WFAA Provides $46,000 With Melted Crayons And Ringing Phones For Community Partners Of Dallas’ “Back To School Drive”

WFAA was on a tear the past week. Last Thursday they wanted to do something different to showcase North Texas three-digit weather. Sure, they could have tried cooking some food product on the sidewalk, but that’s been so overdone (no pun intended). Somebody got the bright idea of positioning a 22” by 28” white canvas against a wall in the afternoon sun between a clock and a thermometer. At the top of the board were 64 crayons pointed downward. As the clock ticked and the mercury rose, the crayons drooled down the board creating a waterfall of rainbow colors.

So, that was nice, but what do you do with this hot (okay, so this pun was intended) artwork? The WFAA brain trust decided to auction off the artwork with the proceeds going to help Community Partners of Dallas’ Back to School Program that provides school supplies for children who are in the Dallas County Child Protective Services.

WFAA’s melted crayons masterpiece*

The winning bid of $3,150 came from Create Church, but when they arrived to pick up their new masterpiece, they pumped the number up to $5,150!

Then word arrived that the Friends of Wednesday’s Children was shutting down operation on Monday. The folks at WFAA realized that the timing was right to rally viewers to pick up where the Friends had left off in providing for children in need. So, they held a phone bank on Monday at their 4, 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts to start the wheels turning for the CPD drive that would officially start on Friday, August 4. The receivers rang off the hooks to the tune of $40,850!

Cynthia Izaguirre (File photo)

Those two undertakings brought in a total of $46,000, all of which will be used to provide backpacks, construction and manila paper, colored pencils, folders, pencil sharpeners, block erasers, glue sticks, highlighters, markers, pencil pouches, red pens and scissors.

According to CPD President/CEO Paige McDaniel, “We are so grateful to WFAA, and especially to Cynthia Izaguirre, for their longtime commitment to and tireless advocacy on behalf of the foster children in our community. Additionally, to everyone who called in with their generous donations, thank you! We had so many wonderful donors support this cause — with gifts from a grandmother on a fixed income to people with charitable foundations. Dallas really stepped up to help children in foster care and we are appreciative!”

Congratulations to WFAA for connecting the dots to provide assistance for children in need. In the wake of the Friends closing, WFAA managed to help fill a void financially and spread the word.

If you would like to join the supply-the-kids program, here is a list of what they need. But if you don’t have time to shop, you can always donate money.

* Photo courtesy of WFAA

 

Friends Of Wednesday’s Child Is Closing

Sorry to start the week off with some sad news, but The Friends of Wednesday’s Child is ceasing operation.

Whoa! Before you go thinking that WFAA’s Cynthia Izaguirre won’t be doing her “Wednesday’s Child” segments, stop thinking that. These are two separate organizations dedicated to supporting foster children in need of permanent homes.

Friends of Wednesday’s Child (File photo)

Founded by a couple in 1985, Friends of Wednesday’s Child “provided for all their unmet needs while they are in foster care. These unmet needs include many of the things that establish a healthy, productive childhood; from tutoring to medical/dental care to summer camp to birthday gifts.”

According to the Friends of Wednesday’s Child’s website,

“It is with heavy hearts we write that Friends of Wednesday’s Child is closing its doors. We do not have the financial support to continue. The good news is North Texas has some outstanding allies in the community of people who serve children living in foster care. We are in discussion with these great groups who are interested in absorbing Friends of Wednesday’s Child programs and services. We hope to announce something in the coming weeks and months. An education can transform the lives of these children and put them on a path to success in school and life. Thank you for your support in making it possible. It is an honor and a privilege. Please continue supporting them. You are the difference.”

It must have come as a surprise for the staff, since they had just recently submitted a MySweetCharity Opportunity about its Top Kids at TopGolf fundraiser in November.

On the other hand, WFAA’s Wednesday’s Child program is still in operation finding adoptive parents for foster children. As a matter of fact, WFAA will be holding a phone-bank drive today at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. to raise money for Community Partners of Dallas’ annual “Back to School Drive.”

MySweetWishList: Friends Of Wednesday’s Child

According to Friends of Wednesday’s Child Board Member David Lam,

“Are you excited for this upcoming holiday season? I can already smell the cookies, see the Christmas lights in the neighborhood, and taste the hot chocolate.

