Thursday was a killer day for certain ladies around town. First on their agenda was the fourth annual Chick Lit Luncheon at Brook Hollow. Then it would be a quick trip home to watch Rielle Hunter tell-almost-all on Oprah, change shoes and head for the Stiletto Strut at downtown Neiman’s.
Thank heaven the first thing on the list was Chick Lit! Paige McDaniel‘s Community Partners of Dallas had Chicago humor author Jen Lancaster as the featured speaker for 450 gals to get them up and going.
But before Jen could even get started chatting, the ladies were already stressing about preparations for the later activities. At one table, Anne Stodghill was talking about preparations for the Strut, which she was co-chairing. Another woman, on the Strut host committee, was fretting that she hadn’t bought any new shoes for the walk. And Angie Kadesky noted how busy the week was turning out to be, what with Cattle Baron’s Casino Night set for the very next evening.
Soon Jen (pictured between Lynn McBee, left, and Paige McDaniel) had their minds off of busy schedules by talking about a subject they all shared — being a newbie at volunteering. The New York Times best-selling memoirist, who’s gained a national following for her acerbic wit, admitted to this seasoned group of donors and volunteer types that she’s still learning.
Looking out at the crowd, she said that before she and her husband Fletch both lost their full-time jobs several years ago, the only volunteer work she’d done was trick-or-treating for UNICEF. So, with plenty of time on her hands, she began working at a no-kill animal shelter—for awhile, anyway.
“The militant vegans who run the place are not going to be impressed when you show up in a coat with a sheepskin collar,” she explained.
These days Lancaster volunteers for Chicago’s Glass Slipper project, which tends to elderly women with the likes of manicures and makeup lessons. “I thought, well, it’s not exactly pulling Haitians out of wreckage,” she said. But she soon came to appreciate the connections the experience afforded—and the seniors’ outspokenness.
“They’re not shy about asking me how much money I make, or how much I weigh,” Lancaster said, laughing. As a result, a whole “younger generation (of volunteers) is learning candor.”
Earlier there had been no shortage of candor—or sniffling attendees—when Paige, CPD president and CEO, showed a dramatic clip from the movie Precious illustrating the horrors of child abuse. As you probably know by now, CPD helped more than 16,000 abused and neglected local children through six unique programs in 2009.
Paige also presented the Partners for Children Award to Fidelity Investments, and noted that no fewer than 175 women served on this year’s luncheon host committee. They included honorary chair Sarah Losinger and luncheon chair Jennifer Tobin (pictured, with Losinger at left); and presenting sponsor–with her husband, Dr. Robert Tafel–Lara Briggs Tafel (pictured at far left with Amanda Spooner, Shelly Capriotti and Dallas Lamon).
The big crowd at Brook Hollow—among them Dee Simmons and Doris Jacobs (pictured)—responded enthusiastically to Jen and her hilarious tales about her unconventional path from blogger to best-selling authorship. (A “smart-mouthed Republican,” Lancaster said she’s “probably the only person who ever drove to do an NPR interview listening to Rush Limbaugh.”)