Christie Carter was event juggling on Tuesday, April 5. At 11 a.m. She was part of the 2016 Celebrating Women Luncheon announcement at Neiman Marcus Downtown. But before the right official reveal was made, Christie was headed over to the Omni for the Dallas CASA Cherish the Children luncheon.
Whew! That gal must have broken some record. She got there in time to check out the Deborah Gaspar Jewelry and the adorable kids’ chairs in the silent auction along with Lydia Novakov, Sarah Losinger, Connie O’Neill, Joyce Lacerte and Lyda Hill, before the doors opened to the Trinity Ballroom just before 11:30.
Honorary Chair Caroline Rose Hunt was already at her front row table chatting with Charlene Howell, Barbara Womble and Lynne Sheldon, who was still amazed that on this day husband Roy Sheldon was playing tennis after suffering a life-threatening illness just a couple of years before.
Across the way was a table of SMU Kappa Alpha Theta alumna (Jenni Scoggins, Barbara Cervin, Maury Cunningham, Sara Lytle, Francie Johnsen, Lynn Van Amburgh, Amy Dugan, Taylor Teague, Cori Bray and Anne Besser), who have been so supportive of Dallas CASA over the year. When asked about the construction status of the sorority’s new digs, all were delighted to claim that it would be the best one on the campus.
Luncheon Chair Erin Pope welcomed the group pointing out the dignitaries in the crowd and introduced Dallas CASA Children’s Council President Jenny Reynolds, who told of two of her CASA encounters. One had been Desi, who had be rescued from a neglectful and abusive situation, only to find herself trapped in the foster care maze. Yes, she loved her mother, but it was not a healthy relationship. Thanks to Jenny’s efforts and those social workers, Desi’s mother allowed her daughter to be adopted by her foster family. Jenny still keeps up with Desi’s progress which is flourishing.
With tears welling up in her eyes, she described “J,” her current foster child, who reflected years of neglect. Now, 13-years old, she ended up in foster care because her mother is in prison for harming a child — “J.” Her grandmother died months ago and her grandfather dropped “J” off on the doorstep of CPS because she was too difficult. Bouncing from foster home to foster home in the past six months, she had more than reflects wrong choices, she was charging into a life of self-destructive decisions — selling and using drugs, sex tapes, etc. A turning point recently took place when “J” was moved to a residential treatment center in Houston. Jenny drove to Houston the previous Friday to deliver a suitcase of “J’s” belongings. There at the front door was “J” waiting for Jenny. “She looked at me and said, ‘Jenny, you actually came. Jenny, I miss you.”
Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Kathleen LaValle recognized Honoree Caroline with former Dallas CASA Executive Director/President Beverly Levy at her side and then told of the organization’s goal to make Dallas the first city in the nation to have a CASA for each child in protective care. Of course, there is a need for funding to provide support for the advocates, but the need for volunteers is just as great. Without these adults volunteering their time, minds and hearts, there would be hundreds of vulnerable youngsters.
Erin then introduced guest speaker/author Laura McBride. Living in Las Vegas, she told about a time when her daughter was young and played soccer on a field across the highway from strip clubs and bordellos. Remember Laura and her family live in Las Vegas. In one of her classes, her 13-year-old daughter was asked to write her motto for living. She told her parents that her motto was a neon sign she had seen so often that had inspired her to live life fully and boldly. When Laura asked what her motto was, she replied, “Live Nude.”
Laura recalled that she had wanted to live in a college town or a place that was safe. Instead she lived in a city filled with people so very different from herself. It was a boomtown of all types of people and has established an automatic acceptance of newbies. The city’s economy is also one based on service, where people are nice and watch what others might need.
All of this helped prepared her daughter in 2012 to head to the East Coast for college and to open to accepting differences. This development changed Laura’s view of how things might go. She said that instead of turning inward which is typical of humans, she realized that it was wrong. “Perhaps we are progressing by not joining groups that are necessarily like us.”
As a former advocate, she championed the idea that people need “a little more love, a little more care, a little less hate, a little less fear.”
Before adjourning Dallas CASA Board of Directors Chair John Gibson reinforced the message that had been provided earlier — the need for volunteers and, of course, funds.
Suggestion: You do not need a law degree to be a Dallas CASA. You just have to have compassion, determination and time. If you can spare those three things, you just might find a “J” on a front door waiting for you.