Round Robin November 19: Mad Hatter’s Reveal, Art Of Film Patron Party And Vine And Dine

With Thanksgiving just one week away, the evening of Thursday, November 19, seemed like a Republican debate with all types of fundraising activities vying for attention. And, boy, did they get it!

The Lee Park Junior Conservancy was doing a very happy hour for the young professional crowd at Texas Ale Project on N. Riverfront. A percentage of sales was going to the group’s support for “the care and conservation of Lee Park and Arlington Hall.”

Mad Hatter’s Tea Reveal

Jocelyn White, Renee Farren, Connie Carreker and Nerissa Von Helpenstill

Jocelyn White, Renee Farren, Connie Carreker and Nerissa Von Helpenstill

And speaking of care and conservation, the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum was filling Tootsie’s to sip champagne and more importantly to learn 2016 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Jocelyn White’s plans for the Thursday, April 21st fundraiser.

Connie Carreker hat

Connie Carreker hat

First off, the honorary chair should have been nobody’s surprise — Connie Carreker. And already living up to honorary responsibilities, Connie was wearing a hat that promoted the event reading, “Wish You Were Here” on the white sunhat brim.

With typical sparkling personality, Jocie revealed the theme for the event at the Arboretum would be “Steel Magnolias” with fashions on the runway in Rosine Hall from Tootsie’s and produced by Jan Strimple. Well, duh!

Tootsies fashions

Tootsies fashions

Steel Magnolias logo designed by Rongrong Devoe*

Steel Magnolias logo designed by Rongrong Devoe*

But she wasn’t finished. Unveiling the logo by Houston illustrator Rongrong Devoe for the heady affair, she announced that Linda Spina would be in charge of the judges, who would include Gary Riggs; “floral engineer” Shane Walker would be creating the luncheon centerpieces and Patricia Armstrong would be chairing underwriting.

With the announcement of the theme, smoke was seen arising from the heads of Women’s Council President Reneé Farren, Mary Lee Cox and Nancy Labadie on how their chapeaus would vie for prizes in the hat competition. The clock is ticking. Get those designs going.

The Art Of Film Patron Party

Brett and Lester Levy

Brett and Lester Levy

Brett and Lester Levy Jr.’s love of the late artist Andy Warhol was obvious to all as they entered the Levy home. In the entry of their Highland Park residence were the Warhol portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Chairman Mao.

Was this interest new? No, according to Lester, who’s also a photographer, he started collecting art when he was in his 20s.

And exactly what was the connection between the Levys’ Warhols and their hosting The Art of Film patron party the night before the Dallas Film Society’s fundraiser? Simple. The dinner and conversation with featured actress Isabella Rossellini would be taking place at The Space, where an incredible collection of Warhol drawings and photos would serve as a backdrop for the film lovers.

Seems so right, since Isabella was one of the late artist’s muses and friends.

Stan Levenson, Stacy Girard and Lee Papert

Stan Levenson, Stacy Girard and Lee Papert

In the crowd was Honorary Co-Chair Stan Levenson telling Art of Film Co-Chair Stacy Girard and Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert that wife/Co-Chair Barbara Levenson was under the weather, but she would definitely be showing up the next night fit as a fiddle.

Vine and Dine

At the Neiman Marcus flagship store in downtown Dallas, meantime, about 145 guests gathered for the eighth annual Vine and Dine event benefiting Ability Connection Texas, which provides a range of services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford**

Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford**

The fundraiser, co-chaired this year by Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford, provided the nonprofit group with money to “empower individuals to live the best life possible by removing barriers that inhibit independence and autonomy.”

Now that Margaret has “retired” from her duties at PaperCity, she’s turned her sights to supporting various efforts like Ability Connection Texas in addition to watching son/Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford playing football on Sundays.

DeeDee Lee, Kayla Roughton and Inette Brown**

DeeDee Lee, Kayla Roughton and Inette Brown**

Pam and Vin Perella**

Pam and Vin Perella**

Among those enjoying the festive evening were new Uptown residents DeeDee and Jim Lee (they sold their big old home and decided to downsize and revitalize in the Uptown neighborhood), Debbie and Chuck Wilson, Lynn McBee, Meredith and Jack Woodworth, Kayla Roughton, Inette Brown, Kristin and Quintan Cockerell and Vin Perella with wife Pam Perella, who was receiving congrats on being announced just a couple of days before as the chair for the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball.