David Lam*

David Lam*

“The winter holiday is my favorite time of the year because everyone gets to share it with the people they love the most. We all have friends and family we enjoy being with during this joyous occasion, however, for some children it can be a difficult time of year. Have you ever considered what the holidays mean for the children whom do not have friends and family? Did you know that 1 in 5 kids in foster care will actually be homeless and not even have shelter, let alone have family and friends?

“While I do not understand what it is like to not have a family, I know what it is like to lose a loved one. My father passed when I was 12 and I remember the pain of losing a parent and also all the implications of that. We could no longer afford our home, my mom had to get rid of the business and I fell behind in school. I was one of the lucky ones that had a community of teachers and advisors that pulled me into one on ones and ultimately got me back on track. My sister and I were the first to graduate high school and get into college. I am now working in an exciting field and I also serve on a Board of Directors at age 26. It was that adversity that taught me the importance of consistent support and the role it plays in your success.

“At Friends of Wednesday’s Child, we understand that children are setup for failure because they do not have the support that many of us do. We envision a world where foster care children have the necessary tools to succeed in school, thereby succeeding in life. To do this, we offer programs such as Success in School, where education specialists are hired to help students academically. Foster care children typically move from family to family and school to school but having a consistent specialist can prevent poor performance they may encounter from switching schools frequently.

Friends of Wednesday's Child*

Friends of Wednesday’s Child*

“To all the MySweetCharity readers out there, I hope this story resonates with you. If it does, I would like to make a couple of requests that may be small to you but is life-altering to others. First, I encourage you to educate yourself about youth in foster care and their unfortunate outcomes. Second, I ask that you visit Friends of Wednesday’s Child to see how we help foster care children succeed. Lastly, support us by making a donation. Your contribution goes to funding our programs so that we can hire more education specialists and get more students enrolled into our programs.”

-By David Lam, Friends of Wednesday’s Child board member

* Graphic and photo provided by Friends of Wednesday's Child

MySweetWishList: Friends Of Wednesday’s Child

According to Friends of Wednesday’s Child Fund Development Manager Nicholas Hardy,

“This holiday season, Friends of Wednesday’s Child wishes for the North Texas community to rally around children in foster care, and help transform the lives of our community’s most vulnerable population through education. Education changes lives and improves our community, but unfortunately, for children in foster care, only 41% will graduate high school and only 3% will graduate college in North Texas.

Jason*

Jason*

“At Friends of Wednesday’s Child, we believe this is no longer acceptable. It is our responsibility to provide the necessary resources and support, and advocate on behalf of their educational needs.

“We know the difference of a consistent and caring adult, and have seen first-hand, the impact of providing foster youth with educational resources such as tutoring, extracurricular/ enrichment activities, summer camp, college scholarships and one on one support with a Friends of Wednesday’s Child Education Specialist.

“For example, Jason, a student who loves dodge ball, and dreams of becoming an architect, was born to a mother addicted to crack cocaine. After moving several times, Jason finally found himself in a home where he and his siblings were abused. Later removed and now in a loving and nurturing foster home, Jason has enrolled in our Success in School education program.

“When Jason first began working with Friends of Wednesday’s, he was in remedial classes and was suffering behaviorally because of his inability to pay attention and cooperate with others. However, because of the individualized support he has received from his Friends of Wednesday’s Child Education Specialist, one-on-one tutoring, and the piano lessons he is taking, Jason is now making A’s and B’s and has become an exemplary student. Jason has Big Dreams of attending UCLA and becoming an architect when he grows up.

“Friends of Wednesday’s Child is extremely proud to support Jason, and play a major role in helping him achieve his goals. Yet the sad reality is that like Jason, there are countless students who are unable to receive the support they need.

“Friends of Wednesday’s Child has a wish, and it is to give students who desperately need our help, a chance to achieve success both in school and in life.

“Please invest in the future of children in foster care in North Texas today by visiting our website, https://wedchild.org/support/give, and help make their dream of graduating high school come true.”

