Weather guessers insisted that Thursday, February 18, was going to be a lovely, sunny day with temps in the 70’s. Evidently Mother Nature didn’t get the memo. The morning was cloudy, windy and in the 60s. It would have been no big deal for the Crystal Charity Ball committee members on the bus tour of the 2016 beneficiaries. After all, they would be in a bus and visiting the sites of Captain Hope’s Kids/Hope Supply Co., Community Partners of Dallas, Girl Scout of Northeast Texas, Notre Dame School of Dallas, Parkland Foundation, Teach for America and The Family Place. Still, wise were the ones who opted for the Dallas tradition of layer dressing. One gal in an adorable wrap skirt and blouse bravely took a stand as she prepared to board the bus at 8:15 a.m. in Turtle Creek Village’s parking. “It’s gonna be in the upper 70s,” she said shivering. As others wrapped in jackets, boots and scarves heard her comment, they had to think, “It’s North Texas in February.”
But once in the bus, the focus turned from the weather to the purpose of the day, with 2016 CCB Chair Christie Carter and Underwriting Chair Claire Emanuelson seated behind the driver and Charity Selection Chair Helen Holman introducing each beneficiary. First of the day was in the parking lot with Teach for America Dallas Executive Director Alexandra “Alex” Hales handing out materials including a map showing where Teach for America schools were. Taking the mic to explain the program’s purpose, Alex explained that Teach for America is providing “game-changing teachers” for students in 28 high-need, low-income elementary schools. The goal is to end educational inequity so that a ZIP code does not predict a child’s future.
Thanks to the CCB’s $500,000, 80 teachers will be able to help 4,400 youngsters in South Dallas annually.
As soon as Alex exited the bus, Tour Coordinator Mary-Elizabeth Carrell gave some suggestions for the day (like “silence cellphones”) and the bus headed to the first stop of the day — the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas’s 98-acre Camp Whispering Cedars, where “approximately 3,000 girls in grades K through 12 will be served annually.” Multi-generational GSNETX CEO Jennifer Bartkowski played tour guide as the bus managed to make the tight turns through the property. Let’s face it: the pre-World War II camp’s roads built in the 1920s were not made for today’s mega-buses.
Jennifer told how first donor Jan Rees-Jones realized that a first impression was paramount for young people who were entering a new world of education and experience. So, Jan arranged for the Rees-Jones Foundation to donate $1M to create the Rees-Jones Foundation Welcome Center.
But Jennifer stressed that, alongside the traditional scout activities like hiking, sitting around the campfire, sports and leadership activities, there will be the addition of the camp’s crown jewel — the “STEM Center of Excellence, a $13M living laboratory where girls in kindergarten through 12th grade can explore science, technology, engineering and math programs, activities and careers in a unique, girl-centered outdoor leadership environment.”
Inside the Welcome Center, GSNETX STEM Center of Excellence Director Audrey Kwik showed an illustration of what the new facility would look like and directed everyone’s attention to a scale model of the entire camp.
As a 2016 CCB beneficiary, GSNETX will receive $976,000 that will be “used for the construction of the 4,936-square-foot Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center of Excellence Girl Exploration Center.”
To see them on their way, the Girl Scouts staff was on the spot handing out boxes of Thin Mints.
En route to the second site visit, new CCB members (Lisa Cooley, Michaela Dyer, Libby Hegi, Stacey McCord, Alison Malone and Layne Pitzer) were introduced by Heather Esping and Kim Miller via a guessing game. The newbies were described by answers they had provided during their orientation. Old-timers had to guess which freshmen had provided which answers.
Next on the itinerary was Notre Dame of Dallas. For some it was a surprise. They remembered the old building where children and young adults with “mild to moderate intellectual disabilities” attended classes. Lo and behold, Development Director Kay Barry and Notre Dame Principal Theresa Francis took the crowd through the new two-story facility. They saw how, from a young age, the students learn all aspects of living. Kay told how her daughter Amanda, who was a Notre Dame student, had learned to wash her clothes at the school. Kay admitted that her other kids were lacking in that knowledge. Then she told how when her older kids return home for a visit, Amanda folds their clothes for them.
At Notre Dame, students have a gym to play basketball as well as a cafeteria to provide skills for jobs after Notre Dame. For the CCB-ers, it was a great visit due to the presence of the children, who are part of the program.
