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Photo by Rhi Lee

Dust off the ballgowns and stilettos. Galas, parties, and power lunches are back for a real spring social season in Fort Worth.

After COVID canceled most 2020 and 2021 in-person events, local nonprofits, community groups, and arts organizations are staging their glamorous fundraisers once again. Beyond being swanky soirees, these events raise crucial funds for causes that need them now more than ever. Most local charities are still recouping losses from the past two years. If you can't attend in person, you can still donate in other ways — from chipping in a few bucks directly to asking your rich great aunt to sponsor a table; click the links provided to find out more.

Also, as COVID health and safety protocols continue to change, each event says it will follow best practices at the time. But why not tuck a sparkly sequin mask inside your evening bag just in case?

Here are the 12 spring dates every social butterfly in Fort Worth should circle now.

Junior League Grand Entry Gala, January 8
Gala season comes back blazing with Junior League of Fort Worth's annual Grand Entry Gala. The cowgirl-chic evening features dinner, dancing, cocktails, silent auction, and a concert by country star Sara Evans. The 2022 gala returns to "the dirt floor" of Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum and serves as a glam kickoff to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, which officially starts on January 14. Grand Entry Gala supports the organization's mission to promote volunteerism, develop the potential in women, and improve the lives of women and children in Fort Worth. This year's event co-chairs are Nicole Shelton and Anne Wright, and Debbie and Albon Headback are being recognized as honorary chairs. For more information, head here.

Go Red for Women Luncheon, February 10
Talk about an event with heart. This annual girl-power mega-lunch benefits American Heart Association's efforts to research and eradicate cardiovascular disease in women. It will take place at The Omni Fort Worth Hotel, with Barbara Peace, director of nursing quality and magnet at Cook Children’s Health Care System, as chair. There's a lot to love about this luncheon because they typically offer onsite health screenings, as well as Champagne, a multicourse lunch, speakers, and onstage performances. After the luncheon, be sure to save the date for Heart Ball, which is April 23 at the Ashton Depot, with more details to be announced soon. For more information and tickets to Go Red, visit the website.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra: A Gala Evening with Sarah Chang, February 26
This "choose your own adventure" uber-gala has several parts, and you can attend one or all. First, the FWSO will present its annual gala concert at Bass Hall. The orchestra welcomes guest conductor Patrick Summers (Houston Grand Opera artistic and music director) and featured violinist Sarah Chang (making her FWSO debut) for a performance of Dvorák's beloved Violin Concerto; the program also includes Brahms' Hungarian Dances and Ravel's Boléro. The performance will be followed by cocktails and a black-tie dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, with live music played by a string and piano ensemble. Mercedes T. Bass is the gala chair, with Ashli Blumenfeld, Anne Marie Bratton, Mary Hart Lipscomb, Kim Johnson, and Frasher H. Pergande serving as co-chairs. Concert tickets are available here; for information about the dinner, email jneumann@fwsymphony.org.

St. Jude Celebration At Sundown, February 26
Taking place at the sparkling new Hotel Drover, this annual affair will benefit the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The evening will include silent and live auctions, dancing, drinks, dinner, and live entertainment. It promises to be a powerful evening, with a special emphasis on the challenges that child cancer patients face. Families who go to St. Jude, founded by Danny Thomas and located in Memphis, Tennessee, never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing, or food. Tickets and information are here.

Design Inspirations, March 2-3
If pretty homes inspire you, this is the event to attend — two events, actually. The beloved Preview Party and Luncheon, held at Ridglea Country Club, are thrown by the Fort Worth Alumnae Associations of Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi and benefit Gill Children’s Services and Rivertree Academy. More than 60 tables are elaborately decorated by local interior designers, florists, and creative individuals. There are two chances to see them — at the Preview Party (with cocktails, food, and entertainment) the evening of March 2, and at the Luncheon on March 3. Interior design expert, author, and entrepreneur Melanie Turner will give the keynote speech. Tickets are sold separately for each event; check the website for information and Preview Party tickets, and email Lummis.wright@gmail.com for Luncheon tickets.

Jewel Charity Ball, March 5
Fort Worth's grandest gala of all is back to dance, after sitting out for the first time in 67 years last year. The 67th Jewel Charity Ball, themed “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” will be held at Will Rogers Memorial Center, Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall. Jewel Charity president Michelle Marlow and ball co-chairs Olivia Kearney, Julie Sawyer, and Paige Pate are planning an evening that features entertainment by Motown legends The Temptations and The Four Tops. The night will include a seated dinner by Wolfgang Puck, dancing, a silent auction, and raffle. JCB's official jeweler, Tiffany & Co., will add some sparkle with an onsite store featuring cases of exclusive pieces. Since 1954, Jewel Charity has helped raise more than $75 million for Cook Children's Hospital, and the ball celebrates the Angel donors who generously support the patients. For information and tickets, visit jewelcharity.org or call 817-810-9849.

