Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Celebrated The Close Of Family Gateway’s 30th Anniversary Year With Laura Bush Recalling A Little Boy Left Behind

Family Gateway’s CEO Ellen Magnis had a real challenge on her hands. Last year’s Gateway To Opportunity kicking off the 30th anniversary of the organization had really been a hit with Jenna Bush Hager on stage in a chat with WFAA’s Ron Corning in the Trinity Ballroom. The blonde former first twin had also scored points at the meet-and-greet in the Fair Park Room, where she even offered to do selfies with VIPs.

Betty Schultz, Laura Bush and Paula Miltenberger

But this year’s luncheon was to be the grand finale for  the 30th anniversary year of the organization for homeless families established by the late, former Mayor Annette Strauss. Ellen with Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz came up with quite a recipe for success. The speaker would be former first lady Laura Bush and the honorary co-chairs would be Annette’s daughters, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr. Was it a success? Evidently so, judging by the turnout that doubled the crowd from the last year and necessitating the move from the 15,418-square-foot Trinity Ballroom to the 31,733-square-foot Dallas Ballroom.

Janie McGarr, Nancy Halbreich, Penny Tower Cook, Laura Bush, Jeanne Tower Cox, Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt and Christine Schuepbach

All was set for the Thursday, September 7th luncheon with a couple of unforeseen oop’s. But what’s an event without a little challenge. For the meet-and-greet, the floorplan diagram had been created like an architectural work of art. No detail had been left out. Only problem arose when the organizers arrived to find that the Omni crew had done their own interpretation that was nowhere near the diagram. After requests to follow the original POA, Omni managers sheepishly arrived to say they didn’t have enough poles and curtains to satisfy the requirements. Seems there were two other events going on and they just ran out. Quickly, the Gateway team and the Bush folks redesigned the plan to achieve their goal with the limited resources.

Rachael Dedman and Vicki Chapman

Lee Ann White, Michael Faircloth and Gene Jones

Despite starting a few minutes later that planned, the meet-and-greet went so smoothly that it finished on time with all being photographed with Laura including Jeanne Cox, Rachael Dedman, Michael Faircloth, Gina Betts, Alison Malone, Tracy Lange, the Tower sisters (Jeanne Tower Cox and Penny Tower Cook), Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt, Christine Schuepbach, Lynn McBee, Becky Bowen and Underwriting Co-Chairs Lisa Cooley and daughter Ciara Cooley. The only one who wasn’t photographed with the former first lady was Ellen. Seems that she was in the lobby helping the check-in staff that had been flooded by the number of guests like Gail and Gerald Turner, Vicki Chapman, Gunnar Rawlings, Lee Ann White and Gene Jones checking in. But that situation was resolved, too.

Gerald and Gail Turner, Alison Malone, Ciara Cooley, Lisa Cooley and Becky Bowen

Promptly at noon, following KDFW’s Clarice Tinsley‘s welcome and Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Paul Rasmussem’s invocation, Ellen briefly told of Gateway’s partnering with Matthews Southwest in the creation of a complex in Hutchins with 336 units for families seeking affordable housing. When a client first works with Gateway, their case manager’s first goal is get them in housing and then to work with them on education completion, job training, financial literacy, parenting education and self-care. But she added that part of their mission was to learn and apply new strategies.

Following a video, Paula told how she had gotten involved with Gateway. It was three years ago and her plan had been to keep her boys occupied. Instead she learned the need for solutions. The boys, on the other hand, suggested that they just have the homeless move in with them.

Robert Munoz and Deanna Reyna Munoz

Deanna Reyna Munoz then provided a testimonial, telling how her mother was 16 when Deanna was born. Her father was incarcerated. That’s when they found Family Gateway and for the first time she had her own room, bed and closet. The Gateway staff then helped her mother change into a responsible person resulting in her having her own home. Deanna became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. She got a job at the Dallas Cowboys and “bought her own home with a pool and married her boyfriend (Robert Munoz) of 10 years. My success stems from the tools provided by Family Gateway.”

That powerful presentation was followed by auctioneer Wendy Lambert’s shout out for funds with a goal to match $225,000. This awkward segment tends to cast an aura of guilt in the room among those who don’t rise to occasion. In this case, the results hauled in $154,000. Or so folks thought as they finished up their meal. But post-event checks and online donations, the challenge was met!

It was now time for the main act with Presenting Sponsor MetroPCS District Manager Brad Pott’s introducing Laura.

