A Beacon of Hope Luncheon Introduced Faces Of Hope And Had Glennon Doyle Melton Mix Humor And Honesty About Mental Health

As final preparations were underway on the second floor of the Renaissance Hotel for “A Beacon Of Hope” silent auction and luncheon benefiting the Grant Halliburton Foundation, a VIP reception was taking place on the fourth floor’s City View room on Thursday, February 23.

Foundation President/Founder Vanita Halliburton was surrounded by people whose had been touched by teenagers dealing with mental health issues. She herself had created the foundation due to the suicide of her son Grant Halliburton at the age of 19 in 2005 after years of suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.

Dealing with teen mental health is very difficult issue for a fundraising event. It’s a delicate weaving of the emotional turmoil and hope for helping others overcome such challenges. On this occasion, Vanita was celebrating the launch of a new program — Faces of Hope. As Faces of Hope Chair Barb Farmer explained, the collaboration between the foundation and Gittings was to honor people within the community who “work in diverse ways to promote mental health every day.”

This year’s group of Faces included Suzie and Mike Ayoob, Senior Corporal Herb Cotner, Julie Hersh, Terry Bentley Hill, Patrick LeBlanc, Sylvia Orozco-Joseph, Sierra Sanchez and Priya Singvi.

Sierra Sanchez, Priya Singhvi, Sylvia Orozco-Joseph, Mike and Suzie Ayoob, Terry Bentley Hill, Julie Hersh, Herb Cotner and Patrick LeBlanc

In addition to pieces of crystal being presented to each of the Faces, their portraits were displayed in the lobby on the second floor.

Gittings Faces of Hope portraits

Following the presentation, Vanita had the day’s speaker author/blogger/newly engaged Glennon Doyle Melton briefly talk. Her message was that you can let tragedy drive you forward for the better or let it drive you further down.

Then, right on cue at 10:55, Vanita directed the patrons to the second floor to check the silent auction and buy raffle tickets. On the way down, Barb showed a bracelet that she got from last year’s raffle. It seems her husband bought ten tickets and claimed it was his. Luckily, he gave it to Barb.

Tom Krampitz and Terry Bentley Hill

Hailey Nicholson and Shannon Hollandsworth

The patrons discovered the lobby and ballroom jammed with guests like Tom Krampitz, Shannon Hollandsworth with daughter Hailey Nicholson. Dixey Arterburn was walking through the crowd with a Starbucks cup and a very hoarse throat. Seems she lost her voice at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Ball the Saturday before.

Dixey Arteburn and Ginger Sager

Taylor Mohr and Amanda Johnson

Taylor Mohr was with her buddy Amanda Johnson, who lost her sister to suicide resulting in Amanda’s working with others involved in such emotional crisis. Unfortunately, there were many in the audience with similar reason for being there. Luckily, they were there to not just support Grant Halliburton Foundation but each other.

Steve Noviello and Vanita Halliburton

Just past noon, KDFW reporter/emcee Steve Noviello recalled that the first year only 100 people attended the luncheon. Now eight years later there were more than 400. In introducing Vanita, he told how when he first met her in her office, he had remarked about the art on the walls, only to learn that it had been done by Grant.

Vanita told about the Foundation and its purpose to help young people struggling with mental health crises. In the past suicide had been the third leading cause of death among young people from ages 15 to 24. It is now second among those between 10 and 24. In Texas, the average is one suicide per week among young people.

After a break for lunch, Vanita and Glennon took their places in chairs on stage. Less than 30 seconds into the conversation, Glennon’s headset mic wasn’t working. A man hustled to the stage with a handheld. Despite the change of mic, there continued to be rustling noise over the PA. Another handheld was brought to the stage for Vanita. It didn’t seem all that necessary, since Glennon appeared to need no help in sharing her life of bulimia, alcoholism, drug addiction and her personal views.

Glennon Doyle Melton

She got sober when she was 25 after being in addiction for a decade and a half. Then she got married and life was good until her husband told her that he had been unfaithful. Learning that news, she just couldn’t stay in her house, so she headed to her yoga class, where they had her go to a hot yoga room. Upon entering the room, Glennon thought, “What the hell is this?”