Classically Cliburn Gala, April 8
This year, the glamorous black-tie ball lets the good times roll to New Orleans. "Classically Cliburn Gala 2022: NOLA" will feature elegant Garden District decor, a Carousel Bar, and Big Swing band. The gala also takes place in an exciting new location: Simmons Bank Pavilion at Dickies Arena. Event co-chairs are Jennifer and Philip Williamson, and honorary chair is Gail Rawl. Throughout the night, gala-goers will drink, eat, dance, and enjoy the chance to mingle with Fort Worth's most influential patrons of arts and culture — all while remembering namesake Van Cliburn. His name will come up a lot this year, with both the 16th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition set to take place in coming months, making Fort Worth the official piano capital of the world in 2022. For gala information and tickets, visit the website, email khowell@cliburn.org, or call 817-738-6536.

Casa Mañana Gala, April 8
With a theme of "Peace, Love, & Casa Mañana," Fort Worth's famous silver-domed theater promises a far-out party, complete with flower power, neon outfits, and chill vibes. The evening — co-chaired by Madolin Rosenthal and Kendall Kostohryz — includes cocktails, dinner, silent and live auctions, and entertainment from Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar. It all takes place in the Claudia Stepp Grand Lobby of Casa Mañana. Proceeds benefit the theater’s arts education and outreach initiatives. For information and tickets, visit the website.

Puttin' on the Pink Luncheon, April 13
This fashion-forward luncheon brings all the best-dressed women (and some brave men, too) to the Fort Worth Convention Center ballroom. It's hosted by the Kupferle Health Board of Texas Health Resources Foundation and supports mobile health outreach and screenings for underserved women in Tarrant County. Event chair Ashley Peeders — and her mile-long host committee of influential Fort Worth women — is planning a sit-down lunch and a Jan Strimple-produced fashion show of the latest looks provided by Neiman Marcus. Arrive early for a Champagne reception. For information and tickets, visit the website.

Butterfly Wishes Gala, April 22
A Wish with Wings has been bringing joyful experiences to children with life-threatening medical conditions since 1983. This year's Butterfly Wishes Gala, themed "Where the Wish Begins" (get it, Fort Worth?), will honor one of its wish families, the Barnard family, with the Rosie Moncrief Wings of Hope Award. Loretta and Don S. Marable are chairing the 40th anniversary celebratory event. The gala, taking place at the Simmons Bank Plaza at Dickies Arena, will feature dinner and dancing the night away to the Emerald City Band. For more information and tickets, visit the website.

Fort Worth Opera 75th Anniversary Celebration, April 22
Fort Worth Opera will host a glittering night of music and celebration in conjunction with the highly anticipated opening of an all-new version of Verdi's La Traviata. Post-performance at Bass Hall, patrons will get to toast FWO's 75-year history in an event that includes food, cocktails, and dancing the night away to the Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra. For more information and tickets, visit the website.

TEX Gala, June 20
This rare Monday night gala benefits the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, which improves the lives of children, the military, and first responders' families in the community. Attendees will experience a red-carpet arrival, dinner on the playing surface of Globe Life Field, live and silent auctions featuring exclusive Rangers experiences and sports and Hollywood memorabilia, and a live performance from country superstar Darius Rucker. It's just the second year for this gala, but it's already become a big-deal event; last year's inaugural edition (headlined by Tim McGraw) raised a whopping $1.625 million for the foundation. For information and tickets, visit the website.

Jewel Charity president Michelle Marlow with Scott Marlow at the 2020 ball.

Photo by Rhi Lee
Jewel Charity president Michelle Marlow with Scott Marlow at the 2020 ball.
Photo by Ashley Gongora

Miranda Lambert joins cowgirl queens in Fort Worth's National Cowgirl Hall of Fame

grit, guts & grace

In her new, chart-climbing song "If I Was a Cowboy," Miranda Lambert declares, "If I was a cowboy, I would be queen." It's the cowgirls who are queen in Fort Worth, and Lambert just joined their royal court.

The country music superstar was one of five trailblazers inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame at the 45th Induction Luncheon and Ceremony on October 26 at Dickies Arena. The event (pandemic-postponed from last spring) drew 1,300 guests donning their Western best to celebrate women with "grit, guts, and grace," as mistress of ceremonies Deborah Ferguson put it.

