JUST IN: Top-Tier Moms And Daughters Are Coming Together For Family Gateway To End Homelessness For Children And Their Families

This year’s Family Gateway’s Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon on Thursday, September 7, at the Omni Dallas is simply brimming with all types of mother-daughter relationships. To begin with, the organization was founded by the late Mayor Annette Strauss 31 years ago to “create sufficient stable housing and to expand availability and access to life-changing services to that every homeless child and their family has a path out of poverty to a brighter future.” With Annette’s inspiration in mind, Luncheon Co-Chairs Paula Miltenberger and Betty Schultz have arranged to have Annette’s daughters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr to serve as honorary co-chairs.

Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr (File photo)

But wait! There’s more.

The keynote speaker will be former first lady Laura Bush, whose daughter Jenna Bush Hager addressed the group last year with mom in the audience.

According to Family Gateway CEO Ellen Magnis, “We are honored to have Mrs. Bush’s involvement in our Gateway to Opportunity Luncheon and to have her support of our agency. As an advocate for education and the empowerment of women and girls, Mrs. Bush understands how critical early childhood education is to breaking the cycle of homelessness. Education is an important part of our program at Family Gateway, and we are grateful for Mrs. Bush’s efforts to raise awareness.”  

With MetroPCS as the presenting sponsor, underwriting co-chairs will be another mom-dotter team —Lisa Cooley and her daughter Ciara Cooley.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available now. How about getting that Mother’s Day gift locked down now?

Former First Twin/Author/”Today” Show Jenna Bush Hager Brought The Importance Of Family To Gateway To Opportunity Luncheon

Despite a presidential debate taking place the night before, former First Twin Jenna Bush Hager had nary a question about politics at the meet-and-greet for Family Gateway’s “Gateway to Opportunity” on Tuesday, September 27, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

One guest at the meet-and-greet in Fair Park II Suite brought a a copy of Jenna’s “Our Great Big Backyard” that she had co-authored with her mom/former First Lady Laura Bush. Another guest also brought her daughter….well, sorta. Seems her daughter wanted to attend but couldn’t. So mom had a head cutout on a stick made of her daughter and held it proudly when she  had their picture taken with Jenna.

As folks lined up to be photographer with the “Today” contributing correspondent, someone noticed that co-author Laura Bush had arrived. Still Jenna was the Bush of the hour.

One event planner admitted amazement how accommodating Jenna was posing for cellphone selfies and flashing a homecoming queen smile for each shot.

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

Paula Miltenberger, Jenna Bush Hager and Bay Miltenberger

And since Family Gateway is dedicated to help families, it was a family driven event. Co-Chair Paula Miltenberger managed to get shots of her boys (Bo Miltenberger and Brady Miltenberger), her mom (Dianne Bosler) and hubby (Bay Miltenberger) with Jenna. Co-Chair Tracy Lange also had photos taken of husband (Ben Lange), daughter (Livia Lange) and son (Luke Lange) with Jenna.

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Jenna Bush Hager, Livia Lange and Tracy Lange

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Luke Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

Ben Lange and Jenna Bush Hager

It was touching to have sisters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr at the luncheon. Their mother, the late Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss, founded Family Gateway to provide “supportive housing, access to early childhood development, after-school tutoring and mentoring” 30 years ago.

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

Ruth Altshuler, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr

No sooner was there a last call for a photo with Jenna made, then she left to join the crowd in the Trinity Ballroom. As the guests began to leave the room, some mighty big and fine checks showed up from Matthews Southwest and Sammons Enterprises much to the delight of Family Gateway Executive Director Ellen Magnis.

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Lisa Troutt and Michael Faircloth

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Tracy and Kent Rathbun

Inside the Dallas Ballroom, the guests (Honorary Co-Chairs Tracy and Kent Rathbun, Underwriting Co-Chairs Ciara Cooley and Lisa Cooley, Bela Piertrovic, Bianco Filio, Anne Davidson, Ana Carty, Ruth Altshuler, Lisa Troutt, Michael Faircloth, D’Andra Simmons, Gene Jones, Angie Kadesky, Missy Falchi, Jeanne Cox, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Jack Matthews, Scott Galbraith and Gina Betts with her longtime associate Joan Rose, who is retiring) were taking their places.

Emcee/WFAA co-anchor Ron Corning welcomed the crowd and had Highland Park United Methodist Church Rev. Susan Robb provide the invocation.

Anne Johnson

Anne Johnson

Following lunch, Ron introduce Family Gateway Chairman of the Board Anne Johnson, who told of a client, who was juggling a job, running a household and raising children. When Anne asked her how she was handling it all, the woman responded, “I’m doing great. I have a plan. At Family Gateway they treat me like an adult with respect. My kids see that and I feel for the first time that like I can do this.”

Ellen told how during the first 25 years, Family Gateway served approximately 55 families annually. Last year, it provided safe housing and services to almost 500 families. Of the families help, most are single mom situations. One of the differences of Family Gateway is that they have all types of families. Some have grandparents, single fathers with children and married couples with children. It will also accept boys of a certain age that most shelters will not take in resulting in the youths to be sent to a men’s shelter.

Ellen admitted that one of the frustrations facing Family Gateway is affordable housing for clients. However, she was pleased…no, more than pleased to announce a partnership with Matthews Southwest to develop such housing providing 336 units near the International Inland Port of Dallas in Hutchins.

Shanjula Harris

Shanjula Harris

As proof of their efforts, Tracy and Paula introduced former client/mother of three Shanjula Harris, who told how she rose from the darkest depths of her life as a mother unable to provide for her children thanks to the volunteers and staff at Family Gateway. She admitted that the hardest part was being scared alone. Thanks to Family Gateway, she was freed of that fear and was no longer alone. Today she has a place for her family, a job that she looks forward to and wants to make a difference in the world. “I hope I am living proof that you have made a difference. For those of you who have been a member of Family Gateway family, thank you for believing in me.”

Following a call to offer financial assistance, MetroPCS Director Ethan Stubbs reported that in addition to be the 2016 presenting sponsor, it had signed up for 2017. In addition to financial support for Family Gateway, they were also rolling up their sleeves to provide hands-on involvement on events throughout the year. He then introduced Jenna and went off script saying that he had put her most recent book — “Our Great Big Backyard” — to the test with his six children ranging from 18 months to 13 years. “We read the book and they stayed engaged the entire time which is not an easy thing to do.”

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

From the left: (seated) Peter Slater, Ethan Stubbs, Barry Carlson, Steve Seay and Luis Reynoso; (standing) Suzy Kelley, Mike Loverde and Christy Harris

Before starting Jenna admitted that she cries at the drop of a hat. Throughout her talk, she teared up whether it was talking about her children, recognizing Shanjula for her testimonial, acknowledging Annette for creating Family Gateway and thanking those who have followed her lead.

But her message was one of how important the family was and the lessons that are handed down from generation to generation. Just as her grandfather, former President George “Gampy” H.W. Bush had learned about giving back from his mother. “He wrote about it in a letter in 1997, “Early on my mom gave us profound advice. It sounds simple now, but when I became President I knew just how sound it was — “Be honest; tell the truth; be kind.”

This message of compassion and giving back had really hit home with her since the birth of her two daughters — Mila Hager and Poppy Hager. As she recalled how fortunate her own daughters were to have been born with a home, loving parents and grandparents, with warm water for baths and rooms full of books, her voice choked. Her hope was that she could “teach them the luck that they were born, so they can spread luck to other kids who live in the same circumstances.”

At this point, she decided some comic relief was needed and brought the group up to date on her family.

