DTC donates nearly $60K to NTFB

ACC NTFB Check Presentation - Kris Martin, Kieran Connolly - by Dana Driensky

Former Dallas Voice staffer Kris Martin, as representative for the NTFB, collects a check from Scrooge (actor Kieran Connolly) at the final performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Wyly Theatre. Additional donations at that performance raised the total donation to nearly $58,000.

For six Christmases, the Dallas Theater Center has collected canned food and cash from patrons at its annual production of A Christmas Carol, and this year was an especially good one. For its first time since returning to the Arts District — and its first time in the Wyly Theatre — the DTC managed 934 pounds of nonperishable goods (nearly twice the amount taken in last year at the Kalita Humphreys) and raised $57,993.81 in cash donations (above the average for prior years). That brings the total monetary donations — donated to the North Texas Food Bank — to $297,912.16 since 2008. Each dollar accounts for about three meals donated to the hungry across the Metroplex.

We’re big fans of the NTFB here at the Voice — I decorate a cake every year for charity, and the NTFB is a feeder donator the Resource Center’s food pantry — so we’re happy to see how generous people are. But the need continues beyond Christmas; you can donate time, food or money here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lots of LGBT orgs participating in North Texas Giving Day on Thursday

givingday

North Texas Giving Day is Thursday and a lot of LGBT organizations are participating.

Donations can be made online from 7 a.m. to midnight by going here and searching for an organization.

Among the LGBT organizations participating are AIDS Arms, AIDS Outreach, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Legacy Gay & Lesbian Fund for Dallas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, and North Texas Food Bank, which supplies much of the food for Resource Center’s food pantry.

Communities Foundation of Texas organized the event. Each $25 donation and above received Thursday will get bonus funds. If an organization receives 32 individual donations, it will be entered to win an additional $10,000.

Funds can also be designated to a specific program in the notes section.

For a complete list of organizations, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Let ‘em eat cake

My award-losing cake, complete with monetary bribes for the judges

My award-losing cake, complete with monetary bribes for the judges

For the second year in a row, I participated in the Kroger Cake-Off, where local journalists (including me, the only guy) compete in a 30-minute cake decorating competition to have a check in the amount of $1,000 donated in our names to the North Texas Food Bank and the Tarrant Area Food Bank, which serve 13 counties each across the Metroplex and beyond.

And for the second year in a row, I lost — despite my awesome design, above.

It’s not a big deal, actually — even Nerissa Knight, the Eye Opener morning show host whose decorated yellow cake won the prize, was gracious, telling me my design “was the most fun.” And the point, really, is to raise awareness of the need for donations to the area food banks (one in six North Texas residents goes with any meal every night, often children, the elderly and the disabled) and Kroger’s efforts in combatting that through Bringing Hope to the Table, a promotion through May 14 where customers can buy specially-marked items to benefit NTFB and TAFB.

Nerissa's winning designNerissa Knight and the donation check

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC donates more than $63K to NTFB

For the fifth year, the Dallas Theater Center was not a Scrooge during its production of A Christmas Carol, raising $63,186.72 from patron donations to donate to the North Texas Food Bank. (That number reflects amounts donated after the check presentation above.) That raises the total amount donated by audiences to nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Every dollar provides about three meals to a North Texan in need. Audiences also donated about 568 pounds of non-perishable food items.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Piece of cake: Another close call for charity

Where I started, below, and where I ended up, above.

I’m sick of coming in second, especially for charity.

As we blogged about three weeks ago, Team Dallas Voice was first runner-up in a wind-power competition pitting journo-against-journo for a $2,500 cash donation to our favorite charity. Instead, we won $250 for Ranch Hand Rescue. (We fell to Colleen Coyle of Channel 8.) I was the star player on my team, of course — i.e., the only one capable of building a $0.15 pinwheel without adult supervision.*

So when I was invited to go solo for another journalist-only benefit competition — this time, $1,000 being donated in my name by Kroger to the North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank — I relished the opportunity. Plus I didn’t have to go outside as with the wind game … always a plus.

