Just days after announcing the 2018 Crystal Charity Ball beneficiaries, the CCB committee members boarded a bus early on Thursday, February 15, for the committee to get a firsthand look at the beneficiaries. While the initial fear was that some of the ladies would have to double up on the padded seats, it turned out not to be the case. At the last minute, some had to cancel to the 2018 flu hitting their families. Others like Christi Urschel, Cheryl Joyner and Patty Leyendecker suffered the loss of family members.
Tour Chair Sara Lee Gardner arranged for the temperatures topping the 70s and the grumpy-looking clouds being all show, no rain. It was announced that during the roadtrip, the newest committee members (Ashley Allen, Kara Axley, Marybeth Conlon, Lissie Donosky, Anne McPherson and Lisa Rocchio) would be introduced and would be tagged as the “crown jewels” to fit in with 2018 CCB Chair Claire Emanuelson‘s working theme “Downton Abby.”
Starting the day’s agenda were three groups who explained how the funds would be used by their organizations.
First to present on the bus was After-School All-Stars of North Texas Executive Director Marissa Castro Mikoy, who admitted that she was still thrilled over being a CCB beneficiary.
She told how the $592,141 would allow ASAS to launch their first-ever summer program for three years at E.D. Walker Middle School, where “83% of the students are economically disadvantaged.” The seven-week program will “combat” the “summer slide” for approximately 306 kids between the ages of 11 and 14 annually.
Next on the bus was Boys And Girls Club of Dallas President/CEO Charles English and Director of Education Kristal Smart, who explained that the $600,591 would be used over three years to expand the Accelerated Early Childhood Education program, which will help children who are not reading at first-grade level to “catch up.” The program that is currently offered at two Clubs will eventually be expanded to six Clubs. They were joined by adorable Club member Antonio Perez, who began reading a thank-you note. He made it through the first sentence, but was overcome by a case of shyness. Luckily, CCB member Beth Thoele subbed in and finished the thank you.
The final bus presentation was Mosaic Family Services with DT and HV Assistant Director Sulan Chang and Children’s Advocacy Coordinator Brandon Dawson telling how their mission was to help those escaping human trafficking. With a staff that speaks over 29 languages from 15 different nations, they are prepared to provide “wrap around services for both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.” Due to the different cultural backgrounds, the shelter provides kitchens so clients can cook their own meals. According to Sulan, Mosaic is the only shelter in North Texas that takes both human trafficking and domestic abuse victims.
Thanks to the $666,612 that will be used over a three-year period, the nonprofit will be able to “finish out, furnish and staff a full-service-licensed, onsite childcare center and after-school program.” While the children are receiving educational support, their mothers will be able to work, attend school and/or work with various social service agencies. The monies will also be used to purchase a 15-passenger van.
Then the bus headed to Nexus Recovery Center for a tour of the facility helping women going through recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. One of the only centers in the area that allows women to include their children during their treatment, the acreage included residential housing, a tranquility garden, a cafeteria, a youth center and a vegetable garden.
The former Dallas Bible College Campus had grown from its original structure blending the original buildings with brand new facilities. But its purpose was still to provide a sanctuary for recovery.
Thanks to the three-year commitment of $747,681 by CCB, licensed speech, play, occupational and physical therapists would be hired, along with the acquisition of physical therapy equipment, DISD-mandated uniforms, socks, shoes and underwear. The funds will also provide support for a children’s clinical director, allowing the Children Development Center Program to “work in tandem with the existing Center.”
While Nexus was a quiet sanctuary for recovery, the next stop at Booker T. Washington High School was filled with the sounds of music and remarkable artistic discovery by its student body. But before entering the school, the 2018 CCB committee posed for the class photo. Then, following Booker T. Washington High School Advisory Board Executive Director Lisa Lawrence Walker‘s welcome, the group broke up into smaller groups to tour the mammoth three-story building filled with young artists painting, the sound of music filling the air, dancers rehearsing in studio and traditional education classes.
On the top floor across the hallway from Douglas Carney‘s classroom, the CCB-ers saw where the new, state-of-the-art production studio would be installed, thanks to the CCB $766,190 funding. Here the 1,000 students annually will be able to create high-quality-level portfolios to show their talent in order to apply for college, scholarships and awards.
Finishing off the visit was so typical of Booker T. On the stairway, singers belted out songs with CCB members video-taping the performance on their cellphones.
Back on the bus, the group lunched on box lunches from Cassandra Fine Catering as they headed to a lot between Park Lane and Ridgecrest Road in the Vickery Meadows neighborhood. This was where a sculpture had been months ago where Darfu refugee Mohammad Adam had sought shelter from the cold on Sunday, January 15, 2017, and died overnight. Since then the sculpture had been removed and the lot was empty except for some forlorn trees and a man playing with his dogs.
But according to Dallas Public Library Director Jo Giudice, the lot would soon be transformed into the new Vickery Meadow Branch Library, a state-of-the-art facility to serve the multinational residents. Due to the unique nature of the area’s makeup, where more than 30 languages are spoken, plans call for town meetings of the neighbors to better adapt the plans for the needs of the area.
CCB’s $752,455 commitment to the Friends of the Dallas Public Library will not only help jump-start the project, but it will “furnish and enhance the interiors and provide program materials and equipment for the Children And Teen Centers, costs that are no covered in the $7.7M bond package.” According to projections, the library will serve more than 10,400 children annually.
Ahead of schedule, the bus drove thought the Vickery Meadows area on its way to the Bachman Lake area for another vacant lot with trees. But this one had pinatas leaning against and hanging from the trees and a tent with a table filled with coffee mugs and homemade cookies. It was the site for the future Family Hope Center. Immediately upon arriving at the grounds, the CCB committee gathered to hear about the plans for the Center.
To counter the flyovers by planes headed to Love Field, a mic and speakers allowed Buckner Children and Family Services’ Margaret Elizabeth McKissack and Ricardo Brambila to explain how the CCB’s $1,125,435 would be used for the construction, as well as for furnishings and equipment for the 2,804-square-foot Children’s Wing. Approximately 375 children will benefit from the after-school lounge and two classrooms, as well as year-round childcare and after-school care, summer programs and academic assistance.
Ricardo added that Marta Martinez had created the pinatas that were for sale at $100 each. He explained that if all the pinatas on display were purchased, Marta could buy the home which her family was currently renting. CCB members like Shelle Sills and Claire were seen loading giraffes and other pinatas on board the bus.
The final stop of the day was Ronald McDonald House Of Dallas, which is going through an $11.5M capital campaign to expand its facilities. Here the committee members toured the residential suites, where families of children going through treatments for serious illness or injuries can live. In one of the suites was framed artwork featuring Pez dispensers, reflecting a former client’s stay. In the cafeteria, committee members met in-house therapy dog Chief Cheer Officer Shiloh.
But just as the Dallas-area healthcare services have grown to accommodate children from all across the country, so the need for expansion has increased, requiring a new wing for “the house that love built.” In addition to more parking and updating the current guest rooms and playgrounds, the new wing will include 30 rooms. Thanks to CCB’s $1,250,000 funding, 15 bedrooms suites on the ground level will be made possible for 520 children and their families annually.
For one last time, the committee boarded the bus to head back to the CCB offices to undertake their mission to support the 2018 beneficiaries.