It wasn’t the nonprofit’s first venue choice, but the Dallas Petroleum Club atop Dallas’ Hunt Consolidated headquarters building turned out to be a perfect setting for the 2023 ReuNight fundraiser for the The Family Place on Thursday, May 18. After all, the 10th anniversary event raised a gusher of cash for the group that empowers survivors of family violence — and what better place to raise a gusher than in an historic temple of the Texas oil industry?
The connections were strong. ReuNight’s seated dinner took place in the Club’s 14th floor Constellation Room, whose tall ceiling replicates the Texas sky the night in October 1930 that “Dad” Joiner‘s historic Daisy Bradford #3 oil well came in, triggering the East Texas oil boom. About two months later that year, Joiner sold all his leases to the legendary H.L. Hunt, whose portrait loomed over ReuNight’s 90-minute, pre-dinner reception held on the floor just below.
There, the event’s 180-some guests like Carol Seay, Monica and Brent Christopher, Rob Brinkley, Jan Strimple, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner, Todd Fiscus and Lucy Wrubel enjoyed cocktails and canapes, the lively tunes of DJ RomiQ, and spectacular views of the city below. While Event Co-Chairs Brooke Hortenstine, Margaret Stafford and Piper Wyatt greeted old friends, Dwight was explaining his exercise regimen — spin classes four times a week, strength training twice a week — and the “no-fried-foods” rule that had him looking fit in a light-colored khaki suit.
Not far away, pals Lisa Singleton, Muffin Lemak, Shelle Sills, Cara French and Angie Kadesky were in a cluster checking out the action, which included a short performance in the middle of the room by the Gospel of Light Choir. After a few a cappella tunes like “Oh Happy Day,” the Choir led the guests to the elevators and then on to the seated dinner upstairs in the Constellation Room.
The Room, decked out by Todd Events, was dramatic and understated, all purple and blue, with a big, white-neon-looking “Ray of Light” serving as the stage backdrop, a nod to the evening’s A Ray of Light theme. While Madonna’s “Vogue” blasted over the sound system, commercial real estate guru Mike Wyatt was telling someone that companies were “over-correcting” by downsizing their space too much, and Blake Stephenson was talking up her friend John Gustafson, whose Frontier Waste Solutions had recently won a Best M&A Deal of the Year award.
Soon enough, Brooke, Margaret and Piper took to the lectern to welcome everyone, acknowledge the evening’s sponsors, and recognize the “decades of service to The Family Place” of Joyce Goss, the evening’s honorary chair. Joyce has served as chair of the group’s board of directors, chaired the nonprofit’s Palm Night and ReuNight and currently serves on The Family Place Foundation Board.
The co-chairs then gave way to The Family Place CEO Mimi Crume Sterling. Mimi said that “right now, tonight,” The Family Place was providing shelter for 96 women, 104 children, and 3 men. She added that while ReuNight is always a top-shelf event, “tonight is especially breathtaking,” before noting, “Tonight we are providing a ray of light for our survivors.” Following Mimi at the lectern was The Family Place Board Chairman Harold Ginsburg, who joked that he was taking credit for extending ReuNight’s cocktail hour.
Following the dinner curated by Junior Borges in collaboration with Petroleum Club Chef Jesus Campos — think Scallops, Wagyu Tenderloin and King Crab, Yuca and Coconut Cake — the Gospel of Light Choir made a return appearance, performing “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. That got the guests in a giving mood, it seemed, and give they did — first during the live auction of six items conducted by Max Wolf, and then for Wolf’s evening-topping “call for cash.” Paddles went up by the dozens as Max called for contributions ranging from $50,000 to $500, and by the end of the night the total take would have made ol’ H.L. proud.
* Photo credit: Tamytha Cameron and Celeste Cass