Pandemic pivots

These are the first big Dallas society events to go virtual for spring 2021

These are the first big Dallas society events to go virtual for spring

Jennifer LeLash, Nanci Gopez, Kelly Perkins, Diane Fulinghim, Maggie Kipp, Nikki WEbb, WEndy Messman, Melinda Knowles, Amy Camp
St. Valentine's Luncheon was one of the last big charity events of 2020. It will go virtual this year. Photo by Dana and Daniel Driensky
Octavia Spencer
Octavia Spencer will be the keynote speaker at Genesis' virtual luncheon. Photo courtesy of Genesis
Mary Lou Retton
4word holds a Night with Mary Lou Retton, virtually. Photo courtesy of 4word
Simone Biles, Olympic trials
Junior League welcomes Simone Biles for its virtual luncheon. Getty Images
Change is Good
Community Partners of Dallas hosts a virtual edition of the family-friendly Change is Good event. Photo courtesy of Community Partners of Dallas
Jennifer LeLash, Nanci Gopez, Kelly Perkins, Diane Fulinghim, Maggie Kipp, Nikki WEbb, WEndy Messman, Melinda Knowles, Amy Camp
Octavia Spencer
Mary Lou Retton
Simone Biles, Olympic trials
Change is Good

In normal times, we'd be compiling our list of the top society events of spring, telling you which galas, luncheons, and parties every Dallas social butterfly must circle on her calendar.

But these are not normal times, of course, and these fun and fabulous fetes still cannot happen in person due to COVID-19. Fortunately, savvy nonprofits and creative event planners have figured out ways to bring home both the fundraising and fun. (Because, hey, who says you can't wear couture on your couch?)

Below are the first spring Dallas galas and luncheons to unveil plans for pivots to safe, at-home formats. 

Dallas Theater Center Virtual Centerstage Gala: "Staging Joy," February 5
This will be the first virtual gala in the theater’s history. The evening will be hosted by Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty and Brierley Resident Acting Company member Liz Mikel, with special appearances from fellow acting company member Christopher Llewyn Ramirez. It will feature performances from other current and former DTC artists, including Tony-nominated director Liesl Tommy. The gala takes place at 7 pm February 5 on the DTC website. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Saint Valentine's Day Virtual Luncheon, February 11
Benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, this "Love in Bloom"-themed luncheon will go virtual for the first time. Attendees will still be able to enjoy a style show produced by Jan Strimple and featuring fashions from Highland Park Village and can expect treats delivered prior to the event, raffle drawings, and a live auction. Melinda Knowles serves as chair, and Louise and Guy Griffeth are the honorary chairs. Honorees include the Sewell family, 9-year-old leukemia survivor Harrison MarcusPatsy Miller Donosky, and the late Ross Perot, Sr. Tickets, $300, are available on the website.

Love Helps: A Valentine's Dinner Delivery, February 12-13
The Dallas-based family violence agency The Family Place and co-chairs Dr. Tiffany Moon and Daniel Moon present this at-home dining experience, which includes a locally sourced farm-to-table four-course meal delivered to patrons' homes. Chef Jordan Swim of Vestals Catering and Front Burners Restaurants will prepare a menu of bruschetta trio, winter-inspired vegetable salad, savory beef entrée (or vegetarian option), and dessert. Dinner will be personally delivered, along with a floral arrangement from Grey Gardens Florist, on either Friday or Saturday. Delivery for two meals begins at $750, with additional meals, $300. To register, visit the website

4word Virtual Gala: An Evening with Mary Lou Retton, February 27
The first of two big events starring all-time greatest gymnasts, this virtual gala celebrates the nonprofit’s 10 years of empowering and inspiring women in the workplace through personal connection and mentorship. It will feature a conversation with Mary Lou Retton — the 1984 Olympic All-Around Gymnastics champion — moderated by trailblazer Molly Fletcher. There'll be auctions and a customized gift for each attendee, too. The gala will be held virtually from 7-8 pm February 27; tickets start at $500 and can be purchased online at www.4wordwomen.org/gala.

Community Partners of Dallas 15th Annual Change is Good, March 7
The fun-filled, family-friendly event that encourages kids to collect change to change the lives of abused and neglected children will take place virtually. The 2021 fundraiser is chaired by Lynette and Nate Christensen and Travis and Brynn Dent, along with honorary chairs Emily and Nicholas Haddock and Amy and Patrick McEvoy (and the couples' children). Participating families will pre-purchase a box that includes supplies for favorite Change is Good activities, which will then be done at home during a fun, afternoon virtual event. A limited number of $125 boxes will go on sale on February 12. As in past years, participating children and teens will begin collecting change and setting up fundraising pages online prior to the event. For more information, visit the website.

Junior League of Dallas Milestones Virtual Luncheon, March 26
The other big event starring an all-time great gymnast is Junior League's highly anticipated luncheon, which will take place virtually this year. The organization will welcome Simone Biles as the featured speaker for the 10th edition, chaired by Erin Pope along with Sustaining Chair Candace Winslow, and honoring Diane Scovell. Regarded as a “champion of firsts,” Olympic champ Biles is the first woman to win five World All-Around titles and three consecutively, the first gymnast to capture five gold medals at a single World Championship (2019) since 1958, and the first American female gymnast chosen by Team USA to be the flag bearer for the Olympic closing ceremonies. Tickets to the luncheon are $200. For more information, visit www.jld.net/milestones-luncheon.

Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support's 28th Annual Luncheon, May 7
Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer will be the keynote speaker for this buzzy spring luncheon, streaming virtually for the first time. One of Hollywood’s most in-demand actresses, Spencer is best known for her portrayal of Minny in the film The Help, for which she won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The annual luncheon supports Genesis' mission to provide safety, shelter, and support for women who have experienced domestic violence. The event, chaired by Fran Maddox and Megan Steinbach, will take place virtually, 11:30 am-1 pm May 7. Individual tickets will go on sale in March. For more information, visit www.genesisshelter.org/luncheon.