The Meadows Foundation President/CEO Linda Perryman Evans looked over the bare parking lot in the Wilson Historic District the morning of Thursday, June 25. Despite the heat already rising from the pavement, she was very pleased. It was the morning of the groundbreaking for the newest members of the Meadows Foundation community of nearly 40 nonprofits — Hope Cottage.
For her, having the adoption facility located here had a bit of irony attached to it. Then she smiled and recalled that “Uncle Al’s” (the late Algur Meadows) son, Robert Meadows, had been adopted. Rob is now Chairman of The Meadows Foundation’s board of trustees.
While a small sandbox with small shovels with brightly colored ribbons was placed in the center of the parking lot, the majority of Hope Cottage staffers, board members, friends and families gathered under the nearby trees and some were smart enough to bring umbrellas. It was obvious that even the summer heat was not going to discourage this official start for the 8,500 square-foot center designed by Gensler.
As time drew near for the official program to begin, Wilson District “residents” like Community Partners of Dallas’ Paige McDaniel and Joanna Clarke and soon-to-be next door neighbor Dallas CASA’s Kathleen LaValle joined the crowd of adults and kiddos.
Kathleen had a special interest in the arrival of Hope Cottage to the “hood.” It seems that more than 25 years ago Hope Cottage had been “our foundation in the adoption process” of their children from Edna Gladney in Fort Worth. She had been told that it would be six months before their adoption would go through. Six days later the call came. She laughed and admitted that she wasn’t prepared for the early arrival and had “to borrow my neighbor’s car seat.”
As some of the guests took seats under a white tent, most stood to the side as Hope Cottage President of the Board John Dickey, Gensler architect Barry Hand and adoptive mom Shannon Hills-Cline spoke.
Shannon told the crowd in the blinding sunlight that, as a single mother, she thought the odds were against her. Then a call came after office hours. She feared it was a turn down call. Nope, they had a baby girl. After meeting with the mother and baby, the connection was a done deal. Only, like Kathleen, Shannon had no car seat. But that wasn’t going to hold her back. She found one and fell in love with motherhood.
Behind the tent Omar Seikaly was helping his daughter Cassidy Seikaly, who was having a shoe issue. Later when Omar was joined by Hope Cottage’s Amy Broussard, he told how she had been the one who had worked with his family in making the love connection for adopting both of their children.
After all the presentations were over, the group moved to the sandbox, where Hope Cottage graduates and foster kids took charge of the shovels and dug. And when the photos were finished and the grownups sought the comfort of the shade to chat, the kids kept digging. After all, that’s what a sandbox is all about.