Jack Woodworth, Jeffrey Woodworth and Meredith Woodworth**

Jack Woodworth, Jeffrey Woodworth and Meredith Woodworth**

Following a cocktail reception on the store’s ground level, the guests moved up to the sixth floor Zodiac Room for a wonderful dinner prepared by NM Chef Kevin Garvin, complete with wines. Then there was a live auction.

* Graphic provided by the Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum 
** Photo credit: Andy Keye + Whitney Photography

Piper And Mike Wyatt Left Rays Behind To Set Their Sights On Vine And Dine Fundraiser For Ability Connection Texas

Mike and Piper Wyatt (File photo)

Mike and Piper Wyatt (File photo)

Piper and Mike Wyatt just returned from Hawaii before the storms hit, and they’re all full of tales about nighttime snorkeling on the Big Island checking out the giant Manta Rays. Leave it to Piper to describe the underwater flappers as “gorgeous and graceful creatures… it was like watching an underwater ballet.”

But now the Wyatts are turning from Rays to fundraising for Ability Connection Texas. Yup, they’re co-chairing the Vine and Dine at Neiman Marcus Downtown on Thursday, November 19. The fundraiser will provide Ability Connection Texas with funds to “empower individuals to live the best life possible by removing barriers that inhibit independence and autonomy.

You remember November. It’s that month when there’s enough of a chill to party without “unwanted glistening” and the holidays are kicking into full gear.

Kevin Garvin (File photo)

Kevin Garvin (File photo)

Back to Vine and Dine. After the cocktail reception at 6 p.m. on the store’s ground level, guests will move up to the sixth floor Zodiac Room for a feast prepared by NM Chef Extraordinaire Kevin Garvin complete with wines. Then the action begins with the live auction of “a limited number of coveted items.”

Piper also reports, “There is also the opportunity to sponsor an Ability Connection client by donating funds to purchase a communication device and give a person with a disability the chance to speak, perhaps for the very first time.”

BTW, the next time you stroll through Klyde Warren Park’s My Best Friend’s Park with your fav pooch, check out the fire hydrant that is very dog-friendly. Piper and Mike Wyatt sponsored it along with John Zogg and his daughter Ellie, Georgia and Gwyneth. It had its dedication last November with the help of a Papillion that just couldn’t wait.

Round Robin November 20: Tyson Chandler Delivery, DSOL Debs, A Night Of Light And Vine And Dine

Just a week before Thanksgiving and a whole lot of nonprofits were squeezing in events before folks headed out of town or shut down for the holiday. Thursday, November 20, had everything from basketball stars to debs.

Tyson Chandler Delivers

Tyson Chandler and Sayge Chandler

Tyson Chandler and Sayge Chandler

When Dallas Maverick Tyson Chandler makes a home delivery, he does it in a big way and he brings along the entire Chandler clan. Need proof? How about his pulling up to the Vogel Alcove to deliver full-fledged Thanksgiving dinners for single-parent families in the Mavericks bus? And he was in the driver’s seat. Well, he was squashed into the seat. After all, the driver isn’t normally 7’1” tall.

Tyson specifically wanted the meals provided for single-parent families because he had been raised in such a family headed up by his mother Vernie Threadgill.

According to Tyson, “I watched my mom struggle to provide and just keep our heads above water. So, for someone in my situation, there’s so much pleasure to give back to families who are there, too. I’m just as thankful as they were for the opportunity. Meeting them was my favorite part.”

Kimberly Chandler

Kimberly Chandler

Along with him was his sharper-than-a-stiletto and gorgeous wife, Kimberly, and their munchkins — Sacha, Tyson II and Sayge. It was important for the parents that the children come along to distribute the food. They wanted the kids to understand that such things as Thanksgiving dinners were important to families who might not have all the advantages that the Chandler children enjoy.

Dallas Mavericks crew

Dallas Mavericks crew

Evidently, the adult Chandlers have little to worry about. All three schlepped the bags, along with the Mavs Dancers, Mavs Man and Champ and ManiAACs, to the third floor, where the recipient families waited. Just watching Tyson slightly bend over to make it through the doorway amazed children and parents alike. But after the initial photos were taken, the Chandlers got about the handing out of food with Kimberly at one end of the lengthy table and Tyson at the other end.

