Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Meaning for The Long and Winding Road

I am a singer.

Of course, I used to be better than I am now since I never practice.  Most of my singing now is done in the car or every once in awhile I put on the Jackson Five or a musical and sing and dance around the kitchen -- but I still love it.

So the other night something weird happened to me -- I just started singing a song out of the blue.  The song was The Long and Winding Road by Paul McCartney/The Beatles.  And while I have always loved that song (even though I know Paul didn't like the released version and it contributed to the break-up of the band), I don't know why I started singing it on that night at the time.

Now, the older I get the more I listen to messages and this certainly was one.

As I sang the song (right in my now lower register -- fabulous) I thought about the words for the first time in many years.  Here they are:

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here
Let me know the way

Many times I've been alone
And many times I've cried
Any way you'll never know
The many ways I've tried

But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me waiting here
A long long time ago
Don't leave me standing here
Lead me to your door

But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me waiting here
A long long time ago
Don't leave me standing here
Lead me to your door
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

When I was young I thought it was a love song.  Paul says it was about the breakup of the band.  But with my fresh older eyes it's making me think of our kids at Community Partners of Dallas.  

Even after abused and neglected kids have been adopted out into good homes or placed with relatives, many times they still can't let their parents go.  No matter how horrific the abuse they suffered at the hands of their parents, they wonder why their parents didn't love them enough to stop the abuse.  Why their parents didn't want them.  

Don't leave me standing here, lead me to your door.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Who's crying now?

I want to cry. 

I cried at dinner Saturday night -- right in the middle of Boulevardier -- I cried for the children in Newtown, Connecticut.

When we heard the news on Friday at the Community Partners of Dallas' offices, my co-workers and I were devastated -- how could someone do this?  Why would someone kill children?  Innocent children?  It is beyond comprehension.  Twenty innocent children killed with not a care.  We all mourn for them and for their families.

But did you know that 30 children were killed last year in Dallas?

Yes, right here 30 children were murdered or killed or died due to abuse or neglect by those who were supposed to love them.  30 Children dead!  Why does this not outrage us in the same way as the tragedy in Connecticut?

Is it because the killer was unbalanced stranger instead of a parent? 

I hope not. 

When any child dies, it should shock us. Because when any child dies a part of our heart should die with them.

I don't want to cry anymore.  Let's scream.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Most Popular Blog Ever (aka It's Toy Drive Distribution Day, people)

It's CPD's Toy Drive Distribution Day at Peacock Alley!  But it's also Wednesday, so it's blog time...

Since I am up bright and early this morning to hit Starbucks for the staff (the ONLY day of the year that I ever bring drinks to anyone in my car), I have just a short window for blogging.  With this in mind, I decided to repost my most popular blog ever.

As always, thanks for reading -- Xxoo

Tips on Choosing a Non-Profit Board

The end of the year always gets me thinking about board service.  It is when our board at Community Partners of Dallas turns over and we begin the dance of saying good-bye to wonderful volunteers and hello to new ones.  I absolutely LOVE it!  CPD has the best board members in town.

As you may know, I serve as the President and CEO of Community Partners of Dallas, a medium-sized non-profit agency helping abused and neglected children.  I work with our board members every day to make sure our agency is working to "stop the abuse and start the healing" for kids in Dallas County.  I have also served on many non-profit boards in Dallas County, so here are my quick tips if you are considering board service:

1.  Believe in the mission of the agency.
2.  Make sure that you have the time to serve -- you must attend the board meetings, committee meetings, all the events, etc.
3.  Be ready to support them financially with a personally meaningful gift.
4.  Commit to soliciting funding for the agency from your friends, family members, and colleagues.  If you are not willing to do this, just say no. 
5.  Be willing to participate in leadership if asked.

Prior to joining a board be sure to:

1.  Educate yourself about what is required of board members -- time, talent, treasure requirements.
2.  Take a tour of the agency and meet with the CEO/Executive Director.
3.  Check out the other board members. 
4.  Find out if you like the executive staff.
5.  Make sure that the agency has board insurance.
6.  Look at their most recent tax return and financial documents.

If you are interested in board service, call the agency!  There are many, many agencies that need you. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

4 Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 6

Since it's almost Christmas, I know you are all freaking out while waiting for the latest 4 Favs!

NOTE:  That is if "all" really means my mom and Cynthia...

I usually start shopping early for my friends and actually chose many of their gifts last year before Christmas, but they didn't arrive in time to give them in 2011.  Of course since my friends read this blog (You better be, ladies!), I can't tell you what I got them; but suffice to say I love all of their gifts and I think they'll be happy to receive them.

So this got me thinking about some of my favorite gifts that I've received, thus this month's 4 Favs (check previous posts of my 4 Favs by clicking here ):

  1. Red Leather Cole Hann Gloves:  Joe gave me Cole Hann gloves like these  many years ago and they still look just as good as the day he presented them.  Buttery soft leather and cashmere lining.  Would I like them in more colors?  Yes, please!  You'll want them too!
  2. T3 Featherweight 2i Luxe Hair Dryer:  For many years I have been praising all of my hair products and how they really tame my extremely curly and frizzy hair.  I neglected to give credit to this modern miracle.  This hair dryer cuts drying time and smooths hair so much better than regular hair dryers.  I had forgotten it's amazing power until I didn't have it on my Thanksgiving trip to Fredericksburg.  Have you seen a photo of me from that trip?  You won't.
  3. Thymes Candle in Frasier Fir Scent:  This is always a winner and since I put up a fake tree, the smell really puts you in the holiday mood
  4. Scojo Reading Glasses:  You know you're getting old when reading glasses make your Christmas list, but since my brother's dog Tanner (best dog in the world, bar none) ate 2 pairs of mine a few years ago, Tanner then gifted me with these as replacements.  They are the best  Extremely lightweight and come in a million colors.  I have pairs of them all over my house and office.  Love them. 
And since it's the time of the year for abundance, I'm giving you a 5th Fav this time:

A holiday honorarium card to CPD:  We would love for you to honor your friends and family with a donation to CPD!  For a minimum $10 donation per card we will print a darling personalized card to your honorees -- and if you want, we'll even mail them for you,  It is the easiest way to show someone you care AND help an abused and neglected child in Dallas County have a great holiday with a toy from our toy drive.  Click here to purchase now

What are your 4 (or 5) Favs?

