Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Reason

From the Book of Luke:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

Can you imagine sending your child to this scary world?  Knowing your child would face hate, persecution, prejudice?  

But this happens every day, every minute.

In Dallas, at Parkland Hospital alone, more than 40 babies are born each day and each one of them will face evil and hate.  We all do.

If I were God (and as Lenny Bruce would say "it depends on the s-- you're smokin'), I don't know that I would have sent my son to die.  But parents have babies every day -- even knowing that this world will hurt and ultimately kill them -- because there is also so much joy in life.  

Yes, life is not perfect.  We don't always get our way.  People do hurt our feelings.  But, we can all do something every day to better this scary world.

Thank you for helping Community Partners of Dallas to help the abused and neglected children of Dallas County.  Each one of us is needed to keep babies safe.  Merry Christmas -- Paige 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Go to Hell.

Just a short one (and 2 days late) since I've had a crazy week...

My favorite toast:

Here's to those who wish us well and all the rest can go to hell.

And because this makes me think of another of my favorite quotes:

You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.
-- Davy Crockett

Happy Holidays.  Hope yours are not hellish!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I hate Walmart.

I hate Walmart -- and if you don't, you haven't been there lately and tried to give them $2,500...

It is crunch time for the CPD Toy Drive.  The icy weather in Dallas put us back a little, but our timing cannot be extended.  The CPS caseworkers must have a few days to deliver the toys to the kids and for some caseworkers "deliver" means dropping off to more than 50 different houses all over Dallas County, packing and unpacking their cars each time.

Anyway, this morning Natalie and I were over at our Peacock Alley Toy Drive warehouse (the kind people at Peacock Alley let us produce the toy drive from their warehouse every year -- I don't know what we'd do with out them) meeting with some great donors from Princess House.  Princess House gave us the most darling children's kitchen stuff -- it is professional quality, but made for children's hands -- fantastic stuff.

Here's a photo of me with the Princess House CEO Connie Tang and a few of their top organizers:  Luz Balderas, Marilu Rodriguez, and Graciela Montes.  We cannot wait to hear about the children who are going to be inspired by this generous gift -- made possible by The Today Show Holiday Toy Drive.

The Peacock Alley warehouse was hopping with donations flowing in from individuals like Mary Taylor, companies like Carrington, Coleman, Sloman, and Blumenthal (who also had a team of employees there volunteering), to big groups like Highland Park United Methodist Church.  Yay, Dallas -- you are doing it for the kiddos!

Anyway, back to Walmart.

As Natalie and I are leaving to head back to the office we get a call from Corinne with an SOS. 

Getting all of the toys in to serve 5,000+ kids with 2 toys each is multi-faceted.  Some people fill wishes, some people just bring in undesignated toys, and some people give money and let us do the shopping.  One of the items we're always short on are bikes

There are several reasons for this.  First, they're expensive.  Second, they're bulky and don't fit in your car.  Third, donors don't want to put them together (we have volunteers to do this, so don't let that stop you next year, friends!).  Fourth, the helmet is an additional expense. 

But, we always have lots of requests for bikes.  A bike gives a child a little independence -- and for abused and neglected kids that is super-important.  Believe me, if it wasn't we wouldn't have so many requests for them -- remember, the caseworkers are the ones who make the requests on behalf of the children, and just think about that caseworker having to personally deliver 1 or 2 or 10 or 20 bikes!  If they are willing to go to the trouble, we want to be sure that those kids get bikes if they want one.

So, the SOS from Corinne (who manages our drive and all of our corporate relations) was that the bikes she ordered with Walmart could not be released to the drivers who were picking them up and bringing them to the warehouse because Walmart would not take our credit card over the phone.  STRIKE ONE.

NOTE:  Now I understand this -- it was a $2,500 bike order, but seriously, Corinne had already talked with several managers to get this set up, get our tax ID ready, etc.

Next, we find Natalie and me waiting in the Customer Service line at Walmart.  It is noon.  One person is helping people in the long line.  One person.  STRIKE TWO.

All we need is someone to page our contact person to tell her we're there so we can pay, but we are waiting in line.  We finally stop someone who looks like a manager (he's wearing a headphone communication set) and I ask him if he can let our person know that we're there.  He does contact her and pass along the message without once looking me in the eye or even responding to anything I've said. STRIKE THREE.

We then wait 30 more minutes waiting for our contact to come -- finally even busy staff people ask us as they keep walking past what we're waiting on -- another manager calls her again -- and finally someone who our person sent to TAKE MY F-ING $2,500+ shows up.  Instead of just running the amount on my credit card and letting us leave this person has to ring each bike up individually.  It is a nightmare and she even had to start over once.  STRIKE ONE MILLION.

Why, Oh Why?

The problem with Walmart is that not a single employee cares whether or not they make a sale -- a 10 dollar one, a two thousand dollar one or a fifty thousand dollar one.

It is no way to run a company, but they sure seem successful.  And we want to buy as many bikes as we can for the kids. 

Yes, I hate Walmart, but I know that I'll be back there next year to buy the bikes.

But I'm spending my money at Target.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Top Toys for Christmas -- Help!

Well, it's Christmas time at Community Partners of Dallas and BOY, have we been blessed with lots of donors who have taken wishes for our kiddos.

This year we had more than 7,600 wishes turned in from the CPS caseworkers in Dallas County -- and that is 14% more than last year.  And even though there are 6 less days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, our donors (and our hard-working staff at CPD) have really stepped it up to make sure wishes get filled for the kids.

NOTE:  That whole 6 less days thing is really being felt by me in my own home decorating.  As someone who has always said that holiday decorating is what separates us from the animals (and yes, I know that my line is a take-off from Steel Magnolias -- they instead say "accessorizing" is what separates us), I have yet to have put out a single wooden Santa, light or bow.  I do have one dejected looking piece of garland only because my neighbor the Boy Scout orders it for me every year without fail.

But, that does not mean that we are out of the woods with the Toy Drive at CPD -- we still have wishes left if you want some, so call today 214-624-7557 -- but now I'm worrying about those kids who don't have a wish in our pile at all...

You see, we have a deadline for the caseworkers to turn in wishes to us back in October, so the kids who have come into care since then never had a wish out in the world.  And with Dallas County CPS working with more than 21,000 reports annually, you know that's a lot. 

