JUST IN: Wilkinson Center’s 2017 Can Do! Luncheon Chair Beth Thoele Reveals Plans Including Awardees

Can Do! Luncheon (File photo)

Can Do! Luncheon (File photo)

One of those luncheons that always makes people feel good about their neighbors and their community is the Wilkinson Center’s Can Do! Luncheon. While only five years old, it has already gained a reputation for highlighting the accomplishments of the well-known and should-be-known types.

Beth Thoele, who will also be chairing the Equest Women’s Auxiliary’s fall luncheon, is heading up the Can Do! Luncheon on Tuesday, May 9, at the Dallas Country Club.

Beth Thoele (File photo)

Beth Thoele (File photo)

Ashlee and Chris Kleinert (File photo)

Ashlee and Chris Kleinert (File photo)

As for the awardees, who represent the entrepreneurship in philanthropy, they will include the Texas Real Estate Council, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert and “a Wilkinson Center client.”

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

MySweetWishList: Wilkinson Center

According to Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder,

“Our Food Pantry clients need extra food for the holidays since kids are out of school and family members are in town. We would provide a small ham or turkey to help stretch food donations. If you would like to help, please send a donation check with the notation ‘Turkey/Ham’ so that Wilkinson Center can purchase these items.

20-bushel bumper*

20-bushel bumper*

“Also, our food pantry manager has also asked for a 20-bushel rolling bin to transport donated goods. These bins cost $350.00.

“Please share the joy of this blessed time with families that need your help. Thank you!”

-Anne Reeder, Wilkinson Center executive director

* Photo provided by 
Wilkinson Center

A Simple “Thank You” Exemplifies Can Do! Lunch When It Comes To A Positive Spirit

While the Cattle Baron’s Ball gals in their stiletto heels and puffy skirts were checking out the Koch fashions at Korshak, the rest of nonprofits types were filling the Dallas Country Club ballroom for the Can Do! Luncheon. Much to Luncheon Chair Leslie Diers‘ relief, no tornadoes were on alert. Why, the only hitch was a three-minute shower that took place during the luncheon with nary a guest aware.

Can Do! Luncheon sell-out crowd

Can Do! Luncheon sell-out crowd

Bryan and Leslie Diers

Bryan and Leslie Diers

Inside it was a sell-out and a positive one at that. Instead of your typical luncheon, where guests see sad faces on a video and have guilt served with their coffee, this one was served up with an extra helping of feel-good.

Craig and Marsha Innes and Lauren Innes Jackson

Craig and Marsha Innes and Lauren Innes Jackson

In the crowd were Wilkinson Center Board President Melanie Myers, Board Member Craig Innes with his wife Marsha Innes and daughter Lauren Innes Jackson, John McStay, Jan Pruitt, Paige McDaniel, Sara Martineau, Frank Risch, Joyce Lacerte, Jennifer and Joe Clifford, Sarah Nelson, Bryon Sanders, Joan Eleazer, Mary Jalonick and Leslie’s husband Bryan Diers and her mom Cynthia Melnick.

Joe and Jennifer Clifford

Joe and Jennifer Clifford

Joan Eleazer

Joan Eleazer

Benefiting Wilkinson Center, the luncheon’s videos focused on what had been achieved through education and championing clients to get on their feet.

Tying into its East Dallas roots, Leslie and Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder arranged to have the blessing provided by Rev. Heather Mustain of Wilshire Baptist Church. That church gained recognition nationally by rallying to support one of its congregation — Louise Troh, whose fiancée died from Ebola last year. Organizers even arranged to have the closing songs performed by the members of the church’s choir.

Wilshire Baptist singers

Wilshire Baptist singers

In addition to videos explain Wilkinson Center’s accomplishments and mission and a talk by board member Bruce Ware, awards were presented for outstanding “Can Do!” examples within the community.

Carlin Morris

Carlin Morris

Carlin Morris, who has championed Wilkinson Center’s shoe drive for children, knew she was going to get the award. What she didn’t know was they were also renaming it The Wilkinson Center Carlin Morris Shoe Drive. Her acceptance speech reflected the thoughtfulness and dedication that runs throughout Wilkinson Center. Since she started volunteering at the center and spearheaded the drive in 1986, more than 36,000 children have received shoes and socks in time for the school year. She told of a Payless manager who approached Carlin and told how, years ago, when she was just 11, she had received her first pair of new shoes thanks to the drive.