When the question was raised about what the yoga members’ intentions were that day, Glennon admitted, “My intention is sit on the mat and not run out of the room.” The results? “It was the hardest 90 minutes of my life.”

While her talk was a mix of self-deprecating humor and brutal honesty, it was definitely not a scripted speech but rather just Glennon just being Glennon. 

But her message was clear — “My entire life is to not to avoid the pain of life.” She also said that as a parent, “It’s not our job to protect our children from pain.”

In closing, she consoled those who had suffered the loss of loved ones to mental illness by saying, “Grief is just the proof of great love.”

Triumph For Teens Luncheon To Honor Former State District Judge John C. Creuzot

Before State District Judge John Creuzot announced his retirement back in March, the Phoenix House folks had already slated its May 10th Triumph for Teens luncheon at Brook Hollow Golf Club to honor him. . . and with very good reason. For 21 years the SMU Law School graduate has garnered quite a national reputation “as an expert in drug courts.” In fact he created the first drug court and DIVERT (Dallas Initiative for Diversion and Expedited Rehabilitation and Treatment), which “has achieved a 68% reduction in recidivism and boasts over $9.00 in avoided justice costs for every dollar spent on participants in the program.”

The former Dallas Assistant Director Attorney was appointed to the State District Court 4 by the late Gov. Ann Richards in 1991. Since then he was been re-elected five times, running at times as a Democrat and others as a Republican.

As Judge Creuzot said in a Dallas Morning News interview last October about his legacy,

“I think that I’ve played a big part in that through the numbers we’ve developed here in Dallas through DIVERT court [Dallas Initiative for Expedited Rehabilitation and Treatment, a program for drug-addicted probationers] and almost every session since 1991 … I’ve had the opportunity to go down and talk and visit with legislators in committee meeting about rehabilitation’s impact on cost, impact on prison population.”

As part of the luncheon program, Director of Dallas County Community Supervision and Correction Department Dr. Michael Noyes will formally rename the 300-bed drug treatment and retraining center in Wilmer that is operated by the Phoenix House of Texas, the Judge John C. Creuzot Judicial Treatment Center.

Another honoree at the luncheon will be Torchy’s Tacos and its founder Mike Rypka for “their generous support of adolescent programs in Austin, Dallas and Houston.

The luncheon’s featured speaker will be author Julie Hersh, who also received national recognition for her struggle with depression. Julie, who wrote “Struck by Living,” recently received the Mental Health of America Ruth Altshuler Community Advocate Prism Award. But don’t go thinking that Julie’s talk will leave you depressed. She is both inspiring and instructive in how to deal with mental illness and recovery.

For ticket information, contact Phoenix House Director of Development Patricia Garvey at 214.412.7858.

Floyd Dakil's Death is a Reminder

Mention Floyd Dakil‘s name and old timers will recall Dance, Franny, Dance or days of Irving Harrigan (aka Ron Chapman) reigning supreme at KLIF. Unfortunately, Floyd’s name will now be associated with the word, “suicide.” It was learned that he committed suicide Saturday.

Yes, times are tough. No, make that “really tough.” For this reason, please be observant of others. Don’t just ask, “How are you?” Wait for the answer and see if something doesn’t seem quite right.

Remember the Suicide and Crisis Center (214.828.1000) is available 24/7. We have added it to our web roll on the right side of the page. If you have any questions, then you need to use it.

Also, a gentle reminder that Julie Hersh, who has dealt dramatically with the issue of suicide, will do a book signing at Stanley Korshak this Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. If you’re a little skittish about discussing the subject, you just might to drop by and hear her discuss Struck by Living from 9:15 to 11 a.m.

Eating Crow Really Isn't Enjoyable, but it is Necessary

Attending Paul Baker’s memorial service last December at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, I had just come from the funeral of a dear friend’s husband, who had committed suicide. Yes, as you guessed, it was not a happy day and I was not cheery.

Upon arriving at the center, I ran into Yvonne Crum, who is always bubbly and happy. Surely, this encounter would change the bitter taste in my mouth/mind. [Read more…]