals President Jonathan Bassham gave a final plug for North Texas Giving Day.

Presenting sponsors was PCORE Exploration & Production II/Mark Hiduke. Other sponsors included Linda and Rob Swartz, Sewell Automotive, Accelerate Resources and Christine and Jonathan Bassham.

* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

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

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

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

Stephanie LaValle, Kathleen LaValle and Dunia Borge

Becca Haynes Leonard and Jim Thompson

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

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

Rubber ducks

Wine pull

Robert Bobo

Pahlmeyer (2013)

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

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

Lynn Brooks

Corey and Priscilla Anthony

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

The Rustic Is Gonna Be Rocking In September For Voices For A Cause And The 5th Annual Concert For A Cure, But Not At The Same Time

September may be known as the start of Friday night lights, the kickoff of the State Fair and the first hints of fall in the air. But this year it’s gonna be full of singing for nonprofits. Two concerts are being held to raise funds and they’re both gonna be at The Rustic, but not at the same time!

Voices For A Cause*

First will be Dallas CASA’s Voices for A Cause with Signed Out getting things started and followed by country artist Brandon Rhyder as the evening’s headliner starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 14. The benefit concert is being hosted by Dallas CASA Young Profession, whose “mission is to increase awareness for Dallas CASA while providing charitable and social opportunities for people ages 21 to 40.” Co-Chairs Kelcey Hamilton, Reasha Hedke and Dana Swann have arranged for the $25 ticket to include the concert, two drinks and appetizers.

2017 Concert For A Cure**

Two weeks later Leukemia Texas is holding its 5th Annual Concert for A Cure with Honorary Chair/former Dallas Cowboy Marco Rivera and Event Co-Chairs Jenny “New Mom” Anchondo and reality personality/marrow donor Stephanie Hollman. On the performing stage will be Grammy-Award winning Reckless Kelly. Individual tickets start at $75 and include a private VIP reception starting at 7 p.m., hors d’ oeuvres, two drink tickets, open seating and valet parking. But as you know, underwriting brings perks like additional seats with better views, recognition in signage and collateral materials and boasting rights.  

Can’t decide which one? No problemo. Attend both! The attire will be comfortable casual. The throngs of folks will be your type — generous and fun to be with. The causes are both life-changing.

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

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

Corey and Priscilla Anthony*

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

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

Dallas CASA Champion of Children Award Dinner*

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

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

John and Laura Losinger*

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

Christie Carter (File photo)

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

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

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

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

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

* Graphic/photo provided by Dallas CASA

MySweetCharity Summer Pitch: 2017 Parade Of Playhouses

According to Dallas CASA Board Chair John Gibson,

John Gibson*

Looking for a cool way to run off some of your children’s energy while also helping a good cause? Grab your kids and head to Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses July 7 through 23 at NorthPark Center.

With 14 perfectly pint-sized playhouses decorating the halls of NorthPark, Parade of Playhouses is the perfect way to let your kids’ imaginations go wild while also learning about children in our community who need help.

For 22 years, NorthPark Center has played host to the playhouses, which are donated by local builders, designers and corporations and available to win through raffle at the end of the 17-day event. What child doesn’t want to imagine his or her own miniature house? This year’s designs include a house in the image of an owl, an activity house with a climbing wall and even a house shaped like a cuckoo clock. House designers and builders pour skill, creativity and love into these unusual creations.

The event benefits Dallas CASA, a nonprofit that provides volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children navigating the child welfare system. Walking the corridors and viewing the playhouses is a great way to start a conversation with your own kids about those in our community who are less fortunate. Children in the child welfare system don’t dare dream of a playhouse with all the bells and whistles. They dream of safe and permanent homes where they are loved.

2017 Parade of Playhouses*

Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses is open until Sunday, July 23, during NorthPark’s hours. Viewing the playhouses is free and raffle tickets to win a playhouses are available for $5 each or five for $20.

All proceeds from the raffle ticket sales help Dallas CASA provide more children with advocates to serve them. For Dallas CASA, Parade of Playhouses has also become a key recruiting and community awareness event. Tables throughout NorthPark are staffed with volunteer advocates and other supporters who can tell you about becoming a volunteer advocate for abused children.

In fact, Parade of Playhouses might be the beginning of something for you to do after summer, too. A training class for volunteer advocates begins Sept. 6, right after the kids go back to school. The first step to becoming a volunteer advocate is attending an information session.

Maybe it’s your turn to dream not about a tiny house but about helping make the world a better place one child at a time.

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA

22nd Annual Parade Of Playhouses Is Polished Up And Rocking At NorthPark Center For Dallas CASA

Craig Beneke

It was just a couple of weeks ago in June that af architecture and fabrication’s Craig Beneke got a shout out from one of his 21-year-old twin daughters. It wasn’t for a new car. It wasn’t for a loan. It was for a house. No, not a 2,000-square-foot bungalow in the M Street hood. It was for a playhouse. She wasn’t reverting back to her childhood. Rather, she was hoping that her dad could provide a playhouse for Dallas CASA’s 22nd Annual Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark.

It seems one of the originally signed-up builders had bailed, and there was a need to fill a spot for the annual Dallas CASA fundraiser that would run from Saturday, July 8 through Sunday, July 23.