  • “My mom is now commanding the ex-commander-in-chief to pick up his dirty towels and underwear.”
  • “My grandparents — Gampy and Gammy — are doing very well. You may have heard that my grandfather was sick several years ago and was hospitalized. It was actually Christmas Eve and we were in Richmond, Virginia, where my husband’s family lived. If you think this has been interrupted by emotion, you should have seen that meal when my parents called” to get to Houston “to say good-bye.” In the ride to the hospital, they all agreed they were not going to cry. They were going to upbeat. But Jenna, who was six months pregnant, Gampy touched her stomach and whispered, “The circle of life. I can’t wait to meet this baby.” The entire room broke down crying. While the rest of the family was prepared for the worst, Bush matriarch Barbara Bush knew he would pull through. “She’s known as the enforcer in our family. And when she speaks, we listen. She told him about all the things he had to look forward to — two great grandchildren being born, my dad’s library opening here in Dallas — and he had no choice but to live.”
  • Her dad (former President George W. Bush) has been working on his golf game and his art. “I just can’t believe he’s an artist.” According to Jenna, there was a period when he “would only communicate through his art.” He would send a sketch of an airplane saying “Flying to Arizona.” With a twinkle in her eye, she said that “Barbara (Jenna’s twin sister) and I were actually secretly worried about him.” When they would ask what time he would be landing, he would respond with the drawing of a clock. Jenna described that time, “We were playing Pictionary every day.” His art has moved from portraits to pets to landscapes and “now world leaders. If you haven’t seen his Putin, you really should.”
  • Describing her mom, who was seated nearby, she asked if anyone else in the audience had had a librarian for a mother. When one person responded, Jenna said to the woman, “So you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it seems like the fun would just never end.” In working with her mom on a new book about the national parks, Jenna described Laura as “a tedious editor. I don’t recommend you ever sending anything to her unless the grammar is absolutely perfect.”

Getting back to the day’s mission, she recalled how despite having earned her teaching certification, she still wasn’t prepared for 24-nine-year-olds or the poverty in inner city D.C. and west Baltimore… “No class could have taught me what to say to a child who had witnessed a stabbing on the way to school or comfort a young man who learned his father was going to jail. My kids were/are brilliant, but the odds are stacked against them like many of the kids from Family Gateway. They were hungry. Their parents were working multiple jobs to support them. And society in many ways dictates that they won’t be successful and they won’t graduate. I will say, though, that my sixth grade class from the school in Maryland not only all graduated from high school a couple of years ago, but they all 100% got into a college.”

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

Jenna Bush Hager and Ron Corning

In the fall of 2006 Jenna moved to Latin America and met Ana, a 17-year-old single mother with HIV AIDs. She, like Shanjula, talked about being alone and how supportive programs helped her. At the women’s conference, where Jenna met Ana, the young mother grabbed the microphone and said, “I want everyone to know that we are living with HIV. We are no longer dying from it. So, let’s make our lives matter. Let’s live to make a difference. Let’s make our lives count.” As a result, they met throughout Jenna’s nine months in Latin America resulting in the book, “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope” and her job with NBC’s “Today” show.

Ron returned to chat with Jenna and opened with, “So who do you think won last night’s debate?” (Laughter) Jenna responded, “I don’t think my mic is working.”

Jenna Bush Hager with "the boys"

Jenna Bush Hager with “the boys”

  • Young volunteers — When asked what got her into this service mode, she responded that it was by her parents’ example. Jenna then pointed out impressed she was by the “little boys,” who had been helping at the luncheon.
  • Teachers — She stressed the importance of today’s teachers and how they do much, much more than fulfill the requirements. “Show the teachers in your community that their job isn’t necessarily ‘cute,’ but it’s hard and it’s really, really important.”
  • Her job on “Today” — She was originally to cover education seven years ago, but it’s evolved to all subject matters. “Tomorrow I’m interviewing Reese Witherspoon.”
  • Cellphones — “It’s not just our kids looking down. Parents need to put their phones down and listen to their kids.”

For more photos, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: 2016 Wings Luncheon Individual Ticket Sales Nearing An End With Good Reason(s)

Amal Clooney*

Amal Clooney*

Procrastination is definitely going to cause problems for those who wait much longer for tickets to the New Friends New Life2016 Wings Luncheon” on Thursday, April 14, at the Hilton Anatole.
Seems tickets and sponsorships are flying so fast that NFNL Executive Director Katie Pedigo has let it be known that individual tickets will a done deal this Friday.

The reasons for the speedway ticket sales:

  1. Support of NFNL
  2. Chair Jeanne Johnson Phillips
  3. Honorary Co-Chairs Ruth AltshulerLaura Bush, Caren Prothro and Annette Simmons
  4. Speaker Amal Clooney

Pretty darn good reasons, huh? So wait no longer to get your ticket.

* Photo courtesy of New Friends 
New Life

JUST IN: A Celebration Of Reading Authors Revealed Including Dallas Fav Emily Giffin

Dallas Celebration of Reading Co-Chairs Mandi and George P. Bush just sent the updated list of authors for the Monday, October 6th Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy at the Meyerson.

Emily Giffin (File photo)

Emily Giffin (File photo)

One of them is a true-blue Dallas favorite — Emily The One And Only Giffin. She was the one who created the major traffic jam back in June.

Other authors include:

  • Gary Haugen, internationally recognized human rights advocate and author known for his work to protect the poor from violence
  • Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author whose work includes political thrillers, non-fiction and a series of children’s books
  • Kelly Corrigan, author of  Glitter and Glue
  • Eric Draper, author of Front Row Seat: A Photographic Portrait of the Presidency of George W. Bush 

It’s a marvelously orchestrated evening with the authors making presentations in the hall and dinner afterwards in the lobby. Of course, at the dinner the usual conversation centers around which author was the pick of the litter.

Former First Lady Laura Bush will serve as honorary chair of the event.

Sponsorships and tickets are available. And, you just know that with Emily in the house, there are gonna be a lot of the chic Chick Lit types.

Laura And George W. Bush To Serve As Distinguished Chairs For 14th Annual Texas Trailblazer Luncheon

And the big, boldface names just keep coming in for The Family Place’s 14th Annual Texas Trailblazer Luncheon. Co-Chairs Stephanie and Travis Hollman, Carol Seay and Stephanie Seay just reported that former first couple Laura and George W. Bush have signed on as the “Distinguished Chairs” for the Wednesday, September 17th fundraiser at the Anatole.

George and Laura Bush (File photo)

George and Laura Bush (File photo)

But then what would you expect when the event is honoring the legacy of the late Harold Simmons?

Joe Torre*

Joe Torre*

As for Joe Torre, who will be headline “speaker”. . . okay, he’s not going to be at a podium giving a lecture. He’s gonna being interviewed by none other than WFAA’s Dale Hansen.

Well, back to Joe. In a Sunday interview with Larry King, he revealed how the domestic abuse he witnessed as a child affected his professional life:

“I probably didn’t enjoy my playing career as much as I really should have because if I didn’t get any hits I would really torture myself thinking I let everybody down. And of course if I did hit, I felt like I was worthy…It wasn’t until I went through a symposium which told me that all the abuse that was going on at my home was contributing to these feelings of insignificance and insecurity and nervousness.”

The former baseball legend’s being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday adding to the “Wow!” factor of his presence come September.

* Photo provided by The Family Place

JUST IN: Laura Bush To Be Keynote Speaker And Regen Fearon To Be Honored At Junior League Of Dallas’ Milestones Luncheon

News has just come in about the Junior League of Dallas’s annual Milestones Luncheon. Let’s get the housekeeping info over with first, so you can lock it down on your calendars. Date: Thursday, November 6. Place: Hilton Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom (formerly known as the Khmer Ballroom).

Laura Bush (File photo)

Laura Bush (File photo)

Now, for the good stuff. JLD President Julie Bagley reports the keynote speaker will be former First Lady Laura Bush thanks to speaker sponsor Ryan, the global tax services firm.

According to Julie, “We are honored to have former First Lady Laura Bush speak at The Milestones Luncheon in November. The Luncheon’s purpose is to educate and inspire, and as a member of the Junior League of Dallas herself, we could not think of a more fitting person than Mrs. Bush to emphasize the importance of voluntarism, empowerment of women and improving our community. Her experience and passion for key issues such as education and healthcare relate directly to the programs and mission of the Junior League.”

Julie Bagley (File photo)

Julie Bagley (File photo)

In addition to the Milestones Luncheon’s raising funds for the JLD Community Service, it also recognizes the Sustainer of the Year. And Regen Fearon is the 2014-2015 honoree.

Oh, what’s that? What exactly is a JLD sustainer? She is a member who is an outstanding example of JLD commitment and dedication. Just to prove that point Regen has held numerous leadership positions with JLD plus a very active in such organizations like the Big Sister Program, ChildCare Group, Commit and Dallas Assembly. Just recently Regen and her husband Dr. Jeffrey Fearon were named honorary co-chairs of the 2014-2015 Trains At NorthPark.

Tickets for the annual luncheon start at $175.

Round Robin April 8 (Part II): KidneyTexas Runway Report Kick-Off Party And Salvation Army Fashion Show And Luncheon Reception

After a brief recovery from the Tuesday, April 8th luncheons, it was time to hit the road again for an evening of fashion show kick-offs and patron parties to raise funds for KidneyTexas and the Salvation Army.

