Behind the scenes of the Fourth Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon on Friday, March 1, at Belo Mansion, there was a marvelous secret. In addition to having “The Blind Side”‘s Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy as the featured speakers, Moody Foundation‘s Human Resources Director/Regional Grants Director (North) Jamie Williams was on hand for a very good reason — a twofer for fundraising! For every dollar raised at the luncheon, the Moody Foundation would match it with $2. The challenge resulted in $175,000. Adding to the surprises of the day, the Childcare and Youth Services Center in the new Family Empowerment Center will be named the Moody Family Childcare and Youth Services Center. Here’s report from the field:
“Families Helping Families” was the theme of the Fourth Annual Interfaith Auxiliary Luncheon, held Friday, March 1, at the Belo Mansion. The event, featuring speakers Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy of “The Blind Side” fame, benefits Interfaith Family Services, which empowers families in crisis to break the cycle of poverty.
More than 300 guests including Ashley Blanchette, Brandi Chillian, Megan Filgo, Leigh Anne Haugh, Amy and Peter Hegi, Jan and Fred Hegi, Libby and Brian Hegi, Anna Moss, Lesley Rhodes, Beth Thoele, Molly Thomas, Amy and Matt Tuggle enjoyed a pre-luncheon wine reception, then were welcomed to the event by Meredith Land of NBC 5, who emceed the luncheon for the fourth year in a row.
Event Co-Chairs Wynne Brown, Katie Head and Meredith Ferrell shared their personal experiences volunteering with Interfaith, including bringing their children to help set up an apartment for a homeless family. Wynne thanked Honorary Co-Chairs Katy and Kyle Miller, who had a similar personal experience at Interfaith. The Millers and their children recently “adopted” a family at Interfaith and helped set up their apartment – making beds, hanging shower curtains and welcoming them on arrival
Interfaith CEO Kimberly Williams then took the stage to share that Interfaith will open a new Family Empowerment Center this summer. The new facility will help Interfaith expand its services to families on the brink of homelessness in an effort to prevent them ever being on the streets. Interfaith’s goal is to double the number of families it serves annually to 200.
Then came two big announcements from Kimberly. To encourage giving towards that goal, the Moody Foundation issued a challenge to luncheon-goers. For every dollar given, Moody Foundation would give two dollars, up to a total of $100,000.
In recognition of the Moody Foundation’s ongoing support and this exceptionally generous matching, Kimberly also announced that Interfaith’s new Childcare and Youth Services Center will be named Moody Childcare and Youth Services Center in their honor.
Interfaith graduate Ciara Record shared her personal story, underscoring that “Interfaith gives you a platform to start over. If you’re serious about turning your life around and building your savings up, it’s life-changing.” And serious she was. Ciara, a single mom with three children, completed the Interfaith program early in six months, has a new job in the insurance industry and puts half her paycheck in savings each month.
Meredith Land then came back to the stage to introduce Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy – and expressed her sympathy to them for having to follow Ciara’s moving testimonial.
The Tuohys, however, held their own. The couple recounted how they came to adopt then-homeless and now-famous NFL player Michael Oher. Their experiences were the subjects of the blockbuster film “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.
“Our lives were forever changed by two words: turn around,” shared Leigh Anne. These were her words to husband Sean when they saw Michael walking home, alone and cold, from school. The rest is, as they say, history. Michael, who was homeless, went home to live with and become a part of the Tuohy family.
Sean made a point of saying that the Tuohys can’t take credit for Michael’s success as an NFL player. “He was who he was, and we just gave him hope and a home.” He then encouraged everyone attending to “get in the game” of helping someone, and that you don’t have to adopt someone to make a difference. “You can do that right here in Dallas through Interfaith Family Services,” he said. “They’re a house of hope.”
Luncheon-goers responded to the call to action from the Moody Foundation and the Tuohys in force, meeting and exceeding the two-for-one match challenge. As a result, day-of donations totaled $173,000. Interfaith Family Services will add this to the generous underwriting sponsorships for the luncheon and is busy tallying the net dollars raised.
* Photo provided by Interfaith Family Services