Playhouse Rock cowbell on a construction work belt

Playhouse Rock sound tubes

Playhouse Rock floor

Not only did Papa Craig answer the call-to-deliver, but he literally hit the nail on the head.  His Playhouse Rock was a musical marvel that would please anyone from Jaap to Jay-Z with a mini-xylophone built into the floor complete with mallets for playing and an assortment of others goodies — rain stick, triangle, sound tubes, etc. There were personal touches, too. For instance, the front door’s cowbell is suspended by his construction work belt.

But being a perfectionist, Craig was eyeballing the hand prints left from the move-in on Thursday, July 6. He was going to do some touch-up, so his Playhouse Rock would be perfect.

Whimsical Cottage

A few playhouses away, Doug Beaty of Beach Sheet Metal was sharing Craig’s dilemma about prints. It seems that the Whimsical Cottage’s copper roof was a fingerprint magnet. Last year, he arrived daily to polish the roof, so it was spotless. He expected to do the same this year. When someone offered to post a sign dissuading people from touching, he scoffed at the idea. He relished the idea that little ones and their parents couldn’t resist touching the shiny roof.   

Cuckoohaus

Paw Rescue

The White Owl’s Den

But those are just two of the 11 playhouses on display. Some have rock walls; some are so cozy; some have interior lighting; some are open and breezy. But they all will be raffled off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 23, in NorthPark’s North Court to support Dallas CASA’s mission “to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children, helping these children gain safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.” If you’re unable to check out the houses, you can still buy your raffle ticket here. They’re going for $5 each or five for $20.

Also, the builders are all vying to claim the title of “Favorite Playhouse.” You can vote by texting dallascasa to 41444. BTW, each vote costs $5.

Check out the Parade of Playhouses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 22nd Annual Parade Of Playhouses

Playhouse Rock

The White Owl’s Den

The 22nd Annual Parade of Playhouses started its march this past weekend through NorthPark Center to fund Dallas CASA, come rain or shine. One of the adorable mini-mansions didn’t even exist until a couple of weeks ago, and it came about thanks to a daughter’s call to a dad. And, boy, did pop come through!

Paw Rescue

Whimsical Cottage

Before heading over to NorthPark to see them up close and personally to examine the detail and craftmanship, check out the 11 houses at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. But you’d better hustle, because they’ll be raffled off on Sunday, July 23.

Cowbell on a construction work belt

Cottage light

In the meantime, the post about the dad is being finalized. Stay tuned.

JUST IN: Details Revealed About Upcoming 2017 Parade Of Playhouses At NorthPark Center For Dallas CASA

Who says that summer is the “quiet time” for North Texas fundraisers? Even before schools are out, Dallas CASA is already staking claim for more than two weeks of its annual Parade of Playhouses. The annual favorite fundraiser that transforms NorthPark Center into a showcase of mini-cottages is scheduled to officially be on site starting Friday, July 7.

Parade Of Playhouses*

Built and donated by local designers, architects and builders, the 16 pint-size palaces include an Australian airline-themed house, a Rubik’s cube and a space-theme house.

This year’s collection includes houses from the international playhouse design by Nicollo Abe of Ontario, Canada; Riaan Kotze of Massachusetts, USA; Christiaan Luijk  of Cape Town, South Africa; and Amrita Raja and Katharine Storr of London, United Kingdom.

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle, ““The creativity, imagination and ingenuity that these playhouse builders and designers brings is simply astounding. The vulnerable children we serve need safe homes where they can heal from their physical and emotional injuries and begin dreaming of a future they could not dare to think about. We hope every builder, designer and organization donating a playhouse knows they are helping an abused child begin to build a new dream for themselves.”

On Sunday, July 23, the mini-mansions will be raffled off. Interested? Raffle tickets are going for $5 each or five for $20 and can be purchased at event ticket tables or online during the 17-day run.

Jim Thompson (File photo)

Thanks to the following people and organizations, who are aiding Dallas CASA’s goal of providing all abused children with a Dallas CASA volunteer to help them through the child welfare system:

  • Honorary Chair — Jim Thompson
  • Parade Host — NorthPark Center
  • Castle — Jim Thompson
    Estate — SketchUp
  • Mansion — Kappa Alpha Theta Dallas Alumni Chapter, Newton Thomas with Summit Funding Inc. and Pirch
  • Villa — Bernbaum/Magadini Architects and Jackson Walker LLP
  • Playhouse Architects and Builders — Austin Commercial, Beck Architecture LCC, Bob Borson, BufordHawthorne Homebuilders, Butscher Construction, Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti, Domiteaux and Baggett Architects, FP Construction, Guardian Exteriors Inc., Jay W. Grishby Jr., Harman, Holder Construction Company, LRO Residential, Omniplan Inc., Perk Homes, Redlee/SCS, Robert Hopson Construction Group, Schwob Building Company LTD., University of Oklahoma – College of Architecture and William P. Manning Company Inc.

The 22nd annual parade is the absolutely perfect event because it’s free for the viewing, inside the air-conditioned center and helps Dallas CASA “continue its growth trajectory to serve all children in need.”

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA

Dallas CASA Classic Golf Tournament Results In A Record-Breaking $2M Check For Dallas CASA

The Dallas CASA folks have had a great week, thanks to golf. No, Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle has not been taking lessons from Jordan Spieth. Rather, she was presented a check for an eye-popping $2M resulting from AT&T, Goldman Sachs and Pioneer Natural Resources hosting the 20th annual Dallas CASA Classic.