So, if you are able, we'd really appreciate your help with our Last Stop Holiday Shop (that's what we call the undesignated toy drive).  Here are some of the most needed items -- our Top Toys for Christmas:
  • Baby Dolls -- all ethnicities needed
  • Push Toys
  • Infant items -- rattles, onesies, etc.
  • Gift Cards (to any store in increments of $25 each)
  • Bikes
  • All type of sports balls -- for all ages
  • Bath and body sets for both boys and girls
Of course, if you just want to donate funds, we'd love that too -- we have lots of volunteers who will do the shopping for you!  Mail your gift today to Community Partners of Dallas, 1215 Skiles St, Dallas, TX 75204 or if you want to donate online at just let us know by marking Toy Drive in the donation drop down menu and we'll be sure that your gift is designated appropriately.

NOTE:  The kids in our drive have been let down by adults over and over in their lives and so when they whisper a wish to their caseworker, they don't really expect it to come true.  And when it does come true, it shows that child that there are some people in the world that he can count on.

I'm counting on you.

Here I am with just a few of the wishes my mom filled this year.  They are sitting in my office until she comes by to inspect the choices I made...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You Can Quote Me

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

― Thomas PaineThe American Crisis
If you are a regular reader of my blog  -- and there are literally TENS of you -- you already know that I love a good quote.  I'd like to say that I am an avid scholar of Paine and history and have always known this one, but of course I heard it on Top Chef Masters last season.  The winner Doug Keane said it in the last episode and I looked that sucker up lickety-split.
NOTE:  To all of you who are judging me right now -- I agree with you.
It seemed fitting for a Thanksgiving post.  
I'm thankful for those who founded this country.  For those who still keep it safe. 
I'm also thankful for those who keep children safe.  And for those who do a kind thing for those who keep children safe...
Yesterday one of our donors at Community Partners of Dallas called Joanna with a surprise for one of our hard-working Dallas County CPS caseworkers.  You see, the donor and husband were not going to be able to use their 2 great seats to see the Dallas Cowboys for the big Thanksgiving game, so they decided to pass them along to us.  We sent out an email and within 1 hour had 87 people who wanted the tickets.  When Joanna called the lottery drawing winner, the caseworker almost started crying.  She is a huge fan of the Cowboys and had never been to a game. 
Do I have a great job or what?
Now, you may think it's funny that I started this post about obtaining something cheap and am ending it with someone winning a free prize, but believe me, that caseworker works hard everyday protecting children.  And I bet she'll never forget the game.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Best-Kept, Fool-Proof -- I Mean This Works, People -- Secret to Raising Money

The secret to raising money for charity is simple...
  • First, be nice to everyone you meet.
  • Be nice to everyone that those people introduce you to.
  • Tell all of these people (who already think that you're nice) about the charity.
I promise you that this will work.

P.S.  This method only works if you get out there and meet people.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Damn -- That Makes Me Mad!

There are quite a few things that make me mad, so since today's the blog day, you have to hear about them...
  • People who park in my driveway without asking.
  • Men who wear too much cologne.
  • Women who put on perfume to go work out.  Look, we know you didn't shower, lady, but your perfume makes it worse.
  • When my DVR cuts off just before the end of The Voice, the game, or The Shahs of Sunset.
  • People who flaunt their priority status at the airport.  Get over yourself -- we're all going to get there at the same time and I may just park my butt next to yours and dab on some more perfume...
  • When food items don't have an expiration date.  How do I know if my alfredo sauce is going to kill me tonight?
Yes, these things all make me mad, but in the grand scheme of things they are "First World Problems" (as my friend and co-worker Vanessa Fuquay likes to say).

Will you get mad -- really mad -- with me about these?
  • People who abuse children.
  • People who treat children like property.
  • People who belittle their dreams.
  • People who put themselves first.
Who's with me?  Let's get mad together.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 13

It's that time again -- a new list of my Four Favs!

NOTE:  I know it's Tuesday, but it's Wednesday somewhere -- plus my hair looks so good that I want it to last longer, thus the loss of Tuesday.

NOTE for the NOTE:  I do realize that this logic makes no sense.  Sometimes I amuse myself alone.  Back off.

NOTE for the NOTE for the NOTE:  And since you were so rude to think about my non-logic, make a donation to Community Partners of Dallas right now at  I forgive you.

In case you've missed my other Favorites posts, you can view the most recent one here:

Now, on to what you came for -- the list...
  1. My brand new Neiman Marcus Calendar for 2014 -- I've been using these since my friend Lynn McBee took me to a TACA dinner in 2006 and it was the party favor.  The paper is so nice and damn-it, I am not going to leave paper, people.  I'm old.  You can buy them online with NM too, but then it doesn't have the Neiman Marcus lining.  The lining is only available in the store.  But you can get it monogrammed if you order online, so make your choice.  I like the lining because I'm old and like to be fancy.
  2. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus -- I cannot get enough of this song.  It is on super-high rotation in my car (just like Katy Perry's Firework was when it came out).  Maybe I'm not so old?
  3. The novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is coming out as a film later this month, but I encourage you to read the novel first.  It is amazing.  I promise you that tears will shoot out of your eyes.  What?  That isn't what you want out of a novel?  You're wrong.
  4. Cynthia's Yum Potatoes -- I haven't had these in awhile, but damn, they're good.  My friend Cynthia O'Kelly gave me the recipe and it's so easy that everyone needs to have this in your arsenal.  Make them tonight!
  • 4 or 6 small potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • garlic powder
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and pour into a 9x13 pyrex and spread evenly across the bottom (I usually just put the butter in the pyrex and put it in the oven while it's preheating.). Generously sprinkle parmesan cheese and lightly sprinkle other seasonings all over the butter. Place potato halves face down on the butter and seasonings. Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for at least a FULL 5 minutes before removing from the pan, otherwise the parmesan crust won't stick to the potato. Optional:  Serve with a side of sour cream for dipping (I don't do this -- love them just the way they are).
What are your four favs?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Night...

I didn't get to sleep at all.

NOTE:  If you recognize The Fifth Dimension reference, give yourself 100 points.

I only slept about 3 hours last night.

You'd think I'd be crashing by now -- it's 4 pm -- but actually, I feel pretty good.  Sometimes we think that we just can't make it without something because that's what we're used to:
  • Sleep
  • Coffee
  • Sweets
  • Television
Oh, you know -- just anything.  The over-dramatic -- gosh, I'm so tired, or I need my coffee blather.

But I usually find that I can make it. 

We keep going because we have to keep going.  Gosh, all I really need is some exciting work to do, some ideas to toss around, get those creative juices flowing, etc.

We can do a lot more than we require of ourselves.

I spent last night at Community Partners of Dallas Heart Program.  The Heart Program provides group treatment for child victims of sexual abuse and their non-offending family members.  Last night was the Halloween Party and everyone had a great time.  Every Tuesday night these kids -- some as young as 3 and 4 years old -- talk about their abuse with peers and they heal.

