After pandemic postponements, VolunteerNow’s Hearts of Texas Luncheon on Thursday, April 28, was a long time coming. But when it did finally take place at the Omni Dallas Hotel, it not only officially celebrated the organization’s 50th anniversary, but it also served as a thank you for CEO Tammy Richards, who would be retiring in the weeks ahead.
The guests represented every sector of the North Texas non-profit community including charities, foundations, corporations and community leaders. Among them: Sandra Estess, Karen Shuford, Calvert Collins Bratton, Sally Hoglund, Lili Kellogg, Barbara Beach, Brent Christopher, Tim Moore, Carol Bieler and Diane and Stuart Bumpas.
Hearts of Texas Luncheon Co-Chairs Peter Jacobson and Charles Knight impressed the crowd with some interesting numbers like:
- Eight years ago the organization had had 10,000 in its network. Today there are 300,000.
- For every $1 of support, it can mobilize more than $10 of volunteer labor.
- During the pandemic 10,000 volunteers provided 100,000 hours.
They announced that Lyda Hill had offered to match every dollar donated to VolunteerNow up to $250,000. According to calculations if the match was made, it would be $500,000 in donations resulting in $5M of volunteer labor for North Texas.
Following video introductions, the awards were handed out starting with Equest Director of Volunteer Services Ellie Grant accepting the Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler Award on behalf of equine therapy program.
The Lifetime Achievement Awards were accepted by Andy Smith for Texas Instruments, Evy Kay Washburne for The Meadows Foundation, Geoffrey Henning for JCPenney, Kelly Garlock for Hillcrest Foundation and Margaret Black for Lyda Hill Philanthropies.
In a surprise move, Volunteer Now Board Chair Bill Braxton announced that the board had created a new award in retiring Tammy Richards’ name — the Tammy Richards Impact Award. The first recipient of the award was Uplift Education, accepted by Lenisha Roberts.
Just past 1, keynote speaker Wes Moore took his place on the stage and immediately congratulated Tammy and the organization for its 50th anniversary.
Then the 43-year-old recalled how at the age of four his father’s death dramatically changed his family, forcing his mother and his siblings to move from their home to live with their grandparents in another state.
Wes admitted that he was acting out to such a degree that his mother threatened to send him to military school. But it didn’t dissuade him, resulting in his being sent to Valley Forge Military Academy at the age of 13. There he was a loner and attempted five time to run away from the Academy. Finally, Sergeant Dallas Austin handed him a map to the train station. He thought it was too good to be true until he got lost in the woods the night of his escape. He was scared and angry. Luckily, his corp was there and took him back to the school. He was allowed to make one phone call. It was to his mother, who told him that others had made sacrifices for him and it wasn’t all about him. While he was still angry, he realized that he couldn’t make it alone. He could only succeed by joining his fellow students. The lesson takeaway was, “Together we’re going to go further.”
He went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa at Johns Hopkins University and attend Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, became a captain in the U.S. Army and a White House Fellow, wrote The New York Times best-selling “The Other Wes Moore,” hosted his own TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network and headed up New York City’s largest anti-poverty non-profit, the Robin Hood Foundation, for four years. [Editor’s note: Unbeknownst to many in the audience, Moore also was a leading Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland.]
Still another lesson that he learned over the years was, “It’s not just the work or capital, it’s the freedom to dream and to have others support you.”
In closing he congratulated VolunteerNow for providing 50 years of freedom, “The entire society has benefited from your work.”