Kathleen LaValle*

With 700 golfers coming together from around the country on Monday, April 24, at Brookhaven Country Club and the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas on Monday, April 24, the event was needless to say a record breaker for the annual fundraiser.

According to Kathleen, “Dallas CASA would not have been able to embark on this tremendous and exciting growth plan without the Dallas CASA Classic and the incredible corporate partners we have in AT&T, Goldman Sachs and Pioneer. This tournament has brought hope and support directly to thousands of Dallas-area children living in protective care because it’s not safe at home.”

Kerry Scott, Jim Lozier, Kathleen LaValle, Mark Berg, Linda Swartz and Woody McMinn*

Other organizations and people who made it possible include:

  • Platinum Sponsors — AT&T; Auction.com, a Ten-X Company; Ciena Corporation; Flotek Industries; Goldman Sachs; PfP Technology; and Pioneer Natural Resources
  • Gold Sponsors — Arent Fox LLP; CBRE; Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC; Enterprise Products Operating LLC; FB Industries Inc.; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Greystar; Haynes and Boone, LLP; Helmerich & Payne, Inc.; KDC Real Estate Developments and Investments; Jones Long LaSalle Incorporated; Kel-Tech, Inc.; KPMG LLP; LEAM Drilling Systems, Inc.; Lincoln Property Company; MasTec Network Solutions; NOV Completion & Production Solutions; OmniTRAX Inc.; Patterson-UTI Drilling Company LLC; Plains Marketing LP; PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP; ProPetro Holding Corporation; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; Sunuco Logistics; U.S. Silica Holdings Inc.; Targa Resources; Tenaris; Trammell Crow Residential; Trinidad Drilling; Vinson & Elkins LLP; and Wood Partners
  • Silver Sponsors — AEI Group; Aimbridge Hospitality; Alliance Residential Holdings; Alvarez & Marsal; ARA, a Newmark Company; Bank of America/Merrill Lynch; BP P.L.C.; Black & Veatch Corporation; Caron Transportation Systems; Clear Capital; Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton LLP; CoreLogic, Inc.; Credit Suisse; Dawson Geophysical Company; Deloitte; DistributionNOW; Eastdil Secured; Ericsson, Inc.; Emerson; Energy Transfer Partners; Ernst & Young; Fairmont Santrol Holdings Inc.; General Dynamics Wireless Services; Gibson Dunn; Globe Energy Services, LLC; Goldberg Kohn; Halliburton; John Plott Company, Inc.; J.P. Morgan; LMC, a Lennar Company; McClatchy Bros., Inc.; McCollam Law Firm, Nabors Drilling USA, LP; Neustar, Inc.; Nexius; OpenInvoice; Petro Amigos Supply, Inc.; Platinum Pipe Rentals LLC; QuadGen Wireless Solutions Inc.; Quorum Business Solutions, Inc.; Rush Truck Leasing; Schlumberger Limited; Seitel, Inc.; Select Energy Services; Sun Coast Resources, Inc.; TechnipFMC PLC; USIC LLC; Wells Fargo; Wilson Elser
* Photo credit: Nate Bednarz

Inspirational Talk by Oak Cliff Native, Award to Jewish Women’s Group Highlight Dallas CASA’s 10th Annual Cherish the Children Luncheon

The big event benefiting Dallas CASA, held August 5 at The Fairmont Dallas, was billed as the group’s 10th annual Cherish the Children Luncheon. But one of the groups honored at the event reinforced the message that Dallas CASA (short for Court Appointed Special Advocates) has been helping abused and neglected children a lot longer than that.

Joyce Rosenfield and Mark Berg*

The group, the Greater Dallas Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, received Dallas CASA’s newly named Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Award. That the award was presented to the group by Mark S. Berg, a past chair of the Dallas CASA board of directors, had a special significance. Mark’s late mother, Rose Marion Berg, was a member of the NCJW and one of the founders of Dallas CASA nearly 40 years ago.

Said Berg: “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.”

Gail Cook, Bunny Williams, Caroline Rose Hunt, Pat McCall and Lynn Sheldon*

The 10th annual luncheon, a sold-out affair attended by about 430, was chaired by Shonn Brown. Guests included Ruth Altshuler, Cheryl Lee Shannon, Evelyn Henry Miller, Lisa Cooley, Harriet Miers, Lynn McBee, Paul Coggins, Tanya Foster, Tiffany Divis, Elba Garcia, Gail Cook, Bunny Williams, Caroline Rose Hunt, Pat McCall, Lynn Sheldon  and Sarah Losinger.

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

Following an excellent lunch of tortilla soup and chicken salad and brief remarks by Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA’s executive director and president, attendees heard from guest speaker Casey Gerald. He’s a 30-year-old Oak Cliff native who’s achieved national prominence as a writer, business leader and motivational speaker.

A co-founder and CEO of a group called MBAs Across America, which aims to bring community support to entrepreneurs, Casey recalled being abandoned by his mother at age 12, while his father struggled with drug addiction. After the community intervened to help him, he said, he was able to make his way from South Oak Cliff to Yale University and later to Harvard Business School.

Casey Gerald*

Even so, Casey told the crowd, he should not be held up as a particular example of “triumph over adversity,” because it’s more important to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. “No degree makes up for being unwanted,” he said. “No amount of money can make you fight hunger pangs. Meeting no president makes up for not having your mother. Not a single kid leaves behind those wounds of childhood.”