They keep going because they have to keep going.  God bless them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What I know about "The Girl in the Closet"

It happened on June 11, 2001.  Our community (and the nation) was rocked by the story of Lauren Kavanaugh -- the girl in the closet. 

I didn't work for Community Partners of Dallas then, so like most of you I watched Lauren's story on the television and read about it in The Dallas Morning News and just shook my head in horror. 

How could people be so sick? 

If you've ever held a baby in your arms...

If you've ever had a child run and hug you...

If you've ever had a child look at you like you were the most important person in the world...

How could someone do this to a child -- any living creature?  I wouldn't leave a snake to live in it's own filth and slowly starve to death -- and I really don't like snakes.

If you don't know Lauren's story, The Dallas Morning News is publishing a series about her every day this week and is running it on the front page -- above the fold -- check it out here:

But before you read it, prepare yourself.

You'll have questions, just like I do.  Why did the judge return Lauren to a mother who had given her away? Why didn't CPS officials keep better tabs on this family?  Why didn't a family member, a neighbor, anyone, talk?  Why, why, why?

When I started working at CPD in March of 2002, Lauren's story was still discussed and I heard that she hoarded food, but that was about it.  CPD still received a toy periodically from the public mailed to the CPS office and addressed to "The Girl in the Closet".  We passed them along to her caseworker. 

But, time goes by and the horror fades. 

New children took Lauren's place:  the little girl who's mother super glued her hands to the wall, the 10 year old boy named Johnathan who was starved to death in 2012, and more.

I want to thank Scott Farwell and The Dallas Morning News for this series.  Because of CPS confidentiality laws, even I don't usually get to hear about what happens to a child after the abuse has stopped. 

But I do know one thing for certain -- there are more Laurens out there.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Favorite TV Commercials Now!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I love TV.

My grandmother lived with my family most of my life and she loved TV.  Dandoo (I named her and my niece Lina -- my 2 claims to fame.) and I watched together and I even had my own TV in my bedroom when I was 11 -- she gave it to me.

NOTE:  Now, I know you parents are all thinking that was horrible.  Bite me.

So, I have many fond memories of TV and I will admit that it is my crutch -- pretty much when I'm at home, alone, and awake -- my TV is on.

NOTE:  Now, I do read books and work from home sometimes, so the TV is not on then.  At least most of the time it's not...

The thing that has changed semi-recently is the DVR.  Kids, in the olden days, we had to watch commercials -- or least you had to leave the commercials on.

NOTE:  Mute buttons were not invented way back then -- in fact we even had to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel and since there were only about 4 stations, you looked at a thing called the TV Guide and decided what you were going to watch each hour and tuned in.  Truly, I don't know what men did without remotes to channel surf.  Lit a new cigarette and/or poured another scotch, I guess.

But now, I don't watch commercials much since I DVR my favorite shows and watch them later so I can fast-forward through the ads.  I know that all of us do this now.  Like me, I'm sure that even if your favorite show is on right then while you've parked your butt in the La-Z-Boy, you might watch something you have saved in the box, then watch your preferred show later so you can skip the commericals.

NOTE:  The girls here at CPD know that I really love a show when I tell them that "I watched that show live."  This means commitment, people.

So now, I pretty much only see commericals during The Today Show.  So, take this favorites list with that in mind:

1.  The AT&T Commercials with the guy in a suit sitting around the little kid table asking the kids about how fast something is, etc.  The whole series is pretty cute, but I think I burst the bubble of my co-worker Corinne when I told her that I know it is scripted.  One of the little boys mouths the words of one of the girls when she speaks. 

I am, at heart, a critic.  Sorry, but that bubble had to be burst.  Still like the series though.  Here's the link for the "Infinity" one.  Watch the boy's mouth when the little girl says "infinity times infinity" -- sorry, but you needed to know the truth.  The "Dizzy" one is probably my favorite, though.

2.  As for more cerebral (Can that word even be used when we're talking about commercials?) ads, I like the Prudential one with the bald guy saying "We asked people to tell us about the oldest person they've known" and they have a huge chart with dots all in the later years of age like the 80's to 100's.  The point is that we're living longer, so we need to plan for retirement.  It hasn't made me add anything more to my Roth IRA, but I still think it's pretty good. 

This is a longer version:

3.  But my favorite of all is from Carters.  It's narrated by a little girl voice (And yes, I know it's an adult who sounds like a little girl -- critic, remember?) and starts with "I was born on a cold September Sunday" and goes through the life of the child.  The thing I love most is near the end -- something like "Because the moment I became yours, you became mine."

I just love that line and I had never thought about it before.  I think as parents, we think that our kids are ours -- almost like property.  Sometimes I think this is partially why child abuse happens -- the whole attitude of "that's MY kid and I can do anything I want with them/to them".

But this line in this commercial flipped it -- and I love it.  That line makes me cry every time.

That kid is yours, but YOU are also his. 

Remember that.  It's sacred.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I Learned from Gravity

I was lucky enough to see a preview of the film Gravity a couple of weeks ago through the USA Film Festival.  My brother went with me.

NOTE:  I invited my niece to join me but when she cancelled my brother was conveniently the first one to text me his availability.  The McDaniel siblings like free stuff, people.

Now normally the USA Film Festival does advance screenings of more limited release films -- not blockbusters starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, so this was an unusual film for them and I hopped right in to get a reservation for 2 seats front and center.  The Film Festival had warned us to leave our cell phones and any other recording devices at home and John and I obliged.

Because I'm a donor to the Film Festival, we get reserved seats and don't have to wait in the long line -- LOVE that.  When John and I arrived at the AMC NorthPark they checked my purse and wanded both of us looking for recording devices and/or firearms. 

NOTE:  We passed. 

The press members finally arrive and the film is about to begin, but before they start (usually at screenings there are no previews) a big guy in a suit walks out and gets the audience's attention.  He explains that no recording devices may be brought out during the film and that he and his team will be watching with night-vision goggles throughout the screening.  When he says this, some people giggle, but the man quickly looked them straight in the eye and very seriously said "Hey -- this is not a laughing matter.  My job is to protect this film and I am very serious.  We are protecting this film."

Wow.  I have not stopped thinking about this statement.  I am protecting this film.  It is my job to protect this film.

I wish that all parents felt this way.  Good ones know that protecting children is their job -- in fact, it is the job of every single one of us.  We are all required by law to report child abuse and neglect in Texas.

NOTE:  To report in Texas call 1-800-252-5400.  If you are not in Texas, the Texas hot line can give you information for your state or neck of the woods (a little Al Roker for you).

If only we took child protection as seriously as film protection.

