Houston Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson Stars At Dallas Habitat For Humanity’s Inaugural Dream Builders Dinner

When 400 people turned up for Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity‘s inaugural Dream Builders Dinner at Belo Mansion on Thursday, October 19, Mary Martha Pickens and her husband, John Pickens, were among them. Longtime active Habitat supporters, the Pickenses brought a whole table-full of their Bible-study pals from Highland Park United Methodist Church with them.

Philip Wise*

Which made sense, because the church’s Carpenters for Christ group was one of the evening’s award recipients. The other was Philip Wise, one of the co-founders of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity and also one of the HPUMC members who helped establish Carpenters for Christ. But hey, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The fundraising dinner, put on with the help of co-chairs Diane and Mike Gruber, Jennifer and Tom Karol, and Lynn and Allan McBee, was intended to be “an evening of inspiration for the future, and gratitude for those who have helped us reach this stage over the past 30 years.”

Tom and Jennifer Karol, Allan and Lynn McBee, Deshaun Watson and Diane and Mike Gruber*

It also turned out to be something of a farewell party for Bill Hall, Habitat’s local CEO. Hall announced surprisingly that he would be “closing out my time at Habitat” after 13 years. During his brief remarks, Hall sketched out an ambitious goal for the Dallas chapter: building 1,600 new homes by 2021—almost as many as the nonprofit has put up in total over the last three decades.

The evening’s hands-down star attraction, though, was Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. The NFL’s leading touchdown passer this season posed happily for photos during the meet-and-greet, then was interviewed onstage by broadcaster Brad Sham, who’s known as “The Voice of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Brad Sham and Deshaun Watson*

Raised in a Habitat home by a single mother who worked two jobs, Deshaun said home ownership had changed his life. It was the lifeline that pulled his family out of poverty, giving him the chance to thrive. He also described the impact his mother had on him, even as a football quarterback: “It starts with my mom. I’m observant. I can see how different people move in [different situations]. I’m a conservative guy. … Whatever happens, good or bad, you’ve got to shake it off and go on the next thing.”

Another thing his mother taught him, Deshaun told Brad, was that “it takes a long time to build a legacy. But it takes just one false step, one move, to bring it down.” By the end of the evening, few believed Deshaun would be having that problem anytime soon.

Editor’s note: Roughly two weeks after his appearance in Dallas, Deshaun reportedly suffered a season-ending knee injury during a Texans practice.

* Photo provided by Habitat for Humanity


Just In: CEO Bill Hall Leaving Dallas Area Habitat For Humanity

Bill Hall (File photo)

Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity‘s inaugural Dream Builders Dinner last Thursday was almost as much about Bill Hall, the nonprofit’s longtime CEO, as it was about the featured guest, Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans.

That’s because, as Hall revealed to the 400 guests at Belo Mansion, he’s leaving the organization. “I’m closing out my time at Habitat,” said Hall, who joined the Dallas area group in 2004.

Later, speakers Daryl Kirkham of presenting sponsor IBERIABANK and Mark Shank, a former board chairman for Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, spoke of their “gratitude” and admiration for Hall.

Under his leadership, the group has served more than 1,600 families. It’s also become the largest nonprofit homebuilder in Dallas and the largest Habitat chapter in the country.

Hall was a Habitat volunteer before hiring on as a staff member. He holds a bachelor’s degree in building construction from the University of Florida and an MBA from the University of North Carolina.

As the Dream Builders Dinner drew to a close, flutes of champagne were passed around to all the guests. Then Shank led everyone in a “champagne toast” to the group’s departing leader.  

Plans For Habitat For Humanity’s Urban Revival Revealed At Kristen And Ladd Sanger’s Home Sweet Home

Kristen Johnston-Sanger and Lynda Johnston

Kristen Johnston-Sanger and Lynda Johnston

Overnight it seems that Wednesday has become the new Thursday. It’s become the hotty night for fundraisers. For instance, Kristen “KJ” and Ladd Sanger hosted a reception for Habitat for Humanity’s Urban Revival with loads of food. Despite having a size zero figure, it seems KJ is quite a cook. At least that’s what husband Ladd claims is the cause of his weight gain since their wedding a couple of years ago. However, looking at their kitchen, it looked like it had never seen a knob turned on or a cutting board chopped upon. Why there wasn’t even a toaster to be seen. She’s not only a cook but a clean-up crew, too. According to Ladd, the spotless kitchen was not due to KJ’s mom, Lynda Johnston, being present. It’s always immaculate.

Food for fundraising

Food for fundraising

But the party was not to do an inspection of the Sanger household. And food being passed around was not KJ’s handiwork.

Al Childs

Al Childs

Rather, the occasion was to announce plans for Urban Revival slated for Thursday, November 12, at 3015 at Trinity Groves. Co-Chairing the event will be Beverly and Al Childs along with the Sangers.

Someone claimed that the evening’s theme should have been “Black and White,” since most of the gals – Meredith Camp, KJ and Nikki — dressed B&W. But leave it to Nancy Gopez to break from the crowd in tangerine.

Arriving too late to hear firsthand about plans were Anne and Steve Stodghill, who had been just down the road at Faye Briggs’ estate for the Paws Cause patron party. Another late arrival was Nikki Webb, but husband Crayton Webb had been on hand to get the deets.

The Webbs are going to have to do double-duty on November 12. In addition to Urban Revival, they’re chairing The Center for Nonprofit Management‘s A Night of Light with Gillian Breidenbach as the honorary chair.