Isn’t it amazing how time flies. It was back in 1917-1918 that Dallas was seeing the creation of “love” and “hope.” The “love” was the official naming of an air field service for prospective World War I pilots after aviator Moss L. Love. Just one of 32 in the country, it would eventually become Dallas’ city-proper airport Dallas Love Field and home base for Southwest Airlines.
The “hope” was what 52-year-old Emma Wylie Ballard had. Becoming a widow at the age of 35, she “joined the workforce” to support her two children. That job was with the Dallas County Juvenile Court. It was in 1918, as director of the Dallas County Humane Society’s Child Welfare Department, that she had witnessed children being abandoned on the streets of Dallas and wanted to offer them “hope.” And Emma did just that when she arranged for the opening of “a small home to accept the babies.” Within the first two weeks of the opening of Hope Cottage, a two-week-old baby girl was turned in as a result of her mother and aunt dying from the influenza epidemic. The child was named Hope Watson “after Hope Cottage and for the hope that she would live.” (Editor’s note: Hope Watson lived to the ripe old age of 92.)
Since the $29 a month for milk seemed a bit exorbitant to the county commissioners, Emma “took to the streets in her Model A with the signature stork on the front, picking up donations and abandoned children alike.”
Over the past 99 years, Hope Cottage has placed generations of children and had only two home base “cottages.” Last month the Hope Cottage family moved into an incredible two-story building in the Wilson District. To celebrate the occasion, they held a patron party on Wednesday, September 21, and a ribbon-cutting on Thursday, September 22. Here is a report from the field that Emma would have been proud of:
Not only was September 22, 2016 North Texas Giving Day, it was also the day that Hope Cottage, Dallas’ oldest nonprofit, non-sectarian adoption agency, dedicated their new home. This stunning edifice is located in the Wilson Historic District at 609 Texas Street and is only the agency’s third permanent address since its founding in 1918.
The ceremony opened with a welcome by CEO Sonyia Hartwell and prayer by Chaplain Ann Golding. Chief Development Officer Leslie Clay sang the national anthem, during which a low-flying Southwest jet provided an unplanned, but perfectly timed flyover.
Hope Cottage adoptive parent/Board President Shannon Hills-Cline and Hope Cottage adoptee/ Comprehensive Capital Campaign Chairman Carmyn Neely each spoke passionately about their experiences with Hope Cottage and what the agency has meant in their lives.
George and Fay Young Foundation Executive Director Christopher Shaw made heartfelt remarks about the long relationship Hope Cottage and the foundation have enjoyed. The Youngs adopted their daughter Carol Young Marvin from Hope Cottage and Mr. Young served for many years on the Hope Cottage Board of Directors. Carol too has served both on the Hope Cottage Board of Directors and the Hope Cottage Foundation Board. Shaw said, “Having watched this facility grow out of a vacant lot, I know it has only begun to leave its mark on our great city. And while the exterior is undoubtedly beautiful, it is what happens inside that matters most. And what happens inside can be summed up with one word – hope.”
Dallas District 10 City Councilman Adam McGough closed out the speeches. Referring to Hope Cottage, he said “…you can’t help but feel the sense of family, the sense of hope here. It is organizations like this that give our city hope.”
Representatives from both the Board of Directors and Gensler, Sonyia Hartwell and Adam McGough participated in the ribbon cutting along with a special treat – grandfather and grandson duo, Jeff York and Noah York, both Hope Cottage adoptees. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the doors flung open wide and the crowd surged in for tours of the building and refreshments.
The lobby has three walls of glass and is decorated in soothing colors of creams and soft greens. Several guests were also seen trying out the rockers on the expansive front porch. Look for those rockers to be used quite a bit once the weather cools down. The first floor contains the Meadows Foundation Pregnancy and Infant Adoption Suite, along with meeting spaces. On the second floor you will find the Hoblitzelle Foundation Client Services Suite and on the third floor is the Rees-Jones Conference and Event Suite. Looking towards the east from the event and conference suite, you have a stunning view of the Wilson Historic District with Baylor Hospital rising in the background, to the south you can see the lovely home of CASA. On the west you have a spectacular view of downtown Dallas from the Dallas Foundation Community Terrace. CASA’s Becca Haynes Leonard and CNM Connect’s Joel Rothermel and Beth Meyers were seen taking advantage of the view and snapping selfies on the terrace.
Hope Cottage’s new home was part of a $4.56M comprehensive capital campaign, “For the Next 100 Years.” $3.6M was designated to construct a new service center and the remainder is designated for program expansion in three areas: Pregnancy Services, Youth Education and Foster to Adopt. The George and Fay Young Foundation made the lead gift to the campaign and The Rees-Jones Foundation closed out the campaign. Other major foundation and corporate gifts include: Meadows Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, Doswell Foundation, Hillcrest Foundation, The Dallas Foundation, Seegers Foundation, Rotary Club of Dallas-Uptown and Oncor.
Designed by Gensler and constructed by Royal Construction, this three-story jewel has been described as an architectural beacon in Dallas. Great care was taken by Gensler to insure the Austin stone building fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. The Gensler team, comprised of adoptive parents, was excited to lend their expertise to the Hope Cottage project.
On the evening before the dedication, campaign donors were treated to private tours and a reception in their honor, held in the Rees-Jones Event and Conference Suite. Attendees including Katherine and Michael Phillips, Don C. Potts, Kathy Smith from the Meadows Foundation, Lynn Gibson from the Rees-Jones Foundation and Georgia Black, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres from At Your Service Catering and light beverages while experiencing a trip down memory lane perusing 98 years of photographs and news clippings the agency has so lovingly maintained.
What is up next for Hope Cottage? A little bird told us they will kick off their centennial celebration on June 1, 2017, and will wrap up that celebration on the agency’s actual 100th birthday on June 1, 2018.
* Photos provided by Hope Cottage