KidneyTexas Runway Report Luncheon & Style Show Kick Off Party

Ramona Jones

Ramona Jones

Over at Tootsies, about 75 partygoers gathered to pump up enthusiasm for the September 23rd KidneyTexas Runway Report Luncheon & Style Show at Brook Hollow Golf Club. While a jazz trio played bouncy standards like “I Love Paris” and “When Sunny Gets Blue,” kickoff-party guests including Carol Seay, Renee Winter, Emilynn Wilson, Andrea Alcorn, Fran Cashen and Ramona Jones prepared to enjoy a mini-runway show featuring Tootsies frocks on KidneyTexas volunteers—plus one game young man, Blake Settle, who was wearing a shirt from Pockets Menswear.

Fran Cashen, Renee Winters and Andrea Alcorn

Fran Cashen, Renee Winters and Andrea Alcorn

He was the son of Karen Settle, the luncheon chair. Proud mama Karen was seen huddling with KidneyTexas President Jolie Humphrey while, not far away, Cara Stone was getting ready for the runway show under the watchful eye of Nerissa von Helpenstill, the Tootsies manager.

Emilynn Wilson, Rachel Cowlishaw and Patricia Cowlishaw

Emilynn Wilson, Rachel Cowlishaw and Patricia Cowlishaw

Also on hand was Patricia Cowlishaw. Her granddaughter Rachel Cowlishaw handles the “modern” department of the Dallas operation of the Houston-based retailing operation.

Funds from the Sept. 23 event will benefit the Baylor Health Care System Foundation, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, National Kidney Foundation-Camp Reynal, and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show & Luncheon Reception

Kathie King

Kathie King

Carol Seay was a busy woman Tuesday. No sooner was she spotted at the KidneyTexas do than she turned up, Zelig-like, at the magnificent home of Kathie and Randy King. The occasion? A fete for the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary’s 2014 Fashion Show & Luncheon, scheduled for Monday, May 5 at Brook Hollow Golf Club. Carol was among 160 who showed up at the Kings’, who’d opened up their house for Salvation Army events twice before.

Guests had hardly departed their cars before hearing, “Wait til you see this house!” With its cobble tile roof, simply perfect floorplan, curved doorways, designer colors, fabulous textures, two outdoor fireplaces, pool and guest quarters, the property takes up two lots in Highland Park. Kathie, whose left foot had undergone surgery earlier in the year, reported that the house was the result of a marvelous working relationship with architect/builder Tony McClung. The way that Kathie talked, Tony should be negotiating peace in the Ukraine.

Kathie and Randy King's home and putting green

Kathie and Randy King’s home and putting green

When asked if the Kings had a dog, Kathie laughed, saying, “We have a putting green surrounded by AstroTurf.” Evidently, that was the one concession she made for Randy.

Holly Forsythe and Denise Wolford

Holly Forsythe and Denise Wolford

Speaking of dogs, award-winning animal advocate Holly Forsythe had just arrived from a Greg Abbott fundraiser at Gene and Jerry Jones’ estate. Holly revealed that she was thrilled to learn that Republican State Representative candidate Chart Westcott was “very pro-active in closing puppy mills.”

Gina Jones

Gina Jones

After enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres inside the dramatic manse, guests including Denise Wolford, Anne and David Caruth, Vicki Howland, Dee Wyly and Jill Rowlett moved outside to listen to brief remarks by the pool from Capt. Michele Matthews, who will soon be earning her major’s stripes. They also heard that Chair Gina Jones had arranged for former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughters Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager to serve as honorary chairs for the event. Jan Strimple will produce the fashion show, which is in its 23rd year and has raised more than $7 million for the Salvation Army so far.

Michelle Matthews

Michele Matthews

Come rain or shine, this fashion show/sell-a-thon is a traditional home run. It’s an opportunity to add to your collection of killer outfits, while raising funds for the Salvation Army.

Just In: The Bush Ladies To Be Honorary Tri-Chairs Of The 2014 Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon

Laura Bush (File photo)

Laura Bush (File photo)

The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon Chair Gina Jones just revealed the Bush gals (former First Lady Laura and her twin daughters Barbara and Jenna) will be the honorary tri-chairs for the Monday, May 5, fashion extravaganza.

All of your favorites — Chic Boutique, Jan Strimple-produced fashion show, luncheon — will return to Brook Hollow.

Fashion loving Doris Jacobs has been named underwriting chair.

Warning: This event is going to be a sellout. Best to get your ticket now.

Barbara Pierce Bush Impressed New Friends New Life Guests With Her Message And Her “WOW!” Looks

Barbara Pierce Bush

Barbara Pierce Bush

The talk at the Wings Luncheon patron party on April 11 was, “Have you seen Barbara?” The Barbara in question was former first daughter Barbara Pierce Bush, who was to be the featured speaker the next day at the New Friends New Life benefit.

April 11 Patron Party

Betsy Sowell and Annette Simmons

Betsy Sowell and Annette Simmons

Taking place at Betsy and Jim Sowell’s more-than-perfect home, the statuesque brunette co-founder of and president of Global Health Corps looked fabulous with her brown hair swept back in a long ponytail and longer-than-long bangs and a sea-green, one-shoulder cocktail dress. In addition to high heels, her perfect posture only added to the eye-popping look.

And there’s no doubt where she got that perfect posture. Nearby was former First Lady/First Mom Laura Bush, who has never suffered from a slouch in her life. On this occasion was she was simply “special guest” and proud mom as Barbara proved a perfect VIP to all including the Who’s Who of Dallas ranging from the Honorary Chairs Andrews (Lana Andrews and daughter Natalie McGuire with spouses Barry and Mike, respectively) and Simmons clans (Annette and Harold) to Gail and SMU President Gerald Turner, Luncheon Chair Gina Betts and husband Ken, Kelly and Brock Compton, Jeanne Phillips,  plus

Mike and Natalie McGuire and Lana and Barry Andrews

Mike and Natalie McGuire and Lana and Barry Andrews

  • Cedonia and Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who said human trafficking/prostitution is a serious issue, and it’s not a victimless crime. Programs like this are important, to help victims break the cycle, the chief added.
  • Roz and Robert Colombo, whose company La Reve Consultants will be opening a new restaurant called Pozo Mercado (“The Watering Hole”) in Uptown soon, next to their Standard Pour.
  • Attorney General Greg Abbott told how he chaired the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force and is working with all the legislators to give Texas the toughest laws in the country against human trafficking. It doesn’t matter what your politics are, he said. . . everyone can get behind this important cause in order to help the victims.
  • Lee Ann White had just returned from chairing a meeting of the National Advisory Board for the Texas Tech University Health Science’s Center Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health.
    Lee Ann White and Katie Pedigo

    Lee Ann White and Katie Pedigo

New Friends New Life has come a long way with the luncheon’s projected attendance of 900. Betsy admitted, “Ten years ago, we would have been lucky to get nine (guests at the luncheon)! It’s unbelievable.”

NFNL Executive Director Katie Pedigo added that they were hoping to raise $500K from the luncheon.

On a less serious note, one person cornered Laura asking if the Bush family was going to replace Barney, the former first pooch who had recently died. “”We’re not going to get a dog right now. We still have Mrs. Beasley. We have a new cat — Bob — who came up to our barn in Crawford. Then we have Jenna’s (Barbara’s fraternal twin sister) cat, because she’s (Jenna) is pregnant.” [This was just a couple of days before Jenna gave birth to Laura’s first grandchild.]

April 12 Wings Luncheon

Laura Bush, Gina Betts and Barbara Pierce Bush

Laura Bush, Gina Betts and Barbara Pierce Bush

The VIP reception for the Wings luncheon at the Hyatt Regency started off a little rocky. Organizers had thought it would be a “grip-and-grin” gathering where Barbara would stand in place and a line would form for photos with her. But within minutes of her arrival, someone whispered that Barbara really preferred to wander through the group and chat with people a little more casually. Alas, too late. The line was formed. That’s when the decision was made to have the hired photographer to walk away and signal that the formal photos were going to take place. Alas, a newspaper photographer kept shooting people with Barbara and soon the line resulted in guests circling her for their photo op with Barbara. Hey, that’s what happens when you have a star attraction. And to add to the star factor, Laura appeared toward the end of the reception adding to ultra-star magnetism.

Problem? Heck, no. The Bushes, like other first families, know how to handle these situations and were gracious to one and all.