  • She started off by thanking all for supporting Family Gateway and provided an update on the Bushes. When Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coat, Barbara and George H.W. Bush were safe and sound in Maine, where Barb is no longer walking the shores with her dogs. Instead she’s rolling around in a golf cart with the pooches following.
  • George W. Bush’s painting has resulted in 98 wounded warriors being subjects, a book “Portraits in Courage” and displayed at the Bush Center.
  • Laura and George W.’s names as grandparents — “It’s like choosing a name for a cat.” George suggested that his grandchild just call him, “Sir.”
  • Laura Bush bobble head doll — A friend gave it to her and reported that “It was on the clearance shelf.”
  • Tabloids — “My daughters were getting engaged to persons I had never heard of.”
  • 9/11 — She was sitting in Ted Kennedy’s office.

Then she tied her talk back to the subject of the day — early childhood care can change the cycle of poverty. Among the 400 families served by Family Gateway last year, there were 900 children.

Laura recalled that long before her husband was governor of Texas or president, she had worked at an inner-city school in Houston and discovered a remarkable level of poverty. Such conditions result in one in three young people dropping out of high school each year, with single-parent families becoming the norm and one or both parents in jail.

When she had completed her work at the school, she decided to take some of her students to AstroWorld. In picking them up, she arrived at one house where the student came to the door in his underwear. His mother never came to the door to provide permission for him to join the group. Before Laura left, she gave the tyke a long hug.

As Laura concluded her talk at 1:04 p.m., she admitted that she often wondered what happened to the youngster. Was he still alive? Did he have a family? What had happened to him over the past decades? She said the challenge is not to forget that little boy or any of the children in need of compassion and assistance.  

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

Blonde Jenna Bush Hager may seem to be living a dream life. Having had a grandpappy and daddy as U.S. Presidents meant home was more than a big, old “white house.” Her post-White House days have been pretty ideal, too, including marriage, motherhood and being an author and correspondent for the “Today” show.

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Tracy Lange

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Tracy Lange

But guests at Family Gateway’s Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel, learned that her life has also involved a world of children, who haven’t had the “luck” of a home, a family and security.

Ruth Altshuler, Janie McGarr, Anne Johnson and Nancy Halbreich

Ruth Altshuler, Janie McGarr, Anne Johnson and Nancy Halbreich

While the length post is being prepped, get a gander of the folks who got to meet Jenna and learned about life outside of the White House at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Oops Alert: Family Gateway’s “Gateway To Opportunity” Luncheon Is Tuesday, Not Wednesday

It’s Monday. It’s wet. It’s cool-ish. It has all the elements for an oopsie taking place. And that’s what happened. Normally, most “oopsies” at other media outlets would just be dismissed as, “So who cares?” But this one has organizers a wee bit concerned, so we’re setting the record straight.

Jenna Bush Hager*

Jenna Bush Hager*

Ron Corning (File photo)

Ron Corning (File photo)

It seems that a daily newspaper column on philanthropy reported bright and early this morning that the Family Gateway’s “Gateway To Opportunity” featuring Jenna Bush Hager at the Omni Dallas Hotel was taking place on Wednesday. So, what’s so earth-shattering about that? Jenna will indeed be at the Omni and she’ll have a chat with WFAA’s Ron Corning. And it will benefit Family Gateway for homeless families with children.

The problem is that it’s taking place tomorrow, like Tuesday, instead of Wednesday.

As of 9:30 a.m. today, the website still had the incorrect date, so please think Tuesday. Because if you show up Wednesday, you’re gonna miss out on Jenna, Ron and a whole lot of your friends.

BTW, some tickets are still available here.

* Photo provided by Family Gateway

MSC Opportunity: Gateway TO Opportunity Luncheon

According to Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Co-Chairs Tracy Lange and Paula Miltenberger,

Paula Miltenberger (File photo)

Paula Miltenberger (File photo)

Tracy Lange (File photo)

Tracy Lange (File photo)

“Sadly, more than 5,000 children in the Dallas area do not have a place to call home. These children rely on friends, relatives and the generosity of strangers to help make a difference for their world.  Unfortunately the numbers are growing at a record pace of children and families that do not have home.

Family Gateway opened in October of 1986 when Mayor-Pro Tem Annette G. Strauss saw families living on the streets of Dallas and envisioned a facility where homeless families could stay together as a family unit in a safe place. Today, Family Gateway is the largest provider of supportive housing for homeless families in North Texas. We believe that a family that stays together provides the most stability and long term success for children. Our mission is to end child homelessness in our area and with your help we can do it.

