Valerie Holloway Skinner

Ruby Slippers Signature Event Raises Funds for CASA

For 25 years, Thetas in all 50 states have dedicated themselves in a variety of ways to supporting CASA, our national philanthropy, as they help children find a safe and loving home. As Theta celebrates this milestone year of commitment to CASA, the Mid-Cities Alumnae Chapter is celebrating its third year of a very special fundraising event we have dubbed “The Ruby Slipper Soirée.”

Three years ago, inspired by the tagline “There’s no place like home,” a handful of Thetas living in the Mid-Cities (a community about halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth) decided to create a signature event that would not only raise money but also bring awareness of CASA to our area. Under the creative leadership of Lisa Hernandez, Zeta Phi/Pepperdine, and Susan Sanders, Beta Sigma/SMU, our small committee started thinking big. Stepping out boldly, armed with nothing but a cute idea, we solicited a local shoe store to provide footwear, found a restaurant willing to loan out their rooftop and donate some pizza, convinced my husband to build us a platform, persuaded Gamma Psi/Texas Christian actives to model Stanley Eisenman pumps outside in the relentless Texas heat, and voilá—The Ruby Slipper Soirée was born!

More than 100 women braved the temperatures that day to gander at high heels and learn more about the work of CASA. That first year, we were proud to present a $3,400 check to Tarrant County CASA for our efforts. Each year we have grown the event and encouraged more community leaders to become involved. Our soirée incentivizes all attendees to wear ruby slippers (red shoes) and enjoy libations, hors d’oeuvres, and a fabulous shoe fashion show. This year, our style partner Elaine Turner provided shoes and handbags for 10 TCU Thetas to model. Each Gamma Psi member wore two pairs of fashion-forward footwear down the (air-conditioned!) red carpet, coupled with a stylish purse, and wearing accessories provided by Pauline Meier of Premier Jewelry. Stylist Debbie Quintanilla of 2Q Salon made sure each young woman’s hair and make-up were “runway-ready.”

The evening also included a first-of-its-kind “Spirit and Sparkle Pull” which rewarded participants with a signature cocktail beverage and a piece of Premier Jewelry. Guests also vied for a fabulous raffle prize of a $350 gift certificate to Elaine Turner and a party for 10 at the new store complete with champagne, light bites, and special discounts. An additional lucky winner went home with the “Rockin’ Ruby Slipper Award.” Our group was proud to learn we had raised $9,700 that night, bringing our three-year total to nearly $20,000!

Hands down the most memorable part of the evening, however, had nothing to do with fashion or refreshments. It was the privilege of hearing Charlene Elliott share her story.

Charlene had recently moved to our area, and upon seeing a sign for Tarrant County CASA, went into the office and presented a dozen roses to the staff in gratitude for what her CASA had done for her years ago when she was a frightened little girl living in an unacceptable situation. Although she was only seven years old at the time, Charlene distinctly recalled the care and attention she received from “Miss Belle,” who eventually helped her find her forever home with her grandparents. Tears flowed freely among the attendees as Charlene described her circumstances and relayed how much her CASA advocate had done to secure a loving environment, one where she and her younger sister could thrive.

As members of Kappa Alpha Theta, we are in a unique position, through our partnership with CASA, to dramatically alter the lives of children who have absolutely no capacity to do so on their own. Children just like Charlene. Working together, with whatever resources are available to us, I fully believe we can secure the future of every child in the foster care system in every town in this country. I hope you will join your sisters during this special 25th year, and find a way to help every abused and neglected child find a place where he or she will know what it means to say, “There’s no place like home.”

To see more photos from the event, visit the Mid-Cities Alumnae Chapter’s website.