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 arrival 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

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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

2016 Parade Of Playhouses At NorthPark Center Marched Off With A Record-Breaking Amount For Dallas CASA

Dallas nonprofits are on a roll with good news. Now word comes from Dallas CASA about the results from the 2016 Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark. The Kappa Alpha Thetas have spent the last couple of days tallying the results. The total was so astonishing that they triple checked their findings. But the numbers added up to 15,546 raffle tickets being purchased. Adding that amount with sponsorships and text voting, “more than $200,000” went to Dallas CASA and it was a record breaker!

But the smiley faces weren’t just on the Dallas CASA staffers and volunteers. Nope. More good news was being spread all around. Here’s a snapshot of other results from the “parade” from Dallas CASA’s Rosanne Lewis:

Kid Cottage (File photo)

Kid Cottage (File photo)

Say Cheese (File photo)

Say Cheese (File photo)

The Lookout*

The Lookout*

  • “’The Kid Cottage’ by LRO Residential (copper roof) was won by a Preston Hollow family with 3 kids under three. They have two boys and a girl and the boys were hoping for the Crest CASA Garage but mom split the tickets because she wanted the Cottage!
  • “’Say Cheese’ was won by one of our new volunteers. In her email she said, ‘Winning a playhouse was almost as exciting as becoming an advocate.’
  • “’The Lookout’ was won by a family who also have three children, a little 3-year-old boy and infant twins (a boy and a girl), who were born premature and are still in the hospital. On Sunday they won their playhouse, and on Monday they finally brought their babies home.”

And how about the playhouse builders? Which ones were voted the most popular via text ballots? Here’s the answer:

  • African Safari Adventure by Harman
  • Basecamp by Redlee/SCS with Sketchup
  • Crest CASA Garage by Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti

 

African Safari Adventure (File photo)

African Safari  (File photo)

Basecamp (File photo)

Basecamp (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Tomorrow and Thursday the playhouses will be delivered courtesy of Glazers to their new homes. One of them is going to Celina!

The only question remaining is what the heck are the builders going to come up with next year?  Perhaps a playhouse with a storm shelter?

LAST CALL: Dallas CASA’s 2016 Parade Of Playhouses Raffle And Voting Ends Sunday

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

2016 Parade of Playhouses (File photo)

Those adorable little residences that have been lining NorthPark Center’s hallways have evidently been a big, old hit. In just two weeks folks have purchased more than 10,000 raffle tickets in hope of winning one of the Parade of Playhouses for their own. Thanks to Dallas CASA volunteers including Kappa Alpha Theta types, more than 2,000 hours have been invested in the raffle sales that will benefit Dallas CASA.

Insiders report that sales are ahead of last year and 2015 was a record maker.

And as for the voting, there’s been a bit of debating on which one will win. So far, pollsters claim that the Kid Cottage by LRO Residential, African Safari Adventure by Harman and Crest CASA Garage by Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti were in the lead.

Kid Cottage

Kid Cottage (File photo)

African Safari Adventure (File photo)

African Safari Adventure (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

Crest Casa Garage (File photo)

But that could easily change, since voting doesn’t end until Sunday, when the raffle winners will be revealed in NorthPark’s North Court at 4 p.m. BTW, if you’re thinking about doing an online-ticket purchase, get it in before noon on Sunday.

As for the popularity contest, the voting results will be announced via social media and the Dallas CASA website.

Chance tickets are going for $5 each and a bargain-saving $20 for five. Voting is accomplished by texting dallascasa to 41444 with each vote costing $5 and are “not included” in the raffle drawing.

Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon Provided Food For Thought Thanks To Speakers Steve Pemberton And Cynt Marshall

There were a lot of lawyers MIA on Friday, June 10. Nearly a thousand to be exact. The cause for non-billing hours was the Attorneys Serving the Community annual luncheon at the Hilton Anatole benefiting Dallas CASA. It was a remarkable gathering thanks especially to keynote speaker Steve Pemberton, who not only understood the need for Dallas CASA but rose above his childhood of neglect to become vice president of Walgreens and an author. Evidently Half-Price Books brought 100 of Steve’s books to sell. Evidently they wished they had brought more. The line to get Steve’s autograph lasted more than an hour after the luncheon.