-By Nicholas Hardy, Friends of Wednesday’s Child development fund manager

* Photo provided by Friends of Wednesday’s Child

MySweetWishList: Friends Of Wednesday’s Child

According to Friends of Wednesday’s Child Board Member Jennifer Pascal,

Jennifer Pascal*

Jennifer Pascal*

“Today, I have two sweet wishes. First, I wish you and your family a happy, healthy holiday enjoying your special December traditions. For my family, December is hot chocolate, snuggle up on the couch, Trains at NorthPark, play basketball, Miracle on 34th Street, be-an-elf-for-a-family-in-need and cooking with Grandma time.

“This December, there are about 6,000 children living in foster care in North Texas that don’t have family traditions like yours and mine. Through no fault of their own, these children have experienced the unspeakable. Neglect. Abuse. Abandonment. They are removed from their home and face a life of uncertainty. But there is hope. By supporting Friends of Wednesday’s Child, we can help children in foster care have better Decembers, better futures. Friends of Wednesday’s Child can help transform their lives through education.

Friends of Wednesday's Child*

Friends of Wednesday’s Child*

“It isn’t uncommon for a child living in foster care to live with eight different families before they are 18. They have to adjust to a new home, new adults, new school, new friends, a new life. And even after all that effort, it’s temporary. It’s hard to get traction in school, hard to stay on grade level. In fact, less than 50% receive their high school diploma and only 3% graduate college. Friends of Wednesday’s Child works with each child to give them what they need right now: math tutoring after school, music lessons, the opportunity to go to college or even a consistent, caring adult who can mentor them to dream larger than their experience allows them to believe is possible. Friends of Wednesday’s Child is the only private organization in North Texas serving the academic needs of children in foster care with tutoring, extra-curriculum activities, and academic scholarships.

“That’s why my second sweet wish is that you help Friends of Wednesday’s Child transform the lives of the North Texas children in foster care through education by going to our website and investing in these children today, http://wedchild.org/support/give. It’s a new December tradition for my family, and I hope it can become one for yours too. Happy holidays.”

 – Jennifer Pascal, Friends of Wednesday’s Child Board Member

* Photo and graphic provided by Friends of Wednesday’s Child

Round Robin April 9: Friends Of Wednesday’s Child And Crystal Charity Ball New Members Luncheons And Pre-Art Fair Reception

There are rare occasions when Mother Nature takes heart and blesses Dallas with moments of gloriously fabulous weather. Wednesday, April 9, was such a day. Perhaps the old girl was trying to make up for the previous weekend’s nasty weather. Hello, Final Four weekend!

Taking full advantage of the day were the following events:

Wednesday’s Child Luncheon

Cachet Weinberg and Sharon McGowan

Cachet Weinberg and Sharon McGowan

Friends of Wednesday’s Child Luncheon Chair Cachet Weinberg actually was worried that the day’s perfection of blue skies and user-friendly temperatures was going to hurt the luncheon attendance. What if folks decided to enjoy the outdoors as opposed to the fundraiser at Union Station?

How wrong she was!

Ke'onte Cook and Gloria Campos

Ke’onte Cook and Gloria Campos

After all, there were two big reasons to celebrate — the 30th anniversary of the Friends of Wednesday’s Child program and recently retired WFAA anchor Gloria Campos, who has been the on-air face of the program. There was no way not to attend the event, if you had even a hint of a connection with the program that provides remarkable opportunities for North Texas foster children.

Libby Hunt

Libby Hunt

As guests like Adam McGill and Nancy Hunt arrived, other VIP types like Honorary Chair Libby Hunt, her husband David, her folks Sharon and Mike McCullough, Nancy Carter and siblings Caroline Rose Hunt and Herbert Hunt had already gathered in the Frisco Room. Gloria was having a quiet conversation with Wednesday’s Child grad Ke’onte Cook.

Clad in a beige silk suit, Gloria laughed holding a flute of champagne that now that she was retired, she could actually have a glass of the bubbly at lunch.

The luncheon in the Great Hall revealed a story about Cachet that many didn’t realize. In a video presentation, it was learned that she is “from an abusive home, emotional and physical. She was taken out of the house when she was 8 and put in various foster homes. Finally when she was 15, she was adopted. Cachet said she learned to make something of her life and use it to give back to others. That’s what she’s doing now.”