On this day, Barbara’s hair still featured the new bangs, but the hair was no longer in a ponytail. Her navy blue dress tended to slip off her left shoulder, the same one that had been bare the night before.

Among this crowd were Laura’s sorority sister Susan Nowlin, New Friends New Life Chair Pat Schenkel, Toni Brinker, Bobbie Sue and Phil Williams and 13-year-old Annalea Pedigo.

Jeanne Phillips and Jim Francis

Jeanne Phillips and Jim Francis

As the group moved into the ballroom for lunch, the boldfacers only grew in number, including Jim Francis, Ruth Altshuler, Lisa Troutt, Allie Beth Allman, June and Pete McGuire, Karen Jones, June Hunt, Harriet Miers, Dee Wyly and Jill Rowlett, who was making her first public appearance since foot surgery earlier this year.

After CBS 11’s Brendan Higgins and Gina welcomed the group, a surprise video of Bush matriarch Barbara Bush was shown. Then Katie told of the mission of NFNL “to restore and empower formerly trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and their children.” Unfortunately the need for NFNL has grown as the problem of human trafficking has increased.

Following lunch (gazpacho, salad medley of chicken salad, tuna salad, Dallas mozzarella tomato basil, caprese, Mediterranean Greek salad, fresh fruit salad and milk chocolate tulip), Pat Schenkel and Gerald Turner presented the “Protect-Her Awards” to Police Chief David Brown, Attorney General Greg Abbott and former First Lady Laura Bush. In describing Laura, Pat reminded all that the Bush Presidential Center was opening in the days ahead at SMU. Without missing a beat, Gerald added, “We decided to have Pat read the part about the Bush Library, so I wouldn’t hyperventilate.” That drew a big, old laugh from the audience.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown

Dallas Police Chief David Brown

In an unusual move, the recipients were acknowledged from their places sans remarks. This development was time saving and allowed the program to move on swiftly.

Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation President Jay McAuley then introduced Barbara, who handled her role to a “T” with mom looking on with a genuine smile of approval. Oh, sure she misspoke the name of NFNL a couple of times, but didn’t matter. The message got across. In her years, both in the White House and at Global Health Corps, she has seen internationally the suffering of others due to poor healthcare. There was the mother with the little girl, whom Barbara thought was 3. The mother revealed that the child was 7. As part of this concern on healthcare, Barbara told how the sex trade was part of the issue. She explained how GHC was tackling the problem by creating a team of an “international fellow” being paired up with a “fellow from the host country.” For a year the pair work “on the front lines of global health,” and eventually create a community by building supportive relationships over the years.

Recently more than 5,000 applied to participate in the program. She told of a recent pair, Emily and Jeffrey, whose ages added up to 51. They worked in an area of Malawi where 25% of the people were HIV-positive.  During their year, the team worked to enroll every one of the 7,000 HIV-positive expectant mothers in the healthcare program to assure their getting the medication and attention. The result? 7,000 babies were born HIV-negative, and an entire generation was born saved from the disease.

Tying it back to NFNL, Barbara added that sex trafficking was a source of healthcare issues.

As one person put it, “It’s always gratifying to hear someone speak so passionately about something that involves them personally.”

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Wings Patron Party And Luncheon

Laura Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush

Laura Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush

New Friends New Life’s Wings patron party (April 11) and luncheon (April 12) were top heavy with boldfacers. It was a little like a warm-up for the upcoming Bush Center opening thanks to the presence of former First Lady Laura Bush and former First Daughter Barbara Pierce Bush.

The MySweetCharity Photo Gallery‘s faces are as heady as Barbara’s new hairstyle with longer-than-long bangs.

GROVEL ALERT: 2013 Wings Luncheon

Luncheon Chair Gina Bett’s goal was to hit in the neighborhood of $300K for Friday’s Wings Luncheon benefiting New Friends New Life at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Dallas.

Barbara Pierce Bush (File photo)

Barbara Pierce Bush*

Word just came in that she’s passed the $400K mark with 830 guests coming. When asked if she would declare the luncheon with Barbara Pierce Bush as

Laura Bush (File photo)

Laura Bush (File photo)

speaker and mom Laura Bush as official introducer as a “Sell Out”, Gina said, “No Way!” The legal eagle declared she’d find more room if more was needed.

Love those fundraising types who will gladly make room for more money.

* Photo provided by 
2013 Wings Luncheon

Spirit Of Contact Luncheon Has Record Turnout With Dr. Ken Cooper And Former First Lady Laura Bush

Former First Lady Laura Bush

Former First Lady Laura Bush

The Spirit of Contact Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency on March 21 was the biggest one ever for the Contact Crisis Hotline. Could it have been because the keynote speaker was Laura Bush?

If so, why? After all, Laura is no newcomer to the area and her security with headpieces in place limits the access to her. And rightly so. After all, she is the former First Lady. But she’s also a proven winner when it comes to addressing issues and handling fans and friends.

That brings up the problem of dealing with any first family member. Heck, Dallas has plenty of former White House residents coming and going nowadays. But more about that later.

10 a.m. — The VIP reception is underway in the Pegasus Ballroom. The Bush entourage is more than punctual. Some of the VIP guests learn that being on time pays off as they get quality talk time with Laura. She easily walks up to groups of people, introducing herself and offering a handshake like a newcomer to a PTA meeting.

Question: Why is it that talking with her one tends to make one feel like a rushee trying to be cool with the top sorority’s sister? Those witty rehearsed lines suddenly sound like Gomer Pyle speaking a strange version of Pig Latin. And then there is the problem with your tongue. For some reason it seems to have doubled in size. You shut your eyes trying to stay focused on your thoughts, while working out the problem with your tongue. You open your eyes and Laura is calmly smiling at you like a sympathetic therapist. It’s so obvious that she’s been in this situation before and understands the language of being tongue-tied. Her assistants stand nearby with understanding smiles. They’ve seen this transformation of normal people into bewildered babbling scaredy-cats before.

Speaking of normal, one can’t help but wonder how Laura has a normal life with assistants and secret service shadowing her every move. Does she ever go to Bed, Bath & Beyond? She just can’t hop in her car with a BB&B coupon to buy a new coffee maker.

But those are issues that won’t be addressed today. There are schedules and people to meet.

Megan Steinbach, Laura Bush and Kimberly Lay

Megan Steinbach, Laura Bush and Kimberly Lay

After posing for photos with Contact President Benaye Rogers, 2013 Spirit of Contact Awardee Ken Cooper and his wife Millie, Luncheon Co-chairs Kimberly Lay and Megan Steinbach, and Honorary Co-chairs Gail and Gerald Turner and talking with everyone in the VIP reception, she, her handlers and hunky secret service chaps excuse themselves and head to the meet-and-greet in a partitioned-off area.

Kenneth and Millie Cooper, Heather Hays, Gail and Gerald Turner

Kenneth and Millie Cooper, Heather Hays, Gail and Gerald Turner

People are lined up with instructions on how to get their photos. Ladies are to place their purses on a table prior to getting in the line. Is somebody going to snatch one of the handbags? With the secret service guys all around. . . don’t think so.

Thanks to the arrangements, this part of the program goes off without a hitch. How does she do it? Though her encounter with each person and/or group is brief (just a snapshot or two) and her talent of understanding the shock-and-awe of guests, she manages to make them feel like their time together was as important to her as to them. You almost get the feeling that she’s the one who’s going to be proudly showing the photos off to her family later.

11 a.m. — As the VIP guests leave the reception and meet-and-greet, they are advised by youngsters in red T-shirts on the speediest way to get to the Landmark Ballroom. Seems the Dallas Business Journal has filled part of the lobby with a health seminar. Someone mutters they hope the DBJ doesn’t try to hijack Ken Cooper for their event.

Guests make their way into the ballroom. Tireless Rena Pederson tells Caren Prothro and Nita Clark about the book that she’s been working on involving Burma. She just returned from another trip to the  country also known as Myanmar. . .  Jan Osborn is attending with her book club and feeling a wee bit guilty. She had to miss her tennis match. A first but well worth it. . . . Jan Langbein is thrilled about the spotlight that Mayor Mike Rawlings has placed on domestic abuse. She adds “Abuse in any form. . . spousal, child, animal. . . it’s all wrong.”

A few minutes before the program begins, a voice is heard over the  PA reminding guests to silence their cellphones. Everyone must have heard it because nary a phone rings or buzzes during the next hour and half.