Casey wrapped up his talk by saying, about CASA, “This is an organization that’s dedicated to keeping kids alive. So I thank you! … [But,] how do we put ourselves out of business? What if we didn’t make the best CASA—but made a country where we don’t need CASA?”

With a target of raising $15,000 during the luncheon, which included a silent auction of children’s furniture, it was announced at 12:40 p.m. that $7,261 had been raised toward the goal so far. When all was said and done, Dallas CASA says, the 10th annual luncheon raised a total net amount of $170,000.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

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

Junior League Of Dallas To Receive Dallas CASA’s 2017 Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award In November

The Junior Leaguers of Dallas are going to be busy raising money this coming week. First, there is the 55th Annual black-tie ball — Encore — on Saturday, March 4, at the Hilton Anatole. Then next Wednesday, March 8, they’re putting on the 88th Linz Award Luncheon honoring sister JLD-er Lyda Hill at the Omni Dallas.

Dallas CASA Champion of Children Award Dinner*

After all this work, they’re going to be the recipients of Dallas CASA’s “Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award” at The Fairmont Hotel on Thursday, November 16, at CASA’s annual Champion of Children Award Dinner.

Since 1996, JLD and Dallas CASA have worked together “to serve more children in protective care, [a figure that] has grown year over year. In 2016, the JLD provided 38 volunteers who became sworn advocates for children. In addition, annual grants from the JLD directed toward recruiting allowed Dallas CASA to recruit many additional community members to serve as advocates, helping propel the agency toward its goal of serving every child in protective care.”

Junior Leaguers of Dallas*

Christie Carter (File photo)

According to JLD President Bonner Allen, “The Junior League of Dallas is both honored and humbled to be recognized by Dallas CASA. The work Dallas CASA volunteers do for the most vulnerable children in our community is exactly what the mission of the Junior Leagues is about — it is improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.”

Appropriately the honorary chair for the event will Christie Carter, who in addition to being a longtime Dallas CASA supporter, is also past president of the JLD, served on various boards and chaired this past year’s Crystal Charity Ball. It should be noted that she also co-chaired the “recently concluded $37M Abused Children Can’t Wait — The Campaign for Dallas CASA, which saw Dallas CASA more than double it program capacity, dramatically grow the number of volunteer advocates and move into a much larger building to accommodate the rapid growth.”

Priscilla and Corey Anthony*

John and Laura Losinger*

Champion of Children co-chairs will be Priscilla and Corey Anthony and Laura and John Losinger.

* Graphic and photos provided by Dallas CASA

Dallas CASA’s Young Professionals Dashed The “Nothing-Happens-In-January” Myth With Their CASAblanca At Level Two

Evidently no one at Dallas CASA‘s Young Professionals got the memo that January is an eventless month. Being true professionals, they put on their party finery on Saturday, January 28, and turned Level Two into a one-night casino for their CASAblanca that would have had Humphrey Bogart envious. Here’s a report from the field:

Dressed in their finest, Dallas CASA’s Young Professionals took their energy and passion for helping abused and neglected children and turned it into a second successful CASAblanca casino party.

Held at Dallas CASA’s building last year, party organizers moved the event to Level Two this year and almost doubled the attendance. All proceeds from the event benefit Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

CASAblanca*

With The Special Edition Band playing everything from Earth, Wind and Fire to Michael Jackson to Bruno Mars, the dance floor stayed just as busy as the 22 blackjack tables, three roulette wheels and two craps tables. Waiters passed some appetizers, but the barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, meatballs and empanadas on the buffet line were quite popular, too. The ten-piece band kept the party going late with singers engaging with the crowd from the dance floor. After 10 p.m., party organizers handed out lighted Styrofoam sticks and the dance floor filled with light.

Jonathan and Christine Bassham**

Christina and Michael Swartz**

Dallas CASA’s Young Professionals is an outreach, awareness and fundraising arm of Dallas CAA. The group is open to anyone ages 21 to 40 who wants to make a difference in the lives of abused children. Many of Dallas CASA’s Young Professionals most active members were in attendance including Young Professionals President Jonathan and Christine Bassham, Andrew Johnson, Bianca Sterling, Jarrid Frednick, Jessica Gonzales, Caitlan and Stephen Jones, Ellie and Zach Tally, Christina and Michael Swartz, Matthew Michalak, Eniola Akinrinade, Kelsey Hamilton, Coleman Lewis, Aaron Haralson, Emily Schwab, Mitchell Brown, Lindsey Marsh, Mindy and Woody McMinn, Suzanne and John Gibson, Michael Canada, Michelle Rice, Brad Strum, Maritza and Oscar Garcia, Hailey and Brian Bain, Joe Moidel and Vanessa Brown.

Joe Moidel, Vanessa Brown, Emaa Carter and Mark Hiduke*

Kelcey Hamilton, Reasha Hedke and Dana Swann co-chaired the party, with Mark Hiduke and Emma Carter serving as the presenting sponsor. Dallas CASA board members John Gibson and Woody McMinn joined the crowd, as well as Dallas CASA executive director and CEO Kathleen LaValle and her husband Michael LaValle and daughter Stephanie LaValle.