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Picture Says A Lot

As usual I watched The Today Show this morning and they had an interview with a police officer and a photographer that was cool.

Turns out that this NYC cop had been walking his beat on Times Square and had seen a homeless man wearing no shoes on a cold night in the city.  The officer then went into a nearby store and purchased shoes and socks and then came back out and helped the homeless man put them on.  A tourist photographer captured the shot on film and apparently it has become an Internet juggernaut.

You can see it here
Warms your heart, doesn't it?
Every day at CPD we meet children who need so much.  And just like this wonderful police officer, the CPS caseworkers of Dallas County are there to comfort these kids and help them fit their little feet into new shoes and socks and more. 
But because of donors like you, the caseworkers no longer have to dip into their own pockets to provide these essentials.
Thanks for helping Community Partners of Dallas provide 20,000 invisible photos this year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving with Joe

I am on vacation for Thanksgiving with my best friend Joe's family. They are a large and hilarious group of people -- from 4 month old twins to 83 year old peeps.  I really enjoy being with them and they treat me like family, so I'm blessed.

Here's what I've learned so far:

  • Never turn down an offer to watch a episode of South Park with Joe. He loves it so much that it makes you happy just to see him guffaw. 
  • Clark Edwards is a stud. Let him tell you about it.
  • Always ask if you can help prepare the meal. I've learned lots of great tips from cooking with Clark's!
  • The kitchen is the center of the house -- leave it rarely, or risk the talk turning to you...
  • Always hold a baby when you get the chance -- sing a little too because the baby thinks you're Pavarotti.  You Are My Sunshine is always a winner.
  • Make every moment count with those you love -- the days are long, but the years are short.

We love you, Angela.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Syndrome No One Talks About But We All Know

We had a board meeting today.  I was dog tired when the board members arrived here today and I'm even more tired now, but now I'm also hopeful.  Let me explain.

Our board members at Community Partners of Dallas are really great.  They care about our kids, they are willing to put messages on their FaceBook pages to promote us, they laugh and they cry with me.

Today at the meeting I told them about how hard this time of year is for the staff and how difficult it is to make all of the speeches, and meetings, and events, and wish pick-ups, and well, just and, and, and...

NOTE:  I know that the AND AND AND Syndrome (My new catch phrase -- use it in a sentence today!) is not just for CPD employees or even just for non-profit employees.  Everyone is busy and stressed in November and December.  We're just like you.

So I started my CEO remarks at the end of the board meeting complaining about the hell that is upon us and then told them about our kids here at CPD -- specifically about a 12 year old boy who was tortured by his parents and was forced to sleep in a dog crate and shot in the feet with a BB gun and was beaten and was spit upon, and more.  And about his 5 year old sister who thought all boys slept in dog crates.  And about the toughest caseworker in the unit who was driven to sobbing uncontrollably. 

All of a sudden, my AND AND AND is nothing.

And when I look into the eyes of our board members and see their resolve to continue their support, I'm hopeful.

Thanks for listening, CPD board members.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

3 Myths About Business and Charity

Tomorrow is the day that we give away coats for the kids at Community Partners of Dallas.  As you may know, CPD works with kids who are involved with the Child Protective Services system – so our clients are abused and neglected children who have open cases with CPS.

I have been here as CEO for almost 11 years and the coats we give out have pretty much single-handedly been supplied by the employees at Fidelity Investments for every one of those years – and even more years could be tacked on to the total from before I came here.  I don’t know how our relationship with Fidelity began, but we are surely blessed because of it.  I have no idea what we would do without them, as Fidelity delivered more than 1,500 coats to us on Monday morning – volunteers are sorting and counting them in our warehouse even as I type this post.

  1. MYTH:  Corporations donate a lot to charity.  Some corporations do, but for the most part very little charitable dollars come from corporations.  In the US, charitable giving statistics are as follows:  Individuals, 73%; Foundations & Bequests, 22%; Corporations, 5%   NOTE:  At CPD we are very close to the national averages, as we are 71%, 25%, 4%
  2. MYTH:  It is easy to raise funds from businesses.  If you have ever been in a meeting where people (aka board members/event volunteers/lay leaders) are brainstorming about how to raise money, invariably someone will pipe up and say “Well, you just need to call <insert name of big company here> and get them to give us some money.”  NOTE:  Notice that I used the word “you” in the “YOU just need to call” – that was on purpose, people.  Corporate money is the hardest money to raise in any economic environment and even more so in this kind of economy.  In fact, corporate giving declined 3% in 2011 and who knows what it will be like in 2012…
  3. MYTH:  Money is all corporations give to charity.  Businesses do give funds, but many give in-kind donations that are worth thousands of dollars.  Corporations also provide volunteers to help charities and some even pay their employees to do volunteer work.  NOTE:  Working with corporations takes a lot of follow up and follow through.  If you are a charity who wants to “go for” corporate funds, be sure that you know this and plan accordingly.  Lots of emails, phone calls, and personal contacts are vital.  Corinne Karp, our Director of Corporate Development, does an outstanding job at this, so feel free to call her at 214-624-7588 to get your company involved today.

Thank you to everyone at Fidelity Investments for your huge gift to CPD.  You are champions and myth busters!