The CCB’s $676,020 will provide “over three years to purchase two passenger buses to safely transport students from satellite locations to and from school.”
When the bus stopped at a vacant lot surrounded by a tall chain-link fencing topped off with razor wire adjacent to a vacant building just a block or two away from Parkland Hospital, there was no need to leave the bus … at least yet. This location was the future home of the new Family Place Center. Since The Family Place staff was attending an all-day meeting, The Family Place Board Member Debbi Alves hopped on board the bus to explain how the CCB’s $750,000 would be “used to build and furnish the 3,000-square-foot Children’s Counseling Center space, including three counseling rooms, two play therapy rooms, a family waiting area and a children’s computer lab.”
Following Debbi’s explanation, the CCB-ers disembarked the bus for the annual group photo in front of the bus.
Running ahead of schedule, they got back on board and headed for a nearby parking lot on the Parkland Health and Hospital System campus, where two mammoth buses were parked. One was a mobile clinic that CCB had funded 10 years ago. The second was a new model. Despite the older bus having been maintained meticulously, it was overdue for retirement.
As Parkland Foundation’s David Krause, Latisha Blair and Dr. Susan Spalding explained the importance of these mobile clinics, the committee sanitized their hands according to protocol, toured the full-service facilities, and then sanitized their hands again upon departing.
Now, don’t go thinking this hand cleansing was unusual. In this day and age of healthcare, hand sanitizers are as routine as a politician’s handshake.
But back to the tour. The committee members were told that the CCB’s $789,002 would “be used to replace and upgrade the Pediatric Mobile Medical Van serving homeless children at 13 homeless shelters and three juvenile detention centers.” In addition to the van, “funds will be used over threes year to replicate the Healthy and Ready to Learn program which offers comprehensive pediatric screenings for vision and hearing loss, dental pain, hunger, behavioral problems, asthma, sleep disorders and social stress.” The hope is that “approximately 2,000 children ages infant to 18 will be served annually.”
Next stop was nearby Hope Supply Co. Formerly known as Captain Hope’s Kids, it was going through a name change, but its mission hadn’t changed one iota. Recognized as the largest diaper dispersing agency for nonprofits, this to-the-ceiling warehouse boasted Huggies, Cutie Pants and Pampers, as well as birthday gifts and toys. Donning green vests, the CCB-ers were led for a tour by President Barbara Johnson, Warehouse Manager Sam Mattox and Operations Manager Shepard Faircloth of the mammoth warehouse that reminded one of Citizen Kane’s storehouse with the supplies reaching to the ceiling.
But Barbara confessed that Hope was still in need of volunteers to provide elbow grease. Looking at the thousands of cases of diapers, it was overwhelming—as was the realization that such a simple necessity could be out of reach if it weren’t for “hope.”
The CCB’s $600,000 will be “used over three years to provide additional staff, inventory, a delivery van and driver,” as well as enhanced communications between the nonprofit and their partner agencies.
As the ladies departed, each was given a going-away gift. No, not a box of diapers. Rather, a Hope T-shirt.
While the final stop of the day was near the Parkland camp, it was as different as its predecessors. Like fireworks, Community Partners of Dallas President/CEO Paige McDaniel, Development and Communications VP Joanna Clarke and their team exploded with delight at the arrival of the CCB bus at CPD’s future home. Having been located at the Meadows Foundation’s Wilson District for years, it was now time for CPD to leave the nest and settle in its own home. The two-story, 47,000-square-foot office building had housed engineers, but its future would be providing resources for Child Protective Services caseworkers in need of items for the approximate 20,000 children annually removed from their homes.
Typical of CPD, their goal was to provide warehousing for supplies from which CPS workers could tap. But they had a grander plan in mind. According to Joanna, their new facility would also have office space for other organizations with similar goals to call home.
The CCB’s $1,359,236 will be directed to three key areas that occupy 12,636-square feet in the building:
- the Rainbow Room, where CPS caseworkers can shop free-of-charge for clothing, shoes, hygiene products, diapers, formula, car seats and other items needed for children whose lives are in immediate crisis
- the Rainbow Room Warehouse, where the inventory is stored and
- the Reception Atrium, where children will feel welcomed during their transition.
Boarding the bus for the last time, the CCB team had their marching orders and the inspiration to raise a total of $5,650,258 to help change the lives of Dallas children for a better future.