Yvonne Crum had a lot of thing on her mind May 23. In addition to having her biological family (husband Mayo and son Mike) tableside, she had her Saturday Café Pacific posse (Dee Wyly, Dallas Can luncheon honorary co-chairs Carolyn Lupton and Jill Rowlett), close buds (Terry Bentley Hill, Barbara Brice, Jean Lattimore, Ruth Buzzi and husband Kent Perkins and Carolyn Tillery) surrounding her. And then at nearby tables were her Dallas Children’s Theater cast (Artie Olaisen), Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas (Margie Wright), Northwood University (Bill Wallace) and a host of others (Allie Beth Allman, Vinnie Deegan, Steve Kemble, Jacque Wynne, Shane Walker, D’Andra Simmons and Shona Gilbert).
The occasion was the 20th annual Motherhood Luncheon presented by Kimberly-Clark benefiting Dallas Can Academies in the Hilton Anatole’s Wedgwood Room. It was not just a ladies-who-lunch crowd. Nope. There were plenty of suits filling the room who were fans of Yvonne’s and Dallas Can.
Following a welcome from Dallas Can Development Council Chair Kurt VandeMotter, it was time for the invocation. Thank heaven, Dallas Independent School District Board President Dr. Lew Blackburn was in the audience. When Dr. Sheron Patterson proved to be a no-show, Lew was drafted to give the invocation. It was perfect — gracious and brief.
After lunch, emcee/past Motherhood honoree Gloria Campos introduced the other past honorees who were present, including Delia Jasso, Ann Williams, Susie Bell, Tincy Miller, Patti Reed, Sara Garza-Gongora and Patricia Meadows.
She then introduced attorney Terry Bentley Hill, who gave a personal and touching introduction for the day’s honoree Yvonne. She mentioned how Yvonne had helped not just Terry in dealing with her daughter’s suicide in 2004, but had raised more than $1.5 million for the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas. Terry then got a chuckle from the audience when she said that she probably knew more about Mayo than he realized due to Yvonne’s Facebook page.
Yvonne promised that her acceptance would be brief. Too bad because there was not a lull or a slow point in the talk. First she turned the tables on Terry by recognizing her having just been admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.
She then admitted that in the past when she was honored, she thanked everyone in the room but her husband of 45 years. Instead Yvonne immediately thanked Mayo. Then she recognized the day’s honorary chairs Carolyn Lupton and Jill Rowlett.
She even recognized Café Pacific. According to Yvonne, “Everyone knows that if you want me to do anything, you just take me to Café Pacific.” And that’s where the Dallas Can folks took her to ask her to be the honoree. She explained that she didn’t see how she “qualified” for the honor.
But after visiting Texas Can, she realized that each of the organizations (Northwood, Dallas Children’s Theater, etc.) in which she was associated helped others.
From her research, she realized the effect that Dallas Can had on the dropout rate.
Somehow Yvonne even managed to tie in Ruth Buzzi, who “learned from Elmo.”
Finally, she told the group that it was because “All of you are responsible for me being here.”
Of course, she had to end her acceptance with a laugh telling guests that, “When I get to heaven, I’ll be in charge of the raffle.”
Of course, she got a standing ovation.
Kimberly-Clark’s Alyson Gomez then presented Yvonne with a gift. Yvonne lifted it high saying, “It’s a blue box.” Gloria responded, “And we know only good things come in blue boxes.”
As proof of the Dallas Can “product,” student presentations were made by Pleasant Grove student Neomi Colunga and Oak Cliff student David Mayo III.
Despite telling of her challenging childhood, Neomi quoted “a wise woman:” “A woman is like a tea bag. She never knows how strong she is until she’s in hot water.”
In conclusion, Texas Can Academies President/CEO Richard Marquez was the perfect closer. With heads nodding throughout the room, the high school dropout, who went on to be a teacher, principal and superintendent, emphasized two points:
- “Today’s standard education curriculum needs to be adjusted. We need to stop looking at our children as widgets, who are being put through a manufacturing process. We need to look at them as valuable intellectual properties. Which means we nurture. Children do not grow on schedule. Somebody out there decided that all ten-year-olds should be in the fifth grade. That was a model built in the last century. It’s time to change that model. This state predicts its population of prisoners and builds it prisons based on one statistic — third grade reading. We should be ashamed of ourselves.
- “We have to break the cycle and it has to be done through reading. At the Can Academy, our entire curriculum is predicated and built around reading. The kids read every day. The kids read out loud. The kids tell me that they don’t forget anything anymore because they read. And they learn to read. It is the one key critical component of success for humans in the world — literacy. If you are a reader and if you are a thinker, you will be successful in the world.”
He told of a little girl whom he encountered in a class. She was annoying. After leaving the room, he asked himself if there was a reason why she acted that way. He looked up her test scores. “The kid’s brilliant and we’ve got her in class.” Richard had her come to his office. He asked her, “Young lady, did you know you’re annoying? [Laughter in the room] But don’t worry. I am happy that you annoyed me today because we’re now going to solve your problem — you’re bored. And you’re probably killing these poor teachers. [More laughter] We’re going to move you to where you need to be. And we’re going to accelerate you to out of here because you’re probably college material and we want you to go.”
This year Texas Can will graduate 1,500 children.