As fabulous as the newly reconfigured Village Dallas has been, the grounds never looked more ideal than on Friday, October 20, for DIFFA Dallas‘ 14th Annual Burgers And Burgundy. Adding to the visual beauty was the aroma arising from the ten chefs’ stations serving up … burgers, of course.
In addition to the people watching and the downing of burgers were the evening announcements that included the presentation of the 2024 DIFFA Dallas Style Council members and plans for the 2024 House of DIFFA at the Sheraton Dallas on Saturday, April 27. Here’s a report from the field:
DIFFA Dallas hosted a truly unforgettable evening showcasing culinary expertise, extraordinary flavors, and profound commitment to changing lives at its 14th Annual Burgers and Burgundy event on Friday, October 20, at The Village Dallas.
This culinary extravaganza, presented by the renowned Michelin™ Star Chef John Tesar, united a prestigious lineup of celebrity chefs from the heart of Dallas. Bringing together passionate foodies, philanthropists, and advocates, including Michael Buss, Ken Weber, Darrin Stracener, Rodrigo Orta and LeeAnne Locken, for a common cause.
Burgers and Burgundy is the kick-off to DIFFA Dallas’ fundraising season, which continues with their Holiday Wreath Collection on Thursday, November 16, and culminates with their annual gala, House of DIFFA in the spring.
Masterful Chefs who participated included John Tesar – Knife, Rodman Shields – DEA, John Kleifgen – Nick and Sam’s, Shaun Hinson – Toussaint Brasserie, Alda Boiani – 12 Cuts Steak House, Jessica Cortes – Hamburger Mary’s, Nick Walker – Meridian, Matthew Zita – Neiman Marcus, Jay Valley – Saint Rocco’s and Jacob Williamson – The Saint. Each chef showcased their unique spin on the perfect slider, thoughtfully paired with wines to complement.
While guests like Mara Pinney, Ali Resor and Tanner Sinclair enjoyed their burgers and wine under the stars, they got to participate in an exciting raffle with a range of luxurious prizes, including a weeklong vacation to Cabo San Lucas, exclusive chef experience at Chef John Tesar’s Knife restaurant, and two VIP, front-row tickets for each night at Fashion X Dallas in November.
DIFFA Board Member Payton Martin and Barringer Couvillon enjoyed the lounge areas throughout the space and had the opportunity to participate in the wine pull, where they could go home with a delicious bottle of wine. Guests Clint Thomson and David Putnam enjoyed the VIP area and specialty cocktails, including Lemonade Blush, Golden Hour and Mule Delight.
Local Drag Stars Leyla Edwards and Liquor Mini walked around showcasing the House of DIFFA Car auction raffle tickets to guests, including David White and Dr. Michael Lunardon. The grand prize is $55,000 towards any vehicle of the winner’s choice from any Sewell Dealership in the DFW area. The winner will be announced at the spring gala event.
Halfway through the evening, Burgers and Burgundy Co-Chairs David Hernandez and Rhiannon Bolen took to the stage to welcome guests to the event and thank the special people who contributed to the success of this event.
“There would be no Burgers and Burgundy without John Tesar and Terri Provencal,” Hernandez said. “Their continued stewardship of this event has allowed it to grow in amazing ways. We are especially grateful to the incredible chefs who have prepared delicious sliders tonight!”
They then thanked sponsors Champion Health Care, Crown Royal, Identity, Mara’s Med Spa and Ray Scott for their immense support of this event. They also thanked Jackson Durham, 44 Farms, Empire Baking Company, Dedon, Ben E. Keith, Pit Fit Dallas, Times Ten Cellars, Starbucks, FestEvents and Wow Me! Events. The co-chairs lastly extended a huge thank you to The Village Dallas for hosting the event on the Glen Lawn.
DIFFA Board Members Robbie Kruithoff and J.R. Hernandez took the microphone to thank all the attendees for supporting DIFFA Dallas and the LGBTQ+ community by raising funds to support AIDS Services Organizations in North Texas.
“Because of our incredible sponsors and patrons, in August, we were able to present grants to 23 deserving groups who dedicate their work to supporting HIV/AIDS patients and families,” Kruithoff said. He then introduced a video showcasing grant beneficiaries, Bryan’s House, Cathedral of Hope and Dallas Hope Charities.
2023 Style Council Chair Steve Lopez then took to the stage to announce the select group of social, civil, and business leaders that make up the DIFFA Dallas Style Council. Style Council Ambassadors play a crucial role in DIFFA’s efforts to raise the critical funds needed to support the organization’s grant philosophy of closing the gap left by insufficient and declining government funding, culminating with a walk down the runway at House of DIFFA.
“We are so excited that this group of 19 people will be helping us make a direct and impactful contribution to the many deserving AIDS service organizations in North Texas,” Lopez said.