“Our annual luncheon, ‘Gateway to Opportunity,’ will be Tuesday, September 27th at the Omni Hotel. We are honored and excited that Jenna Bush Hager will be our guest speaker. She has been an ongoing advocate for children and ensuring that we all do our part to help the generations to come. Honorary event co-chairs are Tracy and Kent Rathbun. Special Advisors are fundraising experts Gina Betts and D’Andra Simmons.

Kent and Tracy Rathbun (File photo)

Kent and Tracy Rathbun (File photo)

Gina Betts (File photo)

Gina Betts (File photo)

D'Andra Simmons (File photo)

D’Andra Simmons (File photo)

“We ask that you partner with us to end child homelessness by purchasing a sponsorship or table, or underwriting necessary funds need to make sure this event is a success. Metro PCS is our Presenting Sponsor. Please visit familygateway.org for volunteer and luncheon sponsorship opportunities.

“On behalf of the homeless children and their families, we say thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni.”

Former First Twin Jenna Bush Hager To Be Keynote Speaker For Family Gateway’s Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

North Texas was starting to take on the profile of Seattle South thanks to the deluge of May rain. It would have been a perfect format for bumbershoot jokes, except the loss of life and property weren’t the least bit humorous.

But thanks to a break in the rain on Wednesday, June 1, the skies cleared for the Family Gateway Kick-Off Party at Lisa and Clay Cooley’s home.

Christie Carter, Angie Kadesky, Lisa Cooley and Anne Davidson

Christie Carter, Angie Kadesky, Lisa Cooley and Anne Davidson

Chef Kent Rathbun told Christie Carter that the rain had indeed filled his towering cisterns. He added that the gallons could easily be drained in a week to water his acreage. What Kent wasn’t talking about was the behind-the-scenes issues that were developing in his relationship with his majority partner Bill Hyde. But who wanted to chat up business entanglements; Kent and wife Tracy Rathbun were focused on their duties as honorary co-chairs for the Family Gateway’s Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel with former first twin Jenna Bush Hager as the guest speaker.

Speaking of acreage, another fellow looking at the Cooley grounds wondered aloud if Clay ever tossed a line for fishing from the bridge over the property’s creek. The answer? According to Clay, he doesn’t fish the property. He feeds the finny residents. Only problem? The koi on the upper pond keep tumbling down to the lower pond. Plans are underway to resolve the southward swim.

Marissa Castro Mikoy, Ben and Tracy Lange

Marissa Castro Mikoy, Ben and Tracy Lange

Others in the crowd were Ben Lange, who will chair the After-School All-Stars, AFAS Executive Director Marissa Castro Mikoy, Britton Lynn, Angie Kadesky and Anne Davidson.

Paula Miltenberger

Paula Miltenberger

Ciara Cooley and Clay Cooley

Ciara Cooley and Clay Cooley

The guests moved into the den to learn more about Family Gateway and plans for the upcoming Gateway To Opportunities that will be co-chaired by Tracy Lange and Paula Miltenberger. Underwriting will be handled by Lisa and daughter Ciara Cooley, who is the youngest member of Family Gateway’s board.

Sponsorships start at $7,500 and tickets can be snapped up for $

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

Ron and Beth Hall*

Ron and Beth Hall*

According to the Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon Co-Chairs Beth and Ron Hall, “Family Gateway‘s inaugural Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon will be Friday, November 7, at 11:30 a.m. at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Our luncheon features speaker Andre Norman and art created by the homeless children of Family Gateway with Honorary Chairs Ana and Don Carty.

“The Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon supports Family Gateway’s mission to lead the community to End Child Homelessness in Dallas by providing innovative and comprehensive housing, social and educational services to homeless children and their families.

Don and Ana Carty*

Don and Ana Carty*

“Our speaker, Andre Norman, has a compelling story to share. So much so, that he is arriving early in Dallas to meet Family Gateway residents and tell his story of desperation resulting in a life of service.

“Andre grew up with an abusive father, an alcoholic mother and sisters involved in prostitution. Outside of his home Andre faced illiteracy and gang activity. As a young man he lacked the educational and familial foundation to succeed. After a criminal series of mistakes, he was sentenced to over 100 years in prison.

“While incarcerated Andre quickly rose to the top of the prison gang. As Andre’s notoriety grew he found himself in solitary confinement. The harrowing experience of solitary forced him to confront his future. He made the decision to turn his life around, and after 15 years he earned his parole. After he turned his life around Andre went a step further and became a dynamic agent for change who mentors, motivates and provides training for those who need it most.

“Join us in our vision to end child homelessness in Dallas. Please visit familygateway.org for tickets or sponsorship information.”

* Photos provided by Family Gateway