Kicking off the cowgirl-power lunch, Fort Worth mayor Mattie Parker welcomed the crowd with "Howdy, y'all," carrying on the traditional greeting of her predecessor, Betsy Price, who was there, too. (Fun fact Parker revealed: She is one day older than Lambert, whose birthday is November 10, 1983. Parker is the youngest mayor of a big U.S. city, and Lambert will be going for the biggest prize in country music, CMA Entertainer of the Year, on her 38th birthday in a few weeks.)

While patrons and VIPs — including museum executive director Patricia Riley; luncheon sponsor Mary Lester; Stacie McDavid, Elaine Agather, Dashelle Murrin, Laura Wilson, and Mike Cavender — dined on a beef tenderloin lunch, award recipients and inductees were honored on stage, accepting awards and medals from sparkly rodeo queens.

The incoming Hall of Fame members represented a wide range of cowgirls — from a world champion breakaway roper to a renowned artist, cowboy hat designer, and an Olympic medalist:

  • Pop Chalee (awarded posthumously): An artist known as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century Native American Arts movement.
  • Lari Dee Guy: A champion roper who has won more championship roping titles in breakaway, team roping, and all-around than any other female roper in the world, and instrumental in the rise in popularity of breakaway roping in professional rodeo.
  • Kathryn Kusner: An American equestrian and Olympic medalist in show jumping, she was one of the first women to ride for the U.S. Equestrian Team and the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in equestrian competition.
  • Lavonna “Shorty” Koger: An Oklahoma native and former rodeo contestant with more than 30 years of experience in restoration, fitting, sewing, and design of cowboy hats, she is now one of today's leading industry hatters.
  • Miranda Lambert: The three-time Grammy winner and most decorated artist in Academy of Country Music Awards history is also an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Her successful enterprises include the Idyllwind clothing and boot line (and forthcoming fragrance), Red 55 Winery, The Pink Pistol boutique, and the new Nashville restaurant-bar Casa Rosa. She and her mother also created MuttNation Foundation to benefit rescue animals and shelters nationwide.

While Lambert is no stranger to accepting awards, she admitted she was nervous giving her remarks on stage in Fort Worth, saying, "If I had a guitar, I'd be just fine."

She was a little "terrified," she said, because she didn't consider herself a cowgirl. "I got my first horse at 29 and [I'm] still trying to get my ass right in the saddle," she said to chuckles in the crowd. "Working on it and I'll bet I have a bunch of people in here that could teach me."

Lambert echoed the sentiment of other honorees about the true definition of a "cowgirl."

"I started reading what it all means to be a cowgirl, and I just realized that it's a mentality, it's work ethic and character and drive and heart, and it's women who lift up other women; it's having respect for each other and for animals, and it's using any platform that you're blessed to have for good," she said. "And it means fighting for what's right even if it means it's a way harder way to do things."

She called it "absolutely one of the highest honors of my life" to join the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Other award winners: Christina Voros, a cinematographer who has worked on hit series such as Yellowstone and its prequel 1883, filming around Fort Worth, also received the Patsy Montana Award. And Lucca K458, a Marine Corps military working dog, received the Sergeant Reckless Award posthumously (accepted by Marine Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham).

Lambert and all of the honorees had the support of an adoring crowd, including Rachel Kennedy, Lisa Clark, Haley Shurden, Brenda Van Newkark, Julie Christian, Barbara Heyer, Jennifer Tucker, Amber Carroll, McKenzie Merrill, Sue Schmitz, Kami Sisson, Jan Johnston, Joy Deary, Nicole Deary, Carolyn Simancik, Dallee Robison, Vievie Blanchard, Shonna Andersen, Toni Wood, Karen Herbst, Debbie Wood, Linda Smith, and Jordan Tierney.

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame's mission is to "honor and celebrate women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire."

The museum's fundraising efforts got a big boost via a quick live auction conducted by Cowgirl Hall of Famer Pam Minick: A chance to be an extra in Yellowstone or 1883 fetched a saddle-blazing $150,000.

Miranda Lambert, right, with rodeo queens onstage at the 45th Cowgirl Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon at Dickies Arena.

Photo by Ashley Gongora
Miranda Lambert, right, with rodeo queens onstage at the 45th Cowgirl Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon at Dickies Arena.
Photo by David Beans

6 Fort Worth fundraisers with pandemic-safe party plans this spring

Pandemic pivots

Although there's light at the end of the tunnel as more Fort Worth-area residents get vaccinated against COVID-19, large fundraising gatherings are still not a great idea.

