Elsa Norwood Inspiring People Dallas

We are so grateful for the support of the Community. During the past 69 years, Crystal Charity has raised more than $175 million benefitting 153 children’s charities.”

– Susan Farris

“No matter what happens, we have to carry on, doing whatever we are asked to do. That is God’s gift to us. Because we get one shot at this trip.”

– Elsa Norwood.

Any preconceived notion of this year’s Chairman of the Crystal Charity Ball as possibly being a bit imperious (she has, after all, achieved what many perceive as the pinnacle of Dallas society) melts in the presence of Susan Farris and her all-embracing smile.  Minutes into our conversation, it is “crystal” clear that she could care less about her own social status.  She is passionate, however, about the status of the children’s charities in Dallas County benefitted by the CCB.

It’s all about the children.

Susan’s background as a volunteer is extremely impressive – starting even while she was rearing three children after she and her husband John (whom she met at SMU) finally settled in Dallas. “I volunteered for a lot of non-profits until I found my niche,” says Susan. Her volunteerism included La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, whose programs benefit the Park Cities; Contact Crisis Line; The Salvation Army and chairing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) luncheon, to name just a few.

“Once our children started school, I became involved in the PTA.  I also took school tours at the Dallas Museum of Art, my Junior League placement for several years.”  There began to emerge a pattern of helping children.  She found her way to the Children’s Medical Center Foundation, where she was on the board for several years. And from there, the logical next step was to become a member of the Crystal Charity Ball, where she is now in her 14th year.

To what does she attribute her giving spirit?  “100% of the credit goes to my mother,” she says without stopping to think. Her mother became a community volunteer in Winnetka, Illinois, helping numerous non-profits. Susan had three brothers, and her mother was involved with their schools.  “She was all about service. She would say, ‘You can do it all! Then come home and cook dinner at night!’”, laughed Susan.  “After we went to college, she became Mayor of Winnetka for two years.”

Now, it’s Susan’s time, chairing the CCB as it celebrates its 70th year.  The goal this year is raising $7,180,555 on behalf of eight outstanding beneficiaries.  The theme is personal to Susan: “Splendido Italiano.”  Susan is 51% Italian – her mother was a “Capuzzi,” which means “boss!”

But – back to where we started – perception versus reality.  “The Ball is not what we are all about.  You can’t buy tickets. The Ball is really a thank-you for donations made throughout the year,” she said.  “We also have other events during the year – the Ten Best Dressed Luncheon, for one.  And why?” she asks, admitting that it may seem a little frivolous. “We are in our 48th year for this luncheon. Neiman Marcus underwrites the event, and the past two years, NorthPark Center has joined as a sponsor as well.  The purpose is to raise funds that pay the Ball’s expenses – the luncheon/fashion show pays for the Ball!”  This allows, says Susan, for 100% of the Ball’s underwriting dollars to go to the Beneficiaries.

“People love the luncheon,” said Susan. “There were two seatings at Neiman Marcus NorthPark: more than 500 total for the morning brunch and the afternoon Aperitivo.  This year, the featured designer was Dolce & Gabbana.  The September luncheon was sold out in June.”

Susan looks back – and forward.  “We are so grateful for the support of the Community. During the past 69 years, Crystal Charity has raised more than $175 million benefitting 153 children’s charities.  We are looking forward to celebrating at the Ball and to meeting all of this year’s donors.”

So, don’t let the glitter of the Ball or the Fashion Show confuse you.  After all, according to Susan, it’s all about the children. And because of that, I doubt that there has even been one “imperious” Ball Chairman throughout its 70 years.

Linda Faulkner Johnston – The Tradition

To be an underwriter and attend the Ball which takes place Saturday, December 3rd, go to www.crystalcharityball.org where you may print out an underwriting contract, or call the CCB office at 214.526.5868. 











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