The Book of Philanthropy
Best-selling author Jeannette Walls speaks boldly about giving at Orix Foundation Dinner
Nearly 500 Dallas philanthropists gathered at the historic Belo Mansion for the Orix Foundation Dinner, where best-selling author Jeannette Walls extolled the virtues of giving — a topic that aligns with Orix USA’s mission of addressing community needs and improving lives.
As guests indulged in an elegant meal, Walls, author of the New York Times best-selling memoir The Glass Castle, described her closeness to these issues. She grew up in a family of six that moved around the country — sometimes homeless, often hungry and in abject poverty.
“To me, the worst thing about poverty is the shame,” Walls said. “These wonderful charities are saying that it’s okay to ask for help to get back on your feet.”
For Walls, the opportunity to speak with the Orix Foundation was a chance to reinforce its positive mission.
“I wanted to remind them of why they do what they do,” she said. “It’s about getting past the stereotypes that poor folk are different from us or that we can lump the needy into a category as separate from the more fortunate.”
Walls wanted to put a face on poverty for Orix and share with the audience that helping those in need — and talking about it — helps everyone. Her parents didn’t allow her to accept any charity, which led to Walls’ having trust issues — until The Glass Castle was released in 2005.
“There are so many people going around with these secrets that they’re ashamed of, and they don’t need to be,” she said. “To me, the worst thing about poverty is the shame. These wonderful charities are saying that it’s okay to ask for help to get back on your feet.”
Telling her story made her realize that everyone carries secrets that should be shared. Storytelling became a kind of therapy for Walls, who is gearing up for a book tour for her new novel, The Silver Star, about two young girls who are forced to take on adult responsibilities because of their irresponsible mother.
Among the supporters on the scene: Orix USA CEO Jim Thompson, Robin Robinson, Monica Egert Smith, Paige McDaniel, Joanna Clarke, Matt Hetson, Carolee and Ed Smith, and Kerri and Rick Lacher.
Orix USA launched its employee-led foundation three years ago. So far the organization has brought more than $3.7 million to North Texas nonprofits.