Our Friends Place’s 14th Annual Gala – Auction And Casino Night Celebrated With Awards, Partying And Alumnae Accomplishments

There was a heck of a lot of celebrating over at the Omni Dallas on Saturday, April 29, thanks to Our Friends Place‘s 14th Annual Gala. From handing out awards, playing casino games, dining, dancing and most importantly hearing success stories from OFP graduates, it was a night to remember. Here’s a report from the field:

Tonnette Easter, Barbara Milo and Leslie Simmons*

Our Friends Place (OFP) celebrated their 14th Annual Gala – Auction And Casino Night on Saturday, April 29, at the beautiful Omni Dallas Hotel.  Honorary co-chairs included LuAnn and George Damiris and Debbie and Jack Gibson. Gala – Auction and Casino Night co-chairs included Tonnette Easter, Leslie Simmons and Barbara Milo.

Despite the blustery and rainy forecast, the event was well attended with those eager to bid on auction packages, play casino games and get their dance feet moving. 

Suzan E. Fenner*

Sharyl Weber and Sharon Pope*

The night started off with the presentation of The 13th Annual Ebby Awards to Suzan E. Fenner and the Northwood Woman’s Club represented by NWC President Sheryl Weber and Board Member Sharon Pope. Each recipient was honored to be recognized for their significant contributions and achievements in the advancement of girls and/or women in North Texas. The award is named after Ebby Halliday Acers, who was a tireless and passionate advocate for women in the community, and she was the first recipient of this award in 2005.

Another heartfelt highlight occurred when a few OFP alumnae were recognized for their achievements and growth through the program. We introduced Morgan and Shabnam, recent alums who shared their story about being homeless through video to a completely silent room of over 450 people. The impact of the OFP program was evident when both young ladies came to the stage to share updates.

Morgan finished her Associates Degree at Richland College while at Our Friends Place and is now living in an apartment and going to school at Texas Women’s University in Denton.

Sue Hesseltine and Cindy Tonnessen*

Shabnam is continuing her Year Up program through El Centro College and will graduate in late summer. She also works with Dallas ISD as a Homeless Youth Advocate at a local high school.

“Thanks to everyone who made our 14th Annual Gala – Auction and Casino Night such a success,” said Our Friends Place Executive Director Sue Thiers Hesseltine. “With the record number of guests, we were able to increase awareness of Our Friends Place, while having a great time raising funds to help the young women who call Our Friends Place home.” 

Gala sponsors, whose contributions made the evening an even greater success, included:

  • Diamond ($15,000) – Ben E. Keith Co.
  • Ruby ($10,000) – Suzan and Peter Fenner and Debbie and Jack Gibson
  • Emerald ($5,000) – BDO, Ebby Halliday Realtors, HollyFrontier, Paladin Partners, PWC, Laura and Jerry Fonville, Jan Wilkes/Debbie and Clarence Woosley and The Lee Family Charitable Fund
  • Jade ($3,000) and Sapphire ($2,000) – EY, The Fab Four, 12 General Contracting Services, Heather Bennett/Angela Maverick/Micki Seager/Cindy Tonnessen, Diane and Curtis Hawkins, TDKrause Consulting and Peggy Busby, Leslie Simmons and Rick Johnson, The Ryan Foundation, Brenda and David Snitzer and Jill and Brad Svoboda 
  • Underwriters — Bradford Commercial Real Estate, Frost Bank, Sue and Jack Hesseltine, Hunton & Williams LLP, Angela Maverick and Sean Baxley, Leslie Simmons and Rick Johnson, Jackson-Shaw Foundation, and Sutton Frost Cary LLP
* Photo provided by Our Friends Place

Retired Attorney Suzan Fenner And Northwood Woman’s Club To Receive Our Friends Place’s 13th Annual Ebby Award At April Gala

Ebby Halliday Acers (File photo)

The late Ebby Halliday Acers would have been 106 years old this month. Despite the loss of the first lady of residential real estate a year-and-a-half ago, her memory and inspiration continue. Timed in sync with Ebby’s natal day is the announcement of the Annual Ebby Award that is presented by Our Friends Place for those contributing to the advancement of girls and/or women.