Another moving talk was provided by Honorary Chair/Dallas CASA Board Member Cynt Marshall. Here is a report from the field, and remember that Dallas CASA is on a campaign for volunteers:

Walgreens VP Steve Pemberton told attendees at Attorneys Serving the Community (ASC) luncheon benefiting Dallas CASA on Friday, June 10, that despite his childhood of abuse, neglect and deprivation, he always knew he had the power in him to rise above. He just needed one person to believe in him.

“If the headlines bother you, give from wherever you are with whatever you have,” Steve said. “I’m one small example of what’s possible when you give somebody a chance in the world.”

Held at the Hilton Anatole Dallas with 900 seats, the luncheon was the culminating event of a year of fundraising by ASC for Dallas CASA. The group had raised more than $300,000 for Dallas CASA, which recruits, trains and supervises community volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children.

Steve PEmberton*

Steve Pemberton*

Steve’s official title is Vice-President, Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise in the world, employing 370,000 people in 25 countries. Now a father of three, Steve admitted that finding a place for an African-American boy with no home, blue eyes, a blonde Afro and a Polish last name in working class Boston was a challenge. He named his autobiography “A Chance in the World” after a social service workers’ note in his file that “this child doesn’t have a chance in the world.” Ultimately, Steve created his own chances, finding success despite his circumstances.

“I inherited a tragedy I didn’t ask for or create, but nobody could stop me from changing it,” Steve said. “I was always looking out for that someone who would not see me as dumb, ugly or broken beyond repair. I was told ‘No’ a lot, but ultimately I was told ‘Yes’ more.”

For many abused and neglected children, a CASA volunteer is the one caring, constant adult who can make a critical difference in their lives and says “Yes.”

Gloria Campos, Kathleen LaValle and Cortland Kelly Grynwald*

Gloria Campos, Kathleen LaValle and Cortland Kelly Grynwald*

ASC annually chooses a beneficiary for a year of fundraising support. Events during the year include a silent auction and a 5K race, with the luncheon serving as the final event. ASC Chairs for 2015-16 were Cortland Kelly Grynwald and Kara Altenbaumer-Price. Mistress of ceremonies was Gloria Campos, and the ASC Friend of the Community Award was given to The Margulies Group. Honorary chair was AT&T Senior VP and a Dallas CASA Board Member Cynt Marshall, who shared with the crowd her own experience with children living in foster care.

Cynt told the crowd about a nine-month-old baby abandoned with his nine-year-old brother for two months. With only a toaster oven to keep them warm, the older boy foraged for food and kept his baby brother alive for two months. She also told about a 12-year-old girl forced to eat peanut butter and jelly alone in the pantry while the brothers in her birth family enjoyed turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving day. And she told about a baby girl, born premature, with medical needs and weighing less than two pounds, abandoned by her mother in the hospital.

Kara Altenbaumer-Price and Cynt Marshall*

Kara Altenbaumer-Price and Cynt Marshall*

“These are now my own children. We were blessed to adopt them with the help of lawyers, judges and… yes, CASA volunteers,” Cynt told the cheering crowd as she introduced her youngest daughter, who was left at San Francisco General Hospital and is a junior in college today. “These honeys were kept as safe as possible because of people like you.”

ACS events raised more than $300,000 in critically-needed funds to recruit and train volunteer advocates who gather information to help judges decide where abused and neglected children can live safely and permanently. On an average day in Dallas, more than 2,000 abused and neglected children live in foster care because they cannot safely live at home. Only about three out of five of those children have a Dallas CASA volunteer who can speak for them, but funds from ASC will allow Dallas CASA to recruit, train and supervise more volunteers to serve more children.