Normally at this time of year, social butterflies are packing their calendars and opening their pocketbooks at their favorite charity galas and luncheons. But ever since the coronavirus began forcing big gatherings to cancel in March 2020, gala auctions have gone virtual, pre-recorded luncheons and fashion shows have streamed, and a few popular parties have turned into TV events with celebrity hosts.

One thing hasn't changed: The organizations' need to raise funds to provide critical services to the community. In fact, their need is greater than ever now.

Here are some of the newest Fort Worth nonprofit fundraisers to unveil pandemic-safer plans. (Previously announced events around Dallas-Fort Worth can be found here, here, here, and here.)

Tarrant Area Food Bank's Empty Bowls, March 25-26
The beloved Fort Worth food bank fundraiser — at which attendees usually enjoy samples from local restaurants and take home a bowl to keep — has morphed into an online fundraiser where donors can sponsor boxes of food for families. An Empty Bowls Mega Mobile Market will take place 10 am-2 pm March 25 at Dickies Arena to provide food to Tarrant residents who need assistance. (Literally, as they point out, using Empty Bowls donations to fill empty bowls — by feeding those who are food insecure.) With each virtual box donated, guests will receive their own “studio bowl” handcrafted by local artists. They are to be picked up at a contactless thrive-thru event March 26, also at Dickies Arena. For more information, visit the website.

Spring Gallery Week Preview Party at Artspace111, March 26
Popular Fort Worth gallery Artspace111 hosts a kickoff party for Spring Gallery Week, coming up March 27-April 2. The preview party, taking place March 26, will toast the gallery's new exhibition by Carly Allen-Martin and Jim Woodson, A Space Between Time. The ticketed event ($500-$1,000 for a table for 4) will feature socially distanced private tables with special appearances from artists, live music, food, limited edition prints, gifts, discounts on art, and refreshments. A virtual VIP experience ($100) will allow collectors access to an exclusive virtual preview of the new artwork available, as well as discounts on purchases. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Tarrant Area Food Bank. For more information and tickets, visit the Artspace111 website.

The Women’s Center of Tarrant County Victory Over Violence campaign, April 6
In lieu of its annual Victory Over Violence Walk/Run fundraiser, The Women's Center of Tarrant County is launching a “Victory over Violence-Hope Starts Here” campaign by selling $25 T-shirts to “Turn Tarrant Teal.” (Teal is the color used to represent Sexual Assault Awareness Month.) On April 6 — Sexual Assault Community Action Day — the group will address the Tarrant County Commissioners Court. There also will be events with universities and colleges all month long. The organization encourages the community to wear their teal T-shirts on April 6 and throughout the month to raise awareness about issues of sexual violence. For more information and T-shirts, visit the website.

33rd Annual Jim Bradshaw Memorial Stars in Recovery, April 15
The Annual Jim Bradshaw Memorial Stars in Recovery event will feature a conversation with singer/songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard. The afternoon event, chaired by Shauna Jenkins, will be offered both live and virtually from Artspace111 in Fort Worth. Proceeds will benefit the Recovery Resource Council, which assists individuals and families struggling with alcohol, substance misuse, and trauma. Virtual tickets are $100, and in-person tickets are $200. For more information and tickets, visit the website.

American Heart Association Go Red for Women Experience, April 23
The AHA's beloved Go Red for Women Luncheon, which traditionally takes place each February in Fort Worth, is morphing into a multimedia experience this year instead. Patrons can click to help raise money and awareness of women's cardiovascular health at the Go Red for Women Experience – Tarrant County, an all-digital event from 12-1 pm. During the virtual "luncheon" (Don't forget to wear red!) viewers will learn healthy living strategies to reduce their personal risk for cardiovascular disease, hear inspiring stories of community impact, bid on auction items, and help support the mission of AHA. Featured speaker is Kathryn Childers, one of the first five U.S. Secret Service Special Agents charged with protecting the Kennedy children while traveling with former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. For more details and tickets ($40), visit the website.

Ladder Alliance presents It's in the Bag, April 29
Ladder Alliance will present its eighth annual It's in the Bag — formerly a big luncheon packed into a country club — as a socially distanced, limited-capacity evening event. Emceed by Justin Frazell of 95.9 The Ranch, the event will include a seated dinner, open bar, live entertainment by Brad Thompson, remarks by Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price, and live and silent auctions. Capacity is being capped at 50 percent, and patrons are encouraged to buy tables to sit with their own guests; masks will be required and temperatures taken. The event starts at 6 pm at Stockyards Station. All proceeds support Ladder Alliance's mission to provide low-income women and victims of domestic violence with the tools to lead successful, and independent lives. For more information, to view the auction catalog, and buy tickets ($150), visit the website.