This time, my creativity skills were being put to the test when I faced off against five other journalists at cake decorating. We each had 30 minutes, with the assistance of a Kroger bakery staffer, to turn pasty into a work of art. With the help of La Tricia, I set about it.

Decorating a cake is pretty hard. La Tricia made sure all my pastry bags were filled with butter cream frosting of various colors, and she showed me techniques (apply constant pressure! But not too much!) and walked me through. Being a gay pub, we settled on a rainbow theme, made variously of fruits, jelly beans and frosting.

You can tell I did most of the work myself. I have the penmanship of a serial killer, as Clairee might say, but I also hard heart — and a strong pitch. “You get three points for your presentation,” said Francie Cooper, one of the judges. I thought about a bribe too, but there were cameras on me.

In the end, I placed second after Jana from the Dallas Morning News — another Belo victory! I got no money donated in my name. Instead, I got to keep the cake. I’m feeding the working poor with it, i.e., my colleagues here at Dallas Voice. Ah, well, no reason why you can’t donate to the food banks — they need it. Summer is the hungriest time for kids. Why? Because school is out, so no access to hot lunches unless mom makes it. C’mon, give some money or drop off some cans. Kids should play in the summer, not worry about food.

*That’s pretty much all he did. — Teammates

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘The Dallas Life’ premieres tonight at the Brick

Dallas gets another dose of reality

Brent Paxton has long been at work on his new reality show The Dallas Life and it comes to life tonight. What happens when 12 strangers live under one roof? Obviously lots if you take in any kind of reality TV. With people from all backgrounds, Paxton shows all the drama that goes down Dallas-style. It’s kinda like The Real World but by the sounds of it, only one can make it to the end.

The event is also a food drive for the North Texas Food Bank and people are encouraged to bring a food item.

DEETS: The Brick, 2525 Wycliff Ave. 8 p.m. DallasLife.tv

—  Rich Lopez

LGBT community helps raise money for Oak Cliff artist who needs kidney transplant

Monaliza Morris

Oak Cliff artist Monaliza Morris will undergo a kidney transplant next month. For the last 19 years, she’s lived with lupus, an immune system disease that has compromised her kidneys.

While waiting for the surgery to take place, friends have been helping her do some remodeling in her Winnetka Heights house to make her convalescence easier.

Morris is a volunteer at the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, a non-profit organization that helps refugees who have suffered human rights abuses. They have worked to eliminate the anti-gay bias in immigration laws. Friends said she has worked with the North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls program and done AIDS outreach work as well.

Jenny Vann is Morris’ best friend. They met in middle school in Hawaii. Vann was the first person to be tested as a possible donor. They were a match, so Vann is giving Morris one of her kidneys the first week of March.

A fundraiser is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 23 at Agora Entertainment, 3225 Premiere Drive, Irving from 5 to 8:30 p.m. “The Art of Friendship” will include live music and a silent art auction.

“The goal of this is to raise $50,000,” said RafiQ Salleh, whose partner, Cannon Flowers, is the Human Rights Initiative’s CEO. The money will help with the cost of surgery and follow-up medical care.

For more information about Morris or to make a donation online, go here.

—  David Taffet

Food Pantry needs help as demand soars

Resource Center service for people with HIV gets most of its stock from NTFB, but even NTFB doesn’t have some of the items they need

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Food pantry volunteers restock items
STOCKING UP | Food pantry volunteers restock items in the refrigerator as the pantry gets ready to open on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Food pantry manager Micki Garrison said budget cutbacks have made the pantry even more dependent on volunteers. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

What’s on your menu for Thanksgiving? Probably a turkey. Or maybe a ham, or a pot roast. You will most likely have some stuffing or dressing, and plenty of vegetables. Add to that a slice of pie or cake for dessert, and your stomach will be plenty full when you move to the living room to settle in front of the TV to watch football.

If so, then you are one of the lucky one. There are plenty of people out there who would be thankful to have a can of soup as their Thanksgiving meal.
“According to a report just released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas is the second-hungriest state in the country,” said Micki Garrison, manager of Resource Center Dallas’ food pantry for people with HIV/AIDS. “The number of people going hungry in Texas is over 17 percent. That’s higher than the national average, which is 14 percent.”