Anne Reeder and Brent Christopher

Anne Reeder and Brent Christopher

Communities Foundation of Texas President/CEO Brent Christopher gave an intelligent and articulate talk on Dallas’ position in the philanthropy world. He dropped figures to back his comments like Dallas being in the top 10 cities in regards to philanthropy and its being the largest metropolitan area to rank that high.

Tonya Howard

Tonya Howard

The final recipient was Wilkinson Center client Tonya Howard, whose video showcased a personality with determination and spirit. Before becoming a Wilkinson client, she had worked in a warehouse and was starting a new job at Walmart during the Christmas holiday 2013. But she encounter financial problems and sought rental assistance at the Center. Instead of a temporary fix, she ended up working with her counselor, Myra Collins, who didn’t let up on her to achieve her “field of fascination.” After much work and effort, she achieved her Commercial Driver License. It was a year later, on December 17, 2014, when Tonya made her monthly visit to Wilkinson Center’s pantry that she pulled out her DART badge, having just passed her driver’s test. Seated at the front table, Tonya approached the podium to accept her award with a beautiful smile and still clutching her napkin. Looking at the room filled with people, she seemed a little overwhelmed by the support and applause. Her acceptance speech was to the point and said it all: “Thank you.”

Grovel Alert: The White Party

The White Party*

The White Party*

Hopefully, you’ve got your ticket for The White Party. Word just arrived that the Saturday, June 13th event is on the verge of being a done deal at St. Ann Restaurant.

There’s a rumor that some folks were holding off because they actually thought the rain would never, ever stop. Well, it did stop and the sun has come out.

The White Party (File photo)

The White Party (File photo)

Luckily, the party starts at 9 p.m. and runs until 2 a.m., so you won’t have to wear a sunhat or slather on sunscreen.

But you’ll still have choices to make like the drink specials, the complimentary tequila bar and Saint Ann food stations including the hotdog, taco and flatbread stations.

So, get your place now, so your only worry will be how to accessorize that incredibly cute white sundress for a show-and-swell night at the Wilkinson Center fundraiser.

White Party Kick-Off Celebration Attracted Overwhelming Number Of Guests And Netted $27K Plus For The Wilkinson Center

Mother Nature decided to cooperate with sunshine and a nice breeze on Saturday, April 30. Perhaps it was because the old gal was attending the White Party Kick-Off hoop-la at Hotel Zaza. Here’s a report from the field about the Wilkinson Center fundraiser:

The White Party Kickoff party*

The White Party Kickoff party*

We started off this event with 2,700 RSVP’s on The White Party Kickoff Facebook page! This Saturday, April 30th event was our big White Party Kickoff event where patrons could buy White Party tickets and Young Friends of Wilkinson Center memberships for a discounted rate and learn more about the Young Friends.

Madison McPherson, Hunter Woodlee and Brayson Burchfiel*

Madison McPherson, Hunter Woodlee and Brayson Burchfiel*

Krystal Houle, Julie Ellis and Aaron Garcia*

Krystal Houle, Julie Ellis and Aaron Garcia*

This was our first event of the year to announce our big White Party fundraiser that will take place on Saturday, June 13, at Saint Ann from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Hotel Zaza provided “complimentary strolling bits including Chinese 5 Spice Crispy Calamari with Thai Chile Sauce, Southwestern Egg Roll Bites, Chicken Tomatillo Quesadillas, Strawberry Gazpacho Shooters and Assorted French Macaroons. While there was a cash bar, the hotel offered complimentary “welcome drink/specialty cocktail — Whiskey-based cocktail similar to an Old Fashion but with a twist to lighten it up for spring/summer.

Mindy Loll, Steven Strobl, Michael Rodriquez, Mike Preacher and Jessi Moreau

Mindy Loll, Steven Strobl, Michael Rodriquez, Mike Preacher and Jessi Moreau

John Desmond, Karen Israel and Ginger Varga*

John Desmond, Karen Israel and Ginger Varga*

Taylor Nichols, OJ DeSouza and Tiffany Heath*

Taylor Nichols, OJ DeSouza and Tiffany Heath*

When guests weren’t dining and sipping, they were recording their cuteness at Instaphotobooth that also donated its services.

We also raffled off a VIP White Party table and sold sponsorships for the White Party. We netted $27K plus change the night of the event and Hotel Zaza gave us 10% of all alcohol sales.