Darlene Ellison

Darlene Ellison

Speaker Darlene Ellison‘s presentation was also powerful. She  was “divorced and one day drove by her ex-husband’s house and saw police cars everywhere. The FBI talked with her and told her that her ex was one of the main organizers of a group of men that ‘loved’ boys and had been involved in that group since before they were married. He went to federal prison. The message she gave was about how she had to set the example of how to cope for her children to survive emotionally and learn how to cope with this news and circumstance themselves.”

She summed it up: “My favorite saying is, ‘She saw the light at the end of the tunnel and then she became that light for others.’ Everyone in this room has an opportunity to be that light. Everyone in this room has the opportunity to be the light and help these children see the light.”

Crystal Charity Ball New Members Luncheon

Unlike typical fraternity harrassing pledges, the Crystal Charity Ball gals celebrate their newbies with style and grace. For the class of 2014 (Tiffany Divis, Gail Fischer, Amy Hegi, Leigh Anne Haugh, Angela Nash, Mary Martha Pickens and Lauryn Gayle White), it was lunch at the Carolina Herrera salon in Highland Park Village.

Amy Hegi, Gail Fischer, Mary Martha Pickens, Lauren Gayle White, Leigh Anne Haugh, Tiffany Divis and Angela Nashs

Amy Hegi, Gail Fischer, Mary Martha Pickens, Lauren Gayle White, Leigh Anne Haugh, Tiffany Divis and Angela Nashs

The question pre-event: How were you gonna fit all the newbies and vets for a meal and fashion show in the slender salon?

Really!

Heck, this was a Carolina Herrera production. Down the main aisle was an eon long white-clothed table with vases of perfect white roses positioned down the center.

But the chairs were placed facing away from the table. Oh, on second thought, how smart! It allowed the CCB guests to watch a CH fashion show. No wonder Herrera is the name repeated time and time again at galas and on society pages.

Lunch table

Lunch table

But before the fashions commenced, it was necessary to call the membership to order. The chatter was so great that it was hard to imagine how to get the guests’ attention. No chimes nor clinking glassware was going to do the job. Showing true leadership with a wink attitude, 2014 CCB Chair Robyn Conlon literally dragged Melissa Macatee midway in the salon and said, “Whistle.” The diminutive Melissa, who had looked a bit bewildered up to this point, followed the boss’s orders.

Now, if you’ve ever experienced a Melissa Macatee whistle, your hearing has never been the same. Just imagine what the New York-based Herrera ladies, who were in attendance, reported back to headquarters about how a call-to-order is achieved. This ain’t the Big Apple. It’s the Big D.

Immediately the local ladies took their seats, while the New Yorkers appeared ready to see cattle stampede outside.

After Robyn and 2015 CCB Chair Michal Powell welcomed the group, the new CCB members were formally introduced by their “sponsors.” It was obvious that the 2014 class was pretty stellar. Alas, Amy Hegi was tagged forever as “Precious” thanks to Elizabeth Gambrell’s description.

Herrera model

Herrera model

Herrera model

Herrera model

Herrera model

Herrera model

Then it was time for the show. With fur trim, wools, Herrera hostess gowns and trains leading the parade of models on the catwalk, even the accessories earned comments and second looks. Example: the dangling earrings that looked like someone had strung up red fuzzy caterpillars.

Just moments after the show, the ladies turned their chairs 180 degrees, had lunch from Gill and ramped up the chatter level again.

But the lunch and talk was brief because the ladies had appointments to keep. Alas, the breezy day got to one adorable cutie in a short silk dress. Just as she was within a yard of her SUV, she got sideswiped by a gust of wind. Up went her skirt all the way reminding some of Marilyn Monroe’s legendary scene. Don’t bother asking who she was. We ain’t into namedropping.

Cocktails & Flautas

Jack Geary

Jack Geary

By the evening the winds had toned down, resulting in absolute perfection for Elizabeth Robertson’s “Cocktails & Flautas” party honoring Jack Geary and Dolly Bross Geary. The couple, who have Jack Geary Contemporary in New York City, were in town for the Dallas Art Fair.