Debs Sip And Slip On Slippers

With the holidays comes the battle royale for parking at Highland Park Village. But the sparkling lights in the trees and the lights glowing from the shops ease the search for a parking spot.

Dixey Arterburn and Annabel Toole and Catherine Toole

Dixey Arterburn and Annabel Toole and Catherine Toole

According to 2014 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Deb Chair Dixey Arterburn, she had gotten her destinations mixed up and mistakenly marched up to the Goop party. Giving her name and saying that she was meeting So-And-So inside, she gained entry. Once inside, she didn’t recognize any of the 20- and 30-something gals and got that feeling that something just wasn’t right. Then she realized the DSOL party was taking place across the way at Louboutin.

Amita Singh, Brice and Cynthia Beaird and Jennifer Hudson

Amita Singh, Brice and Cynthia Beaird and Jennifer Hudson

Talk about a change in atmosphere. The 2015 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League debs, moms and past participants like Honorary Co-Chairs Cynthia and Brice Beaird and 2013 DSOL deb Annabel Toole and her mom Catherine Toole were happily sipping champagne while trying on Cinderella-style slippers that feet dream of, thanks to the Louboutin team of Amita Singh and Jennifer Hudson.

A Night of Lights

Though it was “downsized” from a three-course dinner for a large crowd at the Hilton Anatole last year to “family-style” grazing at the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Center for Nonprofit Management’s 2014 Awards of Excellence program on Nov. 20 was received no less enthusiastically by the evening’s 400 or so guests.

Before the 2014 “A Night of Light” event, the program—which recognizes and celebrates nonprofit excellence in North Texas—had given out $375,000 to 75 nonprofit agencies and the people who lead them. The totals swelled by $25,000 with the 2014 excellence awards, which honored five winners in categories including Nonprofit of the Year, Nonprofit CEO of the Year, Nonprofit Communicator of the Year in Honor of Robert Miller, Corporation of the Year, and Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year.

Dan and Tina Weinfurther, Catherine Cuellar and Paul Williams,  and Sara and Cass Robinson*

Dan and Tina Weinfurther, Catherine Cuellar and Paul Williams, and Sara and Cass Robinson*

Following a reception attended by the likes of Yvonne Crum, Bobby Lyle, Jan Langbein, and Nikki and Crayton Webb, the program got underway with Dave Lieber of the The Dallas Morning News serving as master of ceremonies. Leiber called the Awards of Excellence the “Oscars of the nonprofit world,” and said he had learned the essence of being a Texan: “It’s not what kind of car you drive, but what charity do you volunteer with?”

Latoya Stewart and Dana Beckman*

Latoya Stewart and Dana Beckman*

Following brief talks by Cass Robinson, the CNM board chair, and Dana Beckman of Alliance Data—Alliance was the presenting sponsor—Honorary Chair Catherine Cuellar took the stage. Cuellar, who’s executive director of the Dallas Arts District, told the crowd that they could see “effective nonprofit management” everywhere they turned in the Arts District, from Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Performance Hall to the Dallas Opera and the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Larry James and Charles Elk*

Larry James and Charles Elk*

Then, after a video featuring Tina Weinfurther, the CNM’s president and CEO, it was finally time for the awards. This year’s winners, who each received a $5,000 cash award, were:

  • Nonprofit of the Year — The Concilio;
  • Nonprofit CEO of the Year — Larry James of CitySquare;
  • Nonprofit Communicator of the Year — Fort Worth Opera;
  • TXU Energy (Corporation of the Year); and
  • Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year — Tim Durst, Leukemia & Lymphona Society.

Vine And Dine

Clay and Brenda Cockrell*

Clay and Brenda Cockrell**

And finally, a report from the field, or rather Neiman Marcus Downtown,

“The seventh annual Vine and Dine dinner and charity auction supporting Ability Connection Texas was a delightful success! The intimate setting of the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus downtown combined with wonderful wine provided by Brenda and Clay Cockerell, Coquerel Family Wine Estates and delicious cuisine, was one of the must attend events in Dallas.

