Attitudes and Attire Executive Director/Founder Lyn Berman was almost as sunny as the skies above on Friday, February 26. It was just a year ago, that her annual fundraising luncheon had been put in jeopardy due to frigid temperatures and snow. Sure, there had been some empty places due to the wintry conditions, but still diehards showed up.
This year the weather couldn’t have been more picture perfect at the Dallas Market Center. Wish parking had only been more user friendly. Folks drove around and around searching for a parking space. Those who gave up the search found themselves in the conga line to the valet. Other hearty souls put their stilettos to a test for the journey from the far reaches of the parking lot. One gal grumbled that she should have parked at the Anatole, “It would have been closer.”
But once inside the Grand Pavilion, nary a memory of the parking hassles made it past the check-in for the 20th Annual Luncheon and Fashion Show featuring Eileen Fisher and Attitudes and Attire Boutique runway fashions.
Honoring the schedule, things kicked off with Madelyn Farquhar playing a guitar while A&A Boutique Manager Evelyn Earl sang the national anthem that was followed by the invocation. With lunch being served, guests were told about A&A’s Hopeful Smiles and Boots to Heels programs, the raffle and the sponsors like Tom Thumb and Levy restaurants.
At 11:56 the fashion show commenced with Kay Weeks on the catwalk strumming a ukulele in memory of the late Ebby Halliday, who was a previous Kim Dawson Award recipient. Another runway highlight was the models waving flags were vets. Still another was Lyn’s granddaughter, Caroline, modeling.
Within 15 minutes, the show was over and Lyn returned to the podium recalled how she and her husband Harold Berman approached Sylvan Landau with their program to help women build self-esteem and enter the workforce. Thanks to Sylvan and the Dallas Market Center, A&A has 5,000 square feet of space to accommodate its needs. For the past 20 years, more than 20,000 women have come through the A&A doors.
Honorary Co-Chairs Shannon Johnson and Tess Mosteller thanked all who had made the day possible. After recognizing past Kim Dawson Awardees, Kim’s daughter Lisa Dawson presented the award to Ret. Brigadier Gen. Robin Akin, who suggested that next year combat boots should be included in the fashion show.
On a more serious note, Robin told how her favorite four-letter word is “Hope. It has been an enabler in my life.” She told of her childhood being raised by a mother, who had been “harder than a woodpecker’s lips.” While attending the University of Tennessee, Robin entered the ROTC and found a career in the military. With pride, she added that during her 32 years in service she didn’t lose one soldier.
After asking those who had served in the military or had someone in their family who had to stand, she changed her focus to those who are transitioning from the military to civilian life. According to Robin, vets want to be re-integrated into the community. They need help getting jobs. Only 6% of children born in poverty have the chance to rise.
Following a standing ovation Lynn returned to the podium reporting that Robin had coined the phrase “Boots to Heels.”
At 12:42 A&A Boots to Heel Director Brandy Baxter introduced two A&A clients — Casey and Trellis.
Nervous and nearly tearing up Casey told of her earlier days living a wild life including drugs with her husband. When she got pregnant, she got off drugs cold turkey. Eventually she left her husband and started working. A&A helped her developed the self-esteem to get her life pulled together and helped her replace her teeth that had fallen victim to her previous lifestyle. She proudly added that she had lost weight and was doing much better. The audience’s response? A standing O.
A vet, Trellis said that she had been a victim of sexual trauma during her tenure in the military. Following a marriage that involved violence, where her husband threw her through the drywall of the house. Bundling up her five children, she was homeless and unable to go to her work because her husband was stalking her. After staying in a homeless shelter, she arrived at A&A and thought, “Oh, not another workshop.” But it wasn’t. She discovered she wasn’t the only one going through such a situation. Trellis now had a clear goal for her life. She went back to college and graduated with honor and got her license in nursing.
As for her five kids, Trellis proudly reeled off her boys got full scholarships to Preston Christian Academy and graduated with honors, the oldest son now works on the rapid-response team in Colorado prison system, the second boy worked with Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey, her oldest daughter is working at two full-time jobs to support her four-year old son, her 16-year-old daughter has earned a scholarship and her 14-year-old daughter is an honor student as well.
Needless to say, another standing ovation celebrated another A&A client’s rise to independence.