More than 1,700 attendees braved severe thunderstorms to support Genesis Women’s Shelter and its annual luncheon at the Hilton Anatole. But chair Bunny Cotten and honorary chair Lydia Novakov made it worth their while because New York Times best-selling author Pat Conroy was the keynote speaker.
Conroy felt right at home, because the ballroom was adorned with all things South Carolina, his home state. Plus, the menu featured Crab Louis and pan-fried chicken with Charleston grits inspired by The Pat Conroy Cookbook.
“My God, I wish you could have been around when I was a kid,” Pat Conroy said. “Genesis would have saved my family.”
Conroy is most famous for novels such as The Prince of Tides, Beach Music and The Great Santini. In his most recent memoir, The Death of Santini, Conroy describes the battlefield of his parents’ relationship and the long-term effects of his father’s violence on the seven Conroy children.
At the luncheon, Conroy applauded Genesis for providing hope to families like his and the City of Dallas for bringing the epidemic of domestic violence to the forefront.
“Dallas is the worst place on earth to beat your wife, girlfriend or children, because of advocates like those at Genesis,” he said. “My God, I wish you could have been around when I was a kid. This group would have saved my family.”
Following Conroy’s powerful speech, Crayton Webb, president of Genesis’ all-male auxiliary group HeROs (He Respects Others), presented WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen with the 2014 HeRO Award for his public stance against domestic violence. Hansen gave an inspiring and emotional address, recounting the story of how his own father had broken his mother’s nose when he was 7 years old.
Genesis executive director Susan Wells Jenevein also recognized the founding organizations of Genesis’ Corporate Heroes, a group of North Texas executive leaders who share a zero-tolerance for domestic violence in the workplace.
“Domestic violence is a plague on our communal life,” Jenevein said. “And besides the immeasurable human costs, it exacts businesses nearly $8.3 billion a year due to medical costs and lost productivity.”
The Genesis Women’s Shelter’s mission is to end the epidemic of domestic violence against women and children by stopping individual victimization and reducing the devastating impact of family violence through safety, shelter and expert services to battered women and their children. Help is free and confidential.