Benaye Rogers

Benaye Rogers

11:35 a.m. — Lights dim and the room is totally dark except for the “Exit” signs. Once again a voice is heard over the PA. It’s Benaye. She describes the issues facing young people. There is silence. A young woman in a white T-shirt with “972” is seen on screen telling of her need to “cut.” Silence. Benaye’s voice continues telling the problems facing the younger population. A second young woman in a white T-shirt with “233” appears telling how she got into drugs. Again Benay’s voice is heard continuing the description of problems facing today’s youth. A young man wearing a white T-shirt with “2233” on it reveals how he considered suicide. Benay’s voice closes the presentation saying that a call to Contact helps solve such situations. The three young people are on stage standing in order — 972 233 2233 (aka Contact hotline #).



11:39 a.m. — With the three youngsters still on stage, lights come up and Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow comes to the podium  to describe how people can use their phones to make donations. They also can keep the hotline number in their address books in case they learn of someone in need of the services. Cell phones seem to be the center of attention so far. But all of this makes perfect sense. After all, Contact is all about phones being a lifeline for those in a crisis state of mind.

Contact Thermometer

Contact Thermometer

Steve goes on to explain that during the lunch a thermometer will appear on the screen showing the results of the day’s luncheon cell phone donations. Then he introduces Honorary Chairs Gail and Gerald, Spirit recipient Ken and keynote speaker Laura, who take their places standing behind each of the three young people.

Asking for a moment of silence, Steve then introduces Dr. Don Benton to give the invocation.

11:48 a.m. — Now the pace and mood pick up with KDFW’s Heather Hays taking over the emcee duties. She dons her “granny” glasses and announces that already a $2,500 donation has been made with the additional request for it to be matched. She reels out more information than a full-fledged website about how Contact has served as a model for other similar services throughout the country, even reaching as far as Ireland and New Zealand. As part of her “housekeeping” duties, she continues on telling where the bathrooms are, that both Laura’s and Ken’s books will be available for sale thanks to Barnes & Noble after the lunch with 15% benefiting Contact, that the Dr Delphinium centerpieces are going for $40 and that the Women’s Auxiliary has provided chocolate iPhones with a coupon for the Contact recipe book. Whew!

11:56 a.m. — Heather finishes and the sound of silverware hitting plateware is now heard along with the chattering of guests.

12:02 p.m. — The thermometer appears on the screen. The $10,000 mark is hit.

12:13 p.m. — Oops, things are running a bit behind schedule. Luncheon Co-chairs Kimberly  and Megan are at the podium. They thank the board, the committee and all who have financially participated in the luncheon. This part was supposed to start at 11:48. Nobody seems to mind they’re running 25 minutes late.

12:16 p.m. — Benaye comes to the podium telling how this is indeed the largest crowd to ever attend the luncheon and it’s thanks to the committee, Ken and Laura. This was supposed to start at 12:08. They’re making up time.

Benaye goes on to reveal startling pieces of factoids including

  • Texas is 49th  in the country providing health care.
  • Suicide is the second leading of death of young people in Texas and third in the nation.
Fred Hegi

Fred Hegi

12:24 p.m. — Last year’s Spirit Awardees Jan and Fred Hegi present Ken with the award. Before handing the award to Ken, Fred tells the crowd that he’s been “cooperizing” for 29 years. Jan adds that her father was one of the first to be part of the Cooper Aerobics Center.

Jan Hegi

Jan Hegi

12:30 p.m. — Ken accepts the award and reinforces Benaye’s message about depression being a major health problem. In the past 56 years he’s seen hundreds of people suffering from depression. He’s also seen how fitness helps fight depression.

Ken voices his concern about the problem of suicide within the military. He startles some guests by revealing that last year was an all-time record for suicides within the military. The problem reaches beyond those serving in the war zones. It’s also affecting those returning home with mental health problems.

12:37 p.m. — Ken, Jan, Fred and Benaye pose for photos with the award on stage.

As they exit the stage, the Contact Teen Board lines up on stage to introduce Laura.

Contact Teen Board

Contact Teen Board

12:36 p.m. — Laura comes to the podium. The room full of people give her a standing ovation. She updates the crowd about her family. In describing daughter Jenna Hager, who works as a correspondent for “The Today Show,” Laura says, “She’s (Jenna) continuing the warm relations with the media.” Everyone laughs. Laura follows that up without missing a beat — “Too bad that’s a joke.”

She adds that her daughters were disappointed about her book. Seems Jenna and twin sister Barbara Bush had known “they had nerds for parents.” But when they read their mother had named her cat “Dewey” after the Dewey Decimal System that clinched the deal. And then there was the fact that their mother as a schoolgirl really enjoyed school supplies, like notebook papers with nice straight lines.

Now Laura turns the conversation to the topic of the day — Contact. She tells how they receive 53,000 calls a year and how Contact is going into the schools helping young people deal with such issues as depression, drugs, cutting, etc. For this reason, Contact is highlighting its work with teenagers this year.

She tells a story from her days of teaching in an elementary school, where the children came from predominantly low-income families. During her final days at the school, she took some good students to Astroworld. In making the rounds to pick the children up, she arrived at one home where the little boy came to the door in his underwear. His mother, who remained unseen in the back of the house, wouldn’t give permission for him to attend the outing. Before leaving the youngster at the door, Laura gave him a hug. She admits that ever since that day she has wondered what had happened to him. He would be 50 now. “Did he graduate from school? Is he standing in an airport waiting for his children to return from the war? Is he on the side of the road with a cardboard sign?”

As she shared her decades-old recollection of that little boy, it becomes obvious that this is her way of emphasizing the need for more Contact phone lines for children/young adults in need of help.

Contact Thermometer

Contact Thermometer

12:55 p.m.— Laura finishes right on time to a standing O. The thermometer appears on the screen one last time. It’s totally over the top.

Lee Ann White To Chair Laura W. Bush Institute For Women’s Health

Lee Ann White

Lee Ann White *

Former First Lady Laura Bush is tapping her Dallas buds to help with some of her fav programs. The latest is Lee Ann White, who will serve as chairwoman of the the National Advisory Board for the Texas Tech University Health Science’s Center Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health.

According to Laura, “Lee Ann White is a longtime friend of mine and of Texas Tech University. She will be a terrific chair of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Advisory Board. I am grateful that she has agreed to serve as chairwoman and I look forward to working with her to improve women’s health.”

Debbie Francis (File photo)

Debbie Francis (File photo)

Lee Ann succeeds outgoing chair and another local Laura Bush gal/pal Debbie Francis.

Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance said, “Lee Ann White has been an active member of the National Advisory Board and has a strong passion for the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health. Her experience will advance our institute to a new level of excellence and build upon the success accomplished under the leadership of Debbie Francis. We thank Debbie for her dedicated service and look forward to our future progress with Chairwoman White.”

* Photo provided by Caron Cares

SOLD OUT ALERT: Go Red For Women

Kate Rose Marquez

Kate Rose Marquez

It’s gonna be a totally full house Friday for Go Red for Women at the Hilton Anatole. Well, what would you expect when the subject if heart health for women and the featured speaker is former First Lady Laura Bush.

Yes, you want to know how sold out it really is. First of Co-chairs Kate Rose Marquez and Virginia Rose are reminding friends how wonderful carpooling is. Second, it seems Kate Rose and Virginia have had “to up their order on party favors twice, and are scrounging around the country to gather up enough matching linen.” Surprising? No. Last year’s attendance was a little more than 520. An expected 920 are planned for Friday.

In addition to break out sessions on women’s heart health, healthy cooking with T.J.’s Seafood courtesy of Nancy Rogers/ Mary Kay, Inc., guests can also have their cholesterol, blood pressure or B.M.I. checked in the private THR health cabanas.

And then there is the Go Red Lounge for those with $250-and-above tickets, where they’ll find “Lucy Wrubel will be spinning, a photo booth, make up touch ups, mocktails, champagne and bites are all part of the exclusive club.

“If you haven’t purchased a $250 ticket, you can upgrade at the Go Red Lounger door by using your bidder number for $100.”

Photo provided by Go Red for Women

Changes Afoot For The Spirit Of Contact Luncheon

17th Annual Spirit of CONTACT Luncheon

The Spirit of CONTACT Luncheon was originally planned on a different date and at a different place, but luncheon Co-chairs Kimberly Lay and Megan Steinbach have made a couple of changes.