The beloved Go Red for Women luncheon goes digital this year.

Photo by David Beans
The beloved Go Red for Women luncheon goes digital this year.
Photo courtesy of AIDS Outreach Center

Fun and fundraising go virtual at these upcoming Dallas-Fort Worth galas

Coronavirus pivot

In any other year, Dallas-Fort Worth philanthropists and social butterflies would be picking outfits and preparing pocketbooks for the big fall fundraising season ahead.

But in this year of social distancing and canceled gatherings, many nonprofit galas and luncheons are pivoting creatively to virtual formats. They can still raise crucial funds to continue providing services without risking the health and safety of patrons.

Below are the latest Dallas-Fort Worth organizations to unveil plans for virtual fundraisers — and how to join in the fun without leaving your couch.

AIDS Outreach Center Evening of Hope, September 12
Evening of Hope, AIDS Outreach Center's largest fundraising event, has transitioned from a gala at Fort Worth’s Ridglea Country Club to a virtual event. Co-chairs are Scott W. Green and Karen McKenzie, with honorary co-chairs Dr. Cheryl McDonald and Dr. Kevin Connelly, and they've chosen the jazzy theme “Roaring '20s: Vision of Hope.” So don your flashiest flapper dress and most dapper pinstripe suit, and plan to show up online at 7 pm. The event helps fund programs and clients of AIDS Outreach Center. For more information and tickets, $25-$50, visit the website.

Austin Street Center Humble Beginnings Luncheon, September 25
The 20th anniversary of this annual luncheon will take place virtually beginning at 11:30 am. Tony and Grammy Award-Winning artist Leslie Odom, Jr., best known as Aaron Burr in the smash-hit Broadway musical Hamilton, will perform live and participate in a moderated conversation. The luncheon, co-chaired by Richie Butler and Chris Kleinert, celebrates and assists Austin Street Center’s work to provide safe shelter and basic needs to individuals experiencing homelessness in Dallas. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased on the website.

Black Tie Dinner, October 18
Always one of the buzziest DFW events of the season, and the nation’s largest LGBTQ fundraiser dinner of its kind, Black Tie Dinner is heading to TV this year. The first-ever live TV special called Black Tie LIVE will air on on WFAA-TV (Channel 8) from 4-5 pm October 18. The give-a-thon special will feature entertainment, segments on LGBTQ history, a live auction, car raffle with Park Place Mercedes-Benz, and fundraising opportunities for Black Tie Dinner’s 2020 beneficiaries. The organization is also launching a virtual peer-to-peer fundraising tool called “Black Tie Dinner Ambassador Program” to help generate proceeds for the 2020 beneficiaries. Jeremy Hawpe is the 2020 Black Tie Dinner chair; for more information, visit the website.

EarthXGlobalGala, October 22
The EarthxGlobalGala recognizes individuals, celebrity icons, expert leaders, organizations, and corporations who are dedicated to a more sustainable future. Highlights of this year’s virtual event include the presentation of the Swarovski signature awards (made of upcycled crystal) and a live auction. Also appearing will be The Compton Kidz Club and Grammy winner Skip Martin of Kool & the Gang, featuring Bastards of Soul. Animal Planet’s Dr. Evan Antin, dubbed “America’s Sexiest Vet,” will serve as the emcee for the evening. It all begins at 6:30 pm, and tickets are $25-$150 at the website.

Baylor Scott & White Dallas Foundation Celebrating Women Event, October 28
In lieu of an in-person luncheon this year, Baylor Scott & White Dallas Foundation will take its Celebrating Women event online. The virtual celebration, chaired by Peggy Meyer, will include a conversation with TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz starting at 11:30 am. Leading up to the event, inspiring patient videos and updates regarding breast cancer innovations and research initiatives at Baylor Scott & White Health will be shared throughout the month of October. The Dr. Oz event will be available for free to anyone who signs up online. This year’s efforts will focus on support for the Celebrating Women Gift of Life Fund, which assists women in need of breast cancer services who are unable to afford their care. For more information and to sign up, visit the website.

Photo courtesy of Recovery Resource Council

Dallas-Fort Worth nonprofit goes online and in-person for vital fundraising lunch

Making Meaningful Change

Whether you're ready to mingle in person or prefer to still be social online, September 16 is a date to mark on your calendar. That's when the Recovery Resource Council is hosting its Power of Prevention event, held at the Hyatt Regency Dallas beginning at 10 am.

This year's event, chaired by Ty and Tilda Beasley, is a digital and in-person hybrid. The live program will be spread out with social-distanced theater seating and spotlight pro golfer Laura Baugh, who's celebrating her 23rd year sober. She will share her experiences as a young mother while touring with the LPGA and struggling with fame and alcoholism, as well as discuss her book Out of the Rough.