If you didn’t make it to the kick-off party, there’s still time to sign up for a spot at The White Party. Then you’ll have a grand excuse to shop for a white frock and schedule that spray tan.

* Photo credit: Lisa Means

Round Robin March 24: Can Do Luncheon Kick-Off Reception And Friends Of The Arboretum

As weather guessers predicted that all types of scary storms were headed to the North Texas area, the nonprofits hustled up and held their scheduled event on Tuesday, March 24. Over at the Winspear, the Dallas Opera key supporters enjoyed a cocktail reception followed by a dinner onstage. Elsewhere the following events were taking place as the skies above remained true-blue with nary a cloud in sight:

Can Do! Luncheon Kick-Off Reception

Craig Innes and Anne Reeder

Craig Innes and Anne Reeder

Is there any better four-letter word than “Sale”? OK, yeah, the word “Free” may trump “Sale,” but hardly. At Tootsie’s the Wilkinson Center fans were checking out the racks of adorables for the kick-off of the Can Do! Luncheon. Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder was looking rather surprised at the news that The White Party Kick-Off Party at Hotel ZaZa on Thursday, April 30, already had 1,300 RSVP’s.

Don’t tell Anne, but according to Wilkinson Center Marketing Director Vodi Cook, the number is actually up to 1,500.

But the evening at Tootsie’s wasn’t just cute gals sipping white wine and champagne and eyeballing the clothes, especially since a portion of the sales benefited The Wilkinson Center. Board Member Craig Innes seemed to know everyone. Rumor has it that Craig has never gotten off a place without a fistful of business cards.

Tiffany Divis, Linda Secrest, Beth Thoele and Christie Carter

Tiffany Divis, Linda Secrest, Beth Thoele and Christie Carter

Christie Carter left early with purchases, as Pam Busbee headed upstairs to try on some possible future residents of her closet.

Leslie and Bryan Diers

Leslie and Bryan Diers

Linda Secrest told Tiffany Divis and Beth Thoele that she was undergoing the preventive skin cancer program. Surprise: Her skin looked flawless. The program must be working beautifully.

Can Do! Luncheon Chair Leslie Diers revealed the luncheon will be held at the Dallas Country Club on Tuesday, May 12, honoring Carlin Morris and the Communities Foundation of Texas with the Can Do! Award.

Friends Of Dallas Arboretum

Timing is everything, and the friends of the Dallas Arboretum couldn’t have had better timing. Less than 24 hours before all types of storms hit the area, the “friends” partied at tables covered with white tablecloths and chairs with white padding on the grounds aside the DeGolyer mansion.

Partying on grounds adjacent the DeGolyer House

Partying on grounds adjacent to the DeGolyer House

The Dallas Blooms: Deep in the Hearts of Texans’ array of tulips, cherry blossoms, azaleas and the rest of the pristine acreage overlooking White Rock were picture perfect even if Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings couldn’t make the event. He was in Washington, D.C., but provided an audio apology.

Dallas Blooms

Dallas Blooms

But the folks who were there included Gillian Breidenbach, Joan and Alan Walne (her foot was still enclosed in a temporary cast), Ban Bywaters and Dallas Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery: The Spirit Of Taos

Anne and Terry Conner

Anne and Terry Conner

Ann Dyer and Anne Reeder

Ann Dyer and Anne Reeder

Ah, turquoise! It’s seems to dress up even the most tired western attire. But on Friday, November 7, the fashions were glorious New Mexico with turquoise around necks, wrist and fingers. The occasion as the Friends of Wilkinson Center’s “The Spirit of Taos” at The Lot.

Charles and Pat McEvoy

Charles and Pat McEvoy

Friends of all ages were talking, dancing and buying up raffle tickets both inside and out in the beer garden under a full moon.

While the post is being prepared…well, you know the drill. Head for the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for a gander of turquoise and “friends.”

2nd Annual Can Do! Luncheon Raised Funds And Awareness About The Wilkinson Center — “The Very Best Charity In Our Community”

Last year Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder faced a tornado warning the morning of the Center’s inaugural Can Do! Luncheon. She was fearful that the threatening weather would dissuade folks from attending the fundraiser at the Dallas Country Club. No such luck!

Can Do! Luncheon

Can Do! Luncheon

On Tuesday, May 13, she looked relieved that the torrential rains that hit the North Texas area had taken place 24 hours beforehand.