And Garrison had some more sobering statistics to offer up. She noted that the food pantry is “closely tied” to the North Texas Food Bank, getting most of its stock there, and that with the recession lingering on, NTFB has itself been struggling to keep up with demand.

“Demand on the North Texas Food Bank is up 20 percent and donations are down 12 percent,” Garrison said.

Although Texas hasn’t been hit as hard as some states during the economic crisis, those on the lower end of the income scale — food banks’ usual clients who already had to stretch to try and make ends meet — have definitely felt the impact. Those who were scraping by before now have to ask for help, and those who already needed help now need even more.

And with the holiday season upon us, the situation will likely get worse.

“We usually serve between 600 and 800 clients a week. During the holidays, that will go up to 1,000 to 1,200 a week,” Garrison said. “We go through five to 10 tons a food each week. It’s a massive undertaking.”

Daniel Sanchez, nutrition center coordinator, said, “Just yesterday, we had 125 people through here in the first hour we were open.”

One thing the food pantry won’t be able to do this year, though, is provide its clients with turkeys for their holiday meals.

“In the past, we have been able to give each client a turkey for the holidays. But we just can’t do that this year,” Garrison said. “We just can’t afford it.”

While all food banks are struggling to keep up, Garrison and Sanchez said that their food pantry faces special battles because their clients all have HIV/AIDS.

“If you are HIV-positive and unable to work, you are probably already dealing with Social Security or disability, and you are probably facing tremendous medical expenses,” Garrison said. “A lot of our clients are struggling every day to make some really touch choices, like choices between buying food or buying their medications, between buying food or paying the rent and the bills.

“A lot of people have to make those choices, yes. But what makes it even more difficult is that for people with HIV, food is medicine. You just can’t take that regimen of medications that HIV-positive people have to take if you don’t have any food in your stomach,” she said. “It’s our mission to do as much as we can for them so they don’t have to make those choices. We can’t meet all their needs, but we do our best to meet as many as possible.”

There is another problem, too: the kinds of foods available at the pantry.

“We have a lot of clients who are feeling bad a lot of the time, and they just aren’t up to cooking a big meal for themselves,” Garrison said. “They just want to be able to open a can of soup and heat that up. Something easy.

“And a lot of our clients experience homelessness. If they come here and we give them a bag of dried beans and some raw chicken, they have no way to cook that. It doesn’t do them any good,” she said.

That’s why, Sanchez said, donations from the community are particularly helpful for the pantry, especially when those donations come in the form of easy-to-prepare items. Canned meats — like tuna, chicken, chili or Spam — are especially welcome, along with canned soups and ramen noodles, canned fruits and vegetables, boxed cereals, dry staples like rice, beans and pasta, juices and condiments.

“Things like that that are really helpful for our clients are the kinds of things we can’t get a lot of from the food bank,” Garrison said. “Getting cash donations is great. I mean, if someone goes to the grocery store and spends a dollar on a can of corn to donate, it’s great. But for that same dollar, I can get five cans of corn.

“Still, I can’t get those other things — the soups and stuff — from the food bank. So we need those donations from the community. We need all the donations, all kinds of donations,” she said.

Sanchez added that the food pantry also needs donations of time. Budget cutbacks have impacted staffing capabilities, which means there is a lot of work available for volunteers.

“We especially need volunteers during the holiday season,” Sanchez said.

Garrison added, “We need people to get the things we can get from the food bank. We need people to donate money. We need people to donate their time. We just ask that people find out how they can best fit into that structure.

“This food pantry is all about the community and how the community can show its love,” she said. “All we are is a vessel for the love of the community.”

Resource Center Dallas Food Pantry is located at 5450 Denton Drive Cutoff in Dallas. The pantry is open noon to 7 p.m. on Mondays, and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. The pantry is closed Fridays through Sundays. Donation drop-off hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. For information, call 214-521-3390.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Tasting notes • 11.12.10

If your last name is “Wines,” you’re probably destined to become a sommelier, and that’s just what Emily Wines is. In fact, she’s one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to earn the title master sommelier (even fewer are women — Barbara Werley at Pappas Bros. is another). Wines works for the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, but she’s coming to its Dallas cousin Thursday for a fundraiser for Resource Center Dallas. For a $20 donation, you can enjoy Emily’s “Wines for the Season” intro to white, red and sparkling vinos, as well as Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck’s tasty bites. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18.

