The annual Champions of Children Award Dinner hauled in a tidy sum of $360,000 for Dallas CASA. Held at the Fairmont on Thursday, November 15, Co-Chairs Regina Montoya Coggins and Paul Coggins, Bela and Chase Cooley and Jan Miller and Jeff Rich arranged for a stellar lineup of honorary co-chairs Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, honoree The Meadows Foundation plus speaker Josh Shipp. The occasion also served as the kick-off of a fund honoring the late Caroline Rose Hunt. Here’s a report from the field:
Speaker Josh Shipp calls himself the “teen whisperer.”
But before he became a well-known speaker, author and guest on Oprah, Josh was a troubled teenager himself.
During November 15’s Dallas CASA Champion of Children Award Dinner at The Fairmont Dallas, he shared with an awed crowd of more than 500 supporters how he was abandoned in the hospital at two days old. Eleven different foster homes followed, with Josh facing each new home as a challenge. “My life was such a roller coaster that acting out was actually my way of trying to gain control,” he said. “What kids don’t talk out they act out.”
Things changed for him in his 12th foster home at age 14, where foster parent Rodney would not give up no matter what he did. Josh started fires, stole the family’s vehicle, wrote bad checks and was arrested.
But Rodney just told Josh “When are you going to get it through your thick skull? We don’t see you as a problem. We see you as an opportunity.”
For Josh, one caring adult changed the trajectory of his life. He’s taken the lesson he learned from Rodney – that every child is one caring adult away from being a success story – and turned it into a successful career, speaking to troubled teens and their parents across the country.
So moved by Josh’s story, guests made additional donations of more than $90,000 before the evening’s end, bringing the total net to nearly $360,000 to support children living in protective care who need caring consistent CASA volunteer advocates by their sides.
Dallas CASA honored The Meadows Foundation with the Judge Barefoot Sanders Champion of Children Award. Chairs for the event were Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, Bela and Chase Cooley and Jan Miller and Jeff Rich. Honorary chairs were Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones.
The Meadows Foundation President/CEO Linda Perryman Evans accepted the award saying, “We know there are no quick fixes to large societal problems. We also understand that to truly make an impact on these issues we have to look for moments of opportunity to support creative and new ideas. CASA was one of those moments for us.”
Dallas CASA President/CEO Kathleen LaValle also took a moment to honor longtime friend of Dallas CASA Caroline Rose Hunt after her recent passing. The entire crowd stood for a powerful moment of silence.
“Mrs. Hunt excelled in matters of business and the heart,” LaValle sad. “Every one of us at Dallas CASA stood a little taller and a little prouder when Mrs. Hunt was in the room.”
Dallas CASA recently established the Caroline Rose Hunt Cherish the Children Memorial Fund in memory of Mrs. Hunt. LaValle outlined how committed community members like Mrs. Hunt and The Meadows Foundation have allowed Dallas CASA to grow tremendously from serving one child in five to serving four out of five Dallas County children living in the protective care of the state today.
“For the child whose name is today, it doesn’t matter what we’ll do down the road,” LaValle said. “We’ve never stopped thinking of the children we haven’t been able to reach. All children deserve to grow up in safe, loving homes free from harm and deprivation.”
As usual, Dallas CASA board member and Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall brought down the house talking about raising “monies for the honies.” She shared her personal story of adopting three children from foster care. Her first child, Anthony, saw televised Wednesday’s Child pieces on each of his sisters, insisting the family adopt them by saying “she needs to smile like I’m smiling.”
“Tonight in Dallas, thousands of children aren’t on TV and are not adopted,” she said. “They are laying their heads down in foster care, frightened for the future and longing for support. But when adults step up, real change can come for children in need.”
Attendees included Lisa and Clay Cooley, Brent Christopher, Tiffany Divis, Mark Hiduke, Sally and Forest Hoglund, Dedie Leahy, Sarah Losinger, Bill Smith and Lori and Jim Wales.
Dallas CASA board members attending the event included Corey Anthony, Mark Berg, Christie Carter, John Gibson, Dave Kroencke, Laura Losinger, Jim Lozier, Greg and Hannah May, Emily Parker, Stephen Penrose, Frank Risch, Kristy Hoglund Robinson, Bob Schleckser, Scooter Smith, Terese Stevenson, Linda Swartz and David Young.
Also in attendance were juvenile court judges Derrick Morrison and Cheryl Lee Shannon and family law court judges Tena Callahan, Danielle Diaz, Dennise Garcia, Jean Lee, Drew Ten Eyck and Donald Turner and judge-elect Sandra Jackson. Elected officials in attendance included Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel.
At the end of Josh’s talk, he shared a video clip from Rodney, who believed in Josh no matter how hard Josh pushed him away.
“God doesn’t make mistakes,” Rodney said. “There’s good in everyone. Sometimes you just have to reach deeper.”