 P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to CPD.  If Fidelity employees can do it, so can I.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some Monsters are Real

Halloween is tonight and it always gets me thinking about scary stuff.

At Community Partners of Dallas only Vanessa, Pam and I like scary movies (27% of the staff).  I mostly like the ones like The Sixth Sense or Rosemary's Baby, but I'll go to Paranormal Activity if someone will go with me.  I think it's fun to be scared and yucky stuff doesn't stay in my head like it does for others.

NOTE:  I absolutely love scary stuff on TV.  Dexter, American Horror Story, etc.  Give me a night in and an episode or two on the dvr and I'm in heaven (or hell, of course)...

Last night I didn't watch a scary show on TV, I met people who lived one.

Every Tuesday night, CPD holds group treatment therapy for child victims of sexual abuse.  The program is called Heart and the kids and their non-offending family members meet and talk about what happened to them and how to get on with their lives.

I can't imagine ever getting over such a violation, can you?  These kids know what real terror is.  What degradation feels like.  They know what monsters look like, smell like, sound like.

And that's a movie I never want another child to see.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 5

It's Four Favs Time Again!

The regular readers of this blog (the tens and tens of you) may have noticed that I have started writing about my four favorite things about once a month.  Click here to see part 4:

If you haven't guessed, I really, really love to give advice, so telling you about my favorite products and food items is a real joy.  I'm glad that you like them too, so here goes:
  1. Andrew Weil Vitamins -- I decided early in the year (While at Miraval -- a future fav thing for sure!) to start taking vitamins regularly.  Dr. Weil's website asks you a bunch of questions about your health and then recommends the ones you should take.  They come in the mail and are packaged together according to time of day they should be taken.  I have to say that since I've been taking them, I have been healthier.  I definitely feel better and have not been as prone to illness.  Take the vitamin advisor test here:
  2. Kuby's Pimento Cheese -- Surely almost everyone in Dallas has tried this fabulous stuff, but it you haven't, get thee to Kuby's Sausage House in Snider Plaza now.  It comes in jalapeno and plain (I actually get both and mix them together for just the right spice for me) and buy their bagel chips to spread it on.  This is my go-to treat for new neighbors.  Run to Kuby's, buy the pint sized jalapeno version, the bagel chips, and put all in a cute gift bag with your personalized note card (from Paper Affair of course) and welcome them.  Be sure to give them all your phone numbers and tell them which house you live in in the note (if your notecard envelope doesn't have your address, that is).  Don't forget to buy yourself some pimento cheese too!
  3. The Hunger Games -- this book by Suzanne Collins is amazing.  If you saw the movie, I still think you would like it.  I read it at the recommendation of a friend (before I saw the film) and couldn't put it down.
  4. CPD Pens -- Our Community Partners of Dallas-branded pens are just the perfect pen for me.  They are blue ink, have a clicker (so no pen cap to keep up with), and just write really well.  We always get them for our events, so if you attend the Chick Lit Luncheon on April 5, 2013, you'll get one of your very own.  In the meantime, you can come to our office and I'll be sure that you are gifted on the spot!
What are your four favs?

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to Highland Park United Methodist Church.  They are on their way over here right now with blankets and more -- love my church!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wanting for Nothing

I just returned from a 3 day, 2 night trip to Arkansas.

Yes, Arkansas.

Have to tell you that it was great fun (went with a group of about 25 women) and we visited a lot of incredible places -- the Clinton Library, University of Arkansas (even toured the Chancellor's home with his lovely wife), the Crystal Bridges Museum, and more.

I'm really glad that I went and if you haven't been to Crystal Bridges, GO.

That being said, I'm mad at myself.

Last night when I was going through my bags, I piled up the "stuff" that I'd accumulated on the trip -- some of it I was given (Anyone want a University of Arkansas paperweight featuring the Chancellor's residence in living color?), but most of it I spent my hard-earned money on.

Here's the list of my shame:

  • 2 Blue Birds, glass, 2 inches tall
  • 1 Soap Dish, ceramic
  • 4 Presidential Quotation Books:  Jefferson (1), Roosevelt (2), Lincoln (1)
  • 1 Lamb Christmas Ornament, fabric
  • 1 Paperweight, glass, University of Arkansas Chancellor's residence pictured, in presentation box
  • 1 Print of a Piece by Wayne Thiebaud, "Supine Woman", about 10 X 14 inches (shown above)

And I wanted to buy more stuff -- I held myself back!

NOTE:  As I type this post, I am looking at another recent acquisition from Dallas -- a Big Tex bobble head purchased one week ago today, obviously in the middle of a corny dog coma.

Why do I do this? 

For me, a lot of it is being caught up in the frenzy of other women who are purchasing.  Also, things look so much better when you see lots of them in a group (Alas, 2 blue birds do not a flock make...), so I make decisions that bite me later.

What makes me mad is that I had stopped buying stupid stuff -- I really had.  The last time that I went on one of these trips (JLD trip to NOLA), the only thing I bought were 12 sterling iced tea spoon sippers -- and I had always wanted some and love them every time I use them.

I want to stop this needless waste and use the money to do something for good.  The children at Community Partners of Dallas need more than a glass blue bird, and it is truly needed.

Now, I'm all for beauty and sentiment and I want you to buy souvenirs and love them.  I think that it is part of the joy of life.

I just want to remember the CPD kids at the next gift shop I enter.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5 Secrets to Success at Your Next Annual Review

It's that time of year again -- time for the annual review -- the time I jokingly refer to as "Defending My Life".

NOTE:  I really, really love the movie Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  If you haven't seen it, you must.

I know that annual reviews vary so much depending on the type of business, it's size, company culture -- hell, even the preferences of the individual bosses doing the reviews; but there are a few secrets that apply across the board. 

