Wilkinson Center’s Spirit Of Taos Returns To Melissa Benge Collection For A Kick-Off Party With Boots And News Galore

Melissa Benge Collection boots

Melissa Benge Collection boots

The Friends of Wilkinson Center’s Spirit of Taos was such a successful kickoff last year at Melissa Benge Collection, they did a repeat on Wednesday, September 21. It’s no wonder. With boots, turquoise, suede coats, belts, saddles, leather goods and silver buckles, the shop seemed to have brought the best parts of Taos to the Knox-Henderson neighborhood.

Melissa Benge Collection leather, silver and turquoise accessories

Melissa Benge Collection leather, silver and turquoise accessories

This year the Benge crew upped the ante by giving guests 10% off of all merchandise, donating 10% of all the evening’s proceeds to Wilkinson Center and providing guests like Anne Conner, Liz Stutts, OJ DeSouza, Michael Cooley, Emily Dunn, Sandra Pomeroy, Joe Acosta and Gary Stevener with “a decorative coffee mug from Melissa Benge Collection and a jar of La Casita Award Winning salsa as a takeaway gift.”

Anne Reeder, Missy Huber and Millie Winston

Anne Reeder, Missy Huber and Millie Winston

Evidently nobody cared when the official start time was. Everybody was there except Wilkinson Center PR gal Vodi Cook. Alas, the dedicated blonde Vodi’s recent demolition derby of a car crunch had resulted in her left arm going under the knife to repair damaged ligaments from just above the elbow to her wrist. Gee! The good news is that Vodi is right-handed.

And despite holding up bravely at the Kidney Texas lunch the day before, Vodi was not up to snuff for the Spirit KO. Luckily, Wilkinson Center’s Executive Director Anne Reeder was on hand to answer any questions.

One question hitting Anne that had absolutely nothing to do with Wilkinson was the bulldozers demolishing the former Steakley dealership at the corner of Abrams and Northwest Highway. She recalled the 1960s when most of Dallas thought anything north of the Park Cities was Oklahoma. It was at that time some very brave entrepreneurs saw the city’s future lying along Northwest Highway. While the late Ray Nasher was building NorthPark Center, Anne’s dad, the late John Steakley, built a well-known and successful Chevrolet dealership on the property where a pony ride operation had been. And while the family sold the property years ago, most locals still refer to it as the Steakley property.

Meridith Zidell, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

Meridith Zidell, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix

But Anne quickly recovered from the good old days memories and told how Stephanie Taylor, Sloan Looney Dix and Meridith Zidell would chair Spirit on Friday, October 28. And, yes, it will return to The Lot just across the street from White Rock. Joining the hoop-la will be Honorary Co-Chair Steve & Cathy Saxon. And, of course, the raffle will have everything including jewelry, dining opportunities, trips and art.

A couple of the very tip-top items are

  • Taos Bling (Value: One of a kind!) — For anyone who loves Taos, they’ve just got to have turquoise  and silver in their jewel box along with their diamonds. But then one can simply never have enough of the good stuff. So “Dallas jeweler Beyond Baroque will deck you out with diamonds and turquoise: turquoise and diamond earrings, turquoise discs interspersed between silver chain necklace with vintage bone pendant accented with pave diamond heading, and collection of stackable turquoise and diamond bracelets. According to Vodi, “We thought Taos Bling would be a great item to feature since all the ladies who attend the event wear their turquoise and pave diamonds.”
  • Cookin’ With Sibby (Value: $1,200) — Unlike the usual dining-out package, how about something totally new and not in your zip code? Longtime Wilkinson Center supporter/creative maven Sibby Barrett will whip up a dinner for four guests at Onion Creek Kitchens at the Hill Country’s Juniper Hills Farm in Blanco. And since it’ll be a full night of dining and wining, the guests won’t have to scurry back to Big Old D. Sibby has arranged for a one-night stay in “two charming cottages.”
Steve and Cathy Saxon

Steve and Cathy Saxon

The Spirit of Taos is one of those events where boots, turquoise and jeans are so at home that you wish it went on for a couple of days.