“Children in foster care are thrust into a bewildering world of strangers. CASA volunteers help them navigate this very grown-up process,” Cynt said. “Good things can always come out of bad things. Being a CASA is simply a matter of opening your heart.”

Individuals, retailers and manufacturers provided in-kind donations included Cornerstone BTI, D CEO Magazine, Half Price Books, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Judy Norsdeth Photograph, The Margulies Group, Mary Kay, McShan Florist Inc., Michaels Stores Inc., Platinum, TXU Energy and Texas Lawyer.

The following sponsors are underwriters:

  • Presenting ($25,000) — The Members of Attorneys Serving the Community
  • Crystal ($10,000) — Anonymous, Baron and Budd and Texas Lawyer
  • Platinum ($5,000) — D CEO Magazine, Locke Lord LLP, The Marketing Connection, McKool Smith, ORIX Foundation, Sidley Austin LLP and TIER REIT
  • Gold ($2,500) — Amy Stewart PC, AT&T, Baker Botts LLP, Cinemark Theatres, Farrow-Gillepsie and Heath LLP, Gray Reed and McGraw PC, Husch Blackwell, Jackson Walker LLP, JMO Firm PLLC, Khirallah PLLC, Lynn Pinker Cox and Hurst LLP, The McClure Law Group, Norton Rose Fullbright, Perkins Coie, Scheef and Stone LLP, Thompson and Knight Foundation and Winstead PC
  • Silver ($2,000) — Andrews and Bath, PC/Angela Maverick, The BVA Group LLC, Carrington, Coleman, Sloman and Blumenthal, LLP, Counsel on Call, Dallas CASA Board Members, Dallas Women Lawyers Association, Haynes and Boone LLP, Holland and Knight LLP, HSSK, Littler Mendelson PC, Powell Coleman and Arndol LLP, Schwob Building Company LTD and Vinson and Elkins LLP
  • Bronze ($1,750) — Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP, Bell Nunnally and Martin LLP, Bracewell LLP, Capital Financial Partners/Patte Lee, Cooper and Scully PC, Deloitte, DTI, Energy Future Holdings, Gibson Dunn, Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP, Jackson Lewis PC, K and L Gates, Kilgore and Kilgore PLLC, LeBoeuf Law, PLLC/Spencer Scott PLLC, Legalpeople LLC – A LegalPartners Company, Lennox International, Marsh and McLennan Agency LLC/MHB, Munsch Hardt Kopf and Harr PC, Powell Coleman and Arnold LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Quilling Selander Lownds Winslett and Moser PC, Republic Title, Strasburger and Price LLP, UNT Dallas College of Law and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelamn and Dicker LLP/Allied World
* Photos provided by Dallas CASA

2016 Parade Of Playhouses Brings Out The Competitive Spirit To Raise Funds For Dallas CASA At NorthPark

Jeff Kindig

Jeff Kindig

Jeff Kindig of Harman is bound and determined to continue Harmon’s reign as the Parade of Playhouses top builder. It was just last year when Jeff blew the Dallas CASA parade competition at NorthPark off the grid with Buckaroo Mountain Adventure house. But Friday as the 14 adorable mini-mansions were preparing for the official kick-off, the bearded Jeff found himself facing the idea of staying put in his African Safari Adventure until the “parade’s” finish on Sunday, July 31.

The reason goes back to the night before, when the 14 Parade of Playhouses were delivered to NorthPark lining from Dillards to Macys to North Court. Since the houses were to be prepared for display Friday morning, the mini-houses were literally open houses Thursday night with munchkins checking out the rock walls, slides, ladders and multi-levels.

Retro Roots

Retro Roots

Steampunk

Steampunk

Friday morning was spent cleaning up footprints and replacing doorway netting and other temporary stop measures with Plexiglas. It was the installation of the Plexiglas that found Jeff on the wrong side of the tent. But after a little work, Jeff was outside and the goodies (bunk beds, desk, chair, trunk, Harman stereo audio system and an ATV-Style Jeep, 12-vol 4X4 Electric Car) were safely behind the Plexiglas for viewing.

Looking at the Plexiglas successfully in place, Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle with camera in hand admitted that the competition had been fierce. The Crest Casa Garage had an adorable mini-Cadillac parked inside. One builder, whose entry had a metal roof, reported that his people would be out each morning to polish the roof. The “Life on Mars” was the product of the College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma.

Crest Casa Garage

Crest Casa Garage

Kid Cottage

Kid Cottage

Life on Mars

Life on Mars

XyLophoNEhouse

XyLophoNEhouse

In the meantime, NorthParkers were chuckling about inquiries about NorthPark’s new piece of art. It wasn’t. It was XyLophoNEhouse, a work in development. On Saturday the wooden tunnel would be highlighted by musical tubes all tuned to the note of C…like CASA.

Love and Peace

Love and Peace

Steampunk

Steampunk

2016 Parade of Playhouses

2016 Parade of Playhouses

The adorable homes with amazing detailing and imagination will be on display for voting and raffle until Sunday, July 31. The timing is simply perfect with the heat and humidity getting really old. Strolling through air-conditioned NorthPark to check out the parade is free for the viewing. And if one or two or all of them strike your fancy, buy a raffle ticket! You can either do it at one of the tables set up in NorthPark or do it online. The chances are going for $5 for one or five for $20. The winning tickets will be drawn on Sunday, July 31 at 4 p.m. at NorthPark.

You can also vote for your fav by texting dallascasa to 41444. Each vote costs $5. After all, paper ballots are so yesterday.

The Lookout*

The Lookout*

However, there was one MIA. Starting yesterday, #15 (aka The Lookout) was in place at Dallas CASA.

Why not drive over to Dallas CASA in the Wilson Historic District and check it out? While there check out volunteering for Dallas CASA.

In meantime, you can check out all the NorthPark 14 plus The Lookout at Dallas CASA at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: 2016 Parade Of Playhouses

The 2016 Parade of Playhouses started its displayed march throughout NorthPark officially on Friday with 14 adorable mini-mansions available for viewing, voting and up for grabs. Since they’ll only be available for checking out until Sunday, July 31, time is ticking away for the annual Dallas CASA fundraiser.

Steampunk

Steampunk

Crest Casa Garage

Crest Casa Garage

Be prepared. This year’s crop is gangbusters with slides, rock walls, metal roofs, bunk beds, ladders and all types of extra-special perks. As Dallas CASA Executive Director Kathleen LaValle admitted — the competition was fierce this year.

Life on Mars

Life on Mars

XyLophoNEhouse

XyLophoNEhouse

While the post about the last-minute preparations is being finalized, all 14 playhouses are available for eyeballing at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Dallas CASA’s Cherish The Children Was Highlighted By Children’s Chairs, Author Laura McBride And Call-To-Arms For Volunteers

Christie Carter was event juggling on Tuesday, April 5. At 11 a.m. She was part of the 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon announcement at Neiman Marcus Downtown. But before the right official reveal was made, Christie was headed over to the Omni for the Dallas CASA Cherish the Children luncheon.

Dallas CASA chair

Dallas CASA chair

Dallas CASA chair

Dallas CASA chair

Whew! That gal must have broken some record. She got there in time to check out the Deborah Gaspar Jewelry and the adorable kids’ chairs in the silent auction along with Lydia Novakov, Sarah Losinger, Connie O’Neill, Joyce Lacerte and Lyda Hill, before the doors opened to the Trinity Ballroom just before 11:30.

Lydia Novokov, Sarah Losinger and Connie ONeill

Lydia Novokov, Sarah Losinger and Connie ONeill

Charlene Howell and Caroline Rose Hunt

Charlene Howell and Caroline Rose Hunt

Honorary Chair Caroline Rose Hunt was already at her front row table chatting with Charlene Howell, Barbara Womble and Lynne Sheldon, who was still amazed that on this day husband Roy Sheldon was playing tennis after suffering a life-threatening illness just a couple of years before.

Across the way was a table of SMU Kappa Alpha Theta alumna (Jenni Scoggins, Barbara Cervin, Maury Cunningham, Sara Lytle, Francie Johnsen, Lynn Van Amburgh, Amy Dugan, Taylor Teague, Cori Bray and Anne Besser), who have been so supportive of Dallas CASA over the year. When asked about the construction status of the sorority’s new digs, all were delighted to claim that it would be the best one on the campus.

From the left: (Back row) Jenni Scoggins, Barbara Cervin, Maury Cunningham, Sara Lytle, Francie Johnsen and Lynn Van Amburgh; (Front row) Amy Dugan, Taylor Teague, Cori Bray and Anne Besser

From the left: (Back row) Jenni Scoggins, Barbara Cervin, Maury Cunningham, Sara Lytle, Francie Johnsen and Lynn Van Amburgh; (Front row) Amy Dugan, Taylor Teague, Cori Bray and Anne Besser

Luncheon Chair Erin Pope welcomed the group pointing out the dignitaries in the crowd and introduced Dallas CASA Children’s Council President Jenny Reynolds, who told of two of her CASA encounters. One had been Desi, who had be rescued from a neglectful and abusive situation, only to find herself trapped in the foster care maze. Yes, she loved her mother, but it was not a healthy relationship. Thanks to Jenny’s efforts and those social workers, Desi’s mother allowed her daughter to be adopted by her foster family. Jenny still keeps up with Desi’s progress which is flourishing.

Erin Pope and Jenny Reynolds

Erin Pope and Jenny Reynolds

With tears welling up in her eyes, she described “J,” her current foster child, who reflected years of neglect. Now, 13-years old, she ended up in foster care because her mother is in prison for harming a child — “J.” Her grandmother died months ago and her grandfather dropped “J” off on the doorstep of CPS because she was too difficult. Bouncing from foster home to foster home in the past six months, she had more than reflects wrong choices, she was charging into a life of self-destructive decisions — selling and using drugs, sex tapes, etc. A turning point recently took place when “J” was moved to a residential treatment center in Houston. Jenny drove to Houston the previous Friday to deliver a suitcase of “J’s” belongings. There at the front door was “J” waiting for Jenny. “She looked at me and said, ‘Jenny, you actually came. Jenny, I miss you.”

Kathleen LaValle

Kathleen LaValle

Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle recognized Honoree Caroline with former Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Beverly Levy at her side and then told of the organization’s goal to make Dallas the first city in the nation to have a CASA for each child in protective care. Of course, there is a need for funding to provide support for the advocates, but the need for volunteers is just as great. Without these adults volunteering their time, minds and hearts, there would be hundreds of vulnerable youngsters.

Erin then introduced guest speaker/author Laura McBride. Living in Las Vegas, she told about a time when her daughter was young and played soccer on a field across the highway from strip clubs and bordellos. Remember Laura and her family live in Las Vegas. In one of her classes, her 13-year-old daughter was asked to write her motto for living. She told her parents that her motto was a neon sign she had seen so often that had inspired her to live life fully and boldly. When Laura asked what her motto was, she replied, “Live Nude.”

Laura McBride

Laura McBride

Laura recalled that she had wanted to live in a college town or a place that was safe. Instead she lived in a city filled with people so very different from herself. It was a boomtown of all types of people and has established an automatic acceptance of newbies. The city’s economy is also one based on service, where people are nice and watch what others might need.

All of this helped prepared her daughter in 2012 to head to the East Coast for college and to open to accepting differences. This development changed Laura’s view of how things might go. She said that instead of turning inward which is typical of humans, she realized that it was wrong. “Perhaps we are progressing by not joining groups that are necessarily like us.”

As a former advocate, she championed the idea that people need “a little more love, a little more care, a little less hate, a little less fear.”

Before adjourning Dallas CASA Board of Directors Chair John Gibson reinforced the message that had been provided earlier — the need for volunteers and, of course, funds.

