Looking around the Dallas Country Club’s Founders Room at 11:05 a.m. on Monday, April 15, Callier Foundation Board Chair Tricia George wondered where the people were. So far, the 2019 Callier Cares Luncheon VIP party was made up of three Callier Center staffers and a group of men that no one knew. Then down the hallway, Tricia spied a familiar face. It was Ken Altshuler with Les Secrest. Sporting a mustache, he looked tip-top. Still, Tricia knew a chair might be needed, but there was none in the room. Within seconds Les had hauled in a throne-like chair from the hallway and a DCC staffer added another straight-back chair. It was the perfect pairing for what was to come — Ken in the throne to visit with friends who were eye-level thanks to the straight-back.
The year before Ken had enjoyed chatting with guests like Larry Lacerte on the Founders Room terrace. But the gusty winds had made the indoors the user-friendly choice this year.
Soon more arrived and that group of unknowns turned out to be Callier Prize recipient Dr. Steven Barlow and his posse.
Within minutes the former wide-open spaces of the room were filled to the max. It was so crowded that one server raised her tray with a couple of flutes of champagne above her head to squeeze through the crowd. She almost made it to the door leading into the kitchen when the tray with its contents toppled, with glass breaking and champagne splashing on guests like Kim Quinn, who received a full dose.
Luncheon Chair Beth Layton was all in silver blue from her Armani designer suit to her sparking blue eyes.
But the time the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Awardee Brent Christopher arrived, the room was spilling into the hallway. Among the guests were Underwriting Chair Nancy Carter, Honorary Co-Chairs Sharon and Mike McCullough, Beth and Chuck Thoele, Libby Hunt with her folks Nancy and Herbert Hunt, Kern Wildenthal, Barbara and John Stuart, Jennifer Dix, Jamie Williams, Ashlee Kleinert, Lauryn Gayle White, Connie O’Neill, Cindy Turner, Patti Flowers, Patricia Meadows, Bennett Cullum, Anne Besser, Emilynn Wilson and Vicky Lattner.
At times it appeared that everyone attending the luncheon was a VIP.
In the meantime, Stuart Bumpas was in the ballroom. He laughed that this was a first for him. He usually is the last one to arrive.
No sooner had Stuart said that than the ballroom doors officially opened for guests like Pat McEvoy in Chanel, Shelle Sills in beige instead of the lavender jacket originally planned, Lisa Cooley with daughter Ciara Cooley and daughter-in-law Bela Cooley, Tiffany Divis, Jill Rowlett, Christina Durovich, Lindalyn Adams and Joyce Lacerte with her daughters (Megan Barrie-Schwarz, Madison Lacerte, Quincey Lacerte and Harriet Lacerte), Joel Williams and Anne McPherson, who will chair the 2020 Callier Cares Luncheon.
As guests chatted standing at tables, a bell was heard and a young woman appeared on the two large screens asking all to take their places. A couple of minutes later, the bell rang and again the gal gently told them their time was up. Immediately, all were seated.
A video then was shown featuring Callier Board members and clients telling briefly the Callier accomplishments and programs.
After remarks by Callier Executive Dr. Tom Campbell, Callier Prize recipient Dr. Barlow accepted the award, pointing out the importance of the work done for children with communication disorders.
Following lunch, Meadows Foundation President/CEO Linda Perryman Evans presented the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Cares Award to Brent, who humbly accepted the award. In his remarks, the former Communities Foundation of Texas president/CEO recalled a conversation with the late Ruth Altshuler, who had been CFT’s first female chair. In keeping with the tradition of having the portraits of past chairs displayed at CFT, it would be appropriate for Ruth to have hers created to join the others. In typical Ruth fashion, she said she doubted she could hold still for such a painting and recommended that Brent simply have a painting done using a portrait that Gittings had done when Ruth was a Junior League of Dallas sustainer back in the 1908s. Brent diplomatically suggested that while the Gittings portrait was indeed lovely, it might look a bit dated due to the changing times. Following a brief silence, Ruth told Brent, “Chanel never goes out of style.”
Then a video was shown featuring young Callier client Harper, who was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome. The list of issues associated with the syndrome was rather overwhelming, including the probability that she would never speak.
But one of the first problems the family encountered was Harper’s refusal to eat. It was so daunting that an eating tube had to be surgically inserted. Harper’s mother Tiffin Hanna told how despite working with various programs and private professionals, they were not seeing any success, and the professionals were stymied on how to treat Morgan’s condition.
They were hesitant about trying another program that wouldn’t work, but then they Found Callier Center for Communication Disorders. First they met with Callier’s speech therapist Jenny McGlothlin, who explained that “Harper’s battle with acid reflux paired with our previous therapy techniques had made Harper afraid of eating, and that she did have the ability to eat without someone else’s help. Basically, she associated eating and drinking with pain and we had been forcing her to.” After just one week, Harper was voluntarily putting food in her mouth … “Just hearing the crunch of hearing her eat a cracker is still so heartwarming.”
As for Harper’s ability to communicate, the Hannas found their answer in Callier’s Sarah Loving, who took it upon herself to not only research a workable program, but to book a trip to Minnesota to learn about it. And this was before she even had met Harper. Despite realizing that it would take a long time to see progress, she adapted a PODD (Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display) program especially for Harper. As Tiffin recalled, “I’ll never forget when she smiled at Sarah and told her that she was her patient for life in that very first evaluation.”