While Family Compass’ North Star Luncheon hadn’t been planned to take the direction that it ended up taking, it still got its message across on Monday, April 22.
The fundraiser started out with guests arriving at the Dallas Country Club porte-cochere with a vintage minivan with a bounty of flowers just looking for new homes. Once inside, Board Member/Social Llama Events owner Macy Pulliam had a wall of jars with straws with each guest’s table assignment. Once the jar was picked up, a server was available to fill it with lemonade. To the side was an oversized flower cart with still more flowers.
The original schedule called for the check-in to take place at 11 a.m. and the program to start at 11:30 a.m. By 12:45 p.m. the guests would be on their way. As one person put it, “It’s a tight turnaround.” So organizers were not going to waste the time of their guests.
Within that timeline, three videos were shown as well as Event Co-Chair Susan Wells Jenevein and Candace Winslow thanking sponsors like Presenting Sponsor Tolleson Wealth Management, the Family Compass staff and supporters.
As guests like Dotti Reeder, Venise Stuart, Fredye Factor, Tanya and Pete Foster with kids Taylor Foster James and PJ Foster, Mary Meier-Evans, Patti Flowers, former WFAA anchor Shelly Slater with her sister Jodie Hastings, Caren Kline, Pam Busbee and Clay Jenkins‘ mom JoAnn Jenkins ate lunch, Family Compass CEO Ona Foster told a story about a young girl named Diane. Her father had taken her as a child to another state to be a part of his new family. It wasn’t a good fit. Diane started acting out. As a result, she got pregnant by the age of 14 and found herself in an unwed mother’s home giving birth to a daughter at the age of 16. With the baby immediately put up for adoption, Diane’s life continued to spiral downward. At one point, she and a partner started cooking meth in a trailer home. Diane decided that they could streamline their operation and went to the library to study shortcuts. At one point she recalled holding a goldfish bowl with the meth ingredients over her head to cook it in the sunlight. But Diane was apprehended and ended up in prison. If she’s lucky, she’ll be out on parole in a couple of years.
As Ona told Diane’s story, gasps were heard throughout the ballroom. With a collective groan, the crowd reacted to Ona’s revealing that she had been that baby put up for adoption.
And while Ona recognized that her mother had been smart, a business woman and an entrepreneur, she might have had a different outcome if there had been a Family Compass to help take a different turn in the road.
Ona then presented the Caroline Rose Hunt family (Stephen Sands, Laurie Sands Harrison and Patrick Sands) with an award for the leadership and help that the family’s late matriarch had provided Family Compass.
As the presentations were underway, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and former WFAA anchor/Wednesday’s Child host/ featured speaker Gloria Campos pulled out their cellphones to record the action.
Then it was time for Gloria to join former WFAA anchor Jeff Brady on stage for a chat. Highlights included:
- Gloria and her husband, Lance Brown, have moved to the Hill Country and have started two-step dance lessons.
- “I don’t miss the traffic at all.”
- A plus of “retirement” is not having to dye her hair.
- Another advantage is she gets to spend evenings with her family.
- She’s been raising money for the local library.
- When she was pregnant with her twin boys, her wish was that they would be “nice looking” (“Hey, I’m being honest!”) and “not be a burden to society.”
- “Children need stability and structure in their lives. They need to know that when they get home, there is food on the table.”
- One family that she covered during her Wednesday’s Child days had eight children. The mother had died, so the kids went into Child Protective Services. “And one family adopted them all eight of them. And they already had three children of their own.”
- She admitted that since her move, she was amazed how Dallas has grown.
- WFAA meteorologist Pete Delkus will never mention “hail” again after the previous week’s false alarm.
Throughout the conversation, Gloria stressed the importance of organizations like Family Compass helping children who are being neglected and abused.
It was just as Gloria and Jeff were wrapping up when a gentleman seated at Ona’s table suffered a health episode that left him on the floor. Within minutes, Highland Park paramedics were on the scene. Waiting for their arrival, tables and chairs were pushed aside to make room for the first responders and their equipment. Family Compass and DCC staffers calmly reconfigured the original exit plan for guests to pick up their vehicles at the west driveway to allow emergency vehicle(s) to use the north driveway.