Landmark Restaurant inside the Warwick Melrose Hotel is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its parent company with “Three for $30 Dinner” during the month of November. Come in an order an appetizer, entrée and dessert, and even taste some house wine, for 30 bucks. To book a res, visit LandmarkRestoDallas.com.

Kent Rathbun’s three local restaurants — Abacus, Jasper’s and Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen — will do something they haven’t before: Sell the same item on all the menus while raising money for the North Texas Food Bank.

At a tasting this week, local foodies chose from among three yummy entrees to pick one that would make it on the menu. Anyone ordering that dish for $15 through Nov. 17 will get a complimentary pumpkin pie empanada dessert and earn a contribution to the NTFB, courtesy of Capital One Bank. The winner: A phenomenal chile-seared sea scallop on chipotle corn mash, pictured.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Resounding success

For the third year, Tim Seelig’s choral group sings to feed a real need

Resounding Harmony
SUPPER CLUB | Tim Seelig, center, with members of Resounding Harmony, wants his concert to feed North Texans.

RESOUNDING HARMONY
Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St.
Nov. 10. 8 p.m. $30–$50.
ResoundingHarmony.org.

…………………………………..

Timothy Seelig gets angry when he considers that during the season of Thanksgiving, there are still thousands of North Texans who go hungry. Which is why, for the third year in a row, the new season of his Resounding Harmony choral group begins with a fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank.

“Resounding Harmony is an amazing blend of men [and] women, ages 13 to 77, from absolutely every walk of life, brought together by the music and the larger mission of making a difference in our community,” explains Seelig, the founding artistic director for the chorus.

Now more than 200 voices strong, Resounding Harmony had its genesis in a smaller mixed choral group Seelig helped put together for the March 2008 Voices of Peace celebration to honor Maya Angelou. That group caught the eye of Gregg Smith, a pastor at the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, who approached Seelig and Hope for Peace & Justice about creating another chorus to help raise money and collect food for the needy. Not long afterwards, Resounding Harmony and its “musical philanthropic mission” were born.

“The North Texas Food Bank shared with us that they had just launched a three-year initiative and we immediately signed on to partner with them,” Seelig says.

The first year, Resounding Harmony raised enough to provide the NTFB with the means to offer 65,000 meals to North Texans unable to feed themselves. Last year, the chorus took an even more ambitious aim: to help provide 100,000 meals — a goal it surpassed by 10,000 meals. This year, Seelig once again wants to exceed the 100,000 mark. The concert takes place Nov. 10 at the Meyerson Symphony Center

“We are working very hard to add to the concert proceeds, income from the virtual food drive, actual food drives, Dinner in Destin Raffle, the Recyclable Grocery Bags and the Fabulous Table Auction,” Seelig says.

While the concert is intended to call attention to the reality of hunger in North Texas, Seelig promises that the show itself will be “[a] perfect balance of humor and seriousness.”

Some songs on the program, like “Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise” and “Jalapeno Chorus”(a distinctly Southwestern play on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”) are laugh-out-loud funny. Others, like the poignant “Famine Song” and the rousing “Love Can Build a Bridge,” are intended to stir emotions.

Additional concert highlights include Russ Rieger playing the Lay Family Concert Organ and pianist Antoine Spencer performing a medley of Leonard Bernstein pieces.

“Every person attending will enter these holidays with beautiful music in their ears and in their hearts,” Seelig says.

In the three years of its existence, Resounding Harmony has also sung on behalf of other organizations, such as the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, Lowe Elementary and The Samaritan Inn. With its June 2010 Carnegie Hall “Sing for Cure” performance for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it has also quickly established itself as a distinguished member of the Dallas arts community

“The philosophy is to use our music as a philanthropic vehicle to raise money and awareness,” explains Seelig. “It is truly an effort to use music as a means to a greater end, rather than an end in and of itself.”

— M.M. Adjarian

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens