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

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