P.S.  Gravity is great -- see it.  And of course it had lots of birth/mother imagery.  You can take the girl out of the office, but you can't ever take the office out of this girl...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where Has All The Customer Service Gone?

I am a shopper.

I have a shopper's car (small SUV).

I buy a Partners Card from The Family Place every year without fail.

But most of all, I love Amazon.

I love Amazon, but I hate what it is doing to customer service.  Now, Amazon actually does a pretty good job when needed -- IF you can find out how to let them know your package wasn't delivered, they'll send you another one, no questions asked.  They don't care if it's UPS's fault or if it was stolen, or whatever the reason, they'll send you another.

This is volume business at it's finest -- just send another one and eat the cost to keep the customer happy.

And it works -- I am happy and pretty much order everything I can from them.  Not sure if I'll use their grocery service when it comes out, but I might.  I love them that much.

NOTE:  I do love Matt & Al and my TV more, but Amazon is right up there.

But here's the rub -- there is no customer service anymore.  The Internet has trained us to not expect much.  It is difficult to even find a phone number to call nowadays.  You have to search and search to find it.  I just searched for a local charity's phone number this morning on their website and finally gave up after about 5 minutes of searching.  Their site wouldn't even let me email their CEO directly or provide me with her email.

NOTE:  This is NOT how we do business at Community Partners of Dallas.  We truly believe that a big part of our success is personal service.  You can call me right now at 214-624-7557 and anyone else here.

But back to my point -- customer service is dead.  So that is why when a company does something extraordinary now, it really means something to me.

My first example is an experience I had with Shutterfly last Christmas -- and I am still thinking about it 10 months later, so that tells you just how extraordinary it is.  I order my holiday cards from them online every year and they do a great job.  This year the return address labels I ordered to match my cards didn't arrive.  I thought, UGH -- I'm sure I won't be able to find a phone number to call or a way to report this easily -- and fired up the desk top (which gets little use now with my I-Phone and I-Pad in the den at all times) and started looking for a way to report the missing package.

Well, what to my wondering eyes did appear but a phone number for Customer Service!  I called and the guy I spoke to was super nice and said they would expedite new labels to me at no charge.  So nice.  But what really made it an amazing experience is that the guy I spoke to SENT ME A HAND WRITTEN THANK YOU NOTE apologizing for the error.

Can you believe that?

The error wasn't even theirs -- the labels came the next day and I called them, but they said to just enjoy the duplicates. 

I have more examples of surprising service -- coming soon! 

Hope you have a great week of super customer service!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Will Lucy Make Ricky Lose His Temper Before Her Hat Is Delivered?

I woke up too early the other morning and turned on the TV.  It was in the middle of an I Love Lucy episode, so I just started watching.

I love I Love Lucy.  When I was young I watched it everyday after school (Holla for Slam Bang Theater!) and I have seen every episode about a million times.  So, when it came on the other morning, I knew just what had happened in the episode.

We join Lucy and Ethel at the hat store.  Lucy has found a precious turquoise hat with little pearls on it.  Ethel warns Lucy to put it back and walk away, and she tries, but that hat is just too much for her.  She tells the hat store woman (who plays many parts at differing times on the show -- you'd know her if you saw her) to charge and send it tomorrow.  Lucy now has 24 hours to make Ricky lose his temper.

NOTE:  The back story you missed (but I'm sure you remember) is that Ricky and Lucy bet that he could hold his temper longer than she could refrain from buying a hat.  Don't you have this bet with your husband all the time?

Next we find Lucy in bed waiting up for Ricky to come home from the club.  Oh, it was a hard night for Ricky and he had to run the numbers with the band until 3 or 4 am, so he is dog tired.  Ricky hops in his twin bed and goes right to sleep.  Lucy then goes into action:  turns up the radio, files her nails, eats crackers, spills the crackers all in Ricky's bed, cracks pecans, even nails his slippers to the floor.  She finishes off with Ethel arriving with the dribble glass that she fills with tomato juice and dribbles all down his white tux jacket (he was supposed to take publicity shots that morning, thus the white ensemble).  Ricky holds his temper.

It is not until he gets a call from some agent trying to book a ventriloquist (Does anyone miss ventriloquists?  Really?) and is able to hold his temper and gets the guy at a rock bottom price that Ricky realizes that Lucy helped him and he calls off the bet and tells her she can buy any hat she wants.  After a quick faked call to the store to supposedly "order" the turquoise hat with the pearls, Lucy hangs up the phone and the doorbell rings with the hat delivery.  Ha, Ha!

If only it was this easy to teach someone how to hold their temper.

The kids we help every day at Community Partners of Dallas live lives of terror waiting for the next shoe to drop.  For dad to have a bad day at work and start yelling and drinking and worse.  For mom to scream "I hate you and I wish you'd never been born" because her boyfriend decides to go out with his buddies because boyfriend is sick of being around kids for 2 hours.

A turquoise hat is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  A child is.

Let's be Ricky and count to 10 before we react today.  Ricky did it in Spanish, but I'll let you choose your language.  Spanish would be fun, though.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 12

This week is pretty full with lots of events and the Community Partners of Dallas board meeting is next week (meaning I have to get out the board packet email today -- ugh), so this seemed like the perfect week for another post of my Four Favs.  In case you missed it, you can see the most recent one here:

This week's favs (in no particular order) are:
  1. My new door mat -- I seem to go through door mats quite often (And yes, I can think of lots of door mat humor to go along with why mine wear out so often, but that is for another day when we're out to dinner with drinks...).  I picked this up at The Sample House last weekend and while it is more plain than I usually buy, it was $6.95.  Come on down -- the price is right!
  2. Is there any better service than Jack Boles Valet?  I am always pleased when I drive up to an event or a business and I see that Jack Boles is handling the parking.  Of course, I love seeing Gary or James or Cathy as I pull up to park, but all of their staff members do a great job and are always friendly.
  3. You haven't lived until you've tried Brown Cow Cream Top Yogurt.  They sell it at Whole Foods and it is delicious.  I've been eating the Greek Style lately, but it's all good -- just be sure to get the cream top kind.  Maple is my favorite flavor -- yum.  Pay no attention to the cookie in the otherwise healthy picture, please.
  4. I am a relatively new subscriber to The New York Times Sunday home delivery and I love it.  I must admit that it does sometimes take me almost a week to read it, but I really enjoy it.  Love the Broadway news and the magazine, but really it's all good.  And yes, it does make me feel smarter -- even if it's not actually making that happen.  I like to appear smart, people.  Is it working?
What are your four favs?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

OMG! Oprah and Me? Really?

Yes, I saw Oprah.

