‘Stocking’ up on holiday spirit

Posted on 10 Dec 2009 at 6:13pm
By LisaMarie Martinez | Contributing Writer lisa_marie808@charter.net

Round-Up Saloon gets ready for 10th annual Christmas Stocking Auction benefitting Legacy Counseling, Founders Cottage


A HELPING HAND | Legacy Counseling Center Executive Director Melissa Grove, standing, visits with Founders Cottage client Arthelia Robinson. Robinson, who is staying at Founders Cottage while she transitions from being in the hospital, called it "a home away from home." (LisaMarie Martinez/Voice Contributor)

Many see the holiday season as a time to shop. They shop to give gifts to family members and friends in celebration.

The staff at Dallas’ Round-Up Saloon sees the holiday season as a time to shop as well. For 10 years, the dedicated staff, volunteers, sponsors and supporters have spent their money to either create or purchase Christmas baskets or stockings. The baskets and stockings are auctioned off, and the money benefits the Legacy Counseling Center and Legacy Founders Cottage, and the people Legacy serves — like their former bartender Dwight Matthews.

This year’s Christmas Stocking Auction will be held Sunday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. at the Round-Up, 3912 Cedar Springs Road.

Alan Pierce and Gary Miller, partners for 24 years, have owned the Round-Up Saloon for the last 12 years. Their club is called "The home of good times and good people," and the Christmas Stocking Auction is part of that reputation.

"Legacy Cottage was valuable to us because one of our bartenders, Dwight Matthews, went there several years ago to die," said Pierce. "They took very good care of him, so Legacy became our favorite charity, and we decided to do a Christmas Stocking Auction. This is our 10th year for the auction."

Miller said the Round-Up’s whole mission is to be "a fun honky-tonk place for country-western people to come and kick up their heels, as well as a place for people who like popular dance music. We receive a lot of positive feedback when we do this event."

The idea for the Christmas Stocking Auction grew out of the club’s annual Easter Basket Auction, which they have been doing for more than 15 years.


Alan Pierce, left, and Gary Miller

Because the Christmas benefit has grown so large over the years, they have switched from using actual stockings to using baskets to have room for all the merchandise that is donated, the club’s owners said.

Merchants along Cedar Springs Road and throughout Dallas donate items for the baskets, and the club’s staff and managers also contribute to the event by creating baskets.

Miller said that in addition to auctioneer R.D. Lynch, the Vanna White Basket Presenters and surprise performers, the highlight of the evening will again be the Dallas Tap Dazzlers, a group of women who have trained in the past with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and who "bring the house down every time they perform."

Legacy Counseling Center

Now in its 20th year, Legacy Counseling Center was founded by 13 people as a small grassroots operation in 1989 to serve the increasing number of HIV-positive people with nowhere to turn for help.

The original operation involved small, individual sessions managed by volunteer therapists. Today, Legacy has 10 therapists and has become the largest provider of mental health and substance abuse counseling for people with HIV/AIDS in the North Texas area.

Executive Director Melissa J. Grove takes pride in her organization and credits its success to being a gay-friendly environment with well-educated therapists.

"Many of our clients would not feel comfortable at other mental health or substance abuse treatment centers in a group setting, because they may not be as educated about HIV or as accepting of GLBT issues," Grove said.

"Staying current with the latest information on mental health and substance abuse treatment and HIV is part of our research as therapists. If a person doesn’t feel accepted by their therapist, they’re not going to get very far in therapy. Legacy provides all counseling services in a gay-friendly environment," she said.

Legacy’s goal is to get clients in within three days of a phone call, if not sooner, with respect to the counseling side of the organization. Clients can stay in therapy as long as they need to, and Legacy accepts all insurances, Grove said.

The other side of the coin at Legacy is the Founders Cottage.

"In the early days of Legacy, all the therapists had clients and we’d call them to see if they were going to be at their session on that day. More often times than not the response would be ‘I’m so sick I can’t move,’" Grove explained.

"So we used to go to people’s homes, and when we got there, we were appalled at the numbers of people who were at home, by themselves, literally dying alone without anyone to care for them. They could be lying on the sofa, not able to reach a glass of water. Maybe they had soiled themselves; maybe they hadn’t bathed in days. It was a horrible situation."

Founders Cottage was initially designed as a place for people who were in the last six months of their lives to go and to die with dignity, surrounded by people who loved them, who could care for them, and make them comfortable, she said.

Now the Founders Cottage serves people transitioning out of the hospital, mainly Parkland Hospital, or whose partner or caregiver needs a break.

The cottage is a seven-bedroom licensed special care facility. It provides housing while people receive hospice care, from an outside licensed hospice company, or home health care, from an outside home health agency.

Patients receive 24-7, year-round nurse aid services from personnel who are not nurses, like Sylvia Turner and Veronica Rodriguez, both certified nurse aids. Patient care is coordinated by Program Director Emily Graves, who designs it to transition the patients back to health and integrate them into appropriate housing.

Arthelia Robinson, one of the current Founders Cottage clients, was referred by Parkland Hospital. When she arrived, she said she thought it was the end for her. She weighed 85 pounds then, but now has built back up to 127 pounds.

"It’s a home away from home because the people are so nice. I’ve been smiling through the pain more since I arrived at the cottage," said Robinson, who is from Jersey City, N.J. Her mother, son and two nieces recently came to visit her for a few weeks, as did as her stepfather and daughter who live in Texas.

Anyone is welcome to volunteer for Legacy, as Groves said she likes to tailor volunteer experiences to each individual’s area of expertise or interest.

"The volunteer opportunity could be as small as donating paper towels, or it could be as large as visiting with a patient on a regular basis," Grove said. "People can bring a meal, or come here and cook a meal." •

To volunteer, call and speak to Kim Killough, associate development director at Legacy, 214-520-6308.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 11, 2009.

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