More than 1,500 people packed the Hilton Anatole's Chantilly Ballroom for the 25th annual Genesis Women's Shelter luncheon, ready to take a stand on behalf of women and children who have experienced domestic violence — and also to see keynote speaker Hilary Swank.
The two-time Academy Award-winning actress and founder of the Mission Statement clothing line was interviewed by WFAA health and wellness reporter Sonia Azad, and spoke passionately about the pervasiveness of domestic violence. "It could be any of us," she said, "but no woman expects it to be her."
But before Swank took the stage, luncheon co-chairs Jane and Michael Hurst welcomed the near-capacity crowd and provided a sobering statistic: over 180,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported in Texas every year. To help counteract that, the Hursts explained that they first became involved with Genesis because they wanted to raise their teenage son and daughter to know what healthy relationships look like.
Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson, senior pastor of Hamilton Park United Methodist Church, gave the invocation using her signature extended "amen" shout before the supporters dined on mandarin orange and strawberry salad, crispy stuffed chicken with orzo, and dark chocolate mousse cake and berry tarts.
The team at Legal Aid of Northwest Texas was presented with the 2018 Jane Doe Award, which recognizes people or organizations that display an extraordinary commitment to standing alongside women and their children throughout their journey to an abuse-free future. Legal Aid of Northwest Texas was commended for providing high-quality civil legal representation to low-income families, including clients of Genesis who have little to no access to resources due to financial abuse.
The Genesis men's auxiliary group HeROs, which stands for He Respects Others, also honored the recipient of its 2018 award. Board president Crayton Webb implored gentlemen in the room to say, when it comes to ending violence against women, "count us in," and introduced the Honorable Roberto Cañas as this year's recipient. Cañas presides over Dallas County Criminal Court No. 10 — one of only six U.S. Department of Justice Domestic Violence Mentor Courts in the country — and also works to save lives by enforcing a gun surrender program that keeps guns out of the hands of abusers.
Genesis CEO Jan Langbein likened the experience this country has received on sexual harrassment and assault over the past year to a "graduate-level course," giving credit to the countless women who have come forward to say #MeToo. "These movements have given silenced victims both a voice and encouragement, allowing solidarity with millions of others who have experienced the same," she said. "Where there was once isolation by design, there is now a national community of support through social media, giving women the courage to come out of the dark and into the light."
Raffle chair Robin Bagwell put together four themed packages that had attendees clamoring to buy tickets. Bring Out the Kid In You included Texas Rangers seats and a party for 50 catered by Ruthie's Rolling Cafe, while Queen For a Day came with diamond jewelry from Petra, a shopping spree at Arteriors, and dinner for eight at Shinsei. The Gift of Time gifted the lucky winner with a Rolex Oyster watch from Bachendorf's, and the Golf Getaway sent four putters to Williamburg, Virginia, with 100,000 Hilton Honors points to get a start on their next vacation.
While underwriting co-chairs Jenny and Jeff Staubach were partially to thank for the main event, The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc. were behind the private VIP reception that preceded it. There, sponsors at the Gold level and above were able to meet and take photographs with Swank before finding their seats for the luncheon.