If you are a regular reader of this blog (and I know that there are literally TENS of you), then you know that I love Oprah.  I admire her.  She is a mentor to me even though I've never met her.

NOTE:  Of course, I did try to see if I knew anyone who could have gotten me backstage, but no luck.

NOTE TO SELF:  Get some fancier friends.  Pronto.

So, even though I saw Oprah from 50 yards away, I still saw her and was thrilled to be part of her Lifeclass here in Dallas last week with Bishop T.D. Jakes.  I told my friend Jeanne that I would report on my experience, so here goes...

My sister-in-law Lucy and our friend Lori went with me that morning.  I bought our tickets at Ticketmaster ($100 each, plus fees, plus $25ish for parking) and I bought them the same morning I got the email from Oprah telling me to buy them.

NOTE:  Yes, I mind Oprah.  She needed me there, otherwise I'm sure she wouldn't have come to Dallas.  You can thank me later.

These seats were the best you could buy and there were no floor seats available at that time (you know I would have done it -- budget be damned). 

Next, skip to the night before -- Wednesday night, August 28.  I called Lucy and told her I'd pick her and Lori up that morning.  I told Lucy that I thought we should look pretty cute just in case they had scouters looking for good looking people (don't laugh -- we can look pretty good when we want to) to sit down front (I've upgraded to first class a few times, people.).  I also know that back when they used to tape The Oprah Winfrey Show they always asked people to wear color (not black) so Lucy and I were ready.  I wore flats, slacks (no jeans), a turquoise Tory Burch sweater and a chunky necklace (this is pretty much my casual uniform).  Lucy had on white pants and a blue and black patterned top.  Lori wore a colorful top and white shorts (I guess Lucy forgot to inform her of my plan to stand out for the front row scouts, but I would have left both of them in the dust if the scouts singled me out, so NBD.).

Anyway, here we are driving up to the American Airlines Center about 8:15 (show was scheduled to start at 9 am, so Lucy and I wanted to be early -- we weren't -- apparently everyone else thought the same thing -- people everywhere) and


Everyone looks WAY nicer than we do.  Tons of people in dresses and heels -- fabulous color everywhere.

I know immediately that the seats in Section 117, Row N, seats 3 and 4 are ours for the duration.

NOTE:  Lori got her ticket a few weeks later and wasn't sitting with us.

So, Lucy and I find our seats and settle in (as much as you can since we are having to stand up every 5 minutes letting ladies in and out of the row).  Every electronic sign in the place is telling us to "Tweet Live with the Hashtag #Lifeclass".  There is peppy music playing (Blurred Lines, Gaga, etc.) and you can tell everyone is super excited.  One of my neighbors is sitting behind me, one of Joanna's friends is on my row, and I saw another friend as we were leaving -- there were tons of people I knew in the joint of 15,000 people.

NOTE:  For this post, I'm just going to give you the report of how they made the show and my impressions, not really talking about the content (which was great, BTW -- be sure to watch it on OWN this Sunday for part 1).  I'll talk about content in future posts for sure, though.  Bishop Jakes was fabulous.

Here's the rundown:

9 am (time it was supposed to start):  Some gal comes out (don't think they told us her name) to acclimate us to what was going to happen and to put crowd noise/reaction on tape.  She told us to tweet, and to download a flashlight app.  She told us that Oprah wanted us to use the lights instead of clapping, but Oprah never asked us to hold up our lights -- only this gal did.  She also made us practice these all together:
  • polite applause
  • medium applause
  • boisterous applause
  • standing ovation
  • chuckle
  • medium laugh
  • hilarious laugh -- I got a few head turns from our section during this.  I'm a great audience member.  Actor friends always tell me that they hear me laugh and hoot when they're on stage.
She then said that if you end up commenting to keep your comments general, like don't say "my father" say "a family member" and she said that if you comment, you need to stay after to sign. 

NOTE:  No one who wasn't approved in advance spoke people, so this wasn't necessary.  Just gave me a little more false hope for a potential meeting with Oprah.  Drat.

The gal talked to us about keeping up the tweeting (#Lifeclass was trending even before Oprah came out, so it worked).

NOTE:  Of course, I was tweeting up a storm, thank God -- you'll know why I'm thanking God later.

9:30 am:  A comedian did a short set.

9:45 am:  An inspirational dude spoke to us -- got the crowd worked up.

10:00 am:  Oprah takes the stage with Bishop Jakes!  The crowd goes wild!  She was wearing a gorgeous green dress, V necked with 3/4 sleeves, great shoes (at least the lady behind me liked them -- she had binoculars, I didn't).  Super exciting.

The show is about fatherless/motherless sons and daughters and problems with family members/forgiveness.  I took lots of great notes and will definitely be using some of Bishop Jake's wisdom myself in speeches and blog posts.  But here is the closest I came to fame with Oprah...

As I mentioned, I am tweeting up a storm (feel free to check out my twitter feed at @paigemcdaniel -- you can see them all there from August 29) and I even see my picture go up on one of the screens behind Bishop Jakes (across from Oprah), and I nudge Lucy that I see one of my tweets, but it is too far away to read it, of course.  The feed of tweets is ever changing and up until this point Oprah had not read any of them out loud.

BUT THEN IT HAPPENED -- Oprah read my tweet out loud!

NOTE:  I can't wait to see the show this Sunday night because what if someone else wrote the same thing and really she was reading theirs?  But I just know it was mine, at least for now.  And I need this -- it's been a hard week already.

My life is complete. 

At least until next time Oprah is in town.  My search for fancier friends is on.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I have a dream too.


It is the 50th anniversary of the great I Have a Dream Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Today Show is asking people to put their dreams out there for all to see, so you know if Matt and Al want me to do something, I'm going to do it -- so here it is:

I have a dream that kids are safe.

In order for my dream to come true, we need to make some changes in this country.  Here's a short list:
  • Every kid needs to be taught this by their parents:  You're no better than anyone else, but there's no one better than you.  If kids (and adults) really believed this, bullying would stop.
  • We must stop the abuse of drugs and alcohol.  Parents who are high are terrible parents.
  • Responsible adults need to be mentors.  Kids need good role models in their lives so they will raise their own responsible adults, and so on and so on and so on.
  • Listen to your inner voice and teach your children to do the same.  If something seems weird or feels wrong -- investigate, watch more carefully, step up and help.  If you suspect child abuse in Texas, report it by calling 1-800-252-5400.
My dream is huge, I know.  Dr. King's was huge too. 

It's not going to happen overnight. 