“Event chair couples Suzanne and Don Laidlaw and Christie and John Reniger, along with honorary chairs Sue and Bill Knudsen, President and CEO, Ability Connection Texas, greeted everyone at the VIP reception where hors d’oeuvres of pizzettes eggplant caviar, baby stuffed purple potatoes with caviar and sour cream and more accompanied a Le Petit Coquerel Sauvingnon Blanc, Napa Valley 2012 and the specialty drink of the evening, spiced appletinis.

Neva Hall, Inette Brown, Laurie-Jo Staty and Amy Hughes

Neva Hall, Inette Brown, Laurie-Jo Staty and Amy Hughes**

“Don and John welcomed the crowd, thanking Neiman Marcus for their longtime support, having hosted the event since its beginning seven years ago and especially Neva Hall and Marjon Henderson, for achieving excellence in every detail. The room was dazzling elegance as tables were dressed in mint satin cloths, topped with white hydrangeas and roses overflowing in their vases and silver service matching the silver and mint holiday wreaths and the Zodiac décor.

Meredith Woodworth and Katy Moore*

Meredith Woodworth and Katy Moore**

“Special recognition went to Meredith and Jack Woodworth for their major sponsorship and special thanks to the Ability Connection Texas team, including Mark Denzin, incoming President and CEO.
Brenda announced the wines for the evening, sharing the story behind the name of the dessert wine La Douce Revanche, meaning “sweet revenge.” In 2008 a frost killed the fruit and the Cockerells recreated it. And a very special surprise, she and Clay will donate 15% of each case of wine purchased that evening back to Ability Connection Texas.

“Jack Woodworth a member of the board, shared the news of Bill Knudsen leaving ACT, saying Bill has always been the clients’ best friend. During his ten year tenure the number of people served has increased 640%. For the past 25 years, he has put clients and their families first.

Bill Knudsen*

Bill Knudsen**

“Bill took the stage, saying he had to put on his reading glasses – huge clown glasses and a red rubber nose and toasted the crowd to cheers! With heartfelt gratitude, he recognized current and past board members and ended saying, “On behalf of everyone we serve, you are the wind beneath their wings,” to a standing ovation.

“Mark thanked Bill saying for the past seven and-a-half years he has helped him to grow and be ready for the next step in his life. Clients served have grown from 200 to 1,500 each day and ACT is now regional in four states with 2.4 million hours provided by the ACT team.

“Jay, a client who resides in Jubilee House, told how since he moved there, this is his first time to be independent and through the Impact program, he grows each day, ending with an enthusiastic, ‘It’s a wonderful place.’

“Neiman Marcus Corporate Director and Chef Anita Hirsch and Zodiac Executive Chef David Crow served a fabulous gourmet three course dinner and as the name suggests, luscious wines. A Terrior Coquerel Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011 accompanied the first course of seared day boat scallops, parsnip puree, brussels sprouts leaves, apple and kohlrabi salad. Second course included grilled filet mignon, wild mushrooms and autumn vegetable succotash, potato gnocchi and a caramelized shallot demi-glace with a Coquerel La Petite Sirah, Napa Valley 2010. Topping it all off was a dessert of flourless chocolate cake and amaretto crème brulee gelato with a Coquerel La Douce Revanche, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2009.

Hayden Hrncir and Kendall Jennings*

Hayden Hrncir and Kendall Jennings**

“The lights went up and Mike Sadler of Heritage Charity Auctions took the stage and began the exciting live auction as guests snapped up fabulous items including a Givenchy handbag, Brioni custom suit, U.S. Capitol trip, Parigi Prepared Evening, Cucinelli Shopping Spree, Kevin Garvin Personal Chef Experience, Custom Made Lukken Leather Boots and more.

“The mission of Ability Connection Texas is to provide a full range of services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities as they strive to achieve their highest level of independence. Whether advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, teaching the letters of the alphabet to a child with autism, or training an adult with a head injury to re-enter the workforce with the use of adaptive technology, Ability Connection Texas is the preeminent organization leading the way for people with any type of disability.

“As a regional health organization, Ability Connection Texas takes pride in its excellent stewardship of funds raised with 90 percent of contributions going directly to programs and services. The important work of Ability Connection is supported by tax-deductible contributions from individuals, companies and organizations.