First, the date is going to be Thursday, March 21.

The new location is the Hyatt Regency’s Landmark Ballroom.

And they’ve arranged for former First Lady Laura Bush to be the keynote speaker.

Now, don’t go a-fretting about other changes. Dr. Kenneth Cooper will still be receiving the 2013 Spirit of CONTACT Award and SMU’s First Couple Gail and Gerald Turner will be honorary co-chairs.

For more info, either check the luncheon website or call Maria Espinosa at 972.233.0866, Ext 320.

Graphic courtesy of Spirit of CONTACT Luncheon

More Deets On Who’s Involved In Go Red For Women Luncheon

Caren Prothro (File photo)

As if landing former First Lady Laura Bush as the keynote speaker wasn’t enough for the Go Red For Women Luncheon on February 1st at the Hilton Anatole, Co-chairs Kate Rose Marquez and Virginia Rose have arranged for a blue-ribbon advisory council including: Lindalyn Adams, Allie Beth Allman, Lana Andrews, Ruth Altshuler, Linda Custard, Debbie Francis, Sandi Haddock, Caroline Rose Hunt, Gene Jones, Ann Margolin, Sara Martineau, Margot Perot, Jeanne L. Phillips, Dr. Carol Poldolsky, Caren Prothro, Deedie Rose, Peggy Sewell, Shelle Sills, Annette Simmons and Lee Ann White.

Lee Ann White (File photo)

To quote Kate Rose, “Every one of these women said yes immediately! They love our Former First Lady, Mrs. Bush. We are thrilled to have such a wonderful group of women. Instead of advising a luncheon, I believe this group could easily run a first-world country!”

Go Red For Women Luncheon With Former First Lady Laura Bush

Laura Bush (File photo)

Go Red For Women Luncheon Co-chairs Kate Rose Marquez and Virginia Rose have all their ducks in a row for the Friday, February 1, event at the Hilton Anatole. For their keynote speaker is going to be former First Lady Laura Bush.

According to Kate Rose, who has had her own first-hand involvement with heart disease, Laura:

“has a long history of supporting the Go Red for Women Campaign. In fact, she was the spokesperson! We are thrilled that she will join us. This, combined with moving the luncheon from June to February 1 is going to make this the best Go Red for Women Luncheon ever!”

Makes perfect sense. After February is the month when everyone’s heart is in the right place.

Better place your order for tickets. In fact, why not put a table together to celebrate good health.

JUST IN: Former First Lady Laura Bush To Serve As Honorary Chair For The Big Read Dallas

Laura Bush (File photo)

Former First Lady Laura Bush has just signed on to be the honorary chair for The Big Read Dallas that will take place in April 2013.

For trivia experts, Laura’s love of books has not been limited to her mother-in-law’s “A Celebration of Reading.” Laura earned a Master of Science degree in library science from the University of Texas at Austin.

The event is the joint project of the Friends of Dallas Public Library, D Magazine‘s new leadership group, D Academy, the National Endowment of the Arts and Arts Midwest.

It will be a real page turner. . . . literally.

The Sun Wasn’t The Only One Rising Early For The Topping Off Of The George W. Bush Presidential Center

Monday of last week the promised last “public” tour of the George W. Bush Presidential Center took place before its grand opening in 2013. The media was notified to get credentials in and if they were approved, it would be a 7:30 a.m. show-up time. The press doesn’t do well at that time of the day. But, wait–the promise of food made it more palatable. And as proof WFAA, KDFW, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and other members of the media that no one has ever heard of showed up for their press passes and hard hats.

Orders were to place your “bags and cameras” over on the sidewalk for the sniffer dogs from Lackland Air Force Base to inspect them. To be honest, the dogs were the most hardworking and honest critters at the event. They wagged their tails and inspected every nook and cranny of the collection. Once they made their pass, sighs of reliefs made the rounds.

At 8:22 a.m. the WFAA truck was allowed on Dublin Avenue. Media eyebrows were raised, as the other trucks had been forced to park along SMU Boulevard. OK, so it was just a few feet closer than the other media trucks, but still they made it past the barrier and their sister media relation The Dallas Morning News had broken the full-blown story at daybreak.

Heeled shoes

The media was advised to wear long pants, shirts with sleeves longer than four inches, hard-toe shoes and solid soles. One television media type showed up in slings, raising eyebrows by organizers. But she represented a major outlet, so they let her pass but warned it’s going to be painful. Little did the media gal know that they were understating how rocky the road was going to be.

Mark Langdale

Word was passed through the media mob that they’d run out of hard hats, but more were being found. Interesting hard hat status note: It was easy to spot the key players by the designation on their hard hats. George W. Bush Foundation President Mark Langdale, wore the designer version, with the American flag hovering over the George W. Bush Presidential Center. On the other hand, the vast majority wore the white helmets emblazoned with “Manhattan,” for the construction company handling the project. It was sorta like the difference between having your own, shiny custom-made bowling ball as opposed to the black, scuffed-rent-a-ball.

Gerald Turner

Note to SMU staff: Don’t you think that SMU President Gerald Turner rates a designer hard hat?

Media sets up

After sampling the continental breakfast under a tent and exchanging stories about inept news directors and behind-the-times assignments desks, the attending media started settling down with appropriate grumbles. . . “Why do they have us get here hours before anything happens?” (Editor’s note: The official hard hat tour wasn’t to start until 9 a.m.)

Robert A.M. Stern

But up sauntered GWB Presidential Center architect Robert A.M. Stern. He admitted, “I’m an early-morning person, so you’ve caught me at my best. At 1 o’clock in the afternoon, don’t even talk to me.” On the sidelines was his partner, Graham Wyatt, who was juggling Energizer Bunny Rabbit Stern as well as his Blackberry.

Stern in a custom-made suit and natty tie and pocket hankie gave the media a true workout. As the hardhat workers stood on the sidelines with arms crossed, the media marched over the raw terrain. Boots definitely were trumping stilettos. Stern was non-stop–up steps, across caverns of concrete, pointing out where moments of the Bush history would be, the full-scale version of the Bush’s Oval Office with Texas Rose Garden, steel beams from the World Trade Center, and on and on.


Just in passing, Stern added such trivia as:

  • This is most urban presidential library in the country. (Next most urban: the JFK library in Boston). Here there will be brick, local stone, manufactured within a 500-mile radius of here. Libraries like this are incredible energy hogs, Stern said, but even with that, it’s aiming for LEED platinum status. Full-scale version of Oval Office, perfectly exact, plus Texas Rose Garden.
  • 350-seat auditorium
  • 70 million pieces of paper
  • This is the first presidential library to enter the electronic age in a significant way with over 200M e-mails.
  • Texas pecan floors.
  • Freedom Hall—light to come through roof. Aka “Lantern of Freedom”: a positive, optimistic signal.
    • Steel from one of the trade-center towers, from where the plane actually crashed into the building.
    • There’s an outside courtyard, café, outside the Institute area, to make this a friendly and eventful a place as possible  to visit.
    • Someone points out that you can see the skyline view of Dallas.
    • The top floor: President and Mrs. Bush to have offices. Exhibition space: Mrs. Bush hopes exhibits from the Smithsonian, etc., will come here.
    • There will be a balcony for smokers. Someone mutters that it will be called “Laura’s Loft” implying that the former First Lady is still smoking.


Media tour

Steam was starting to rise from pens taking all the notes as the preeminent architect kept things moving with info. Oldtimer media types were sorta blasé as they checked their Blackberrys for potentially bigger news.

SMU President Gerald Turner added that the park designed by Michael Van Valkenburg Associates Inc. will be the “Central Park of this part of the city.” He said Dallas is a big convention city, and tourists will come here.

Reporters asked George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum Director Alan Lowe what is his favorite part of the complex. Stern answered: “He has a window in his office!”

Stern continued: “This is certainly one of the most important commissions I’ve ever undertaken. It’s not only about the Bushes but about the American presidency and American democracy, and I can’t imagine anything more important than that.”

Laura Bush

As the entourage of media led by Stern descended to an outpost of red brick walls and windows, they were put in a sit-stay position to observe a prototype of the building facade. Magically, former first lady Laura Bush appeared looking as fresh as Laurie in Oklahoma. Unlike the media women, who had been wearing hard hats and were discovering squashed coiffures, Laura’s hair was perfect. Almost like an elementary schoolmarm, she cheerfully and patiently reviewed the plans and her involvement–“This has really been the first chance (yesterday) for George and me to see the scope of it.” She mentioned the Permian Basin stone from Garden City, Texas, close to Midland. George was surprised about that. She said the Center represents the first decade of the new century, and fits in with older SMU buildings, recalling the dome over Dallas Hall, the oldest building on campus. Photographers were on the ground, the sides and practically standing on each other for shots of the lady. In the background the Secret Service blended in except for the earpieces and the scrubbed look.