  1. If your company has a form that you fill out prior to your review, spend some time on it.  Don't wait until the day or night before it is due.  I promise that if you give yourself some extra time to start it, put it away, then go back to it, your documentation will be more complete.
  2. Be honest about your accomplishments, but make yourself shine.  Go through your emails, your calendar, everything to trigger your brain to remember all of the great things you did for the agency.
  3. Use numbers if you can.  "My redo of the donor database helped the 2012 event raise 15% more money than in 2011."  Most bosses are all about the bottom line.
  4. Raises are based upon performance at CPD (and at most businesses I know).  While your boss may sympathize with your need to make more money because your husband was laid off, that is your problem, not the company's.  Don't even mention it.
  5. Sleep well the night before and wear something that you love for the review.  My mom loves the expression "fake it until you make it" -- looking and feeling your best can't hurt you and it will help you to shine and be on your toes.

Of course, since I work for a small non-profit agency, those of you in the corporate world may not relate.  I'm sorry.  But don't judge -- as the CEO of a non-profit agency, my "boss" is 28 volunteers -- our board of trustees.  Defending my life can be tough!

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to The Wilkinson Center.  They help put people to work!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I learned something from Barack Obama.

A few weeks ago I saw this dude on The Today Show who had shadowed President Obama for an extended period of time and wrote an article about it.  I read the article too (I think it was in Vanity Fair, but don’t bet the farm on that…), but the thing that I found most interesting was when Matt Lauer asked about Obama’s decision-making process.

According to the author, the President told him that by the time a decision gets to him, it is a really important decision – otherwise it would have been made at a lower level.  Decisions that get all the way up to the President are also difficult – decisions that are 50% one way, 50% another way – that is why they get to him.  What pressure – yikes.

Anyway, the thing that the author said next is what has really stayed with me.  Because the President has to make these really big decisions A LOT, he has removed little decisions from his life. 

He only has blue or gray suits.  Someone else always decides what he is going to eat. 

NOTE:  As long as someone would choose cheese puffs, sushi, and ranch dip for me at least once a week, I think I could get on that bandwagon.  Wearing the same clothes everyday – uh, no.

Then Matt Lauer and the author talked about decision making and how tiring it is – just think about this the next time you get home from a trip to Sam’s Club or Costco – it makes me tired just thinking about it!

I am lucky to have wonderful and accomplished co-workers who make lots of decisions for me and I let them.  My style is to hire good people and let them do their jobs and make decisions.  No (or at least not much) micro-managing for me.  And maybe all US Presidents do this kind of paring down “dumb” decisions to save their energy for big ones, but Obama is the first one I have heard about.  So, I started thinking about more decisions I could give up and I’m working on it.

The other thing I thought about was how we at CPD take some of these sorts of “dumb” decisions out of the lives of CPS caseworkers in Dallas County.  When they can turn over the holiday wish list to us, they save their own decision making and keep it for big decisions like saving kids’ lives.

 And sometimes the decisions they are making are more important than those President Obama makes.

P.S.  I'm giving my #FundraisingFriday gift to Community Partners of Dallas' Change is Good event.  Come see us Sunday afternoon and bring your change too!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why do people lie?


As an adult and a Christian, I really do try not to lie.  I feel it is part of my duty to be honest -- in fact the other day I told my brother that integrity is the most important thing to me in business.  I want to be honest at all times and I want to patronize businesses that do the same.  Stuff like the American Airlines pilots pretend sick-out makes me sick.

NOTE:  I really know nothing about the American Airlines problem and shouldn't even be commenting on it since I know nothing, but I write a blog and I can, so take it or leave it.  I do, however, know that the plumber who came to my house the other day is totally for the pilots and he thinks they should continue the lies and bullshit (my words, not the plumber's).  You see the plumber used to be a truck driver and had lots to tell me about unions and Texas and about how no truckers want to drive in Texas.  I wanted to ask him why people keep moving here and why he moved here (see this, but I just told him thanks for teaching me something about right-to-work states.  He taught me that I love them even more, but that is another blog...

Sometimes I think we feel like we have to lie -- you know the answer to "Do I look fat in this?" type of thing -- and sometimes I lie too, but mostly once I grew up, I stopped.

NOTE:  To me "Grew Up" means about 35 years old.  I never said that I was perfect, people.

Children are held to a different standard on my lie-meter, of course.  They lie about grades, homework being finished, boyfriends, makeup, what they ate for lunch, etc.  I did all of this and more and I know that kids still do it today.  Truly, if I had kids, I know that there are some things that I would rather not know about, as long as it isn't dangerous or life-changing.  Does it really matter if her homework doesn't get done once in awhile or if he and his friends went to a movie instead of studying that night?

The kids we deal with at Community Partners of Dallas lie.  They have to.  They lie about how they received the bruise on their arm.  They lie about whether or not they slept in a bed last night.  They lie about being touched by mom's boyfriend.  They lie because if they don't lie their parents will get worse.  Their parents might lock them in a closet.  Their parents might not feed them anything for a couple of days.

Stephanie lied to her teacher over and over again when her teacher asked why she always wore long sleeves and long pants, even in 95 degree weather.  Stephanie lied to her teacher about why she didn't have her lunch money most days.  Stephanie lied to her teacher when she wrote her back-to-school essay on "What I did this Summer". 

Stephanie lied because her mother threatened to kill her baby brother if Stephanie didn't lie. 

Luckily, Stephanie's teacher was a lie-detector and now Stephanie and her brother are living with their grandmother.  Stephanie doesn't have to lie anymore.

We don't either.

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to Trinity River Mission.  They are educating our future non-lying adults!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 4

Time for another list of my 4 Favs -- there are so many that it is actually hard to decide...  What a wonderful world we live in! 