Woody and Mindy McMinn, Suzanne and John Gibson and Kathleen and Michael LaValle**

 

The evening ended with raffle prizes, including two Apple watches, staycation packages for The Fairmont Dallas (host of Cherish the Children Luncheon on Wednesday, April 5, also benefiting Dallas CASA) and Soul Cycle class packages.

For more information about becoming one of these “young professionals, check here!

* Photo credit: Tim Heitman 
** Photo credit: Nate Bednarz

Let Your Party Dresses Pay It Forward For The Third Annual Prom Dress Drive

It’s Super Bowl weekend, but who cares? It’s just not the priority it was when there was a chance of Dak, Zeke, Jason, Dez and the Cowboys heading to Houston. Why, word has it that since the ‘Boys were eliminated, ticket sales drooped like a beehive hairdo in the rain.

Adding to the weekend dreary wearies, the lovely temperatures of the past days have been replaced by chilly, humid conditions.

But don’t get all down and out. Instead, head to that closet and edit. And while you’re picking dresses, accessories and goodies that don’t fit in your future, don’t forget those party pretties. Come on. Bite the bullet and admit it — you may have had a love affair with that pink organza or that bare-shoulder white silk, but you’ve moved on.

Now, what to do with your gowns, purses and heels? Have we got an answer for you and you’re gonna feel like a Super Bowl champ!

Comerica Prom Dress Drive*

For the third year Comerica is holding its Prom Dress Drive during the month of February. No, the dresses are not going to be given to Comerica staffers, but you knew that. Instead, the formal attire will be offered to youngsters from Dallas CASA and Boys And Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas just in time for spring proms.

According to Dallas CASA’s Rosanne Lewis, “It is a wonderful thing to give girls in foster care a chance to experience the fun of prom in a fancy dress, feeling beautiful. Once all the dresses and accessories are here and organized, we will have two prom dress boutique-shopping days for the girls we work with. Shoes, bags, lots of bling, plus help with makeup and hair make it a great day for the girls.”

All you have to do is gather up your collection and take it to one of the following Comerica Banking Centers:

  • NorthPark — 8850 Boedeker Street (Dallas)
  • Forest-Inwood — 5200 Forest Lane (Dallas)
  • Cole-Fitzhugh — 3202 North Fitzhugh (Dallas)
  • Preston Center — 8225 Preston Road (Dallas)
  • Chapel Hill-Tollway — 2560 Dallas Parkway (Plano)

After you drop the items off, head to your favorite store and treat yourself to some new clothes. After all, there is a now some empty space in your closet.

* Graphic courtesy of Comerica

MySweetWishList: Dallas CASA

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director and President Kathleen LaValle,

Kathleen LaValle (File photo)

“Sixteen-year-old Daniella grew up in a chaotic environment filled with drinking, domestic violence, poverty and hopelessness. Up to 16 people lived in her tiny, wood-frame house at one time.

“Daniella was removed from home after her mother was arrested for driving drunk with Daniella’s four siblings in the car. No family members in Dallas were able to care for the child, but a cousin in Oklahoma agreed to take in the defiant and angry young woman. Removed from home, separated from her siblings, in desperate need of anger counseling, living in a new town with family she barely knew and attending a new school, Daniella felt abandoned and disconnected.

“But while Daniella felt forgotten in Oklahoma, Dallas CASA never forgot about her.

“Daniella’s Dallas CASA volunteer, Marie, visited the child often, driving to Oklahoma monthly for more than a year to stay connected. Daniella and Marie spoke often by phone, and Marie kept Daniella’s Dallas-based Child Protective Services caseworker up to date.

“Dallas CASA’s wish this Christmas is for gas cards and airline miles so no children have to go without a CASA to speak for them.

“Due to Dallas’ lack of adequate foster homes and residential treatment centers, up to 40%

of Dallas children are placed in protective care outside the county. A child might be placed in Houston, Lubbock or El Paso, but decisions made about that child still happen in a Dallas courtroom. And many of the children placed in distant locations are teenagers in the permanent custody of CPS and living in treatment centers, some of the most vulnerable children we serve. Almost half the children our volunteers serve are living in long-term foster care.

“Marie visited Daniella frequently in Oklahoma, observing the teenager settle into life with her cousin, her cousin’s husband and their two young children. She helped Daniella understand her cousin’s curfew and rules about who she could hang out with, both new concepts to Daniella. She made sure Daniella saw a psychiatrist regularly. Marie helped Daniella get an identification card and her school records transferred to Oklahoma. Marie facilitated contact with Daniella’s younger siblings, all living in foster care. And when Daniella’s parents’ rights were terminated by the court leaving Daniella in the permanent custody of CPS, Marie helped Daniella talk through her options. Should she consider being adopted? Or plan to age out of foster care? What did she want her future to look like?

“While living with her cousin, Daniella chose to attend a local vocational high school for healthcare professions and got a job at a fast food restaurant three afternoons a week. For the first time in her life, she had money to spend on herself, a home free of addictions and violence and hope for her future. Consistent love and care gave Daniella clarity for her future, stripping away her anger and defiance and replacing it with a caring heart and a big smile.

Dallas CASA*

“Today, Daniella, at 17, has been adopted by her cousin, giving her permanency before adulthood. CASA attended the adoption and sent photos to CPS afterward. Daniella is considering going to college for nursing, something Marie has encouraged with a visit to a local college with a strong nursing program. Marie even called friends in Dallas who could offer Daniella advice on different nursing degrees and the salary she could expect.

