photos c/o Dana Driensky
The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Celebrates 25 Years of Giving With Style
by Dawn Mellon
Twenty five years ago, Margot Perot gathered her personal friends to form The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary of Dallas. Betty Halan chaired the first ever fashion show in a warehouse two years later and they were thrilled when the event raised about $37,000. Fast forward to 2016 and the fashion show and luncheon held on Monday, May 2 at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, chaired by Carmaleta Whitely Felton with Honorary Co-Chairs Myrna Schlegel, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Kari Schlegel and Kloner Krystal Schlegel, garnered an audience of nearly 750 women and is expected to raise over $650,000. Over the past 25 years, the attendance has increased, the venue has changed, and professional models have replaced Auxiliary members, but many things have stayed the course: the importance of the Auxiliary; its dedication to supporting the Salvation Army’s mission, and the concept of enlisting donated clothing and accessories to serve another tour of duty.
Emcee Ron Corning, WFAA news reporter, welcomed the crowd and presented Karen Dealy, president of the Women’s Auxiliary, who thanked everyone for their support in this 25th year. She highlighted some of the Auxiliary’s programs, describing the many volunteer activities: Back to School, Angel Tree and Kettles at NorthPark, Santa Sacks, and this annual Fashion Show and Luncheon, along with community service projects from serving meals at The Salvation Army Carr P. Collins Social Service Center to celebrating sobriety at its Adult Rehabilitation Center. Carmaleta expressed heartfelt gratitude to the honorary chairs, thanking them for their continued support and all of their efforts on behalf of The Salvation Army. She then introduced a very special film tribute which featured many of the founders with interviews and personal recollections of the beginning of the Auxiliary. All of the Women’s Auxiliary founding members were then asked to stand and be recognized. Introducing Margot Perot, Carmaleta said, “This is a special year as The Women's Auxiliary of The Salvation Army is celebrating its 25th year. Twenty-five years ago Margot Perot gathered a small group of women together in her home to form The Auxiliary. These First Ladies took a small fashion show and made it what it is today. So we celebrate these ladies with the theme of our show - Celebrating 25 years of Giving with Style. This year we are proud to give a legacy award titled the Margot Perot Award. Mrs. Perot's leadership has evolved into a membership of more than 400 women who want to serve God through serving others.”
Mrs. Perot took the stage and presented the Margot Perot Award to Betty Harlan, first Auxiliary President in 1993. Joining in the rousing applause with Margot were former First Lady Mrs. Laura W. Bush, Annette Simmons and Nancy Dedman. The Salvation Army's Associate DFW Metroplex Commander, Major Barbara Rich, who took the stage along with her husband, Major Jonathan Rich, DFW Metroplex Commander, said The Salvation Army serves in every ZIP code in the United States. Mention was also made of a health-and-wellness workshop which is a pilot program following up with Angel Tree participants. A moving story of survival was shared which detailed a cancer survivor’s journey - she was not able to receive treatment because she did not have insurance and because of this program, she was connected to a source for treatment.
In step with this year’s theme, “Twenty Five Years of Giving With Style,” the fashion show was a colorful mix of apparel and accessories punctuated by upbeat music with a bold and ever-changing background. Everyone in Dallas knows the excitement of a Jan Strimple fashion show and The Salvation Army Fashion Show is no exception. To produce a show with the latest fashions at your disposal is one thing; but, to produce a cohesive show with random garments donated by women, retailers and designers throughout the Metroplex is truly amazing. And, proof of Strimple’s talent lies in the feverish bidding that took place for the runway looks, which were available for purchase after the show and during the luncheon. Women also were placing bids on a dinner prepared by The Royal Chef Darren McGrady during the live auction moderated by Master of Ceremonies and WFAA Daybreak Co-Anchor Ron Corning; a piece of art titled “Salvation’s Angels” that was painted during the luncheon by popular Cuban Artist Rolando Diaz; as well as various items available through the silent auction outside of the main ballroom.
But, perhaps the most exciting place to be last Monday was the Chic Boutique and Couture Closet, where attendees threw modesty to the wind and began trying on designer bargains - some new, some gently-worn, all donated, and all heavily discounted - outside of the overfilled dressing rooms. The Chic Boutique’s first chairperson, Barbara Charlton, was shopping and encouraging others to swoop up pieces with labels that read Escada, Roberto Cavalli, Carolina Herrara and Nha Khan, to name a few, while the current Boutique partners, Nerissa Von Helpenstill and Dustin Holcomb from TOOTSIES, and Couture Expert Ken Weber from Vintage Martini, delighted in the fashionable chaos. From all accounts, it appears that everyone involved in the fashion show and luncheon fulfilled The Salvation Army’s mission of “Doing The Most Good.”
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. The Salvation Army’s mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. For more information on the Fashion Show & Luncheon or Auxiliary membership, visit http://www.sawadallas.org.