If you missed any of the past Four Favorite posts, click here for the most recent:

OK, let's get down to business:
  1. Caller ID -- I know that so many of my young friends (See last week's post -- I have lots of them!) only use their cell phones and of course they already have Caller ID, but I am talking about the Caller ID on my home land line.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy not answering sales calls -- I really do relish in it.  If you ever drive by my house and see me doing a happy dance, I probably just ignored another call.  And why are you driving by my house without stopping to say hi?  Come on in!
  2. Holy Ravioli -- I had heard about this fabulous place for many years from my friend Sally, but I just wasn't that interested.  Let me tell you now, if you haven't tried it, run!  Every different ravioli I've tried is the bomb and their sauces are delish.  It is great to take to a friend who needs a meal.  Just stop by Tom Thumb and buy the Caesar salad kit, a dessert, and a bottle of wine and you are done.  Plus the best thing about it for me is that I can keep the raviolis in my freezer and just cook as many as I need -- it only takes 5 minutes.  Love it!  Their website is
  3. A Confederacy of Dunces -- this novel by John Kennedy Toole is the best laugh-out-loud book ever.  We are reading it for book club later this year and I am leading the discussion.  I can't wait to read it again -- for the umpteenth time.  MUST READ!
  4. Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Polish -- I just tried this for the first time last week and it really has staying power.  Right now I am wearing "Blue Blood" on my fingernails and it is super dark (very Morticia Adams, but still fun) and I have not had to touch it up yet.  Amazing!  Call Sherri at the downtown Neiman Marcus at 214-741-6911.  Tell her I told you to call.  Sherri will even walk it out to your car -- drive through service!
What are your favs?

P.S.  Sending my #FundraisingFriday gift to the Girl Scouts this week.  Being prepared has always helped me to get ahead!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tips for Staying Young From A Not So Old Lady

I'm headed to a friend's retirement party this evening.

When did I get old enough for that?

Now, please know that my friend is retiring earlier than most people (God knows that I'll probably be working until age 75 if they'll have me.) and she is a bit older than I am, but really,


All of you youngsters who are reading this blog need to be told now that your mind will never feel much older than when you were in college.  As your life continues your dreams may evolve and your friendships will ebb and flow, but really you'll still feel young.  At least I do.

So, here are my tips for staying young:
  • Keep learning!  An active mind is such a blessing.  Read, embrace new technology, be curious.
  • Talk to young people!  I love giving a speech for/or meeting with groups of teens.  Of course, I am lucky to have my niece Caroline who is still in high school to talk with -- I do believe that she really likes me -- and she KNOWS that I like her.
  • Learn to play bridge!  My bridge group over the past 12 or so years has brought me so much joy and laughter (I'm not a great player, but who really gives -- it's a game!) and supposedly it is a great way for your brain to get some good juices flowing. 
  • Keep up with fashion trends!  Not that I am the fashion plate (as if), but I do watch The Fashion Police on E! and try to look as good as I can each day.  Enjoying some wild colors on my fingernails lately has really made me feel cool... 
  • Make friends with people of all ages!  I am lucky enough to have many friends who are younger than I -- and I love them.  Their perspective is fresh and helps me to see things in a whole new way -- plus, they know all of the best restaurants in town because they are out every stinkin' night. 
  • If you are bored, volunteer!  Volunteering your time is a great way to feel useful.  We'd love your help at Community Partners of Dallas -- call Vanessa today at 214-624-7557.  The fountain of youth is just across town!
Thanks for reading and I'd love any tips you have to stay young in the comments.  My #FundRaisingFriday gift is going to CPD tomorrow during Donor Bridge -- why not raise a few more bucks for the kiddos?

P.S.  I didn't list it, but another way that I stay young is by using exclamation points -- ha!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hugh Jackman is Staring at Me

Hugh Jackman is staring at me right now, even as I write this post.

I promise you he is -- come to my office and I'll show you.  Actually, he'll stare at you too.  I have a poster of him in my office from when my friend Jill and I saw him on Broadway last year.

NOTE:  That man works a crowd -- believe me, he lost 5 pounds just during the hour and half we were with him.  Go and see him if you ever get the opportunity.  Great entertainer.

When Hugh first came to the office with me, I looked at him a lot.  We joked around the office that people were just coming to meet with me so they could see Hugh -- Ann was particularly interested in my feedback on her financial reports for a couple of weeks -- and we all had fun with our resident man in the building.

But that was then.  Nothing has changed, but now I rarely even notice Hugh.  He's still staring, but I just don't notice.  Hugh is no longer new.

Something new makes us all excited, I think.  Of course Hugh makes some of us more excited than others, but I digress...

A new idea gets our creative juices flowing.  A new delicious treat (Lately I'm loving the apricot oatmeal bars from Whole Foods -- yum!) tastes fantastic.  A new dress makes us look way better than we did just 5 minutes before. 

I'm not saying it's right, but in my mind it is a pretty universal truth -- new is good.

And if you are a child who has been abused, you need something new because that new outfit is going to help you to feel special and yes, good.

Thanks for helping us provide new stuff for kids involved with CPS through our Rainbow Room Program.  It matters a lot.  If you want to make a donation, go to our website at and click on the donate now button.  I did for my #FundraisingFriday gift.

Hugh is still staring. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gov Christie Just Missed Our Board Retreat

CPD was open late last night.

We had our every-other-year board member retreat and really had a great turnout.  20 of our 28 members were with us, along with our trainer Helen Holman, and a few of our staff members.  Wendy Krispin did the catering (delish) and we made the board members act like they were a group of volunteers coming in to see the agency for the first time.
We gave them the whole ball of wax – made them stand in the lobby until everyone arrived, fill out and sign the volunteer paperwork, tour and listen to what we call the “spiel” from Vanessa, watch the short video – then put them to work counting a school supply and a sock donation.  Then we ate dinner and the training began.