“Daniella was forced to grow up fast, but with Marie by her side, a permanent place to call home and a strong plan for her future things look bright. Dallas CASA’s wish this holiday season is that no child ever feels forgotten. With gas cards and airline miles and airline gift cards, we can ensure our volunteers can travel as far as they need to so all children know they are important and valuable.

“For more information on donating, contact Becca Leonard at [email protected] or 214.827.8961.”

-By Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA executive director and president

* Graphic provided by Dallas CASA

Champion Of Children Award Dinner Guest Speaker Antwone Fisher Strikes A Chord As Dallas CASA Honors NorthPark Center

On the evening of Thursday, October 27, the reception area outside the Fairmont Hotel’s International Ballroom was packed. The big ballroom, after all, was about to play host to the 2016 Champion of Children Award Dinner benefiting Dallas CASA, which advocates for abused and neglected children, and nearly 550 guests were expected—more than last year’s total.

Angela and Jim Thompson*

Angela and Jim Thompson*

Andrea Martin and Cheryl Lee Shannon*

Andrea Martin and Cheryl Lee Shannon*

Mike and Jana Brosin*

Mike and Jana Brosin*

Greeting friends in the crowded foyer were the likes of Caroline Rose Hunt, Lynn and Roy Shelton, Debra Nelson, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Joyce and Larry Lacerte, Dallas CASA board member Christie Carter, Frank Risch, Judge Andrea Matin, Judge Cheryl Lee Shannon, Jana and Mike Brosin (their Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti was the dinner’s presenting sponsor), Angela and Jim Thompson, Betsy and Richard Eiseman and Jan Sanders.

Jan is the widow of Judge Barefoot Sanders, the well-known political figure and longtime U.S. district judge—and steadfast supporter of Dallas CASA, whose annual Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award bears his name. “When they named an award after him, I thought I’d better put up or shut up,” Jan said with a smile, eying the scrumptious hors d’oeuvres. “So I’ve been a CASA court advocate for three years.”

Christine and Jonathan Bassham, Mark and Karen Carney, Joseph and Jeanne Manogue and Kristy Hoglund Robinson*

Christine and Jonathan Bassham, Mark and Karen Carney, Joseph and Jeanne Manogue and Kristy Hoglund Robinson*

Inside the ballroom, meantime, Mary Martha and Dr. John Pickens were peering out the tall glass windows, admiring the spectacular sunset. Soon enough, the hall behind them had filled, and event co-chairs Karen Carney, Kristy Hoglund Robinson, and Joe Manogue were onstage welcoming everyone. “Normally we would ask you to put away your phones, but tonight we ask you to take out your phones and text,” said Joe. “Let’s raise $100,000 tonight!”

With that, Kathleen LaValle, the Dallas CASA executive director and president, took the podium to pay tribute to the evening’s honoree and winner of the Judge Sanders award, NorthPark Center. As Kathleen explained, NorthPark for 21 years has hosted the annual Parade of Playhouses, which raises money for Dallas CASA and attracts volunteers to the nonprofit. In addition, she said, NorthPark secured five billboards across Dallas County touting Dallas CASA—and the group had only asked for one!

Kathleen LaValle and Nancy Nasher*

Kathleen LaValle and Nancy Nasher*

Accepting the award was NorthPark co-owner Nancy Nasher, who had invited to the dinner members of her NorthPark team, including G.M. Billy Hines, Special Event Managers Lona Crabb and the workmen who’d transported the playhouses into the center. Nancy said NorthPark has become “a place to learn about social causes” and, in 2015, celebrated its 50th anniversary by donating more than $1 million to 50 Dallas nonprofits, many of them benefiting children. (Dallas CASA, in fact, was the first of the groups to receive a donation.) Then she made a surprise announcement: “We will donate space once again on our prime billboard, at Walnut Hill and North Central Expressway, to Dallas CASA.”

After Nancy received a heartfelt standing ovation, Dallas CASA board chair John Gibson reiterated the group’s need for more advocates and more funds and said that, so far, more than $50,000 had been raised just during the dinner. Then he introduced the evening’s guest speaker, Antwone Fisher. Antwone is a director, screenwriter, film producer, and author who grew up in an abusive foster home—and then was homeless—before joining the United States Navy and turning his life around. His life was the subject of a 2002 movie, called “Antwone  Fisher,” that starred Denzel Washington and was based on Antwone’s memoir, “Finding Fish.”

Antwone Fisher*

Antwone Fisher*

During his talk, Antwone recalled that his mother was 17 and in prison when he was born in 1959. He was abused during 18 years in foster care, he remembered, and dealt with a total of 13 social workers during that time. Despite the years of abuse—and his experiences encountering pimps and drug dealers along the way, as well—Antwone said, “I learned to appreciate my fear. I wasn’t afraid of being afraid. If you’re not afraid, [bad] things can happen.”

During his years as a homeless person on the streets of Cleveland, he went on, he stole—but only for food and necessities like shoes, galoshes, and a warm coat. It was during this period that he saw a sign saying, “Join the Navy,” which he decided to do. He willed himself to pass the necessary tests, even though he couldn’t read, and, over the next 11 years in the service, turned his life around.

“If I had had a CASA [a court-appointed special advocate] as a boy, I would have grown close to that person and they would have been able to help me, like they do all over the country,” Antwone said. “Having an advocate who can speak for you is so important. When I was a kid, I couldn’t articulate my thoughts. … Sometimes all it takes is one person caring about you.”