Jack and Dolly had visited the Dallas and Fort Worth art scene (the Nasher, DMA, etc.) during the previous days and said the Art Fair had grown, becoming both very eclectic and international. The Elizabeth-Geary connection was made 35 years ago when Elizabeth’s son Searcy Ferguson met Jack in Southampton.

Jack admitted that on his wish list is to add a Dallas contemporary artist to his collection of clients like Michael Sagato, Andy Hall, Ceyda Aykan, Vadis Turner, Federico Cattacneo and Ayse Wilson.

Robertson living room

Robertson living room

Speaking of collections and pieces of art, Elizabeth’s home was spectacular, both inside and out. Only the day before, the rains had put in jeopardy the possibility of the outdoors entertaining around the new outdoor fireplace. But evidently Lady Elizabeth has connections with Mother Nature, and everything fell into place just hours before the guests like Margaret McDermott, Kelli and Jerry Ford and Joanne Stroud arrived.

Elizabeth Robertson showing off Hannah Ferguson bracelet

Elizabeth Robertson showing off Hannah Ferguson bracelet

Looking at the fabulous gardens, one couldn’t help but think they had been transported to Southampton. Inside the exquisite blending of textures, magnificent colors and collectibles appeared to be straight out of “Architectural Digest.”

Allison V. Smith and Barry Whistler

Allison V. Smith and Barry Whistler

Nathan Burke

Nathan Burke

While art power couple Allison V. Smith and Barry Whistler were chatting with Dolly, and Elizabeth’s daughter-in-law Hannah Ferguson was taking compliments about her jewelry designs that can be found at Korshak, flautas were indeed being made in the kitchen, and out on the street Nathan Burke had his oven in overdrive making Superfly Pies. Parked just a couple of cars away from the oven was Elizabeth’s show-stopping vintage Mercedes convertible with the license plate reading: “SBetty”. Too bad she couldn’t have had the plate done in Elizabethan Blue.

Vintage Mercedes convertible

Vintage Mercedes convertible

MySweetWishList: Friends Of Wednesday’s Child

Delta Emerson*

Delta Emerson*

According to Friends of Wednesday’s Child Board Secretary and Ryan Foundation, LLC Chief of Staff Delta Emerson,

“In this season of giving, Friends of Wednesday’s Child has a wish.  Help us give North Texas foster children a better start in life by helping them stay in school and graduate.

“Our mission is to transform the lives of foster children through education.  The fact is the dropout rate for children living in foster care is more than three times that of other students.  Part of that is because, on average, these children move eight times before they are 18 making it hard to get academic traction.

“By supporting foster children as they pursue their education, we can help.  We know that when kids stay in school and graduate they’re off to a better start in life.  Your support for such things as tutoring, enrichment programs, extracurricular activities, and academic scholarships makes it possible.

“Every child deserves a chance. Unfortunately, life circumstances over which they have no control prevent many foster children from achieving academic success. Friends of Wednesday’s Child is committed to doing everything possible to invest in the future of North Texas foster children, and I am honored to serve on the board, representing the Ryan Foundation. We believe so strongly in this cause that we have made a multi-year commitment as a sustaining sponsor. All it takes is to look in the eyes of a foster child, to realize how eager they are, like all children, to learn and grow. We can truly make a difference in their lives by giving them the support they need to stay in school and reach for the stars.”

“Please invest in the future of North Texas foster children today by visiting our website, https://wedchild.org/support/give, and help make their wishes come true.

– Delta Emerson, Friends of Wednesday’s Child board secretary and Ryan Foundation, LLC chief of staff

* Photo provided by Friends of Wednesday’s Child

Share-A-Date: Friends of Wednesday’s Child Luncheon

Friday, December 2: The Friends of Wednesday’s Child‘s annual “Heart & Hands Alliance Luncheon” will have former Mrs. Texas/Unbroken – A Memoir author Tracy Elliott.