The 2024 DIFFA Dallas Style Council Includes:
- Emily Ackerman – Director of Business Development at Lane Gorman Trubitt
- Cynthia Bailey – Commercial Real Estate Broker
- Brandon Bell – Vice President Of Exxir
- Jenny Bivins – Interior Designer
- Justin Chavez – “Part-Time Justin” on the Kidd Kraddick Morning
- Emily Dawson – Wardrobe Stylist
- Melissa Ellis – Sculptural Oil Painter
- Tiffany Forsberg – Jewelry Designer
- Alexa Gooden – Wife, Mom and Community Advocate
- Carrie Hammonds – Real Estate Broker and Investor
- Tommy Hanson– CBS News Now Anchor
- Brad Pritchett and David Chadd – Chief Experience Officer, Dallas Museum of Art and Interior Designer and Artist
- Nic Rejcek – Artistic Entrepreneur
- Philip Vanderford – Founder / Principal Designer at Studio Thomas James
- Kameron Westcott – Content Creator and Television Personality
- Daniel Blaylock-Napolitan – Celebrity Makeup Artist/Hairstylist
- Jodi Kahn- Vice President of Luxury Fashion at Neiman Marcus
The crowd then turned their attention to the screens to watch a promo video revealing the 2024 House of DIFFA theme, House of DIFFA: Royalty Untamed. The event’s Co-Chairs Tim Garippa and Jacob Samson took to the stage to excite the crowd about the spring fashion event.
“There has been a lot of progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the 80s, but we still have a way to go,” Garippa said. “In our eyes, everyone that has joined in this fight is royalty in their own right, and this year, we will celebrate them and you.”
Garippa asked Samson, “What do you think you’ll wear this year?” Samson replied, “I’m debating if I should channel my inner cheetah from the animal kingdom or pull out a crown like a royal court member.”
Garippa announced that tables for the event were now available for purchase, and if guests reserved during the weekend, they would get a free ticket for the luxury car raffle. He then thanked the returning title sponsor for House of DIFFA, the Louis L. Borick Foundation.
House of DIFFA: Royalty Untamed will be held on Saturday, April 27, at the Sheraton Dallas. For more information about the event and updates on future DIFFA Dallas initiatives and events, please visit www.diffadallas.org.
* Photo credit: Francesca Nelo ** Photo credit: Allison David
Taking place at a “local country club” on Monday, April 29, the event will be co-chaired by Dallas Junior Leaguers Neda Bahramnejad and Vanessa Fuquay.
According to Family Compass CEO Ona Foster, “Neda and Vanessa are not only very involved in Dallas’ non-profit communities, but also both have a personal passion for the work Family Compass is doing to build healthy families and a strong North Texas community by preventing child abuse and neglect. We are so grateful for their leadership.”
Presented by The Rosewood Corporation, the luncheon’s timing will coincide with April’s being Child Abuse Prevention Month.
As Vanessa explained, ““Family Compass is the largest nonprofit in North Texas solely dedicated to the mission of child abuse prevention. As parents ourselves, Neda and I both see the true impact that the organization is making in the lives of Dallas families, and we are excited for the luncheon to also serve as an opportunity to highlight this great work.”
Neda and Vanessa plan to announce the guest speaker and the 2024 North Star Awardee next month.
In the meantime, tickets, tables and sponsorships are available here.
* Graphic/photo provided by Family Compass
According to 2023 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Chair Katherine Wyker,
“When Equest Women’s Auxiliary visionary Louise Griffeth founded the organization more than thirty years ago, Equest was known as Freedom Ride and many people were unfamiliar with the cause and how to become supporters.
“Her vision was to create a long-term support team to help Equest raise funds and create awareness for the unique organization. Louise’s concept has prospered and I am honored to have served as this year’s Auxiliary Chair and to plan next year’s luncheon. She is truly a mentor to me and everyone involved in the Women’s Auxiliary. I look forward to passing the baton to Chair-Elect Lisa Loy Laughlin, an longtime Equest advocate.
“Equest has received well-deserved national recognition for its work. Women’s Auxiliary is a very effective organization comprised of hundreds of dedicated women who volunteer selflessly to raise funds for the therapeutic horsemanship programs. Equest has improved the lives of children and adults using horses to bring hope and healing through equine assisted therapies for 40 years. The program has grown dramatically over the years. Equest and the awareness continues to spread with the help generous donors at all levels.
“The success of the 2023 luncheon, presented by Highland Park Village, would not have been possible without the generous support of long-time Equest Auxiliary donors Louise Griffeth and luncheon honorees Katie Oster, Beth Layton, Cara French and Prissy Gravely! Also, a big thank you to Luncheon Chair Kimber Hartmann and Underwriting Chair Shannon Graham. All of these ‘dynamic duos’ made the event a genuine success!
“Thanks to their support and donations from hundreds of others, Equest has become the leader in equine assisted therapy and serves hundreds of riders annually including riders with cerebral palsy and autism as well as orthopedic ailments. Additionally, Equest serves veterans through the Horses for Heroes program.
“Top donors to the 2023 event, in addition to Presenting Sponsor Highland Park Village, included Robyn and Don Conlon, Lisa and Clay Cooley, Louise Griffeth, Lyda Hill, Helen K. and Robert McGraw and Lisa Troutt. Their generosity and commitment to Equest is immeasurable!