After the evening’s second standing ovation—this one for Antwone—event co-chairs Christine and Jonathan Bassham took the stage to wrap things up. A total of $53,440 had been raised during the event, they announced, which, thanks to a $50,000 match, meant that Dallas CASA was $103,000 richer just since the first course was served. That amount, the guests realized happily as they made for the exits, would pay for a lot of advocates for a lot of Antwones.  

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman

Music And Stories Touch Guests At Dallas CASA Patron Party

The main special event, Dallas CASA’s annual Champion of Children Award dinner, was still more than a week away. But 120 guests at the nonprofit’s patron party on Tuesday, October 18, at Dallas CASA were excited to be privy to a special “mini-event” of their own. Here’s a report from the field:

The Dallas CASA Champion of Children patron party was full of special guests and friends of Dallas CASA. But the real treat came from three people you might not know—Ann Marie Hudson Brink, Angela Fuller Heyde and Nan Zhang.

Ann Marie Hudson Brink, Nan Zhang and Angela Fuller Heyde*

Ann Marie Hudson Brink, Nan Zhang and Angela Fuller Heyde*

The three are all members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In their free time, they’re also volunteer child advocates for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Ann Marie told a story that moved some of the guests to tears:

“My viola is made of wood, and the best wood for making stringed instruments comes from an area in the Alps just north of Italy. The most prized trees grow right at the timberline on the north face of the mountains, where the air is thin and cold. There is very little sun and the soil is poor. Instrument makers will cut the tree when they are at their absolute weakest, when the sap has gone to the roots. They will even wait until the moon is the other side of the earth so that gravity has pulled as much sap away from the trunk as possible.  Isn’t it amazing that from the harshest conditions come the most treasured trees that are crafted into instruments that sing and last for generations to come?

“I have been an advocate for eight children during the past five years, and what has struck me about each of these children is their resiliency and strength. They have lived through the harshest conditions, surviving not only the unspeakable but sometimes even the unthinkable. And yet with each visit I get a smile and a hug. This is why I’ve continued as a CASA volunteer, because I have faith that the children I advocate for will grow into healthy and happy adults and that, like those trees high up in the Alps, their lives can be transformed.”

After the three musicians introduced themselves, they performed an extraordinary composition by Franz Schubert for the guests, who listened attentively.

Kathleen LaValle and Mike and Micki Rawlings*

Kathleen LaValle and Mike and Micki Rawlings*

Honorary hosts for the patron party, held at Dallas CASA’s two-year-old building in the Wilson Historic District, were Sally and Forrest Hoglund. VIPS in attendance included longtime Dallas CASA supporter Caroline Rose Hunt and Robert Brackbill, Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Champion of Children Award Dinner Honorary Co-Chairs Micki and Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Mike and Jan Brosin*

Mike and Jan Brosin*

This year’s Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award recipient is NorthPark Center, for its commitment and dedication to bettering the lives of Dallas-area children, particularly those whose lives have been marked by abuse, neglect or adversity. For 21 years, NorthPark Center has served as host for Dallas CASA’s well-known Parade of Playhouses, the nonprofit’s signature awareness event.

Champion of Children presenting sponsor Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti’s Jana and Mike Brosin were on hand for the patron party. Other sponsors for the Wednesday, October 27, dinner at the Fairmont include:

Karen Carney and Kristy Hoglund*

Karen Carney and Kristy Hoglund*

  • Platinum sponsors — AT&T, Karen and Mark Carney and Kristy Hoglund Robinson with The Hoglund Foundation, Dycom, Exxon Mobil Corp., Aubrey and John Labanowski, Pioneer Natural Resources, Angela and Jim Thompson and Leslie and Geoff Wayne.
  • Crystal sponsors — Citi, Ericsson, Marion and Bennett Glazer and Barbara and Sheldon I. Stein with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.

Champion of Children Award Dinner co-chairs are Christine and Jonathan Bassham, Karen and Mark Carney, Jeanne and Joseph Manogue and Kristy Hoglund Robinson. Featured speaker will be Antwone Fisher, whose tragic story of a childhood in an abusive foster home became the subject for a 2002 movie starring Denzel Washington.

* Photo credit: Sylvia Elzafon

Dallas CASA’s Champions Of Children Award Dinner To Honor NorthPark Center With Author Antwone Fischer As Keynote Speaker

Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

After 21 years of Dallas CASA filling the NorthPark Center with adorable cottages for auctioning, Champion For Children Award Dinner Co-Chairs Christine and Jonathan Bassham, Karen and Mark Carney, Jeanne and Joseph Manogue and Kristy Hoglund Robinson just announced that the renowned retailing center will be presented with the Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award at the annual dinner fundraiser for Dallas CASA.

Dallas CASA*

Dallas CASA*

Joining the festivities on Tuesday, October 27, at The Fairmont Dallas will be Honorary Co-Chairs Micki and Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Karen Carney and Kristy Hoglund Robinson (File photo)

Karen Carney and Kristy Hoglund Robinson (File photo)

Micki and Mike Rawlings (File photo)

Micki and Mike Rawlings (File photo)

Another highlight of the event will be keynote speaker/film producer/director/screenwriter/author Antwone Fisher, whose “Finding Fish” resulted in a movie starring Denzel Washington.