It was a tight timeline that Event Chair Christie Carter had planned. Starting at 11:30 a.m. with “greeting and blessing,” she promised to have the closing would take place at 12:50 p.m. Not 1 p.m., not 1:30 p.m., but 12:50 p.m. Did she pull it off? Stay tuned.

Rachel Michell

Rachel Michell

The DCC ballroom was filled to the max for the sold-out event. They couldn’t have even fit a card table in. Anne confessed that club staffers had recommended a couple of “dummy tables,” but the rec was blown away as seats filled with the likes of last year’s Can Do! Recipients Ellen and John McStay, Rachel Michell, Lisa Longino, Lydia Novakov, Caren Kline, Tiffany Divis, Paige McDaniel, Carol Seay, Leslie and Bryan Diers, Katherine Coker, Linda Secrest, Lynn McBee, Nancy Bierman, Can Do! Patron party hosts Milagros and Horacio Moros and Wilkinson Center Board of Directors Melanie Myers.

Melanie Myers

Melanie Myers

Diane McNulty was still receiving congrats about the recent Artistic Impressions of Management showcasing the relationship between art and business to benefit the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas. The one-night gala transformed the school’s first floor into an art gallery. One of the highlights of the show was “The Glamour Age of Flights” focusing on “a look back at iconic Braniff International Airlines photographs and posters.”

The accessory du jour was the shawl. After all the temps were in the 60’s outside providing just enough chill that those spring silk and cotton outfits needed a little shoulder warmth.

Despite a couple of minor lighting challenges in the ballroom, the event went off without a hitch. It’s hard to imagine that it ran as tightly as a Swiss clock but this one did.

Anne gave a brief welcome recalling her recent hip surgery and the cards received from Wilkinson Center kiddos. One of the children sent a note — Hip, Hip Hurray. Another said she hoped Anne survived her surgery because she deserved to enjoy a happy life.

Anne Reeder

Anne Reeder

That last mention created a rallying point for Anne as she described people with whom the Wilkinson Center encounters who do not have happy lives — a hungry three-year, who started shivering and crying when he saw the shelves of food at the center; the woman who just needed a pair of shoes, an ID and a bus pass for her first day as a McDonald’s employee; the 12-year-employee who was let go because her employer discovered she was illiterate; or a little girl who is too tired in school, because her parents’ fighting every night keeps her awake.

As Anne summed it up, “These are the people that we meet every day at Wilkinson Center. And these are the stories we hear. Our job and our mission is to transform the lives of these families and to create pathways for them to self-sufficiency always with dignity and respect. Our job is to create a situation, so they can have happy lives themselves. But we need your help and by being here today, you are helping us.”

Anne and Terry Conner and Christie Carter

Anne and Terry Conner and Christie Carter

Moving along efficiently without losing the impact, the program then presented the first Can Do! Award to Anne and Terry Conner following a video.

Terry took the opportunity to emphasize that “breaking the cycle of poverty begins with education.” He pointed out that before DISD expanded its free-lunch program last year, it was based on household income and low-household income was required to qualify for subsidized lunches. “Last year about 89% of DISD kids qualified. . . . only about 8%, excluding magnet school graduates, of the kids graduate ready for college in DISD.” He encouraged the participation in the after-school and summer programs.

Anne, who has been associated with Wilkinson for 15 years, said that the “Wilkinson Center represents the very best of charity in our community. Helping those who need help the most day in, day out and fulfilling its mission with commitment and compassion.”

Next up was the Women of St. Michael’s Exchange that has contributed $7.8M to the community since its founding in 1958. As Robbie Briggs sat smiling proudly, the video told of how the Exchange in Highland Park Village had originally been operated by the Junior League of Dallas. About 55 years ago, the Women of St. Michael bought the shop from the JLD. There was a big discussion about the purchase and it was put up for a vote. The results were 50-for and 50-against. The president had to cast the deciding vote to take on the Exchange. That president was Robbie’s mom Rosemary Briggs.

Jan Baldwin

Jan Baldwin

Women of St. Michael President Jan Baldwin was joined on stage by Sylvia Hood and Kathy Kelley in accepting the award. Then St. Michael and All Angels Rev. Dr. Bob Dannals hopped up on stage and told how proud he was to be associated with such a fine group of women.