Tickets/sponsorships range from $150 for outdoor tickets to $8,000 that includes premium covered seating for a table for eight.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: The Spirit Of Taos

According to The Spirit Of Taos Co-Chair Meridith Myers Zidell,

Meredith Zidell, Sloan Looney Dix and Stephanie Taylor (File photo)

Meredith Zidell, Sloan Looney Dix and Stephanie Taylor (File photo)

“Supporting Wilkinson Center is a family tradition in the Myers family. My Co-Chairs Sloan Looney Dix, and Stephanie Taylor and, I all grew up in Lakewood and all of our moms have been active in the Friends of Wilkinson Center for many years. They passed on their passion and commitment to the mission of providing Pathways out of Poverty. Stephanie’s mom, Missy Huber, is the current president of the Friends of Wilkinson Center and my mom, Melanie Myers, is the immediate past president of the Wilkinson Center Board of Directors. We are proud to represent the next generation of Friends and we hope to pass on the fun of voluntarism and the importance of community service to our children. We support Wilkinson Center because they serve over 10,000 individual each year by providing food, emergency services, adult education and job connections for working poor families in Dallas.

The Spirit Of Taos*

The Spirit Of Taos*

Steve Saxon and Cathy Brittingham Saxon*

Steve Saxon and Cathy Brittingham Saxon*

“The 2016 honorary co-chairs are Cathy Brittingham Saxon and Steve Saxon. Cathy (mother of Friends member Natalie Nihill) helped Missy create and chair the first Spirit of Taos in 2014. Since many of their friends escape to New Mexico each summer, they decided to channel that cool Taos vibe to entice poor Texans who were sick of the Dallas heat. The resulting laid-back celebration of fun, food, friends and music has been sold out each year to guests who were happy to trade tuxes for boots. The 2016 Spirit of Taos will be held at The Lot on Friday, October 28, at 7:00 p.m. Individual tickets can be purchased here. For sponsorships and tables, please contact Vodi Cook at 972.284.0305 or email her at [email protected]. Hope you will join us!”

* Photo and graphic provided by Wilkinson Center

Despite The Rains Pouring, The Spirit of Taos Partied On At The Lot For The Friends Of Wilkinson Center

Nothing can keep the Friends of Wilkinson Center home when it comes to fundraising for The Wilkinson Center. And their annual Spirit of Taos was a perfect example. Here’s a report from the field:

The Spirit of Taos partying

The Spirit of Taos partying*

Hosted by the Friends of Wilkinson Center, The Spirit of Taos took place at The Lot in Lakewood. This event sold out despite the earlier torrential downpour that swept Dallas and took out several power lines leaving many without electricity. More than 200 millennials and baby-boomers needed to escape their cabin fever so they dusted off their Taos chic attire and braved the weather to support Wilkinson Center.

David and Sloan Looney Dix, Stephanie Taylor and Matt Muckleroy*

David and Sloan Looney Dix, Stephanie Taylor and Matt Muckleroy*

The event kicked off with a cocktail hour from 7-8pm that featured margaritas and hors d’oeuvres like quesadillas, mini pimento cheese sandwiches, tostadas and chicken flautas. Guests were welcomed by Anne Reeder, Executive Director of Wilkinson Center and Spirit of Taos event chairs, Sloan Looney Dix and Stephanie Taylor.

Jack and Emily Dunn, Anne Reeder and Cindy and Gary Weed*

Jack and Emily Dunn, Anne Reeder and Cindy and Gary Weed*

A seated dinner followed with southwest-flavored food from The Lot and dessert by Emporium Pies. Special remarks were made by Honorary Co-Chairs and long-time Wilkinson Center supporters Emily and Jack Dunn and Cindy and Gary Weed. Guests like Sherry and Gary Stevener, Anne and Terry Connor, Laura Reeder and Andrew Johnson listened and danced throughout the evening to tunes from Frank in the Middle and Downtown Fever.

Sherry and Gary Stevener*

Sherry and Gary Stevener*

Laura Reeder and Andrew Johnson*

Laura Reeder and Andrew Johnson*

Terry and Anne Connor*

Terry and Anne Connor*

Missy Huber and Cathy Brittingham Saxon*

Missy Huber and Cathy Brittingham Saxon*

The silent auction featured unique items like a weekend at a luxury resort in Taos, New Mexico and a Matthew Trent tourmaline necklace. The raffle put together by Missy Huber and Cathy Brittingham Saxon  included custom made Olsen-Stelzer boots and a cooking collaboration at the Onion Creek Kitchens at Juniper Farms in Blanco, Texas.

If you weren’t interested in what the silent auction or raffle had to offer, there was also a Kendra Scott station set up where mystery jewelry boxes were sold for $50/per box. Each box contained a piece of jewelry that ranged in value from $50-$120.  KeoPix Photobooth was set up to commemorate the evening with photos and funny props.

We are so grateful for everyone who came out, supported and had a great time! We could not have done it without our loyal constituents. The money raised from this event allows us to continue to provide pathways out of poverty for our clients. Until next year….

