When Phoenix House lost federal-government earmarks this year, locals knew the program that does so much needed some TLC. Besides personal handholding, that special care meant opening billfolds. To make that process less painful, they created a fundraiser. Now, in this city it would have to have a lot of stellar elements to standout from all the established moneymaking events.
Wednesday the plans were announced at a kickoff party hosted by Lee Ann and Alan White at the Mansion. In the filled-to-capacity Promenade, all the right names (Kelli and Gerald Ford, Jill and Bob Smith, Vicki Chapman, Pete Schenkel, Debbie Francis, Linda and Bill Custard, Lydia Novakov, Debbie Oates and James Huffines), were assembled to talk about and hear the news from the Whites.
Phoenix House of Texas board member Hill Feinberg recalled the arrival of Phoenix House in Austin back in the late 1990’s. It seems the late Annette Strauss was the one who got the the program to Texas in 1997. She got Hill involved with PH, when she told him, “Sweetheart, I’ve got something for you to do.” Fast forward to 2002 when Phoenix House started providing services in Dallas. Over the years, the Dallas operation has grown as the needs have skyrocketed. Thanks to funding by various individuals, groups like the Crystal Charity Ball ($400,000 this past year) and government allocations, PH has helped thousands of youngsters overcome various addictions. But the loss of the federal funding really dealt a blow for the organization, so big guns were required to help make up the difference.
Hill told the crowd, “Having Alan and Lee Ann involved is moving us into a new area.” The hope is to raise enough money to “finish off the building” where so many receive counseling to overcome life changing problems.
While Alan discussed the problems of federal cutbacks, Lee Ann added the personal touch of recalling how her son Michael had suffered from addictions, but “has been sober for five years.”
As Lee Ann was wrapping up, Alan interrupted and said, “Wait a minute. You need to tell ’em to bring money!” Quickly Lee Ann added, “I’ll expect him (Alan) to write the check if you don’t!”
They also announced that on Friday, May 13, the 2011 Triumph for Teens Luncheon honoring the late Paul Bass Jr. would be held at the Fairmont’s Regency Ballroom with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as speaker. The presenting patrons would be Annette and Harold Simmons.
When the name of Paul Bass was announced, smiles registered throughout the room. Then laughter when Hill told the story of a breakfast, where he met with Paul and Burt Tansky (former head of Neiman Marcus). Hill said, “Give me four names who will help us.” Paul came up with his four immediately. Burt, on the other hand, said, “I don’t live here. I don’t know any.” Paul turned to Burt and said, “Well, who would be your pallbearers? Give us four of your pallbearers.”
In the crowd was original PH board member Steve Ivy, who is currently finance chair for Phoenix House of Texas and just went on the board of the National Center for Policy Analysis.