Suggestion: You do not need a law degree to be a Dallas CASA. You just have to have compassion, determination and time. If you can spare those three things, you just might find a “J” on a front door waiting for you.

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

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

Kathleen LaValle and Erin Pope*

Kathleen LaValle and Erin Pope*

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

Barbara Womble and Caroline Rose Hunt*

Barbara Womble and Caroline Rose Hunt*

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

Phil and Casey Green*

Phil and Casey Green*

Emily Robinson and Alex McCreight*

Emily Robinson and Alex McCreight*

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

* Photos provided by Dallas CASA

Grovel Alert: Cherish The Children Luncheon

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

Gaston Made chairs*

Gaston Made chairs*

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

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

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

* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

Dallas CASA Has Two Opportunities For Your Consideration

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

Kathleen LaValle*

Kathleen LaValle*

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

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

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

Caroline Rose Hunt (File photo)

Caroline Rose Hunt (File photo)

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

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

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

This year’s sponsors include:

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

Dallas CASA Board To Be Headed By John Gibson And Joined By Mike Brosin And Cynthia Comparin

Word comes that Dallas CASA has new board leadership and members. Heading up the board will be Goldman Sachs Managing Director John Gibson. In addition to his new role of leadership, the Harvard graduate is also a Dallas CASA advocate and “currently working three open cases for kids who’ve been removed from their homes.”

John Gibson*

John Gibson*

Mike Brosin (File photo)

Mike Brosin (File photo)

Cynthia Comparin*

Cynthia Comparin*

Joining the board are Crest Cadillac/Crest Infiniti Managing Partner Mike Brosin and Animato CEO Cynthia Comparin.

Luckily for more than 2,000 abused and neglected children living in foster care in Dallas County, Dallas CASA volunteers are on the frontline “to advocate for the best interests of children under protective care of courts, so they will have safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.”

* Photo provided by Dallas CASA

SOLD-OUT ALERT!: CASAblanca

If you wanted to play handy little games like blackjack, craps, Texas Hold’em and roulette-wheel spinning on Saturday, January 30 with a bunch of young professionals, your choices just got reduced big-time. The Dallas CASA Young Professionals’ CASAblanca is filled to capacity, thanks to Co-Chairs Kelcey Hamilton, Reasha Hedke and Dana Swann. Not bad for a first time event!

CASAblanca*

CASAblanca*

And the partying with DJ Jose Guevara, raffle prizes and grown-up libations ain’t taking place at the usual party-hearty rooms or hotel ballrooms. No, siree! It’s gonna be at Dallas CASA in The Meadows Foundation’s Wilson Historic District.

Just shows how smart those young professionals are. Not only are they saving money on renting a space, they just might be introducing newcomers to the Dallas CASA digs, where CASA advocates help almost 4,400 abused and neglected kids yearly.

However, there is still room to join Dallas CASA’s Young Professionals, if your age falls between 21 and 40.

* Graphic courtesy of Dallas CASA

 

MySweetWishList: Dallas CASA

According to Dallas CASA Executive Director and President Kathleen LaValle,

Kathleen LaValle*

Kathleen LaValle*

“For two-year-old Jacob, Christmas didn’t mean warm food, family visits or toys under a sparkling tree. Abandoned in a Dallas drug house by his mother, only 17 and working as a prostitute, Jacob wanted a stable home and a cozy bed for Christmas. The only gift he asked for was love and stability.

“Each year in Dallas, nearly 4,400 children like Jacob are in protective care under court supervision because it simply isn’t safe for them at home. Dallas CASA’s Christmas wish is that the Dallas community would know about children like Jacob and be moved to make a critical difference in their lives. For the Jacobs of Dallas, a CASA volunteer is often the one consistent, caring adult they can count on during a frightening, uncertain time in their lives.

“Of 4,400 children in protective care in 2014, only about half had a CASA volunteer by their side. Dallas CASA wishes for the day when every child in need will have his or her own CASA volunteer.

“Jacob was one of the lucky ones. He was assigned a Dallas CASA volunteer, Lisa, who served as his voice in court, advocating for what Jacob needed.

