In the world of North Texas fundraising, experts worried their brows about the days between Wednesday, October 26 and Saturday, October 29. It was going to be a slam-bang period and it started with those kite flying Dallas Kappa Alpha Theta alumnae at Brook Hollow.
The ladies including Becky Bright, Mary Mencke, Kathy Vassallo, Susan Gordon, Sarah Rathjen, Beth Thoele, Robin Bagwell and Kristi Hoyl discovered that in addition to lunching on Brook Hollow’s fav pecan crusted chicken, they were also going to have an art class courtesy of keynote speaker/Theta Ashlee Kleinert.
Arriving with a tote filled with canvases, Ashlee was one of the late arrivals. Earlier DeeDee Lee explained why her recent skin cancer surgery on her wrist had prevented her from wearing her signature charm bracelet. She also revealed that she was celebrating her 31st wedding anniversary that day with husband Jim Lee… Muffin Lemak’s eyes looked bright and clear after a “stint” with shines in the eye. But the luncheon wasn’t for fashion notes and catching up… And the fundraiser wasn’t limited to Thetas. Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna Carol Goglia tagged along with her Theta mom Jane Pierce.
Luncheon Chair Anne Besser and Theta Alumnae President Maury Cunningham had crafted their program perfectly blending KAT’s beneficiary Dallas CASA with the day’s program.
After Dallas CASA’s Kathleen LaValle told of the need for funds and volunteers and thanked the sorority for its support, Ashlee displayed a couple of her canvases featuring paintings of pumpkins on easels on stage. She then instructed guests that thanks to sheets of paper and markers, they were to draw pumpkins. She also added that the markers would find after life at Dallas CASA.
As the guests created pumpkins, Ashlee told a story from years ago when she was a young mother living in Tulsa with husband Chris Kleinert. Being a first-time mom, she was in need of sleep, pampering and having her mother take over the infant for a break.
Upon returning to Dallas for R&R, she woke up to find her mom (Nancy Ann Hunt) gone for a meeting. But while Ashlee missed out on the pampering, she soon learned about “The Art of Giving.” It seems that Nancy Ann had left her tired daughter and granddaughter for a meeting at the Austin Street Shelter, where she learned a tidbit.
Upon returning home, Nancy Ann told Ashlee to get in the car, so they could buy headsets. Hmm. This development raised some eyebrows in the Brook Hollow ballroom. Strange POA.
But Ashlee explained that Nancy Ann had learning in the meeting that many of the Austin Street clients suffered from schizophrenia and heard voices. Experts had found that “hearing voices” could be overshadowed by other noise…like those coming via a headset.
This experience provided Ashlee with an epiphany that introduced Ashlee to giving. Over the years, Ashlee and Chris created Ruthie’s Food Trucks, Executives in Action and spearheaded countless fundraising efforts within North Texas.
She then told how one act of giving can spread and gave an example of the Akola Project that she’s heading up. It started with Brittany Underwood’s small step years ago when she was a SMU student and went to Uganda. There she saw the poor conditions and organized women to make jewelry. It was so successful that she arranged to have 100 women in need to also join the Akola effort creating jewelry. This grassroots efforts came to the attention of Neiman Marcus, who included the line in the specialty store’s merchandise. Because of Brittany’s “small step,” women have been employed, schools have been improve and healthier conditions have been provided for those in Uganda.
After Ashlee concluded her talk, guests displayed their masterpieces and Luncheon Chair Anne took on the role of live auctioneer.
Seems Ashlee had offered the Ruthie’s food truck to be put up for bid for fundraising. The package included the truck providing meals for 50 people. The value was $1,000. Goodness! Maybe Anne should go into the auction business. Within a matter of a couple of minutes, she had the bidding up to $1,500. With a nod from the Ashlee and her team, Anne was able to offer the package twice for $1,600 each.