A takeaway boxed lunch will accompany the event. Each ticket also includes access to the virtual replay that will be released at 9 am on September 21.

There will also be a free Facebook Live discussion for Out of the Rough on September 9 at 4 pm, led by Robin Bradshaw Bagwell and Jan Osborn.

The money raised through sponsorships, ticket sales, and the silent auction at the Power of Prevention event supports a portion of the Recovery Resource Council's operating budget.

Each contribution frees up dollars to provide screenings, assessments, and outpatient services for addiction and substance-use disorder, counseling for veterans and their families, and prevention education for at-risk children and youth.

Building on a core value of "making meaningful change," Recovery Resource Council has been serving North Texas since 1946 with an established a pathway to substance abuse screening and mental/behavioral health treatment services for low-income, uninsured, or under-insured youth and adults.

Its target population includes veterans and their family members, chronic homeless adults with co-occurring disorders, at-risk youth struggling with the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and adults struggling with addictions, trauma, and/or mental health disorders. Services are provided in 19 North Texas counties.

Tickets to Power of Prevention begin at $150 ($100 for virtual only) and several tiers of sponsorship are still available — get yours here.

Photo courtesy of Gangway Advertising

Fancy fundraisers morph into virtual benefits amid coronavirus in Dallas-Fort Worth

Fundraising pivot

On March 10, Dallas nonprofit Dwell with Dignity threw an appreciation party for those involved in Thrift Studio, its month-long spring shopping event and biggest fundraiser of the year. On March 11, the world changed — coronavirus was declared a world pandemic.

Events around the country and throughout Dallas-Fort Worth canceled in a flurry, and two days later, Dwell with Dignity postponed Thrift Studio, too.

Except, they had an idea.

Instead of just rescheduling the event that brings in $400,000 40 percent of their annual revenue maybe they could launch an online shopping component immediately and earn some of the vital funds they need to keep offering services. DwD provides low-income families with home furnishings in permanent homes.

Now, organizers are loading home decor and artwork online for people to click and buy from home. It’s become so popular that they’re now holding Thrift Studio Live twice a week.

“People are so supportive and charitable and everyone wants to help at full capacity right now.” says DWD executive director Ashley Sharp.

While most of Dallas-Fort Worth’s charitable luncheons and galas canceled their events or moved them to the fall, a handful of intrepid organizations like DwD have embraced technology to go digital. So-called online “ungalas” were already an emerging fundraising trend, and the coronavirus pandemic has seemingly spurred them on.

Meeting needs now
One obvious advantage is to stay off an already-crowded calendar of fall fundraisers, especially in what will no doubt be a changed economic landscape.

But many charitable organizations staying open as essential businesses need to raise money immediately to continue their services right now, when they’re needed most.

SafeHaven, Tarrant County’s largest nonprofit serving victims of domestic violence, has received more urgent and high-risk calls than ever before during the stay-at-home orders, they say. To continue operating, they must continue fundraising. So they are moving their annual Purple Party fundraiser online April 17.

The newly reimagined Purple Party at Home will include an online auction, special video stream, at-home dance party, best-dressed contest conducted through social media, and even a signature cocktail recipe they're giving attendees to mix up at home.

“We are thrilled to have found a way to continue to engage with our supporters while maintaining social distancing,” says Emily Hancock, SafeHaven vice president of development. “Funds raised will make a huge impact on our organization at a time when we need the community’s support more than ever.”

Canceling also wasn’t an option for the Recovery Resource Council, which has moved its 32nd annual Jim Bradshaw Memorial Stars in Recovery Luncheon away from the Omni Fort Worth Hotel and into the virtual sphere.

“With what we do, helping individuals in our community that have mental health and substance abuse problems, they'll be alone in their homes and need us more than ever,” says Candice Stovall, development associate for the organization.

The group is working quickly to produce a virtual broadcast that will resemble a pay-per-view show for attendees. It includes a Q&A conducted via Zoom with celebrity guest speaker Cameron Douglas, son of actor Michael Douglas who has battled substance abuse for much of his life.

“While it would have been very cool for everyone to see him in person, this also lets you see into his world,” Stovall says.

Guests will receive an access code and will be encouraged to patronize their favorite takeout spot for the 90-minute virtual luncheon, taking place at its regularly scheduled time on May 8. Another thing that didn’t change: The ticket price of $150.

“The cost of our services isn't fluctuating,” Stovall says. “We still have to make sure we hit our goal.”