 

According to Antwone, “I think back on a childhood of longing for belonging and see my life now as something created out of my dreams. I clung to that preposterous vision and with the force of those dreams willed it and made it happen. Not because I needed to be famous but because I needed a world that made me feel uninvited to be wrong. So I imagined myself free, I imagined myself loved, I imagined myself as somebody.”

Individual tickets start at $300 and are available now!

* Graphic courtesy of Dallas CASA

[Read more…]

Dallas CASA’s 21st Annual Parade Of Playhouses’ Closing Party At Pirch Had Loads Of Perks, Peeps And Pampering

While it seemed like most folks had abandoned North Texas for their “suburb” haunts in Colorado on Thursday, July 28, ’twas not so.

Jana Brosin, Kathryn Knight and Summer Knight

Jana Brosin, Kathryn Knight and Summer Knight

More than 160 and less than a gazillion folks like Kathryn Knight and her daughter Summer Knight, Juliette Coulter and Regina Bruce filled the parking lot outside of NorthPark’s Pirch for the closing party of the 21st Parade of Playhouses benefiting Dallas CASA, despite the fact that the “parade” wouldn’t really be a done deal until Sunday, July 31.

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade

Soak tub

Soak tub

From the Cadillac Escalade parked out front to the soak tub just inside the doorway, the scene was set for luxury. If anyone had thought their own fabuloso palazzo was heaven, they were having second thoughts with the tiles, soaking tubs, pizza ovens and other “to-die-for” perks filling Pirch. Around each corner was something that was so pamper-oriented, it made going home to the same-old steam shower seem regretful.

Jim and Angela Thompson

Jim and Angela Thompson

But the night was to celebrate the playhouses and rightly so. Longtime PoP loyalists/sponsors/Honorary Co-Chairs Angela and Jim Thompson along with Paula and Scott Orr and Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti’s Jana and Mike Brosin were more than pleased to learn that playhouse raffle tickets and text voting were ahead of last year… and last year’s was a gangbuster. Little did organizers know that a total of 15,546 raffle tickets would be the final count!

Mike Brosin, Kathleen LaValle, Paula and Scott Orr

Mike Brosin, Kathleen LaValle, Paula and Scott Orr

Sanctuary wine

Sanctuary wine

Still another fund generator was “Sanctuary,” where for the $25 purchase of a rubber duck, guests could claim a donated bottle of wine that cost a heck of a lot more than $25.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Dallas CASA Champion Of Children Award Dinner

According to Dallas CASA Champion of Children Award Dinner Co-Chairs Karen Carney and Kristy Hoglund Robinson,

Karen Carney and Kristy Hoglund Robinson*

Karen Carney and Kristy Hoglund Robinson*

“Just before Christmas last year, Child Protective Services received a report about four young teenagers living with their mother, who was dealing drugs out of the house.

“What CPS found when they arrived was worse. There was no food in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer. The utilities to the home had been cut off. One of the teenagers had been using drugs and was suicidal. Two were still trying to go to school. Another had sought refuge with a friend’s family.

“We had just completed training to become Dallas CASA volunteers, and this was the case we were assigned. The months we’ve spent advocating for these children have shown us in person what a critical difference having a volunteer advocate can make for children removed from unsafe homes.

“This fall, we are two of the event co-chairs for Dallas CASA’s Champion of Children Award dinner Thursday, October 27, at The Fairmont Dallas. The dinner honors North Texans who are making a difference in the lives of children like the four teenagers we work with.

Mike and Micki Rawlings (File photo)

Mike and Micki Rawlings (File photo)

“The dinner will feature Honorary Co-Chairs Mike and Micki Rawlings and will honor NorthPark Center with the prestigious Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award for its decades of service to Dallas’ children. The award is given annually to individuals or organizations who significantly improve the lives of children in our community, particularly those whose young lives have been marked by abuse, neglect or other adversity.

“The highlight of the night will be our guest speaker, Antwone Fisher, film producer, director, screenwriter and author. Fisher was working as a security guard at Sony Pictures in Los Angeles when he took a free screenwriting course. The story he ended up writing was his own. Born in an Ohio prison to a teenage mother, Antwone grew up in an abusive foster home, escaping at age 14 only to become homeless on the streets of Cleveland. Ultimately, his life was saved when he joined the United States Navy, proudly serving for 11 years. Even in his darkest times, Antwone clung to a vision that he was worth something. He clung to that vision ‘not because I needed to be famous but because I needed a world that made me feel uninvited to be wrong. I imagined myself free, I imagine myself loved, I imagined myself as somebody.’

“The book, ‘Finding Fish,’ was made into a movie, ‘Antwone Fisher,’ starring Denzel Washington.

Champion Of Children Award Dinner*

Champion Of Children Award Dinner*

“Please join us and our dinner Co-Chairs Christine and Jonathan Bassham, Mark Carney and Jeanne and Joseph Manogue at Dallas CASA’s Champion of Children dinner on October 27 at The Fairmont Dallas. Together, we can make a difference for children like our four CASA youth. All four children are now in loving, safe homes, and we have high hopes for their futures. Like Antwone, we stubbornly cling to a vision for these kids that they can grow up safe, protected and loved.

For more information, visit Champion Of Children Award Dinner.

Presenting sponsor is Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti, and platinum sponsors are Angela and Jim Thompson.

* Graphic and photo provided by Dallas CASA