* Photo credit: Lisa Means

SOLD-OUT ALERT!: The Spirit Of Taos

The Wilkinson Center folks just know how to put the “fun” into fundraising. Perhaps that’s why The Spirit of Taos Co-Chairs Sloan Looney Dix and Stephanie Taylor just sent word that Friday night’s event at The Lot is more than sold out. Adding to the happy faces is the fact that they’ve already taken in more than $60,000. And they still have a silent auction and a raffle to hold!

Emily Dunn, Cindy Zahn Weed, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix (File photo)

Emily Dunn, Cindy Zahn Weed, Stephanie Taylor and Sloan Looney Dix (File photo)

With weather predictions saying rain is due Friday, The Lot is the perfect spot to feel comfy with good food, music just perfect for dancing and a lot of great people like Honorary Co-Chairs Emily and Jack Dunn and Cindy and Gary Weed. If you haven’t been to The Lot, it’s just across the road from White Rock and down the road from the Dallas Arboretum.

But let’s be honest. For a nice contribution, who knows? Perhaps they could squeeze a couple of more folks in.

The Spirit Of Taos Filled The Lot Thanks To The Friends Of Wilkinson

Many Dallas folks either have a second home in Taos or wish they did. The New Mexico town has the charm of Santa Fe without the hype. The nearby mountains also provide just enough chill to make chimineas with pinion, sweaters, boots and turquoise simply perfect any evening by moonlight.

On Friday, November 7, the Friends of Wilkinson Center transported that feel for a sold-out crowd at The Lot for The Spirit of Taos benefiting the The Wilkinson Center. The slight dip in the temperature made it ideal to bust out those cashmere and leathers. Even the moon cooperated, peeking through the trees.

Haley Dugas, Caroline Atkins and Beth Tomlin

Haley Dugas, Caroline Atkins and Beth Tomlin

However, instead of snow bunnies greeting you, Haley Dugas, Caroline Atkins and Beth Tomlin were right at the front door to check guests in.

Ann Dyer and Anne Reeder

Ann Dyer and Anne Reeder

The three Ann’s (Honorary Co-Chair Ann Dyer, Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder and Anne Conner) seemed to have gotten the memo proclaiming black leather and turquoise were the look of the night. Co-Chair Bob Dyer was late in arriving. Traffic was murder, but Ann carried on without a hiccup.

On the other hand, Pat McEvoy, just back from France, admitted that the only thing in her closet that was near western were her boots.

Charles and Pat McEvoy

Charles and Pat McEvoy

Liz Mayo and John Hansen

Liz Mayo and John Hansen

The sold-out event for 210 had guests all over the place. While Liz Mayo and John Hansen took to the dance floor, Rose Farley and Tom Korosec joined Sara and Gary Ahr in a nearby booth. Outside in the beer garden, Terry Conner caught up with Holly and Stormy Greef.

Anne and Terry Conner and Holly and Stormy Greef

Anne and Terry Conner and Holly and Stormy Greef

Rose Farley, Tom Korosec and Sara and Gary Ahr

Rose Farley, Tom Korosec and Sara and Gary Ahr

Co-Chairs Missy Huber and Cathy Saxon arranged for Frank in the Middle to start off the entertainment for the evening. Eventually Taos fav/former Dallasite Michael Hearne took over, including “Spirit of Taos” in his repertoire.

Even the list of raffle items had that Sangre de Cristo flavor with trips to Taos, turquoise jewelry and fashions.

Spirit of Taos in some ways was better than being in Taos. You didn’t have to waste time getting there. You had great food, music and friends. And you helped the Friends raise funds for The Wilkinson Center.

Grovel Alert: The Spirit Of Taos

The Spirit of Taos*

The Spirit of Taos*

It’s nippy outside today and everyone is drying out from the past couple of days of rain. According to weather guessers, the upcoming weekend is supposed to be a sweetheart — temps in the upper 60’s, sunshine and zero chance of rain.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Friday night’s The Spirit of Taos for the Wilkinson Center at The Lot. It will be just cool enough to sit by the fire pit with good friends and soon-to-be friends, Michael Hearne on stage singing and food and beverages to ward off any type of blues or chill.

Unfortunately, word has just arrived that only 15 tickets are left. Even if you can’t get one of the few remaining tickets or are bed bound nursing a head cold, you can still buy a raffle ticket for one of the trips, jewelry, designer clothes or other hot items.

After you get your ticket, go out and buy a new Taos-ish something to wear, or dig through that closet to resurrect that fav item that got all the raves last time you wore it. In other words, give the pearls and tuxedos the night off.

* Graphic provided by The Wilkinson Center