I think they really enjoyed it and I think it was fun for them to see our staff members doing their “normal” jobs.  And it was certainly fun for me to hear the board members talk about ideas to help us raise more money. 
Can I hear a Woo Hoo from Joanna Clarke, please?

A grand time had by all.
So I got home late last night and turned on the TV – right in the beginning of Chris Christie’s speech at the Republican National Convention.

Governor Christie talked about his late mother and how one of her questions was “Do you want to be loved or do you want to be respected?”  Here’s the transcript from the speech:
And the greatest lesson that mom ever taught me though was this one. She told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected.  Now she said to always pick being respected. She told me that love without respect was always fleeting, but that respect could grow into real and lasting love. Now, of course, she was talking about women.

But I have learned over time that it applies just as much to leadership.

I agree. 

When people agree to serve on a non-profit board or to work for a non-profit, people are tempted to try to be “loved” – do and say anything to bring in the money or the volunteers, change the programs to “fit” what donors want, see another charity doing something that’s working and decide that you have to do that too (so you duplicate a program service), etc.
Be respected and the love will come.  It has for CPD.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apple v BlackBerry and McDonald's v Wendy's: Thoughts

Joanna and I just got back to our office after a visit to the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center (DCAC) this morning.  I asked for the meeting with Lyn Davis (CEO) and Chris Culak (Chief Development Officer) because I often get questions about how what we do fits in with what they do. 

NOTE:  Here's my short answer to those who are wondering...  While all children involved with CPS are eligible for Community Partners of Dallas' programs and services (CPD will serve about 20,000 kids this year through all of our programs), the DCAC serves a distinct subset of those who have suffered from the most horrific types of abuse with forensic interviews, ongoing therapy, and more. 

It was great meeting with Lyn and Chris and seeing all they do to help 2,500 children annually. 

Being in the non-profit world is different from being in the for-profit arena.  I would imagine that it might be difficult for the BlackBerry guys to call up Apple and go over and take a tour and speak about program specifics.  Would McDonald's take a meeting with Wendy's to discuss the new burger they were rolling out in a couple of months?

In the non-profit world, we want to help one another succeed because the greater good is served by working together.

I love my job.

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to the DCAC this week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 3

Time for another list of my Four Favs, people!  If you missed any of my other lists, here's the link to Part 2:

Everyday, I thank God that I live in this great city.  Dallas really is a fabulous place to live and work and we have so many wonderful places to enjoy -- delicious food, fabulous entertainment, beautiful foliage and architecture -- and almost every spot in town is air conditioned!  Keeping cool in Dallas really is a must at this time of year, so here goes on my coolest Four Favs:

  1. What is better on a hot day than staying in air conditioned comfort with a good book?  My favorite so far this summer is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  I didn't read it when it came out because I didn't think I'd like the story of an intersex person who starts living life as a woman and ends up living as a man, but my friend Stephanie recommended it highly, so I gave it a try.  It is a great book that traces the history of a family through multiple generations.  Won the Pulitzer.  500+ pages, but definitely worth it.
  2. Dreyers Fruit Bars are my latest obsession.  The coconut one makes my heart pound, but I also love the acai blueberry.  OMG -- they are ridiculously good!
  3. If you know me, you know that I love reality TV and especially the Bravo shows.  Andy Cohen is the host of Watch What Happens Live and I always tune in for his interviews with reality stars and real stars (of course, I own my very own Bravo "Mazel" t-shirt too -- yes, I'm "one of those").  Anyway, the other night Andy got to interview his biggest real star yet -- Meryl Streep (wow!) -- and he served her a "Fresquila" -- tequila and Fresca over ice.  Easiest cocktail ever and absolutely delish -- and oh so low cal.  Love it!  NOTE:  I use Patron for this -- cheap tequila is not my friend, nor should it be yours.
  4. If you haven't been to the Wisteria Dallas Store over by Love Field -- go.  I took my mom over there last weekend just for something to do in air conditioned fun and we both loved it.  The entire store (it's in a warehouse -- I love a warehouse of any type) is set up like small rooms and they really just have beautiful things.  In the rear of the store, there are lots of bargains too.  Here's the address and details:  Wisteria Dallas, 6500 Cedar Springs.  Open Monday-Saturday: 10-6

What are your four favs?

Stay Cool!

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to Junior Achievement in honor of my friend Linda Schoelkopf who is retiring after many years of service to JA.  Congrats, Linda!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Fast Can You Tell the Story of an Abused Child, Lady?

Corinne and I headed out to the UPS facility at DFW this morning bright and early to do our first United Way of Metropolitan Dallas presentation for CPD. 

First, thank goodness I have Destination Assist on my car because the roads are so messed up out there that at one point the direction lady just gave up and quit trying to direct us -- I think she thought we were in the middle of a cow pasture!  Anyway, we got there (early, I might add -- I am an on-time gal normally) and went through the TSA screening.  It was interesting seeing that people going in and out were scanned and some had to remove shoes and some didn't.  It was also fun for us to see all of the good looking men and women in their brown shorts and happy faces coming in to work. 

Shortly thereafter we were met by our contact who had called me yesterday to ask if we could send someone out to speak.

NOTE:  If you don't know this already, when you are a United Way service provider you are asked to go out and speak to different corporations on behalf of United Way (UW).  These presentations are vital  to encourage employees to give to the UW campaign and of course it helps CPD to be in front of a lot of different people who may not have ever heard of us and what we do for abused and neglected kids in Dallas County.  This is our first year as a UW service provider (we are in the Basic Needs category), so I was thrilled to be called to give our very first presentation at UPS.

