Over the past 125 year the Juliette Fowler Communities has grown from the late Juliette Fowler’s original focus on orphans to include seniors, rehabilitation and young women who have aged out of the foster care system. Today it touches all generations from babies to seniors. Perhaps that’s why the makeup of the 700 guests in the Omni Dallas Hotel’s Trinity Ballroom perfectly reflected the beneficiaries at Visionary Women Luncheon on Friday, April 20.
But before the guests arrived on the third floor of the Omni, they had to overcome the cones blocking the self-park. The reason for the limited parking was volleyball. Seems 700 rooms had been reserved just to accommodate the players and the observers. The result was the parking in the area had been gobbled up. Facing this challenge, many guests opted for the valet service, only to find that retrieving their car after the luncheon resulted in a 30-minute wait.
Still the Visionary Women Luncheon guests were not to be deterred as they discovered the day’s honoree 2018 Visionary Woman Claire Cunningham seated in the front of the Visionary Women backdrop alongside her husband Dale Cunningham and her sister Bernice Christopher, who would be 98 on Sunday, April 22.
Bridging the generations of the hundreds of guests in attendance were Virginia Chandler Dykes, Craig Foster, Rhonda Winstead, Tim Moore, Sunie Solomon, Nikki Webb, Wendy Messmann, Nancy Gopez, Angela Nash, Ellen Young and former KDFW Fox anchor Jenny Anchondo, who was preparing to start her new job with “Morning Dose” the following Monday. Sisters-in-law Bela Cooley and Ciara Cooley’s obvious good fashion taste resulted in both gals wearing the same white leather jacket they had picked up at Market in Highland Park Village. Mama Lisa Cooley opted for a Chanel suit.
After Luncheon Chair Amy Green revealed how the Juliette Fowler mission had made an impact since her West Texas childhood, she adjourned to her table where her Yorkie pal Precious sat in her tote placed on a chair next to Amy.
At 12:40, the program got underway with a video showing how “everyone is welcome at Juliette Fowler.” Five minutes later Juliette Fowler Communities President/CEO Sabrina Porter and Juliette Fowler Foundation Chair John Pennington spoke to the audience. John recalled how in years past Bob Barton had provided a matching gift. “He passed away this past December just one year shy of his 100th birthday.” Unfortunately, that meant that there would be no match challenge this year and John suggested that the guests’ generosity was more important than ever.
At 12:53 Juliette Fowler Communities Board of Directors Chair Ben Brooks was joined on stage by the family of Erika McKenzie for the presentation of the Erika McKenzie Volunteer Award to Natalie Morin, who was joined on stage by her son Grant.
The next award was the Juliette Fowler Faith and Service Award that was presented to Sarah Jones, who is a student at TCU and is heading to UTA for her masters.
At 1:06 a video was shown about Claire’s numerous roles in Dallas growth through the decades.
Four minutes later Claire was rolled up on stage in her wheelchair and addressed the group citing her marriage of 67 years, her dear friend/Chi Omega sister Virginia Chandler Dykes, her sister-in-law Marian Pickens (a Chi O who introduced Claire to Dale), her children and grandchildren and the challenges and pluses of her leadership in the Methodist Church, Dallas desegregation, SMU, the Dallas Arboretum.
When she concluded at 1:20, Sabrina followed telling the audience that when they told Claire they wanted to give the award to her, she responded, “Do you know who I am?”