Rev. Dr. Robert Dannals

Rev. Dr. Robert Dannals

Alphonso Brooks

Alphonso Brooks

The final award was presented to Alphonso Brooks, who was in a tomato-red T-shirt and slacks. The military vet, who was in his first year of college, apologized for his appearance, but explained that he had pulled an all-nighter in preparation for his finals. No apologies needed. His story with the Wilkinson Center was a great closer. Thanks to the Center, he had not only been able to achieve his GED, he had was now attending Cedar Valley College full time. But his studies hadn’t kept him from repaying Wilkinson. He still “visits Wilkinson Center one to two times per month to thank staff for the services and assistance he has received.” According to Alphonso, “I couldn’t have done this without Wilkinson Center. The help they provided allowed me to attend college. They have done more for me than any other agency or organization.”

To end the event, St. Michael choir members Kristen and Alex Bumpas sang the benediction.

And the lunch ended at 12:48 p.m.

Round Robin May 7: Can Do! Patron Reception, Genesis Luncheon Patron Dinner And Cattle Baron’s Trailblazer Party

Just before thunder, lighting and buckets of rain hit Dallas on Wednesday, May 7, the non-profit swell-egants were in high spirits.

Can Do! Luncheon Patron Party

The Wilkinson Center’s Anne Reeder was thrilled. Her Can Do! Luncheon had its inaugural year in 2013 and had been such a hit that the upcoming May 13th event was within two tables of being sold out. Last year’s luncheon really tested guests with tornado warnings in the area, but still they came, they saw and they had such a great time, they signed up for this year’s event.

Anne and Terry Conners

Anne and Terry Conner

The secret to this year’s near sell-out success? Perhaps it was due to the fact the “unsung heroes” like Anne and Terry Conner and the Women of St. Michael were this year’s honorees. Like last year’s awardees — Ellen and John McStay and Highland Park United Methodist Church — this year’s group are well-known for amazing deeds but especially known for flying under the radar. And doesn’t everyone love to celebrate hardworkers, who rarely get appreciated?

Bryan Diers, Susan Hardie and Missy Huber

Bryan Diers, Susan Hardie and Missy Huber

And since it was such a beautiful evening, Milagros and Horacio Moros opened the backyard terrace and yard of their Preston Hollow home for Leslie and Bryan Diers, Susan Hardie, Missy Huber, Luncheon Chair Christie Carter and Tiffany and Paul Divis to party with Hunter Sullivan crooning away with his musicians.

Genesis Luncheon Patron Party

Jan Hegi, Pat Conroy and Ellen McStay

Jan Hegi, Pat Conroy and Ellen McStay

Just blocks away on the other side of the Tollway, Nancy and Randy Best hosted a seated dinner for 73 patrons of the 21st Annual Genesis Luncheon. (BTW, Nancy is president of the Genesis Women’s Shelter Board of Trustees.)

Parties at the Best estate are the best, don’t you know! The cocktail reception took place in the entry hall spilling into the living and dining rooms. At one point, a blonde gent appeared at the front door. He was none-other than the guest of honor/luncheon speaker Pat Conroy. Looking more like your best buddy from high school, he quickly was surrounded by new BFF’s and eased into conversation.

Leslie McCabe, Jan Langbein and Barbara Walker

Leslie McCabe, Jan Langbein and Barbara Walker

Jennifer Staubach Gates and John Gates

Jennifer Staubach Gates and John Gates

But soon it was time for supper. But before settling back in the fabulous dining room with its stage and grand piano, a little exercise was in order. So, guests like Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Marianne and Roger Staubach, Jennifer Staubach Gates and John Gates, Jan and Fred Hegi, Ellen and John McStay, Jan Langbein, Susan Wells Jenevein, Barbara Walker, Leslie McCabe, Sidney Powell, Victor Sperandeo and Di Johnston took the stairs leading to the “best” collection of antiquities. And we’re not talking Marie Antoinette chairs. Each time one gets to visit the upstairs museum, it’s like discovering new OMG treasures that date back to prehistoric man.

Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Sidney Powell and Victor Sperandeo

Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Sidney Powell and Victor Sperandeo

Cattle Baron’s Ball Trailblazer Party

Max Stallings band

Max Stallings band

Before the sun even tried to set, The Rustic was maxed out with all types of Cattle Baron’s Ball sponsors for the Trailblazer to hearty party.

Isabell Novakov

Isabell Novakov

Sponsored by PlainsCapital, the venue could handle the overflow crowd of 400 thanks to the outdoor picnic tables and party grounds with a wall of lanterns and a stage for Max Stallings and his band.