But we can start now.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reagan-Thatcher v McDaniel-Clarke

My new favorite phrase came to me a couple of months ago through my friend Janis.  We were at lunch and I was telling her about some exchange at work with a staff member (truly, I don't even remember what it was about anymore) and she said "OH -- you need this phrase -- as Margaret Thatcher said to Ronald Reagan, 'Ronnie, this is a notification, NOT a negotiation.'"

OMG -- I have gotten so much mileage out of this phrase.  I LOVE it -- perfect when dealing with kids, family, husbands, staff members, friends, anyone -- I use it a lot.

Anyway, since I was going to write about it today, I decided to look it up on Google and while I still love the phrase, the original phrase and it's meaning weren't exactly what I thought...

I listened to an interview that James A. Baker gave when Thatcher died earlier this year and he was speaking about the great relationship that Prime Minister Thatcher and President Reagan had enjoyed.  Baker spoke about how their relationship was "seamless" and that they never disagreed on anything.  Reagan even asked Thatcher to speak for him on behalf of both countries.  Baker also said that their close relationship "changed the arc of history".

Well, anyway, back to the phrase.  Baker said that the only time he could even think of that Thatcher and Reagan disagreed was when Reagan decided to invade Grenada (it was a former part of the UK).  Reagan called Thatcher the night before to tell her the US was going in and Thatcher replied, "<So,> Ronnie, this is a notification, not a consultation." -- so the words were slightly different, and the meaning different (at least to me).

Originally, I assumed that Thatcher was telling Ronnie the way it was, but instead she was shocked that they weren't consulting (or as in my preferred un-quote -- negotiating).  Funny how words can be changed to fit the meaning you prefer -- and I do prefer my original and will keep it that way :)

So, I tell you all this to put my new favorite phrase out there for you to use -- you won't believe how much it comes in handy, people -- use it in a conversation today!

And in honor of the deep and good friendship of Ronnie and Mags, I want to thank my friend and co-worker Joanna Clarke. 

Like Reagan-Thatcher, McDaniel-Clarke have a seamless and amazing friendship and working relationship.  We may disagree a little more than they did, but I rely on Joanna to give me advice, counsel, and consultation often.  And while I may sometimes decide that I am giving her a notification (And she has certainly notified me a few times too -- ha!), we have changed the arc for Community Partners of Dallas together.  In October, we will have worked together for 7 years and I am planning on many, many more.

Love you, JC!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quick Tips for Working with Volunteers and Staff Members

Back to my Secrets of Non-Profit Management Series today!

Not many non-profit executives are going to say this, but I'm gonna...

We trust our staff members more than we trust you to finish the job.

Yes, you heard me -- sometimes volunteers just don't measure up.

Now of course, there are exceptions to this Secret -- I have worked with great volunteers (especially board chairs and executive committee members) and have also hired a few crappy staff members -- but mostly, the staff members win every time.

I know what you're thinking -- Well, duh, Paige -- your staff members are getting PAID to organize the warehouse, complete the spreadsheet, call the event donors, and well, we volunteers are not.

True dat.  We do pay our staff members (Not as much as they need or deserve, of course -- we're a non-profit, after all, so remember the economic scale, people...) and volunteers are just that -- volunteering for no pay.

But, the reason I'm telling you this today is two fold:
  1. If you agree to take on a volunteer position -- DO IT -- or tell the agency as quickly as possible that you are not going to be able to fulfill the need.  So many people agree to take on a big volunteer task, but then don't follow through.  They don't return calls from the staff, don't send in their list, don't show up for the meetings, and worse. 
  2. If your life has changed and you can no longer keep your commitment -- tell us asap so we can move on.  We will think much more highly of you if you're honest and resign than if you just won't call us back.
It may sound like I'm bashing volunteers today, but I love volunteers.  We couldn't do what we do without you and many of you are amazingly helpful.  We need volunteers desperately, so keep helping your favorite charities!

And if you are a staff member of a non-profit, I'm not letting you off the hook either.

As a staff member working with volunteers, you need to just know that you are going to pick up any and all slack they leave for you.  And as my mother would say -- be sweet about it.  Don't bitch and moan and certainly don't ever speak negatively about that volunteer who isn't getting the job done.  You knew this job was dangerous when you took it. 

And you are responsible for the outcome.  But let the volunteer take all the credit.  Your boss knows who finished the job.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I hate birthdays.

Mine was yesterday -- 52 years young.

NOTE:  Just writing that makes me want to vomit -- the young part, not the age part.  I come from a long line of women who tell their age.  I have always been proud of my mom (and my grandmother before her) for that.

Why do we celebrate birthdays?

Why do we want to get older?  It just means more wrinkles and more body break-down.

NOTE:  My left knee was so sore yesterday that I had to pull out the Voltaren Gel last night and rub it on.  My left wrist is hurting today.  And I have something in my right eye.  Life is hell.

The other thing about celebrating birthdays is you end up with sweet wonderful friends and family who bring cakes, cupcakes, flowers, and more and they make you wear a hat and take your picture.

NOTE:  Stephanie is a fantastic cook, so if you're going to celebrate, be sure she is invited to the party...

A birthday is just another day for me.  Just another Tuesday in August.  Hot as hell.  The circus is in town.  I know this because the circus is always in Dallas on my birthday.

I had lots of birthday parties at the circus.  I also had swimming pool parties, costume parties, slumber parties, and more.

NOTE:  I even had a toga slumber party in 6th grade -- all the girls came as goddesses.  This was long before Animal House made toga parties de rigueur.  True!  Ask Susan Cleaver Hardaway about it!

Kids do need parties and need to celebrate.  I was lucky enough to have a great mom who made sure that my childhood birthdays were fabulous.

I also know that there are kids in Dallas who have never had a birthday party.  Never had a cake or a hat.  Never had a celebration.

That's why Community Partners of Dallas provides gift cards to CPS caseworkers to take kids out to McDonald's or Dave & Busters or the Dallas Zoo or just to Sally Beauty Supply.  To celebrate a little.

Maybe it's because I've had so many wonderful birthdays that I don't care about them anymore.

But I certainly care whether a kid gets one.  I bet you do too.  Please visit to celebrate.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 11

Sorry that I missed last week's post, gang.  I had every intention of writing one last week while on vacation, but the best laid plans...

Anyway, here we go with a new Four Favs.  If you have missed any of my other Favorites, click here for the most recent:

My friends will not be surprised that I have one thing on my mind today:  BIRTHDAY TIME, SUCKERS!  Yes, it is that time of year again -- my birthday is rapidly approaching -- so I thought for this Four Favs post I'd give you some of my go-to gifts to give to girlfriends.

NOTE:  Of course, I realize that the timing of this post is rather self-serving, but I write this blog for free, people.  And as my friend Priscilla used to say "If you can't take advantage of your friends, who can you take advantage of?"