“Jacob got his Christmas wish three years ago when Lisa found his grandfather

Dallas CASA's "Abused Children Can't Wait"*

Dallas CASA’s “Abused Children Can’t Wait”*

and recommended to the court that Jacob be allowed to go live with him. Finances were tight, but Jacob’s CASA volunteer made sure he had not only the love and stability he longed for but gifts under the tree. Jacob was thrilled to see the brightly-wrapped packages waiting for him, but it was the tears in Jacob’s grandfather’s eyes that showed the little family’s full gratitude.

“Today, three years later, Jacob has been adopted by his grandfather. Finances remain tight, but Jacob has his stable home, his cozy bed and all the love he could wish for.

“With more volunteers, all children like Jacob could have voices in court and an adult looking out for their best interests. If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a CASA volunteer advocate, please check out the opportunity on the Dallas CASA website at www.dallascasa.org.”

-By Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA executive director and president

* Photos provided by Dallas CASA

Round Robin October 14 Part II: Champion Of Children Award And Les Femmes Du Monde Woman Of The Year Dinners

One of the MySweetCharity elves was so weary s/he missed these two events that were supposed to be posted with the October 14th Round Robin. The elf is taking some time off…an hour to be exact to catch up on their sleep needs. In the meantime, check out what Les Femmes Du Monde and Dallas CASA folks were doing the evening of Wednesday, October 14.

Champion of Children Award Dinner

Jerry and Gene Jones and Kathleen and Michael LaValle*

Jerry and Gene Jones and Kathleen and Michael LaValle*

Over at the Fairmont Dallas, the excitement was palpable at the jam-packed reception before Dallas CASA’s big annual fundraising dinner. AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson was making a rare public appearance, shaking hands and mingling with the crowd. Not far away, the Dallas Cowboys’ First Couple Gene and Jerry Jones were doing the same. All around them were guests like Event Co-Chairs Jana and Mike Brosin, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Christie Carter and Caroline Rose Hunt. Also spotted: Cortland Grynwald, lead co-chair of Attorneys Serving the Community, which named Dallas CASA its 2015-2016 beneficiary.

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones*

Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones*

Greg May and Randall Stephenson*

Greg May and Randall Stephenson*

Dallas CASA president and executive director Kathleen LaValle was saying the dinner crowd of about 550 would be the fundraiser’s biggest ever. “We’re so excited to honor AT&T,” she said. “Three of their executives are on our board, and we’re honored to be honoring them.” Dallas CASA gave its Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award to the telecom giant at the dinner.

It also heard from Ashley Rhodes-Courter, a best-selling author whose book, Three Little Words, described her nine years in foster care. Rhodes-Courter was interviewed by Gloria Campos, the event’s honorary chair.

Les Femmes Du Monde Woman Of The Year Dinner

Across town at the Dallas Country Club, meanwhile, Realtor Virginia E. Cook was being honored as Les Femmes du Monde’s 2015 Woman of the Year. About 150 guests enjoyed dinner (Panzanella salad, Boursin chicken, Julienned vegetables, chocolate mousse) and a tastefully-done video tribute to Cook starring the likes of Herb Weitzman, Roger Staubach, Tincy Miller and Lee Kleinman.

Emcee Jody Dean kept the program moving along, delivering quips like this one about Les Femmes du Monde President Alyce Heinrich: “She asks and won’t take no for an answer. It’s like talking to a tornado,” Dean said. “A wonderful, gracious tornado.” Heinrich was ably assisted at the podium by Dinner Chair Venise Stuart, who warned before the video played: “You’re going to need tissues.”

After the SMU Stampede singers serenaded Virginia with tunes like “Blackbird” by the Beatles and “My Girl,” Heinrich took to the dance floor to cut an elaborate rug with her longtime dance instructor. “You’ve heard of ‘War and Peace’?” Alyce’s dance partner asked when the couple finally took a break. “I’m Warren Slaughter.”

* Photo credit: Lara Bierner