While the virtual event may not attract its normal crowd of 800 to 900 attendees and raise its usual $250,000 to $275,000, “it is very important for our operations standpoint that we still have a successful event,” she says.

Auctions and athletics
Local nonprofit Ally’s Wish was riding high from a record-breaking Boots & Blessings Gala last spring when they were forced to cancel this year’s gala on April 18 in Grapevine.

Ally’s Wish grants wishes to families of terminally ill moms; currently they have a backlog of 140 unfulfilled wishes, says founder Missy Phipps. The most popular requests are trips to Disneyworld and Hawaii, which can cost up to $5,000.

With more than 100 auction items already donated, gala organizers reimagined the event as a week-long online auction and moved it to Mother’s Day. The auction will culminate with a live video program broadcasting on May 10, featuring former Dallas Cowboy Tony Casillas and his wife, Tamara.

While the gala had a fundraising goal of $125,000, they’re still hoping to bring in $50,000 to $75,000, which will enable Ally’s Wish to grant 10 to 12 wishes, Phipps says.

“Obviously it looks a lot different we won’t get dressed up in our boots and dance — but we are hoping it’s something people can look forward to be a part of,” she says.

Perhaps the most athletic pivot to a virtual fundraiser is happening at the American Cancer Society for its annual Relay for Life. The signature fundraiser, which usually involves teams walking on an outside track, is now “Keep Calm and Relay On: Relay Online!

Nearly 30 relays in communities across North Texas have signed on to join one larger, online experience.

The event will take place 9 am-9 pm May 2 and will involve online entertainment, tributes to cancer survivors and caregivers, and online auctions.

“Truly, North Texas is setting itself apart as a leader in transforming this major celebration of cancer survivors and fundraiser for our program by going online,” says ACS director of communications Joy Donovan Brandon. “The short turnaround has been a challenge, but I’ve been amazed at everyone’s willingness to help and how excited they are.”

Navigating the new landscape
Dwell with Dignity’s Sharp says that in a lot of ways, wading into a new fundraising landscape is exciting. Ahead of the coronavirus-canceled plans, DwD had been accepted into the United Way’s Social Innovation Accelerator program. They had begun to work on plans to launch an app in time for the 2021 Thrift Store event when coronavirus hit.

“When all of this happened, we thought, ‘we kind of planned for so it, so we just pivoted early,” Sharp says. Yet, she adds, “it took a minute for us to figure out if the landscape in general would still be open to supporting nonprofits. I didn’t want to be tone-deaf.”

For other groups thinking of trying virtual fundraisers, she says to start small.

“You don’t have to go full out at the beginning,” she says. “But if you provide the opportunity, you’ll be super surprised at how people get involved.”

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New Camp Margaritaville beach club-RV resort makes waves near Galveston coast

happy campers

Beach lovers, campers, and Texans getting away from it all now have a chill new option to waste away. Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach is officially open, following an ongoing renovation and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Formerly known as Bolivar Beach Club & RV Resort, the 150-acre beachfront location on the Bolivar Peninsula boasts a resort-style camping experience with unique amenities that make the RV resort a memorable vacation spot.

RV drivers/users can rest easy knowing that electric, water and sewer hookups, complimentary Wi-Fi, dog parks, a gym, and facilities for showering and doing laundry await at the site.

Fun includes a beachside concert venue, a Texas-sized pool with a swim-up bar and 50 private poolside cabanas, and large turf playing field. Renovations will continue into next year, promising the Fins Bar & Grill Restaurant, sand volleyball courts, pickleball courts, a bar called License to Chill, and more.

Another huge draw: The resort offers close access to 27 miles of beaches along the peninsula. (Ahh.)

Crystal Beach is the fourth location within the Camp Margaritaville brand, and joins the company's existing Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe. The lake resort, which rebranded and opened in the summer of 2020, includes 335 suites, an 18-hole golf course, a three-acre waterpark with a lazy river and outdoor pools.

"We’ve seen incredible success and excitement around our existing Camp Margaritaville RV Resort locations and are thrilled to expand our presence in the state of Texas,” says Margaritaville COO Brad Schwaeble in a statement. “As more and more people are finding new ways to travel and explore, Camp Margaritaville Crystal Beach will provide everything needed for a getaway for all ages.”

Those interested in camping out can book stays, get updates, and more information at the official site, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach

The pool is a major draw for the resort.

Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach/Facebook

These are the 7 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

This week is all about tasty education, from learning how to decorate cookies and create holiday appetizers to making homemade pasta and smoking the perfect brisket. Take a class and use your newfound skills to entertain and impress this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 6

Caymus Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
A decadent four-course meal features pairings with wines from award-winning Caymus. Courses include Stuffed Mushrooms with Shrimp, Rigatoni Al Forno with Chicken, Filet & Scallop Spiedino with Mashed Potatoes, and Crème Brulée, paired with Caymus wines including Cabernet Sauvignon and Conundrum Red Blend. The dinner is $75 starts at 6:30 pm. For the Hurst location, reserve here.

Wednesday, December 7

Wine + Cookie Decorating at Wine Haus
Here’s a Christmas cookie decorating class just for grown-ups. The South Fort Worth neighborhood wine bar will provide six cookies to decorate and a flight of three wines to enjoy while doing so. The class is $30 and the session will run from 7-9 pm.

Thursday, December 8

Holiday Spirits Around the World at Hotel Vin
Sample an array of global spirits during this tasting experience at Grapevine’s Hotel Vin. Spirits to be served include Montenegro Italian liqueur, The Dalmore Scottish whiskey, Komo tequila, and Horse Soldier bourbon. Each spirit will be paired with globally-inspired bites. The tasting is $50 and will begin at 7 pm.

Friday, December 9

The Art of Holiday Entertaining with The Elevated Elixir
Combine cooking with mixology during this hands-on class that will lead participants through creating festive party fare, appetizers, and in The Elevated Elixir fashion – non-alcoholic cocktails. Held at Indulge FW inside Third Street Market, the class will featured a five-part menu: holiday spiced nuts paired with a fig and honey Spritz, samosa pinwheels paired with spiced pear and cranberry cider, festive cheeseballs paired with gingerbread old fashioned, Hawaiian beef sliders paired with a Hawaiian Holiday, and chocolate truffles paired with a lavender chai toddy. Class is $125 and will begin at 6 pm.

Taste of Guadalajara at El Chingon
La Chingona, El Chingon’s West 7th-area private event space, hosts a dinner and show designed to transport guests to Guadalajara, Mexico, the home of mariachi music. The three-course dinner menu includes choices like brisket or pork tamales and chicken or vegetarian mole. A five-member mariachi band and dance performance cap off the evening. Tickets are $47.50-$119 and the event starts at 8 pm.

Saturday, December 10

Brisket U at Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Learn how to work a barbecue pit and smoke the quintessential Texas brisket during this Saturday morning barbecue lesson. Participants will get schooled on pit types, brisket cuts, trim techniques, rubs and prep, wood selection and smoke profiles, managing a fire and pit chamber, timing, and properly slicing the end product. Class is $119 and will run from 9 am-12 pm.

Sunday, December 11

Make Pappardelle with Homemade Alfredo Sauce at Panther Island Brewing
The North Fort Worth brewery will morph into a culinary studio for a cooking class. Learn how to make rustic pappardelle pasta with creamy Alfredo sauce during this hands-on class led by Fort Worth private chef Na ‘Tori. Class is $55 and begins at 4 pm.

Qantas adds new direct flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Melbourne, Australia

Airline News

There's a new direct flight for Dallas-Fort Worth travelers headed to the land down under: Qantas, Australia's national carrier, has debuted the first ever direct flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Melbourne, Australia. These are the first direct flights by any airline between the two cities.

According to a release, the addition of Melbourne follows the success of Qantas' longstanding route from Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney.

Up until this debut, DFW travelers had to make a stop in Los Angeles or Sydney.

"The flight will reduce travel time by two to three hours for those who currently need to stop in Los Angeles or Sydney when traveling to Melbourne from Dallas/Fort Worth and other US cities like Washington DC and Boston," says Qantas domestic and international CEO Andrew David in a statement.

It's also a win for travelers from other destinations across the U.S. such as Charleston, Detroit, and Memphis, who had to make two stops to connect to Melbourne.

The route gives U.S. travelers better access not only to Melbourne but to other Australian cities. From Melbourne, travelers can connect to the Qantas Group’s extensive domestic network of more than 60 destinations around Australia.

“We have already seen a great response to these flights since they went on sale, not just from those set to visit Melbourne, but also from those wanting to take advantage of the excellent connections to popular destinations like Hobart and Adelaide," David says.

The flights operate three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays – with Qantas’ 236-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, offering lie-flat Business suites and a Premium Economy seat.

Melbourne is considered the cultural capital of Australia, known for its museums, art centers, and music, and has been ranked one of the most livable cities, with a "laid back feel-good vibe," says The Travel.com.

"Pre-COVID, business and holiday travel between the United States and Australia was growing exponentially and we’re seeing the demand bounce back," David says. "We’re excited to be providing our customers with another direct connection across the Pacific."