When you think of people associated with The Salvation Army in Dallas-Fort Worth, two images come to mind. One is the prototype uniformed soldiers, who tirelessly toil year round but seem more on the scene around the holidays. The other persona is the group made up of community elders, who make the right calls and run fundraising projects like major corporations.
Recently another group has been added to TSA ranks — Echelon. It’s “a community of diverse young adults, ages 21 to 35, collectively rising up to serve TSA through fellowship and networking, donations and fundraising and service and volunteering.” In other words, they make being a trooper in the TSA cool.
That’s the very proper description of the group. Actually, they’re fun trendsetters who just happen to have great taste, love to party and know how to raise money. They also happen to have a very “hands-on” attitude when it comes to volunteering at TSA.
To show their muscle they decided to created 30M Gala Weekend (April 26 and 27). What’s that? What’s 30M? No, it’s not a typo for 3M. 30M is the 30 million people who were served in the U.S. during 2012.
For a minuscule few, the weekend really started Thursday night at Dee Wyly’s Preston Hollow estate. It was a gal-pal party with guest of honor designer, Kelly Wearstler. Almost an hour into the party, Kelly was nowhere to be seen, but no one really minded. It seemed the delay was due to The Family Place’s Stiletto Strut around Neiman Marcus Downtown that was creating a leggy traffic jam around her hotel.
As Wyly Chef Darren McGrady and his kitchen team busily created trays of hors d’oeuvres and “surely-it’s-not-fattening yummies,” guests were perfectly happy to chat with the likes of Nancy Dedman, Heather Furniss, Carol Seay, Martha Miller, Ashley Tripplehorn Hunt and Tricia George.
It was a 10:30 start at the Joule Hotel with a Kelly Wearstler “pop-up shop. The former Playboy Playmate (that’s way yesteryear) has creative talents that range from home furnishings to clothing. While the clothes are delicate and flirty, the home décor is bold and . . . well, flirty. Why, the lunch tables were beautiful displays of her handiwork. Well, most of them. Seems one was a little too provocative to be at a TSA lunch. Of course, you’re wondering what it was. No, it wasn’t as bad as you think, you naughty thing! It was a pair of white mounds that remind one to have a mammogram. See! Told ya it wasn’t all that outrageous. Still, it was TSA.
While NM Czar of Taste Ken Downing was down a hallway with Kelly (they’re old buds), the brand new NM Downtown Manager Jeff Byron was being introduced around to the crowd that included Sally Harris, Ruth Altshuler, the Jones gals (Gene Jones, Karen Jones and Charlotte Anderson), the Hunt sisters (Barbara Crow and Libby Allred), the Seay lasses (Carol and daughter-in-law Stephanie who is expecting), Dee Dee Lee, Claire Emanuelson and Muffin Lemak.
The luncheon was chaired by Ashley Hunt, Carla Miller and Molly Thomas with the main feature being an onstage chat between Kelly and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. Originally planned to take place on the Joule’s rooftop terrace, it was held in the ballroom. Why? No, the weather was perfect. It was just that the terrace wasn’t quite finished and the Joule folks wanted everything to be perfect.
Somebody in the Echelon group had friends in the weather department. But more about that later.
The black tie gala at the Dallas Country Club started with a reception in the lobby that was swathed in white draping. Guests entered through a hallway cloaked in the white fabric making their formal attires extremely elegant. Then it was catch-up time.
Unlike the previous two days of gals only, this one included the gents and they held their own very nicely, including dads like Berry Cox, for whom daughter-in-law Molly Cox gave a private tour of the ballroom for the post-dinner partying.
It was just minutes after that tour that a server spilled a glass of red wine that not only hit the stone floor but splattered all over the bottom of the white draping. Luckily, no long gowns were in the vicinity. (Heloise hint: That’s why Stanley Marcus prohibited red wine from being served at his events. It’s tough to clean up.)
Thanks to Gala Chair Molly and Justin Cox, Lisa and Wayne Moore and Amy and Corey Prestidge and Honorary Chairs Ruth Altshuler and Michelle McAdams, the guest list was made up veterans and upcoming leaders in TSA including Lynn McBee (husband Allan was at the Frontiers of Flight Museum Gala), Nancy Dedman, Niven Morgan just back from Louisiana, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Laura and Tom Leppert, Shelle and Michael Sills, Carol Seay, Kerbey Clark with Ed Cox, Gala Advisor Heather Furniss with daughter Ashley and TSA Dallas First Couple Captain Michele and Major Ward Matthews.
As the lobby got more and more crowded, the fashion candy also got more delicious with bare backs, extremely short skirts under see-through overlays and one gown with strategically placed cut-outs. Another conversation piece was the triple sweethearts on Carla Miller’s left arm.
Later than planned, the group strolled through the club and down the steps to a massive tent with flawless views of the Turtle Creek and the greens. That’s when the weather worked in their favor. Despite the humidity of the day, the evening hours proved just right for an absolutely perfect night of dining outside and then heading up to the ballroom for dancing to The Tip Tops and DJ Andrew 7.
While TSA may still be in the business of providing for the needy, it’s also moving forward with a very forward looking and thinking generation.