If Tracy story isn’t familiar, here’s a brief rundown that is far more fascinating than any reality show:

“Named 2006 Mrs. Texas, Southlake resident Tracy Elliott knows pain and fear first hand. Orphaned at two, she lived with her grandmother and five uncles. She experienced sexual abuse and outright terror at the hands of her uncles. As a teen she began drinking and experimenting with drugs. Ending up drunk and high, losing job after job, she eventually ended up working as a stripper. Moving from place to place, staying with friend after friend, having nowhere to call home. Amazingly, at the strip club she met Bryan. They became friends and she was able to be herself with him. She shares with him her mistakes and struggles and he does the same. Around that time, she stopped drinking, got an apartment and worked hard to clean up her life. They eventually married and ended up pregnant after eight days of marriage. Tracy is now the mother of two, and Bryan a successful businessman.”

Luncheon Chair Kathy Miller Rabey is taking full advantage of the date with a theme of “A Home for the Holidays.” You just know that the Ritz will look its best for the estimated 500 guests.

To help raise funds, Kathy has arranged for Booker T. Washington students to perform. Guests can also buy an “Angel” that will be placed on the designer-decorated Angel Tree. For each “Angel” purchased, a child will be able to attend summer camp in 2012.

Friends of Wednesday’s Child is “the only non-profit organization whose single purpose is to meet the unique needs of North Texas foster children.”

Last year’s event raised a whopping $250,000.

Doing Time At The Ritz-Carlton For Friends Of Wednesday’s Child

When New York City’s Robert A.M. Stern Architects designed Dallas’ Ritz-Carlton, they must have had the idea that mass transit and SmartCars were the only modes of transportation in Texas. What does this thought have to do with Wednesday’s Child‘s “Belonging Luncheon” Friday at the Ritz? More later, but first let’s get to the luncheon.

VIP types were told that their reception for the luncheon started at 10:30. With expectations that they would meet featured speaker Leigh Anne Tuohy of The Blind Side fame, they arrived to find sponsor backdrop in place, photographer ready to shoot and notables like Event Chairs Janelle (pictured) and Larry Friedman, emcee Gloria Campos, award recipients Myrna Schlegel and Julie and Lance Brennan. But, alas, no Leigh Anne.

As the minutes ticked away, the VIP reception melted into the pre-luncheon reception with 402 getting very cozy. Any long-haired blonde was given a second look. Say, wait! Was that Leigh Anne? Yes, but not the Leigh Anne you suspected. It was Junior League of Dallas President Leigh Anne Haugh, who had brought a copy of a magazine with a story about Leigh Anne Tuohy’s daughter Collins when she spoke to the Junior League. “I just thought she might like to have a copy,” Leigh Anne H. said. Eventually, she would seek help getting the publication to Leigh Anne T. via awardee Myrna.

But that was not to say the VIPs weren’t a part of the crowd. Media types like WFAA’s Debbie Denmon and media personality Jocelyn White were mixing with guests. Plus the Schlegel clan of beauties including patriarch Bob Schlegel and sisters Kari Schlegel and Kimberly Whitman (pictured left with Bob Schlegel) were there to cheer on Myrna.

To help while away the time, Ritz staff made sure everyone had something to drink, and adorable male models encouraged guests to sign up for the raffle — more tickets to the Super Bowl and a nice piece of jewelry by Naomi. Over to the side was a collection of art by local celebs for sale.

As the doors to the ballroom opened at noon, still no Leigh Anne T was in sight. Someone said she was on property but was in a private room just waiting to speak.

Immediately upon entering the ballroom, guests were welcomed to songs performed by the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas on risers at the back of the room. Looking quite magnificent, the room was filled with round tables easily seating 10 people, except for the table directly in front of the podium. This table was an extended long head table with Janelle and Larry seated at the head along with friends like Craig Watkins (pictured left with Larry Friedman).

Promptly at 12:05 p.m. a video was presented with Wednesday’s Child President/CEO Pat Lockerd and others telling the organization’s story and asking guests to “Step Up” with donations.

Following the video at 12:10 p.m., one of the young people from the video named Mickey was introduced to the crowd by Pat. Mickey addressed the crowd like a seasoned veteran–until she asked everyone in the room to hold up the pledge cards at their tables. With that a forest of white cards grew. Then Mickey said, “Now, who is going to be the first to pledge $5,000?” The forest was toppled. Then she asked for a $1,000 pledge. Not a card went up. She continued not giving up and finished her talk at 12:17 p.m. with “Dig deep.”

By this time, a parade of servers with salad plates had made its way to the tables and Gloria was at the podium again encouraging people to pledge.