“My wish is that you visit the Auxiliary website to learn about this amazing program and that your mark your calendar for Tuesday, October 1, at Brook Hollow for the 2024 Luncheon. But, remember that you don’t have to wait for the Fashion Show to join forces with this life-changing organization. Memberships in the Auxiliary start at $50.”
Grow The Grove Kickoff Party Celebrates The Success Of Cristo Rey Dallas’ Innovative Work Study Program
By Glenn Hunter
Standing in a glass-walled room during a cocktail party in the crowded, Preston Hollow home of his parents Micki and former Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Thursday, October 19, it looked like Gunnar Rawlings had come full circle after taking a long journey and now was exactly where he needed to be.
After helping launch Cristo Rey in Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas, and then overseeing its unique Corporate Work Study Program, Gunnar had left the Catholic college-prep school in 2017 for a business-development job in the corporate world. Earlier this year, though, he exited the private sector to rejoin the school — this time as vice president of the corporate work study program and strategic initiatives.
Turned out that chasing business deals wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as helping educate economically disadvantaged young people, Gunnar said he’d decided.
That decision was a good one, it seemed, because he was being greeted like a rock star by the party attendees, including Cristo Rey Dallas Prep Advancement VP Regina Fonts Morris. Those guests were dedicated sorts, by the way, since the party was being held on the same evening as the Texas Rangers’ fourth American League Championship Series playoff game against the Houston Astros.
One of the 100 or so attending was commercial real estate legend Jack Fraker, who would be receiving the Ignite Award at the Grow the Grove fundraiser on Friday, April 5, at Dallas’ Thompson Hotel. Others enjoying the get-together were Candace Winslow, Cheryl Joyner — she and her husband Richard Joyner would be getting the Luminous Award in April — as well as Emmanuel Moreno, America Rodriguez and Alejandro Leyva, all members of Cristo Rey’s first graduating class.
The Luminous Award honors those who demonstrate passion and commitment to the school’s mission. The Ignite Award honors a business leader for their commitment to the school and its Corporate Work Study Program. Under that innovative program, which operates something like a staffing agency, Cristo Rey students work in 130 businesses and organizations across North Texas, learning valuable skills while earning money toward their tuition.
Following a welcome by Micki on a raised step in the Rawlings’ gorgeous backyard — “We want you to stay [after the talking], even though I’m competing against the Rangers,” Micki smiled — Dallas’ former First Lady soon gave way to Mike.
He recalled how, in some places in the world, mayors are referred to as “Your Worship,” before adding with a smile, “I test-marketed it out at home, and it didn’t work well.”
Then it was time to hear from Hilda and Mike Galvan, the 2024 Grow the Grove chairs. Hilda, partner-in-charge at Dallas law firm Jones Day, told how Jones Day had been part of Cristo Rey’s Corporate Work Study Program from the beginning.
She also explained that because both her parents and Mike’s parents “never got beyond being sophomores in high school,” she and Mike share a special appreciation for Cristo Rey. The Galvans wrapped up their remarks by inviting the guests to join the event’s Host Committee.
Cristo Rey Dallas President Patrick Walsh came next, thanking Mike and Micki “for the tag team that you were, and for all you did for our city.” Cristo Rey now boasts 465 students, Patrick said, adding that this past year it celebrated its first college graduation class.
With that, Patrick introduced 2019 CR graduate Max Hernandez, who recently earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Marquette University in Wisconsin.
Max told a little about his journey so far — and how he works now as an engineer at Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam in Dallas. Proving, it went without saying, the potency of the Cristo Rey connection.
* Photo provided by Cristo Rey Dallas
According to The Family Place Interim CEO/COO Tiffany McDaniel,
“Please join The Family Place as we make spirits merry and brighter this holiday season for thousands of domestic violence survivors! The holidays can be especially challenging for those experiencing family violence. Our hotline calls increase, and our shelters fill to capacity with families looking for safety, peace and support.
“This year there are several ways you can help The Family Place make the holidays merry and brighter:”
“Our Adopt-A-Family program includes families that range in size from single clients to parents with six children. Secure a family and family number on our website, then shop for each member of the family. You can also provide boxes, wrapping paper, tape, and ribbon so clients can wrap gifts for their children.
“We also need gift cards for the Adopt-A-Family program—Visa, Target, Walmart or others. This is a fantastic way to empower survivors to make their own gifting decisions. Gift cards should be in increments of $20 and $50.
“When you have finished your shopping, secure the bags and tape your family number to the outside of each bag. Place gift cards in envelopes and write the amount and the family number on the outside of the envelope. To respect client privacy and security, The Family Place distributes the gifts and cards directly to the families.
“Deliver gifts and gift cards to our Holiday Donation Center at 6334 Maple Avenue, Dallas, TX 75235 between Monday, December 4, and Monday, December 11. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“You can also purchase items from our Amazon Holiday Wish List. Our goal is to collect more than 1,500 unwrapped toys and $25 Amazon gift cards to distribute to children in our programs.
“On behalf of the many families in our care, thank you for your generosity and happy holidays! For more information, contact Sara Brigger, [email protected].”
* Graphic provided by The Family Place
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