Just as quickly as she appeared, Laura disappeared to prepare for the center’s topping-out ceremony. The media handed in their helmets and headed to the staging area on Dublin facing the gigantic facility and the rising sun.

Shaded by fans

As the 600 VIP guests arrived and took their seats, the morning chill had worn off with the help of the sun, and it was starting to get warmish. Luckily, event planners recognized such a situation might occur and had the day’s program printed on hand fans. While a few of the guests did in fact use the fans to keep cool, the majority found the fans to be extremely helpful in cutting the right-in-your-eyes sunlight.

Nancy Dedman, Gail Turner, Caren Prothro

Sunglasses were an absolute must as the sun only seemed to increase as the guests took their places.

In the crowd of dignitaries and construction workers were Bush Foundation chair Don Evans wearing his Mustang tie. . . Nancy Dedman on the front row with Gail Turner, Caren Prothro and Jeanne Phillips. . . Harriet Miers sitting a couple of rows back and to the side. . . Allie Beth and Pierce Allman greeting folks like it was an open house. . . Linda Custard arriving just in time to take her seat when a voice told the gathering that the ceremony was preparing to start.

Would the former First Couple be arriving stage left or stage right? Heads turned in both directions to see. Neither. From the side of the construction off in the distance a parade of black SUV’s stirred up the dust as they rolled toward the stage. The vehicles stopped, doors opened and out came the couple with a posse of Secret Service types.

George W. Bush and Adriana Martinez

President Langdale started the program welcoming all. He was followed by SMU Trustee/student rep Adriana Martinez, who gave the invocation.

Then it was SMU President Gerald Turner’s turn and there was no doubt he was a very happy man. “This is a great weekend in Mustang-land. . . Everybody likes a winner! (referring to SMU’s win over TCU Saturday) Anything Bush draws a crowd at SMU. They start tweeting and whatever else it is that students do.”

Next up was Laura, who once again shared information about the plans for the mammoth operation, adding that “trees from our tree farm at the ranch are being brought here.”

George and Laura Bush

The final speaker was the former president, who seemed to be having a heck of a good time spotting friends in the crowd. At the podium, he was like a kid reporting on his summer vacation:

  • George W. Bush

    Asked Laura to lead design committee; was “a wise decision.”

  • Yesterday was first time he’d actually been in the building. Awe-inspiring, exceeds expectations.
  • Told about walking into SMU classroom; guy with backward hat says, “You look like George Bush.”
  • He liked that Manhattan also built the Ballpark at Arlington: “and it’s still standing!”
  • Said politics are interesting but “it’s been a fascinating 14.5 years, and I’m out.”
  • Will give private opinions to people, but …
  • His belief that “freedom is the only way to peace.”
  • This center will be “a place of action … a results-oriented institute … where we’re gonna pour our heart and soul.”

Topping Out

Before adjourning for a picnic lunch on the Mustang Mall, the topping out took place with the upper-most steel beam being raised high above the structure and lowered into place. As the crowd watched, the three construction workers, who had been patiently sitting high atop the facility throughout the ceremony, wedged the flagged beam into place just a little ways from the evergreen tree that had been hoisted up earlier in the day.

And that was the last that the media and public will officially see of the Bush Institute until its grand opening in spring 2013. In the meantime, there will be many more Bush sightings on SMU campus and around town.

BTW, if the Bushes, architect Stern or anyone wants to check on the progress of the center, here and here are shots of the construction live.

Share-A-Date: Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon

Friday, June 3, 2011: The 25th Annual Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole will be in high gear this year. Benefiting AVANCE – Dallas (the literacy group of low-income Hispanic families in Dallas), the luncheon’s keynote speakers will be the first mother/daughter team of Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager.It makes perfect sense since the Bush clan is a driving force in the battle against illiteracy.

Honorary co-chairs are Serena Simmons Connelly and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller.

Yes, it may seem like a long way until June, but you best get your reservations pulled together now. This one is likely to be a sell-out. . . a fast sell-out.

Bushes Take Over Dallas For “A Celebration of Reading”

Dallas was definitely full of “bushes” last Monday. They flew in from Florida, Houston and the outer limits for “A Celebration of Reading.” Why? When Barbara Bush puts on an event for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, the grandkids come a-running. For a brief few hours, Dallasites felt like they were part of a Bush family reunion.

But let’s start at the beginning. No, we already did that with Mandi Bush. Let’s start at noontime.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Locals/authors/former Firsties Laura and George Bush had three generations of Bushes (pictured) plus the evening’s authors in for lunch at their place on Daria. NBC’s Today correspondent Jenna looked svelte. (Gee, don’t they feed gals in NYC?). Mandi was catching the rest up on George P.’s whereabouts (he’s overseas for active duty).

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

Wimpy Kid’s author Jeff Kinney (pictured third from the right with, from the left, Donovan Campbell, Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George W. Bush, Leila Meacham and Condoleezza Rice) was sorta overwhelmed: “Here I am eating at the Bushes with Barbara Bush!”

After a brief rest in the afternoon, they headed to an evening of Super Duper Boldfacers at the Meyerson. At a pre-event reception it was a jamfest with Neil Bush and his family feeling right at home with the locals. Over to the side Papa George (aka #41) was seated with Kroger’s Gary Huddleston and adorable wife Becky chatting about Houston-based Pete Roussel,  who was on #41’s staff from GHWB’s days as a congressman to the White House. . .  Mandi was looking terrific as usual and managed to sub in nicely for her husband George P. The girl has never met a stranger! . .  Kids in the crowd were torn between checking with Wimpy author Jeff (“I feel lucky to have had any success in publishing at all”) and having their picture taken with Barbara, who is the picture-perfect grandest mom. . . If you think Barbara is a traditionalist reader, rethink that one. She enjoys her iPad as much as hardbound books. . . In the meantime, Bush grandkids were all over the place making everyone feel like they were a member of the Bush clan. Newlyweds Sandra and Jebby Bush told how they knew each other for three years but didn’t start dating until two years ago. The reason: Sandra was living in London. The twosome got hitched this past May. . .  Ruth and Ken Altshuler found a table in the back of the room with Ken Cooper.

Then seamlessly it was noted that the Bush munchkins quietly headed to the door at the far end of the room, while elder Bushes exited the opposite side of the room. Someone said, “George seems to be slowing down a bit,” noting the cane. A female guest retorted, “That may be true for his walking, but he is still a great hugger and the twinkle in his eye is brighter than ever.”

As the 1,400 found their seats in the Meyerson’s concert hall, Celebration of Reading veterans advised first-timers that they were in for an evening of inspiration, fun and possibly a surprise or two.

(Editor’s note: If you wonder why only 1,400 attended the event when the Meyerson can easily handle 2,062, it’s because the Bushes insist that all have a “light supper” afterwards and the Meyerson can only accommodate 1,400 at the seated dinner.)

The event started right on time at 7 p.m. with #41 being escorted on stage by Mandi. Telling the crowd how the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy had grown, he added, “. . . talk about ‘Mission Creep,’ this is it!” (For you non-politicos, it was a clever reference to #41’s days as president when he explained he didn’t take out Saddam because he didn’t believe in “mission creep.” The twinkle in his eye could be seen from the back of the Meyerson.)

Then a video of a first: “A Celebration of Reading” at sea. It seems that former First Daughter/Sister Doro Bush Koch arranged to have the celebration held on board the USS George H. W. Bush CVN77 on May 1, 2010, with authors like Antwone FisherJames Bradley and Jill Conner Brown.

Immediately following the video, first lady of the evening Barbara Bush entered the stage to a standing ovation. She told the crowd that she didn’t realize until recently that “A Celebration of Reading” was on Facebook (“Betty White has beaten me to it”). On a more serious note, she reported that the foundation had raised $37 million and had assisted 850 literacy programs throughout the country.

Photo credit: David Shutts Photography

As an example of the program’s effort, Barbara introduced “inspirational reader” Susie Marsh (pictured left with, from the left, Barbara Bush and Susie’s program instructor Melody Barnes), who at the age of 58 returned to school to get her high school diploma. Thanks to the Richardson ISD Family Learning Program, she is not only on her way to getting her GED but she and her 6-year old grandson read to each other.

