When 400 people turned up for Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity‘s inaugural Dream Builders Dinner at Belo Mansion on Thursday, October 19, Mary Martha Pickens and her husband, John Pickens, were among them. Longtime active Habitat supporters, the Pickenses brought a whole table-full of their Bible-study pals from Highland Park United Methodist Church with them.
Which made sense, because the church’s Carpenters for Christ group was one of the evening’s award recipients. The other was Philip Wise, one of the co-founders of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity and also one of the HPUMC members who helped establish Carpenters for Christ. But hey, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.
The fundraising dinner, put on with the help of co-chairs Diane and Mike Gruber, Jennifer and Tom Karol, and Lynn and Allan McBee, was intended to be “an evening of inspiration for the future, and gratitude for those who have helped us reach this stage over the past 30 years.”
It also turned out to be something of a farewell party for Bill Hall, Habitat’s local CEO. Hall announced surprisingly that he would be “closing out my time at Habitat” after 13 years. During his brief remarks, Hall sketched out an ambitious goal for the Dallas chapter: building 1,600 new homes by 2021—almost as many as the nonprofit has put up in total over the last three decades.
The evening’s hands-down star attraction, though, was Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. The NFL’s leading touchdown passer this season posed happily for photos during the meet-and-greet, then was interviewed onstage by broadcaster Brad Sham, who’s known as “The Voice of the Dallas Cowboys.”
Raised in a Habitat home by a single mother who worked two jobs, Deshaun said home ownership had changed his life. It was the lifeline that pulled his family out of poverty, giving him the chance to thrive. He also described the impact his mother had on him, even as a football quarterback: “It starts with my mom. I’m observant. I can see how different people move in [different situations]. I’m a conservative guy. … Whatever happens, good or bad, you’ve got to shake it off and go on the next thing.”
Another thing his mother taught him, Deshaun told Brad, was that “it takes a long time to build a legacy. But it takes just one false step, one move, to bring it down.” By the end of the evening, few believed Deshaun would be having that problem anytime soon.
Editor’s note: Roughly two weeks after his appearance in Dallas, Deshaun reportedly suffered a season-ending knee injury during a Texans practice.
* Photo provided by Habitat for Humanity