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L-R: Jenny Porter attended the first Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas meeting of the year on January 5 at the City Club and chatted with club President Niki Payne after. Porter, daughter of a veteran club member, began attending meetings over two decades ago as an infant with her mother and is a December 2015 West Virginia University graduate with a degree in Marketing. Payne joined the club in 2003 and is a realtor with David Bush Realtors. Business women and men are encouraged to attend a meeting or service or social event to learn more about the club, which promotes literacy and supports women and children in crisis in the Dallas area.

The Altrusa Club of Downtown Dallas got off to a great start in the New Year at its January 5, 2016 meeting with a visit from the club's District Governor, Sylvia Zamora, and a guest who’s been attending meetings since before she was born.

Altrusa International is a service club made up of business women and men who work together to make their community a better place to live. The downtown club was established in 1982 with a dozen members, and now boasts over 75 members.

The downtown club is part of an international service organization similar to the Kiwani's Clubs. The Downtown Dallas club is a member of District Nine, which encompasses all of Texas. There are 15 Altrusa Districts, including one in New Zealand and one in Puerto Rico. Once a year the District Governor pays a visit to each club to see how the club operates, meet the members and share helpful information.  Zamora was so impressed with the downtown club she suggested it consider taking on a “sister” club that is struggling, to help mentor it to bring in more members and strengthen its outreach to the community.

In attendance at the Meeting, held at the City Club near the top of the Bank of America Building, was guest Jenny Porter, daughter of veteran member Judy Porter, who joined Altrusa in 1990. Jenny, a December 2015 graduate of West Virginia University with a Marketing degree, began attending meetings as an infant when her mother was a new Altrusa member and the Director of Religious Education at St. Bernard's of Clairvaux Catholic Church. Jenny and her three brothers would often tag along on service projects with the Altrusa Club, and many members greeted her warmly upon her return to Dallas from WVU. Altrusa is known as "A Builder of Women," but also accepts men. Last year two men joined the Downtown Dallas club. 

In addition to community service, the club raises funds to disperse to local non-profits. Typically the club makes one larger donation and funds a numbers of smaller grant requests from $500 to $5,000. The club’s focus is on promoting literacy and helping women and children in crisis. An annual Poinsettia sale was the club’s major fund raiser until it began sponsoring “Dessert First,” a chocolate and champagne event with a live and silent auction. This year’s event is scheduled for October 6, 2016 at 3015 at Trinity Grove, 3015 Gulden Lane, Dallas, TX 75212.

In 2009 the Altrusa downtown’s Club Foundation began the practice of donating the majority of funds raised from “Dessert First,” to one agency.  The first major beneficiary was Friends of Wednesday’s Child, which received $40,000.

Nearly $100,000 was raised during the club’s “Dessert First” fund raiser in 2014, with the bulk of the funds going to the after school program, Kids U, which operates tutoring and education programs in apartment complexes throughout the Dallas area. Altrusa has also recently supported local agencies to help women and children with hundreds of volunteer hours or grants including: Attitudes and Attire, CASA, Head Start, Dallas Bar Association’s Bar None Scholarship, Human Rights Initiative, Trinity River Mission, Vogel Alcove, Shared Housing and dozens of college scholarships to Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School graduates.

Many members join the club to volunteer, but remain for decades due to the friendships made. Dr. Kay Eggleston, President of Richland College, was a founding member and is still active in the club. Attorney and former SMU Law Librarian Dorothy Nowlin is also a founding member who attends meetings and spends many hours keeping track of the club’s history, although she retired and moved out of the downtown area years ago and now lives in Allen.

The club has a fun social gathering, an “event of the month,” throughout the year, and a book club that meets about every six weeks in the evening at a member’s home. This month the club’s annual holiday party—held after the typical holiday season so family reunions and office parties don’t conflict—will be held at a club member’s newly renovated home on Strait Lane.

The club has an annual “get away from it all” rustic retreat weekend at the Ferndale Club which includes two nights lodging and six meals, fireside chats, nature trails, spa opportunities and a wine tasting.

Also in February, the club will sponsor five weekly Monday Networking Happy Hours at Savor Gastropub in downtown Dallas, located on the corner of Klyde Warren Park. Club members and guests are encouraged to attend. A portion of proceeds from food and drink purchased at Savor will go to the Altrusa Club’s Foundation to disburse as grants later in the year. Anyone interested in meeting the club members or learning more about its activities can attend the Savor Mondays in February, beginning at 5:00 p.m.

The Club’s first service project of 2016 is Monday, January 18, from 9:00 a.m.to 12:00 Noon, as members prep classrooms for the Spring Semester for the Vickery Meadow Learning Centers at its two different locations, including the Main Campus located at 6329 Ridgecrest Road and the West campus at 1018 Gallagher Street.

To learn more about the downtown club see: www.altrusadtd.com

For information on the Savor Mondays in February, contact Debby Weber at: debby@weberdsn.com

For information on membership or to attend a Tuesday lunch meeting at the City Club contact Monica Urbaniak at: monica@dallasrapecrisis.org

For more information on the organization see: http://www.altrusa.org/Who-We-Are.aspx

The current 2015 – 2016 Altrusa Club Board consists of:

  • Niki Payne - President
  • Nina Cox - President Elect
  • Amy Gavigan -  Recording Secretary
  • Nicole LeBoeuf - VP Service
  • Marsha Reynolds - VP Communications
  • Lori Blair - VP Fundraising
  • Monica Urbaniak - VP Membership
  • Scottie Kennedy - Treasurer
  • Carol Kilman -  Parliamentarian
  • Kim Schonwald- Immediate Past President, Club Board Liaison to Foundation Board

 The District Nine 2016 Conference - Key to the West (Fri, Apr 22, 2016 - Sun, Apr 24, 2016)

The 60th Annual Altrusa District Nine Conference, is April 22-24, 2016. The conference will be held at the gorgeous retreat-like setting of the DFW Marriott Convention Center and Golf Resort at Champions Circle in Fort Worth, Texas... where "the West" begins!

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