As Susie hugged Barbara, she may not have noticed that she received a standing ovation from the crowd including Condoleezza, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones and Nancy and Peter Beck on the front row.

Then everyone settled back for the authors to take their turn at the podium. Introducing each were a different set of Bush grandkids. Jeff said that he was the author who would provide levity, and he did just that. Ending his talk he admitted that when his publisher suggested that he launch his newest Wimpy Kid book on Tuesday, he didn’t realize that #43 would be launching his on the same day. Jeff suggested that for the cost of #43’s book you could get two Wimpy Kid books plus a cup of Starbucks.

Next was Condoleezza Rice. Before reading an excerpt from her Extraordinary, Ordinary People, she told how her mother had been a teacher for Willie Mays. Having grown up in the hotbox of Birmingham, Ala., during the racially turbulent 1950’s and 1960’s, Condoleezza recalled the day of the bombing of the nearby 16th Street Baptist Church. She also told how her mother advised her daughter, “You might not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth’s, but you could be president of the United States.”

Following Condoleezza was Roses author Leila Meacham, whose marvelous southern accent gilded the reading of the book that she undertook at the age of 65. Five years later Grand Central Publishing released Roses and it became a New York Times bestseller. Think of it as a Texas version of Gone With The Wind covering a century of three generations in the Lone Star state.

At 7:54 Dallas native son Donovan Campbell took the stage and the audience with him. Before launching into Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, he took time out to address his father, who was in the audience. With a tear in his eye and a smile on his lips, the son congratulated his father for celebrating his “49th birthday for the 11th time.”  Donovan had the entire audience in the palm of his hand as he described his platoon and their facing “some of the bloodiest battles of the war in Iraq.”

While following Donovan might have been considered nearly impossible, former First Lady Laura Bush took on the challenge with grace and style, reading an excerpt from Spoken From the Heart. While always so proper, Laura provided genuine insight to her being courted by George W. Bush (aka #43). Their whirlwind dating/engagement was the talk of West Texas that the “most eligible bachelor in Midland” is marrying “the old maid of Midland.”

Then she introduced “a special surprise guest” — #43. Welcoming the former president with another standing ovation and cheers, the 1,400 got a sneak preview of the next day’s official launch of his book Decision Points, including:

  • Teasing his mother about the “Celebration” — “Mother, I’m glad you did something constructive.”
  • “If you sense shock tomorrow when this book comes out, it’s because, believe it or not, there are some people in our country who do not think I can read much less write.”
  • On his reason for writing the book — “My goals in writing this book are two-fold. First I hope to paint a picture of what it was like to serve as president for eight consequential years. I believe it will be impossible to reach definitive conclusions about my presidency or any recent presidency for that matter for several decades. The passage of time allows passions to cool, results to clarify and scholars to compare different approaches. My hope is that this book will serve as a resource for anyone studying this period in American history. Second, I write to give readers a perspective on decision-making in a complex environment. Many of the decisions that reach the president’s desk are tough calls with strong arguments on both sides. Throughout the book I describe the options I weighed and the principles I followed. I hope this will give you a better sense of why I made the decisions I did.”
  • “I never had to search for a role model. I was the son of George Bush.”
  • On Barbara teaching her little boy French as she drove him through the desert to the orthodontist in Big Spring: “If only Jacques Chirac could have seen me then.”

Following his talk, #43 took a seat on the front row and joined the rest of the audience in hearing the 80 members of the Children’s Chorus of Dallas beautifully perform “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Like any proper hostess, Barbara thanked all for coming, saying, “I bet you’re a little ‘bushed’ tonight.” Then she invited the 1,400 to a light supper.

As guests found their tables, some noted that a certain area of the lobby looked like a convention of Don Draper hunks. It turned out that when you have two former presidents and two former first ladies, you end up with four teams of Secret Service members. One matron asked her table partner, “Do you have to be good-looking to be on the Secret Service?”

As Barbara chatted with Peter Beck (pictured right with Barbara Bush) and #41 joined Dee and Charles Wyly at their table, guests not only found a perfect dinner but gift bags with two books  plus a copy of the winning essays from the writing contest at Peak Preparatory. (If you’d like to see the essays, follow the jump. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has provided the winning copies.)

On the other hand, the younger first couple made an exit signing books (George W. Bush pictured) as they left. After all, #41 had to rise early the next morning for a book signing at Borders, where people were already lining up to meet Barbara’s oldest boy. [Read more…]

More Bushes Coming To Dallas For “A Celebration Of Reading”

Former First Lady Barbara Bush‘s annual “A Celebration of Reading” on Monday, November 8, at the Meyerson, is expanding the Bush family input. Yes, as we reported in June, former First Lady/always-Barbara’s-daughter-in-law Laura Bush will be one of the featured speakers/readers, but it’s just been learned that Bush grandkids will be flying in and on hand for the Dallas event that will no doubt be a sell out.

Just to refresh your memory about the headliners participating, here you go:

  • Donovan  Campbell was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and a Bronze Star with Valor for his time in Iraq. His best-selling novel, Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership and Brotherhood is the extraordinary story of one Marine platoon’s brotherhood, honor, and sacrifice during Iraq’s battle of Ramadi.
  • Jeff Kinney is the best-selling author of the blockbuster series of books – Diary of a Wimpy Kid. All books in the series have been instant New York Times bestsellers. A live-action Wimpy Kid movie was recently released by Fox 2000. Jeff’s sense of humor appeals to youth and adults alike, making him one of the best-selling authors in print today.
  • Leila Meacham, after retiring from a rewarding teaching career, submitted the manuscript of Roses for publication, and has since watched her debut novel climb the New York Times Bestsellers List to the ranks of its Top 10. Publishers Weekly calls Roses an “enthralling stunner and good old-fashioned read” that marks the return of the southern epic genre.
  • Condoleezza Rice (pictured), former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under the administration of President George W. Bush, has agreed to a three-book deal with Crown Publishers. The first and yet unnamed memoir is due out in 2011. It will provide a glimpse into her role in protecting American security and shaping foreign policy during the extraordinary period from 2001-2009.

Proceeds form the event go to the Barbara Bush Texas Fund for Family Literacy, through which The First Lady’s Family Literacy Initiative for Texas grants awards up to  $50,000. The 2010 grant were presented to the Krum Independent School District in Krum, AVANCE in Waco, Austin Learning Academy, Bowie Independence School District, Dallas Public Library (Martin Luther King Jr. Branch) and Crystal City Independent School District.

Laura Bush Added To 2010’s “A Celebration Of Reading”

Amanda and George P. Bush (pictured) just notified MySweetCharity that their aunt/author (aka Former First Lady) Laura Bush has joined the lineup of authors for A Celebration of Reading at the Meyerson on Monday, Nov. 8.

In addition to Laura, Donovan Campbell, Jeff Kinney, Lelia Meacham and Condoleezza Rice will be sharing the stage for Barbara Bush’s annual event.

Because we know you’re looking for some summer reading, we’ve linked the authors names to websites that include their books.

And remember — proceeds form the event go to the Barbara Bush Texas Fund for Family Literacy, through which The First Lady’s Family Literacy Initiative for Texas grants awards up to  $50,000. The 2010 grant were presented to the Krum Independent School District in Krum, AVANCE in Waco, Austin Learning Academy, Bowie Independence School District, Dallas Public Library (Martin Luther King Jr. Branch) and Crystal City Independent School District.

The second-year sustainability grants were given to Literacy Council of Tyler, Deer Park Independent School District in Pasadena, Lamar Consolidated Independent School District in Rosenberg and Northside Independent School District in San Antonio.

Genesis Women's Shelter's Mother's Day Luncheon Surprise!

The Genesis Women’s Shelter‘s annual Mother’s Day Luncheon is always a big deal, but to celebrate their 25 years in operation they redefined “big.” To accomplish this goal, they brought in the big guns from start to finish. First they got former First Lady Laura Bush as honorary chair. (You probably know that Laura was one of the founders of the Genesis Alliance.) In turn Laura got former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice as the feature speaker for the event. (You do know that Condi used to work for Laura’s husband, former President George W. Bush.)

As soon as the news of the honorary chair and speaker hit email boxes, tables started selling and sponsors were lining up.

Then an uh-oh happened.

[Read more…]