NOTE:  Not sure that the Priscilla quote fits the occasion, but I love it.  Priscilla was and is a trip.

So, without further adieu...
  1. I love giving a magazine subscription to one of my favorite reads.  Pictured are an array of just of few of them.  It is an inexpensive gift and so fun to share a read that your friend might not have tried.  My friend Lisa gave me Garden & Gun last year and I love it.  Bonus:  Only 6 issues a year, so no coffee table build up!  Of course, O is my go-to for this.
  2. Everyone in Dallas loves an orchid -- and if they don't they just haven't been exposed enough.  I turned Joanna finally and now she can't get enough (Verified Proof:  Orchids on the Chick Lit Luncheon table for the past 2 years, but yes, our fab donor Central Market had something to do with that too!).  This arrangement was just 3 small $12 orchids from Tom Thumb (Shout out to Frank in Floral at HPV!) in a great Wisteria blue and white "Small Happiness Pot".  Only water them every 2 weeks and they'll last for months.
  3. If you forgot a gift until the last minute, head to Paper Affair on Lovers Lane.  Your friend will think you thought of her weeks ago -- but only you and I will know that you whipped in and picked out a $13 or $15 box of note cards and had them personalized (for free) lickety-split by their wonderful staff.  Tell them CPD sent you!
  4. Who doesn't love the gift of music?  And since barely anyone buys a CD anymore, it is an unusual gift.  Hey, I love a quick download as much as the next person (Who doesn't love having Blurred Lines on their I-Phone this summer?), but I really enjoy listening to the whole vision of the artist.  Also, a CD of a musical or a concert you saw together is a fun way to memorialize the past.
What are your Four Favs? 

P.S.  I'm having trouble posting pictures on the blog today -- I have one for each of my favs, but for some reason can only get this one to upload and I can't get it to turn.  Ugh.  Just when I think I have all of the technology down, I'm reminded of why this stuff is such a pain.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Does anyone remember Trixie Beldon Books?

It's Wednesday, so it's blog day.  Is that really a good enough reason for me to write?


I really do try not to miss writing this thing and it is not because so many of you are clamoring for my posts -- if only, as I've said before, I'm not a Kardashian -- it is because I enjoy it.

I never thought I'd be a writer of anything.  I am a reader.  Even as a child, I loved reading.  I vividly remember one year for my birthday asking for and receiving all of the Trixie Beldon books from Hall's Variety Store in Highland Park Village.

NOTE:  Yes, new Dallacites, there used to be a dime store in the Village, along with a bunch of other normal stores.  It is only recent history that enables you to purchase a $20,000+ handbag there.

Trixie Beldon was a poor man's Nancy Drew.  Trixie and her friends and siblings loved to solve mysteries and there were 39 volumes of her adventures.  Reading was such an escape for me and I still love it.

NOTE:  You will not be surprised to know that I am the co-president (along with my friend Jill) of the Junior League of Dallas Sustainer book club called "Between the Covers".  Aren't we naughty?

I really have no idea where I would be today if I didn't read.  Reading helped me escape, helped me learn, helped me perform.  It still does.

That is why I really love our Back-to-School Drive at Community Partners of Dallas.  By learning to read, a child can escape, learn, and perform.  He can see that there is another way of life.  Another way to be an adult, a father, a daughter, or just a person in this world.

Seven-year-old Victoria was a happy and beautiful little girl -- up until her mother died and she went to live with her father and his new wife.  Victoria's father was a gambler and he was gone from the home for weeks at a time leaving Victoria at the mercy of her step-mother.  The step-mother never wanted Victoria and often beat her, starved her, and locked her in her room while the step-mother went out to party.

CPS investigated when a neighbor called the police about the child being left alone and Victoria was placed first into foster care, and then into the home of a maternal relative.

Victoria is excited about school this year for the first time.  Her caseworker has already turned in the request for her backpack filled with supplies and her uniform sizes.

I hope she's a reader, don't you?

If you want to learn more our Back-to-School Drive at CPD, please visit  We'd love to have your help!  Also, please shop at The Container Store, if you don't already do so (you can purchase and/or drop off school supplies there too).  They are our long-time partner for this drive and are such an amazing store with amazing things to buy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family Sucks

Or I guess I should say that dealing with family sometimes sucks, doesn't it?

My brother and I still argue over who Mom loves more (it used to be him, but now I am the favorite -- at least today...). 

I might have my mouth all set for Sunday lunch at Joe T Garcias, but no -- some family member has to be back to run errands and so we have to eat at Burger House.  Ugh.

First world problems, huh?

I also think back to when I was in middle school and my younger brother drove me absolutely crazy.  He thought it was hilarious to bug me and my friends at a slumber party, or to stand around looking stupid when a date came to pick me up in high school.

And don't even get me started on having to take him with me when my friends and I wanted to go to the Village or to a movie at NorthPark.  SOOOOO gross.

Yes, family can drive us bonkers -- but this week I was reminded of the alternative here at Community Partners of Dallas.

On Monday we had a CPS caseworker ask us for some help to provide a fun outing for some kids.  Eight kids.  Six brothers and 2 sisters.  One family.

These kids have been removed from an unsafe home and placed into foster care -- in four different foster homes.

So for just a bit of money we were able to give this family what they craved -- one another.  After being separated from one another for an extended period of time, they were all brought together by their caseworker for an afternoon of fun at Dave & Busters.  My mouth is smiling and my eyes are watering at the thought of them running to one another with shouts of joy.

I love my family.

P.S.  And God bless that caseworker, too. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

I'll admit it.  I watch The Voice.  Every single episode.  All seasons.

NOTE:  Team Blake, baby!

There were lots of contestants that I liked, but Danielle Bradbery was my favorite from the beginning.  One of the songs she sang near the beginning was called Mean.  I didn't know the song, but loved her voice and wanted to vote for her, so I downloaded it.

NOTE:  I now have NINETEEN (19 -- nineteen!) songs from this season of The Voice on my I-Phone.  Danielle is my most purchased singer, but I have plenty from the others too.  Nineteen.  Yikes.

Anyway, the first time I really listened to Mean and heard the words, I couldn't help but think about abused children and wanted to know more.

Turns out that Mean is a Taylor Swift song and here are the words:

You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me
You have knocked me off my feet again
Got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard
Calling me out when I'm wounded
You picking on the weaker man

You can take me down with just one single blow
But you don't know, what you don't know...

Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your switching sides
And your wildfire lies and your humiliation
You have pointed out my flaws again
As if I don't already see them
I walk with my head down
Trying to block you out 'cause I'll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again

I bet you got pushed around
Somebody made you cold
But the cycle ends right now
'Cause you can't lead me down that road
And you don't know, what you don't know...

Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

And I can see you years from now in a bar
Talking over a football game
With that same big loud opinion
But nobody's listening
Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing
But all you are is mean

All you are is mean
And a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life
And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

But someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean, yeah
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

Taylor says she wrote the song about her critics, but the words are SO applicable to the children we serve at Community Partners of Dallas.
It makes me cry to think about children who "just wanna feel okay again" and dream about one day being "big enough so you can't hit me" -- and believe me there are so many children in Dallas feeling this way right now.  Every 103 minutes another child is confirmed as abused and neglected in Dallas County.
How can people be so mean?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 10

Last month's Four Favs post (visit it here if you missed it was so popular that I even got a present from a reader:

Copper Moscow Mule Cups!  Thank you, Sandy -- as you can see, I put them right to good use!

I've been super busy lately and the office is blowing and going with Community Partners of Dallas' Back to School Drive, staff vacations, staff changes, etc.  So, I almost forgot about the blog today.  Luckily, I saw a package of my 2nd fav on my desk and away we go!
  1. Lexus RX350 -- I am currently driving my fourth one of these (I've had black, brandywine, red, white, in that order) and I can tell you that I don't think I'll ever buy a different car or model.  This is the small SUV and it is perfect for me.  Love everything about it.  Call Jeff Hazelwood at Sewell for sales and Sara Cockburn for service -- they are the best!  Tell them I sent you, of course.
  2. Sour Patch Watermelon -- Joanna got me on these tiny bites of deliciousness and oh, how I wish she hadn't ever done so.  They are so good and just a perfect bite of sour and sweet.  If you like the way your pants fit now, don't try them. 
  3. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris -- Or really anything by David is worth a read and a laugh.  I wish that I could make him my best friend and have dinner with him once a week.  Haven't yet read Exploring Diabetes with Owls, but I own it.
  4. Karen Adams Calendar -- This is one of my favorite things to purchase each year at Paper Affair.  Each calendar page is beautifully designed and it has a little sparkle for the glamour girl in all of us.  My 2014 refill is already sitting in the drawer ready to be put into action! 

What are your Four Favs?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Yes, I did.  It was in the lobby of Community Partners of Dallas.  Why did I do this, you might ask?  Let's go back to the beginning...

NOTE:  The beginning was about 30 minutes ago, so we're not talking the olden days or anything.  "Ain't nobody got time for that" -- as Sweet Brown would say.

I had made my morning coffee -- using my blessed Keurig -- and was just walking back to my office to start the day, when I heard my office phone ringing from the hall.  It was my friend Jill (she was stuck in traffic).  She wanted to know how Traces was at the Winspear last night since she and her crew are going tonight.

NOTE:  Go and see Traces -- it is part of the AT&T Broadway series at the Winspear and just opened last night.  It is a grittier Cirque du Soleil type performance and it was great.  Bonus:  90 Minutes.  No Intermission.  This always get a Woo Hoo from my crowd!

Anyway, as we're talking Jill tells me that she got a message from one of her friends (who also works with us at CPD) and that she had woken up with pink eye this morning.  I tell Jill that she hasn't called in, but then I look and the red message light is on, so I know that is probably what my message is about.

Jill and I finish the conversation and I listen to the message and yes, Ann woke up with pink eye and is on her way to the doctor, then will come in, but she won't touch anything.

I then send an email to the staff letting them know Ann's status and end the email with "Wipe down your stuff."

Since I don't tell the staff to do anything that I wouldn't do myself (this is mostly true -- hey, I put in my time, people -- I've even plunged toilets), I got out my package of Clorox Wipes (keep my own under my desk at all times) and started wiping down places where I know Ann might have touched yesterday.

This gets me to the lobby with the wipes and Lauren and I are both going over stuff.  I am rubbing the door knobs, the door locks, the alarm pad, etc., and while I'm at the alarm pad, I see the fire alarm thing.  You know -- this:

Now I know that Ann had not touched the fire alarm, but it looked dusty, so I just quickly decided to give it a quick wipe down and that was all she wrote.


Luckily, we are blessed to be part of The Meadows Foundation's Wilson Block, so lickety split a super cute Dallas police officer was here and stayed with us until the Meadows maintenance staff got here to shut the thing down.  The alarm probably only screamed for 10 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.

And to add insult to injury, we had a group of volunteers arrive (early) while the thing was blaring, so while Vanessa ran to keep them outside (in the 90+ degree heat), I had to go out and explain to them that I was the idiot who set it off and that they didn't need to be scared.

NOTE:  You may be surprised to know that volunteers don't exactly relish the idea of entering a building with a huge-ass fire alarm blaring and a police car outside.

So, what did I learn from this?
  • Be careful -- I didn't think about how quickly I could set the alarm off. 
  • Be grateful -- for the fabulous Meadows staff and security and for my great staff who jumped into action to keep normalcy with one another and the volunteers.
And Ann needs to stay away from people with pink eye.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Are Your Employees the Best? Mine Are.

Back to my Secrets of Non-Profit Management Series today -- and this is a big one. 

The most important thing to running a great non-profit organization is hiring the right staff members.

You've had this experience -- I know that you have:
  • Made a donation and received no boo, no hoo, no f -- I mean bupkis?
  • Arrived at a volunteer day excited to help and saw the staff members sitting together and gossipping?
  • Walked into an office and the receptionist doesn't even look up, much less smile at you?
  • Made an effort to attend an auxiliary meeting and not a single person greets you or welcomes you?
  • Called an agency and you can just tell that the person on the other line is mad, bored, or just doesn't care?
I know you've had this experience because I have.  And because I have we try to make sure that this is NOT your experience at Community Partners of Dallas.  And how we do that is my next Secret.

Non-Profit Management Secret # 6 is...

Hire The Personality, Not The Experience.

To me, the type of person is way more important than what they have done in the past.  I look for the Hs & Fs in my hires:
  • Happy
  • Honest
  • Hardworking
  • Friendly
  • Funny
  • Fabulous
Yes, it is great if you can get the Hs & Fs in someone with experience in their position (CPD's Development VP and Volunteer VP are both great examples of this), but don't worry if you hire someone right out of college with little experience. 

If they have the Hs & Fs, you can teach them how to do the job -- the way you want it done -- and they will be great assets to your agency.

Do you agree? 

If not, I'd love to hear from you. 

If so, I hope you'll share the post! 

I'm reminded of a post that Seth Godin (my guru of blogging) wrote.  Here are his words:

Most of all, great stories agree with our world view. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.

I'm right.

And yes, I'm the sole judge of that.