When UPS called yesterday I was told that I'd be part of the early morning meetings held for drivers.  They started with stretching (Corinne and I stretched too), heard a safe driving tip, then I was on -- for a three minute speech.

How fast can you tell the story of an abused child?

Pretty fast -- because that is what my host asked me to do!  Here's my advice for your next quick speech:

  1. Smile and thank your contact by name.
  2. Use good facial expressions and look your audience in the eye as you speak to them -- Energy is Key!
  3. Paint a picture with your words -- give the name of the child (first name only for us because of confidentiality) and if it is a small child, use your hand to show how tall the child is.
  4. Tell what your child is wearing -- "only a dirty diaper" is easy to picture.
  5. Explain why their funds are needed -- "because of donations to United Way from people like you, Emily will enter a new safe home with clean clothes and shoes"
  6. Smile and thank them for having you as part of their day.

For a company like UPS where every minute is precious, three minutes is a long time for them to give to us. 

I hope that we made an impact this morning.  Seeing those drivers and getting to see what they do each day sure made an impact on me.

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to United Way this week -- they even sent me a birthday card -- thanks, Jennifer and team!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Can I hire someone to eat my vegetables, please?

A lot of my friends have been talking about organization lately.  We have lists of things to do, piles of paper to file, closets stuffed full of clothes and crap.

One of my friends has hired someone to come to her house and help her organize her home office.  Another had someone come to help her go through all of her clothes and decide what to toss/donate/repair.

Why do people hire someone to help them do something that they could do themselves?
Because it makes you do it.  It’s that simple. 

Back when I had a trainer come to my house twice a week, she made me get up and get active.  Now, left to my own devices, I don’t do anything. 
NOTE:  In fact, if it wasn’t for Cynthia I wouldn’t even walk twice a week!  Bless you, Cynthia – without you I would be even lazier than I already am! 

Yes, I have a treadmill (with TV in front), weights, mats, yoga videos – everything I need to work out – but I just don’t do it. 
Anyway, this got me thinking – do we need to hire someone to make us do other stuff we really don’t want to do, but will help us?  Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Go to the dentist.
  • Serve a family meal at the dinner table.
  • Shop for a new bathing suit.
  • Eat your vegetables.
  • Vote.
  • Think about child abuse.

Wait a minute – you can “hire” someone to do that last one – Community Partners of Dallas.  We’d love for you to hire us to help the children of Dallas County who desperately need your help.  Donate today at

Now, check that one off your list.  Thanks!
P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to CPD.  I practice what I preach!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Does God Go to Summer Camp?

About 2 months ago, a friend of mine called me at Community Partners of Dallas and explained that she was doing some work with Sky Ranch and that they had some openings for girl scholarship campers to attend a week-long camp session in late July and that she immediately thought of our girls at CPD for this special opportunity.

Of course, I was thrilled and immediately went to work finding the right girls to participate.  As you may know, CPD works with abused and neglected kids through the CPS caseworkers of Dallas County, so it takes some energy to find out which girls were available for this particular week of camping and it was important that they would feel comfortable and were well-adjusted enough to be away from home for an extended period of time, etc.  As you might imagine, many kids who come into CPS care are wounded too deeply (both emotionally and physically) to be able to mainstream into a cabin of other girls away from home.  So special attention was needed to find these campers – and they needed to be from families who were Christian (or didn’t mind if the girls learned about Christianity) since Sky Ranch is a Christian camp. 
Anyway, everyone here at CPD was so excited about this generous gift and we were super excited to get our girls signed up.  Every staff member here was just giddy with the thought of these girls getting to enjoy such a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  And of course, I had sent the Sky Ranch website link to the CPS caseworkers showing the Blob and listing all of the fun activities for the girls – so the girls could get so excited too…

Then the bottom dropped out.
Unfortunately, by the time we got back to Sky Ranch with the names and ages of our girls, Sky Ranch had filled the spots.  My friend was not the only person searching for scholarship campers and we were just too late. 

Of course, I was devastated.  We all were.  I felt terrible that these girls had gotten their hopes up, then dashed.  I felt terrible that so many CPS staff members had taken part of their precious time to locate these exceptional girls for camp, then had to waste even more time explaining that now the camp was off.  And since part of what we do at CPD every day is to let caseworkers know that we are here to help them do their jobs better and with greater care – every time my word is broken to them, well, it just kills me.  Anyway, it was what it was and I contacted the CPS supervisor who had been helping me to find girls and told her it was off and how sorry I was about it, etc.
NOTE:  If you know me, you will know that there was some cursing and bad-mouthing of Sky Ranch by me with the staff here at CPD.  Hey, I was pissed, people!

Oh well, life goes on.
Next we had a break for July 4th for a few days and I even extended my vacation for a few more days into the next week (It’s good to be the boss!), so I came back to work on a Thursday morning, pretty much having forgotten about Sky Ranch.

So I was at my desk going through paperwork and the phone rang.  It was a caseworker who needed some clothes for a kid on her caseload and I was talking her through our procedures and what forms she needed to send over and she said “Oh, I just found out that the 5 girls I signed up for camp are not getting to go.”  I said, “Oh no, we told y’all last week it was cancelled,” and she then explained that her supervisor had gone on vacation and had forgotten to tell her.  Well, of course, I just felt awful, and told her how sorry I was, etc., and explained that since it was so close to camp time for the girls to find out it was cancelled, that we would try to find another camp for them to attend and that we would find the money to pay for her girls to go.
I hung up the phone and went right back into the ugly about this whole situation and Sky Ranch (see note above).