Just as the Children’s Chorus was exiting the ballroom at 12:18 p.m., four Grinches arrived on the scene asking for pledge cards.

In typical Ritz serving style, the servers like precision Rockettes removed the salad plates as guests chatter. But instead of immediately being replaced by entres, the tables remained empty. No problem. It allowed folks to table hop, while the male models wandered the room promoting raffle ticket sales.

Someone in the know claimed that the event was scheduled with the Ritz to be over by 1. But a guest reading the program said, “No, the lunch ends at 1:30.” Who says people don’t read programs?

One guest admitted that she was starting to feel uncomfortable with all the pressure to pledge and buy raffle tickets. “Do you think they’re going to have a toll booth when we leave?”

At 12:38 p.m., the parade of servers reappeared with entre plates. A female voice was heard over the PA system. Some eyes looked to the podium, but no one was there. Expressions of confusion were exchanged. “Did you hear what she said?” No, but it must not have been important because no one was rushing for the doors.

At 1 p.m., the voice was heard again but still not understood. Someone pointed out the source of the voice was a woman at the production table in the back of the room. She didn’t seem upset, so again it wasn’t that big a deal.

The male models continued to wander the room with signs held high.

At 1:02 Gloria was back at the podium but people were hardly listening. They had settled into a pleasant chat session. Putting on her glasses, Gloria carried on and finally got the groups’ attention as she introduced Janelle and Larry, who were a nice combination of sincerity and chuckles.

One of their first duties was to present Julie and Lance Brennan (pictured left with Julie Brennan) with “The Gloria” named after guess who? The owners of The Turtle Creek News were brief and grateful.

Then Myrna Schlegel (pictured) received the “Belonging Award” and was even briefer in her acceptance.

While all these announcements and acceptances were going on, the Ritz staff started removing the floral centerpieces. Maybe they were rentals and had to get to the next event? But wait. The staff returned to the tables with big, square white platters with white mounds. From a distance they looked like Japanese hot hand towels. Strange. On closer inspection the mound wasn’t a clump of towels at all, but a cloud of “white stuff.”

Before guests could trade ideas on what to do with the new centerpiece, a slick video announced that Leigh Anne Tuohy was going to speak. For those who had been holding their breath since 10:30, the 1:20 appearance was long anticipated.

Leigh Anne (pictured) didn’t fail. Spunky, take no prisoners and fearless, she talked to the remaining guests. Some like Florence Shapiro just couldn’t stay.

Leigh Anne talked about

  • attending the Academy Awards and being seated with Sandi (Bullock) and Jesse (James)
  • Daughter Collins standing up in the moon roof of the limo on the way to Academy
  • Adopted son Michael’s scaring a beggar by chasing after him to give him some money
  • How their family shot into the national spotlight and
  • The need for people to make a difference in the lives of others by getting involved.

By the time she finished her talk at 1:48 p.m. with “I’m gonna be checking on you,” even the most frustrated guest was a member of the Tuohy fan club and rewarded her with a standing ovation. However, that standing ovation quickly became a rush to the valet. Poor Janelle and Larry tried to get the guests to stay for the raffle drawing, but the herd was headed to their cars. Or at least that’s what they had planned.

Little did they know that they were rushing to wait. As more than 300 people turned in their blue valet tickets and cooled their heels, they made observations about the Ritz’s itty bitty porte-cochere that was strangling the delivery of cars. On the other hand, the Ritz staff must have been used to the “it’s nothing new” situation. With cups of coffee on trays, they were gracious hosts trying to soothe the frustrated guests.

Soon it became a bunker mentality with veterans advising newcomers to settle back and just wait. This cooling of heels resulted in all types of activities. Some cell phoned to explain their delayed arrival at appointments. Others started texting their inner feelings about the Ritz’s parking nightmare ala social media. But some made discoveries. For instance, one woman, who had her hands full, dropped her program. Without hesitation the gentleman next to her moved quickly to retrieve the program for her. In handing the program to the woman, she noted his hand, “That’s a huge ring! What does it stand for?” To which 6’1″, former Dallas Cowboy defensive tackle Russell Maryland (pictured) humbly said, “The Super Bowl.”