Visit the website for more details about Ability Connection Texas and their mission at www.AbilityConnectionTexas.org

* Photo credit: James Edward 
** Photo credit: Andy Keye and Whitney Keye

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Vine And Dine

Mary Clare Finney

Mary Clare Finney

Remember life before Dallas became a glorified igloo? Sure, you do. Groceries were stocked with food. Driving a car didn’t require the talents of a glider pilot. Electricity abundantly flowed through the wires. Ah, those were indeed the good old days.

To help you make the transition back to life without frostbite, we’ve posted photos on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery from the November 21st Vine and Dine fundraiser at Neiman Marcus Downtown for Ability Connection Texas. You won’t see one person wearing gloves or ski attire.

Date night

Date night

Naturally, the write-up will follow soon.

To Vine And Dine Is Divine When It’s With This Crowd In Neiman’s Zodiac Room

While new papa Owen Wilson was at the Dinner in the Wild at the Automotive Building in Fairest Park, the really beautiful people were at the Zodiac Room of downtown Neiman Marcus Thursday night. No, they weren’t gathered to remember the grandeur of the late Helen “Who’s Julia Childs?” Corbitt. Though, if they had, the tales the walls of the Z-Room could tell. . . like the day she chased a . . . no, never mind.

Claire Emanuelson and Muffin Lemak

The occasion was the Vine and Dine benefiting Ability Connection Texas with Claire Emanuelson and Muffin Lemak holding the reins of the evening. The reception took place on the first floor of DT NM with red carpets and windows totally covered. What? The windows were covered? Yup. They’ll be unveiled this weekend to debut the holiday (it’s politically incorrect to say “Christmas”) windows.

NM's covered holiday window displays

All the guests were showcasing the efforts of their personal trainer workouts. These folks know how to wear short cocktail dresses, stiletto heels and oh-so-tailor-made suits. Not a pore nor split end was in sight and everyone smelled so yummy. And speaking of delish, those ice cream martinis could only result from the creative minds of NM. Even the oldest among the crowd looked like a kid when asking for seconds, “Please?”

Sunie Solomon

Allan McBee sans Lynn was chatting with Mike Wyatt about Allan’s just-back-from-Ireland business trip. Hearing his description, it’s a wonder he’s not a travel writer. . . .Sunie Solomon swore she was expecting a little lass and not just showing a heavy lunch. Sunie and her husband Steve admitted that until 10 days ago no baby bump was part of the look, but suddenly the beautiful Sunie was fashionably showing. . . .Honorary Chair Nancy Rogers sans Richard was receiving accolades once again for the Rogers’ support of Dallas nonprofits. She reported with a perfect smile that the Rogers clan will be spending a very grateful Thanksgiving in the Dallas ZIP codes. . . Dee Dee Lee replaced Jim Lee just for the one

Casey Robinson

night with daughter Casey Robinson glowing in gold from tresses to heels. . . . Jimmy Gragg was hugging everybody in sight,  while wife/hottie jewelry designer Sue Gragg was accepting comps left and right for her various donations. Did you see the bracelet she created for Best Buddies?

Sue Gragg

. . . NM DT GM/VP Shelle Sills said that NM was still heavily involved with CityLights, the downtown holiday lighting, that will take place Saturday night. She reported that eight years ago only 25 people showed up. Last year 35,000 people jammed Ervay. This year projections are at 50,000 for the five blocks of

Jodi Harris

lights along Main Street. Even the calm, cool Shelle admitted that the holiday project might have been more successful that NM could handle. Wise to move and expand and share the glory with other downtown corporate types, don’t you think?. . . Jodi Harris in an OMG form-fitting black cocktail body glove, chandelier earrings and a Grace Kelly French twist caused major neck jams as she checked out the NM counters. Seems that diamond earrings are more popular than Christmas tree ornaments this year. . . . Muffin, who was just coming off of her daughter’s destination wedding in Mexico (Todd Fiscus production, of course) was already thinking about her next project. More deets to follow. At least, she promised they would. . . Cousin-in-laws Janie Condon and Kim Miller were still starry-eyed from all the comps from BeatLeukemia. A couple of the guests raised sculpted eyebrows upon hearing about the tales of Saturday night with the Fab Four (Check MySweetCharity for details in the days ahead).

Vine and dining in the Zodiac Room

Then the trusty NM elevators lifted the crowd up to the Zodiac Room, where praise, wine and food was generously served.