Our Friends Place Executive Director Sue Thiers Hesseltine revealed the 13th Annual Ebby Awardees will be retired partner of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP Suzan E. Fenner and the Northwood Woman’s Club.

According to Sue, “Both award winners are truly passionate about serving our community and engage with a number of nonprofits, providing leadership and resources that contribute to the advancement of girls and women in North Texas. Suzan and the Northwood Woman’s Club have made Dallas a better place.”

Past recipients include Ebby, Sarah Losinger, Barbara S. Cambridge, the National Council of Jewish Women of Greater Dallas and Leigh Richter.

The presentation of the award to Suzan and the Northwood Woman’s Club will be made at the 14th Annual Our Friends Place Gala Auction And Casino Night on Saturday, April 29 at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Joining Event Co-Chairs Tonnette Easter, Barbara Milo and Leslie Simmons will be Honorary Co-Chairs LuAnn and George Damiris and Debbie and Jack Gibson.

The full release of the announcement follows the jump.

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JUST IN: 2016 Ebby Award To Be Presented To Leigh Richter And National Council Of Jewish Women Dallas Chapter

Ebby Halliday (File photo)

Ebby Halliday (File photo)

Wednesday, March 9, would have been the late Ebby Halliday’s 105th birthday. And while she won’t be present to celebrate, her spirit and name will continue to inspire other in helping others. That’s why the revealing of the announcement of the Ebby Award winners by Our Friends Place is so timely.

Event Co-Chairs Shanha Goodwyn and Diane M. Hawkins revealed that the Saturday, April 30th Auction And Casino Night at the Omni Dallas Hotel will present the Ebby Award to

  • Leigh Richter, who is “the Senior Vice President of Investment and Retail Services at Bradford Commercial Real Estate Services in Dallas. She has been a champion for women in commercial real estate and the community for several decades. An active member of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women), including being a past board President, Leigh is also a board alum of Dallas Women’s Foundation and Our Friends Place. She has worked at the grass roots level behind the scenes as well as in leadership roles for a number of organizations and continues to work diligently in many arenas on behalf of women.”
  • National Council of Jewish Women Dallas Chapter, which “strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. In 2015, NCJW Dallas volunteers have been on the cutting edge of developing and delivering social service programs with over 9,000 volunteer hours to those most in need in Dallas. Ground-breaking programs NCJW Dallas has initiated over the years include funding of the first social worker in the Dallas County Jail system; HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters), a school readiness program for parents of preschool children; and Food + Fit = Fun, a bilingual program that helps low-income parents prepare their children for a healthy lifestyle.”

Created in 2005, the award “recognizes individuals who contribute significant achievements for the advancement of girls and women in North Texas.”

To support this effort that was in keeping with Ebby, the honorary co-chairs will be her longtime friend/President of Ebby Halliday Realtors Mary Frances Burleson and Search Real Fast owners/philanthropists Suzan and Peter Fenner.

Making up the host committee are Heather and Alex Bennett, Mary Burns, Audra and Terrence Chavis, Kimberly and Philip Cormier, Elizabeth Dacus, Scott Dennett, Suzane Erlanson, Baranda Fermin, Shanha and Jordan Goodwyn, Susybelle Gosslee, Carla Gourley, Sara and Robert Hallam, Diane and Curtis Hawkins, Sharon Jett, Laura and David Johnson, Barbara and Brad Kolle, Angela Martin and Sean Baxley, Charles M. Martin Sr., Margaret and David Montemayor, Brandy Patrick, Megan Pharis, Erin and Stephen Pope, Sharon and Jim Pope, Elizabeth Post, Micki and Aaron Seager, Leslie Simmons and Rick Johnson and Cindy Tonnessen.

As of this date, major sponsors include

  • Diamond Sponsor — Ben E. Keith
  • Ruby Sponsor — Search Real Fast/Suzan and Peter Fenner
  • Emerald Sponsor — BDO USA LLP
  • Jade Sponsors — HollyFrontier and The Fab Four

Our Friends Place “is committed to helping young women break the generational cycles of abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness.”