CBB-er Lisa Ogle admitted their timing was perfect realizing that the next 24 hours of storming weather would have created an entirely different scenario.

Gibbs Henderson and Marjon Zabihi Henderson

Gibbs Henderson and Marjon Zabihi Henderson

As Max sang on stage and soft drinks cozied up to Miller Lites in a canoe filled to the brim with ice, the crowd included Isabell Novakov, Janie and David Condon, Nancy Gopez, Anne and Steve Stodghill, Katherine LaLonde, D’Andra Simmons and Jeremy Lock, Marjon Zabihi Henderson and Gibbs Henderson, Elizabeth and Alex Laurenzi, Joanna Clarke, Lauren Chapman, Kristi Hoyl and Dee Simmons looking forward to picking up her new puppy, Maddie, on Saturday.

Summer Fun Kicks Off With The Young Friends Of The Wilkinson Center’s “The White Party”

Not everybody is abandoning Dallas starting this weekend. Sure, the queen bees are flying off to vacation spots for the summer, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking the fun with them. Actually, the summer fun knows no limits. From til Midnight at the Nasher to the Perot Museum’s killer summer programs, the city is rocking and rolling sans the stuffy black tie wear.

The White Party*

The White Party*

One example of fun without stuffiness is the Young Friends of the Wilkinson Center’s Third Annual White Party on Saturday, May 31. No, this isn’t a cute, little white glove party for a gaggle of gals. Shoot, no! Last year they had 600 lads and lassies for the fundraiser.

This year’s event is right on target to be a repeat performance at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. DJ Elizabeth Farrell will be in charge of the music and 100% of the proceeds go to the Wilkinson Center.

As for the tickets, Young Friend members get in for $60 and non-member for $75.

Party attire? Duh. Why do you think they call it the “White Party”?

* Graphic provided by Young Friends of the Wilkinson Center

You Still Can Do The Can Do! Luncheon

Anne and Terry Conner (File photo)

Anne and Terry Conner (File photo)

We’re in countdown mode for the Can Do! Luncheon Tuesday. Last year’s good-feeling fundraising luncheon was faced with the threat of tornadoes, but still the guests filled the Dallas Country Club ballroom to support the Wilkinson Center.

This year’s luncheon honors Anne and Terry Conner and the Women of Saint Michael.

Only a few tickets left, so if you want to feel good, have a great lunch and support an incredible program that is “a leading poverty rescue and prevention agency for the working poor, serving over 14,000 annually, mainly in east and southeast Dallas.”

Wilkinson Center’s Can Do! Luncheon Kick-Off Celebrates At Tootsies With Fashion, Friends And Cork-Popping Talk

Tootsies mannequins

Tootsies mannequins

The fundraising season must be truly underway because Tootsies has once again become the go-to-place for non-profits to launch, toast and celebrate. But there was something different on the eve of spring, otherwise known as Wednesday March 19th. Instead of arriving at the Preston Road front door, guests-in-the-know arrived at the back door. So much easier than fighting traffic jammed with drivers headed to their Preston Hollow homes and elsewhere.

Susan Hardie, Leslie Diers and Anne Conner

Susan Hardie, Leslie Diers and Anne Conner

With the sunlight streaming through the windows, guests like Angie Kadesky, Cynthia Beaird, Leslie Diers, Susan Hardie and Jan Baldwin seemed to glisten for the Wilkinson Center’s May 13th Can Do! Luncheon at the Dallas Country Club.

Christy Carter, Tiffany Divis and Angie Kadesky

Christy Carter, Tiffany Divis and Angie Kadesky

For the event the Friends of Wilkinson Center were showing off the Tootsies fashions. But a true standout was Can Do! Luncheon Chair Christie Carter. If ever a misty pink blouse and gray jacket ever hit the spot, they certainly were in the same universe on Christie.

Across the way, Tiffany Divis was realizing her agenda of the three days included the Can Do! Event, Thursday’s Zoo-To-Do at Lela Rose and Spirit of Uganda at Dallas City Performance Hall, and Friday at the Dallas Country Club for Fashion Stars for a Cause. Hopefully, Saturday was slated for a day of rest.

Paul Divis and Mike Lessel

Paul Divis and Mike Lessel

On the other hand, her husband Paul didn’t give a darn. Among all the gals jabbing, he was with his old West Point classmate/cadet Mike Lessel.