Joanna and I had a site visit scheduled just then with one of our corporate donors (who is also a friend of mine).  I was actually lamenting to Joanna about these poor girls who didn’t even know they weren’t going to camp (loudly – I was in the copy room and she was in her office – we don’t really use intercoms here – yelling is just fine with Joanna and me) when the donor arrived and probably heard me loudly "lamenting".
So, Joanna and I go into the reception area and greet the donor and I start telling him about how much his gift is going to help our kids, etc.  And since it was fresh on my mind I told him about the 5 little girls and Sky Ranch and how they weren’t told about the cancellation and about how we needed to find camp for these 5 girls and that part of his company’s money might go to send these girls to another camp.

Then he said, “Oh no, don’t you use my money for that – use my money for some other girls.  Call this man and this man and tell them I told you to call.  Those girls are going to Sky Ranch.”  Turns out that his friends are very involved with Sky Ranch and they did find places for our girls.  Hallelujah!
I know that God wanted those girls to go to Sky Ranch.  There is no other explanation:
  • We were too late.
  • They didn't have space.
  • We thought we told everyone it was cancelled.
  • Even when that caseworker was finally told that camp was cancelled, she didn't tell the girls.
  • I took extra vacation days and found out that morning that the girls hadn't been told just before the donor arrived, so it was fresh on my lamenting lips; otherwise I never would have mentioned it to the donor.
  • That donor knew who to call.
Too many times the whole thing was over, but He worked it so that it turned around.  I can’t wait to find out what God has in store for those 5 girls.  It’s going to be something big. 

 P.S.  This is not a photo of our girls.  We cannot show you their faces due to confidentiality.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Headache Today -- Ugh

I have a headache today.  I don’t get them very often and when I do get one it usually goes away pretty quickly.  A little Tylenol, Aspirin or Motrin and I’m back to normal.

Unfortunately, today the Tylenol isn’t working.
How do you get rid of a headache that just won’t leave? 

Of course, the kids we serve at Community Partners of Dallas live with far worse than headaches.  They live with bruises, broken legs, burns, cuts, and worse.  They live in fear, in turmoil, in squalor.  They sleep on the floor with roaches and rats.  Those who are supposed to love them tell them that they are stupid and ugly.  That they never should have been born. 

My headache will go away – soon, I hope – but how will these pitiful children ever get rid of their shame, their hurt?  A room full of Tylenol wouldn’t stop their pain. 
What I know for sure is that these kids’ lives will get better.   A great caseworker, a loving foster mom, an uncle – they can all make life better.  At CPD we see it every day.

My head is still hurting, but my heart is feeling fine.

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to Sky Ranch.  I'll tell you why next week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 2

Well, I’m still on holiday break from July 4 (took a few extra days to sit around and read, play bridge, go to the movies, cook – all of the things I love to do, but cannot seem to make enough time for when I’m working).  I'm back in the office tomorrow, so cancel the dancing boys, co-workers...

Installment 2 of my four favs (in case you missed it, click here for Installment 1: 

  • White Bean Dip – I make this dip from Giada De Laurentiis all the time.  One of my go-to items and everyone loves it.  It has a hummus-like quality, but tastes better and no tahini, so less mess.
    • 1 Can of Cannellini Beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
    • 1/4 C Italian Parsley Leaves (loosely packed)
    • 2 T Fresh Lemon Juice
    • 1 Garlic Clove
    • 1/3 C EVOO
    • Put all (except olive oil) into food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  With machine running, gradually mix in EVOO until mixture is creamy.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips.  Enjoy!
  • Quivers:  A Life – this is Robin Quivers auto-biography.  Robin is Howard Stern’s long-time side-kick and before they moved to satellite, I listened to them every morning.  Her biography was written in 1995 and tells the fascinating story of her journey to radio stardom.
  • The Perfect Polish Combo – I have finally found that the perfect color combo for “pretty” nails is one coat of OPI Bubble Bath and one coat of OPI Privacy Please, in this order.  Completely natural and touch-ups not required.
  • The Dallas Theater Center – Joe was surprised the other night when I told him that I see a live theater or music performance at least 3 times a month!  Frankly, I was too, but when you have series subscriptions with several friends and family members, plus generous friends who include you as their guest periodically, you just do.  The Dallas Theater Center is consistently at the top of my list.  Their productions are exciting, imaginative, and thought-provoking.  Well worth the money.

Hope this list gives you some ideas!  What are your current four favs?

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to the Dallas Theater Center this week.  Use that $10, wisely, Kevin Moriarty and team! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tips for Serving on a Non-Profit Board

Happy Independence Day!  In the spirit of all things American, I'm on break today and decided to repost one of my most popular blogs ever -- tips for sitting on a non-profit board of directors.  Volunteering and philanthropy  are such an American phenomenon and we are lucky to live in a country where most of our citizens believe in service.  So, eat a hot dog and stop for a moment to think about what you can do to give back to your community!  Now, the tips:

As you may know, I serve as the President and CEO of Community Partners of Dallas, a medium-sized non-profit agency helping abused and neglected children.  I work with our board members every day to make sure our agency is working to "stop the abuse and start the healing" for kids in Dallas County.  I have also served on many non-profit boards in Dallas County, so here are my quick tips if you are considering board service:

1.  Believe in the mission of the agency.
2.  Make sure that you have the time to serve -- you must attend the board meetings, committee meetings, all the events, etc.
3.  Be ready to support them financially with a personally meaningful gift.
4.  Commit to soliciting funding for the agency from your friends, family members, and colleagues.  If you are not willing to do this, just say no.  
5.  Be willing to participate in leadership if asked.

Prior to joining a board be sure to:

1.  Educate yourself about what is required of board members -- time, talent, treasure requirements.
2.  Take a tour of the agency and meet with the CEO/Executive Director.
3.  Check out the other board members.  
4.  Find out if you like the executive staff.
5.  Make sure that the agency has board insurance.
6.  Look at their most recent tax return and financial documents.

If you are interested in board service, call the agency!  There are many, many agencies that need you.