Anne Reeder

Anne Reeder

Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder was glowing. The Wilkinson Center’s Can Do! Fundraiser was right on target. Perhaps it was because last year’s was such a hit despite tornado warnings in the area. For a first-time event, it really hit the spot with great food, an incredible gathering of supporters and just enough message that everyone walked away feeling dang good.

This year’s event will honor Anne and Terry Conner and the Women of Saint Michael.

But back to the gab. Unless you’re not interested. Then you can move on to the next item on your agenda. Lynn McBee was telling Lisa Longino about the McBees’ wine fav “Gundlach Bundschu” from Sonoma. After a couple of tries and spelling of the winery’s name, Lynn just said, “Think Gun Bun.” To accessorize that vino train of thought, Lisa revealed that after many tries, her favorite wine cork puller was Legacy’s Cork Pops.

Lisa, who orchestrated last year’s Crystal Charity Ball bus tour, missed it this year. But she had a good reason. She had been on the East Coast, where he got to spend time with her three very young grand kiddos. Like most munchkins, they gave their granny something to take home with her — a head cold.

Anne And Terry Conner And Women Of Saint Michael To Be Honored At 2014 Can Do! Luncheon For Their Entrepreneurial Spirit

2014 Can Do! Luncheon*

2014 Can Do! Luncheon*

Love the entrepreneurial spirit. It seems like Dallas is just bulging with the attitude that anything is possible with a little elbow grease, teamwork and dedication. Perhaps that’s why the launch of the Can Do! Luncheon “celebrating entrepreneurship in philanthropy” was such a home run. Yup, despite threats of tornadoes in the area, the Dallas Country Club’s ballroom was filled to the max with folks for the Wilkinson Center fundraiser.

Christie Carter (File photo)

Christie Carter (File photo)

This year’s Can Do! Luncheon Chair Christie Carter has just revealed the honorees for the Tuesday, May 13, luncheon at the DCC.

Terry and Anne Conner*

Terry and Anne Conner*

Taking place at the Dallas Country Club on Tuesday, May 13, the Wilkinson Center fundraiser will honor philanthropists Anne and Terry Conner and the Women of Saint Michael, who run the “highly successful” St. Michael Woman’s Exchange in Highland Park Village.

What makes this event especially gratifying is that the honorees tend to people and organizations that quietly work for the betterment of the community. In some cases, this tribute is the first time that they have been publicly recognized for their efforts.

You may think that May is a lifetime away, but it’s just around the corner along with spring flowers. So, be smart and line up those reservations now.

* Graphic and photo provided by Can Do! Luncheon

LaunchAbility And The Wilkinson Center Kick-Off “Smokey” And Shaken, Not Stirred Fundraiser Events

October 1 started the month off with a couple of kick-off parties for future major fundraisers.

LaunchAbility Kick-Off

Doug and Holly Deason

Doug and Holly Deason

In Preston Hollow the vehicles were lined up in front of Holly and Doug Deason’s home. The occasion was the kick-off of LaunchAbility’s “A Special Evening Hosted by Alliance Data” and it attracted a crowd that included Anne and Steve Stodghill, Billy Gannon and Brian Demma.

Even though the concert at the Meyerson doesn’t take place until Monday, March 31, plans were already set.

Mike and Piper Wyatt

Mike and Piper Wyatt

Co-Chairs Piper and Mike Wyatt had arranged for Caroline Rose Hunt to be honorary chair.

As for the entertainment, it will be Smokey Robinson. When asked how they decided on Smokey, Piper didn’t hesitate — “I’ve always love Motown and always loved Smokey. Mike and I love ‘The Voice’ TV show, and Smokey did a duet on the show with Nicholas David. Smokey was wearing chunky jewelry, leather pants and I thought, ‘He’s still got it!’”

Across the way, Doug told how Holly’s daughter was going to be one of the 2014 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League debs. He laughed that he felt sorry for Holly’s ex [Lawrence Bock] because of the cost of having a deb daughter. Then he got a double dose of reality. Holly reminded him that they were going to have to buy a table at the ball, and Doug’s own daughter was starting to show signs of wanting to debut in the future.

A dad’s life is a tough one.

Shaken Not Stirred Kick-Off

Across town in the West Village, it was an entirely different story. Instead of a calm residential street, the bustling retail center’s parking was as scarce as cactus in Antarctica. As people dined nearby at Taco Diner’s patio, Kendra Scott’s doors were wide open and with good reason — the crowd, including Craig Innes, Tiffany Divis, Kathy Coons, Adrienne O’Connor, Pam Karlos, Carlin Morris and Al Tatum, kept pouring into the shop. The reason? The Friends of Wilkinson Center was hosting its kick-off for the “Shaken, Not Stirred” gala.

Al Tatum and Anne Reeder

Al Tatum and Anne Reeder*

Pam Karlos, Craig Innes and Carlin Morris*

Pam Karlos, Craig Innes and Carlin Morris*

Slated for Friday, October 25, at the Adolphus Hotel, the James Bond-themed event is being presented by the Orix Foundation. In addition to a traditional dinner, silent and live auctions, casino royale, photo booth, wine pull, open bar and after-party starting at 9 p.m., DJ Red Sean will be orchestrating the music.

Instead of Daniel Craig, they’re having Dallas’ own Mr. Cool — Mayor Mike Rawlings — and his equally cool bride Micki as honorary co-chairs.

To keep guests blinged up for the gala, the Kendra Scott staff not only provided a 10% discount to guests, they also donated 10% of the evening’s profits to Wilkinson. Not to be outdone, Deep Eddy donated their Ruby Red cocktails  and Union Bear offered two specialty drinks with 15% of proceeds going to Wilkinson

Now, that’s the kind of kick-off that gets things shaking, not just stirred.

* Photos provided by the Wilkinson Center

Wilkinson Center’s Anne Steakley Reeder Will Do “Can Do Luncheon” In May

Anne Reeder

Anne Steakley Reeder

Ran into Wilkinson Center‘s Anne Steakley Reeder Thursday night at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture‘s Valentine’s Day dinner. The reason for that mention is the dinner was being held at the marvelous home on Routh Street that houses DIHC. It used to belong to Anne’s grandfather. Recalling the days when she used to visit the stately mansion as a child, Anne was shook into grown-up reality saying, “Can you imagine we’re going to put together a luncheon in three months?”

Yup! And ironically, the luncheon is called the “Can Do Luncheon.” The Wilkinson Center benefit is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, at the Dallas Country Club.

To “celebrate entrepreneurship in philanthropy,” plans call for the “first annual Can Do Awards” to be presented to philanthropists Ellen and John McStay and Highland Park United Methodist Church.

For event deets, sponsorships and tickets, call 214.821.6380.

Photo credit: Kathy King

Wilkinson Center’s Black And White Gala Fills Dallas Contemporary Galleries For 30th Anniversary Celebration

Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder claimed that the headcount at the 30th anniversary celebration Black and White Gala for Wilkinson Center was 390 guests Saturday, November 3. No way. It had to be way over that number that filled the Dallas Contemporary’s reception and seated dinner.

Anne Reeder, Sara Bell and David Resnick

Adding an elegant touch to the evening was the request to wear only black and white. Shades of Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, but no shades of gray here. Of course, one or two had to be rule breakers. In fact, one wore a tomato red dress that would have made Scarlett O’Hara seem plain Jane.

Ann and Fred Margolin

But that’s not to say color was not everywhere. In addition to Dallas Contemporary art hanging around, flashing rings were worn by some guests like City Councilperson Ann and Fred Margolin for the “Heads & Tails” game after dinner for a new iPad.

With James Fabriano providing the music at the reception in one gallery, it wasn’t the only form of entertainment. Artists Breck Woolsey and Monica Taylor were standing over and squatting down on the floor painting a 48″ by 60″ canvas that would be completed and ready for bid at the live auction after dinner along with 10 other items including a rattlesnake hunt.

Breck Woolsey and Monica Taylor

When it was time for dinner, the lineup in the hallway stretched all the way. But once inside the

Dinner time

dining room/gallery, it was well worth the wait with caterer Wendy Krispin scurrying around to

Beth and Scott Johnson

make sure all were served including the likes of Jennifer LeBlanc, Beth and Scott Johnson, Sara Bell and David Resnick.

From a neighborhood effort spearheaded by Rev. Clayton Lewis in 1982 to today helping countless numbers of families in nine zip codes in east and southeast Dallas, the Wilkinson Center has come a very long way in its 30 years. Just in the first eight months of 2012, it has “provided food assistance to 6,931 families, including 17,525 children and adult family members.”

Thanks to Event Chair Millie Winston, Honorary Chairs Jill and Jim Cochran and the 390+ at the Black and White Gala, its work and successes continue.