Dream Dinners looking for families in need of three months’ of meals

We started doing Dream Dinners a few years ago, driving all the way up to the Mesa location until they opened the Sunset Valley store closer to our home. If you’re not familiar with Dream Dinners, here’s how it works:

You go online and browse the schedule of available times. You’re going to do the assembling of meals, not the cooking, but it can still take from half and hour to more than an hour (depending on how much chatting you do with the other guests). Then you pick at least six meals to assemble from their menu, which changes every month. Pay online with your credit card, then show up for your time.

When you get there, they give you an apron and the list of meals you purchased. Each meal serves about six people, but you can break a meal into two servings of three. Then you wash your hands and go over to that meal’s station, where – and this is the great part – all of the pans and ingredients are pre-cut and ready to throw together. It’s like having your own personal sous chef.

If you happen to book the same time as a few friends, you can bring a bottle of wine and make a little cooking happy hour out of it. Just… stay…focused…Monica… and don’t confuse the ginger with the horseradish…

What makes Austin Dream Dinners great is that it’s owned and operated by two really fantastic women who are always there. I mean, like, always. This is their life. And they’ve been very successful businesswomen, and they deserve it.

I recieve their emails with notices of specials, new meals, etc. But this email was different.

Dream Dinners Is Now Taking Applications for Families Who Need a Helping Hand

Dream Dinners will provide three Austin families in need with free meals for three months as part of our Feeding Families In Need Outreach Program. We will collect nominations for families in need until May 18 and our review committee will select three families no later than June 1. Once the families are chosen, they will immediately be notified and will be able to order their first of three months worth of dinners.

Applications can be found at:

• Sunset Valley Homestead, 5207 Brodie Ln., Austin, TX 78745, 512-358-8833
• Mesa Woods, 8127 Mesa Dr., Austin, TX 78759, 512-342-6860
• RR 620 N, 12129 RR 620 N., Austin, TX 78750, 512-401-2800

You may also email sunsetvalleyhometx@dreamdinners.com or fax 512-358-8377 to obtain or submit an application.


I’m having a hard time not nominating myself, but if you can think of a few families who could use a break from groceries, please let Dream Dinners know.

Kerry Tate inspires dozens of women at GENaustin event last Friday

Kerry Tate of TateAustinHahnGENaustin’s fundraising event enjoyed a full house at the MACC last Friday, thanks to its headliner, Kerry Tate.  Tate is the founder of big-time Austin PR firm, TateAustinHahn.

I Twittered from the event because Tate was throwing out some real gems (see below). But the big takeaway was her “Ann Richards and 5 Things Story,” which she’s probably told before but which was pretty fresh to me. I’ll paraphrase the story here (thereby removing most of the charm, but here it is):

Years ago Tate saw Richards at Las Manitas. They were just acquaintencances at the time, but Richards charismatically demanded (as only Richards could) that Tate sit at her table. In the course of their short, one-sided conversation, Richards said, “Kerry, you need to tell me five things about yourself that you stand for and that make you who you are,” or something to that effect. “And whenever someone asks you to do something, you make sure it aligns with at least four of those five things, and if it doesn’t you say no.”

Tate, nervous and kind of awe-struck, told her she didn’t have those five things. “Well, why not?” demanded Richards. To deflect, Tate asked Richards for her five things, and Richards pulled an envelope  and a pen out of her purse, wrote them down, and handed it to Tate.

“Now Kerry, you need to go home and think about your list of five things. Because if don’t live your list, you’re going to be living somebody else’s.”

“Don’t live someone else’s list.” The “list” in Tate’s world, is her personal brand, and it’s something she said she bears in mind whenever establishing a client’s brand, too. Tate urged us to go out and make out own list. And I will, as soon as I think I could stay awake for the whole exercise.

I hadn’t expected Tate to be such a charming storyteller, but then again, it makes sense that she is. As one of Austin’s best known PR professionals, storytelling has got to be one of her skills. What interested me about Tate was her new venture, Civic Interest. Apparently, that’s what lots of other people were there for, too. Tate described it as a place where people with a civic interest can figure out what to do next. Hmmm. All I know is, they got David Balch, former executive director of United Way Capital Area. I sat next to him at the last Hispanic Quality of Life Initiative forum on the arts, but it wasn’t the right place to ask about it. So it’s still a mystery to me what it’s all about, but I would love to know more .



In the meantime, one of GENaustin’s high school employees certainly held her own. She’s part of the nonprofit’s ClubGEN program, which trains high school girls to be mentors to middle school girls, because who else is a middle school girl going to listen to? She told us about what a great program ClubGEN is, how much fun she has connecting with the other girls, and how great an experience it has been to take on a leadership role. Wish I’d had someone like her when I was in middle school…

If you’re concerned about girls and their problems with body image, self esteem, popularity, teen pregnancy, and other related challenges, GENaustin needs your support. Find out more here.

More of Tate’s gems (from my Tweets):

“Run toward trouble. The opportunities right now are where there’s turmoil, where there’s change.”

“Delight, humor, wonder, authenticity, believability” – When you know your own brand, you have these things.

“PR is doing something good and making sure you get caught.”

“PR is where we spend a lot of time and someone else’s money to tell their story.”

How Austin Does Earth Day: Calendar of Earth Day Events

By Amanda D. Quraishi

Earth Day is officially observed on April 22, but we celebrate it all month in Austin. With so many opportunities to celebrate, there’s no excuse not to. Remember, this is what “Don’t Mess with Texas” is all about.

APRIL 18: Earth Day: Gateway to the Green Economy
The Austin Farmers’ Market presents a series of events for the entire family, starting with the Austin Farmer’s Market and eARTh Day Expo. Visitors can expect to find lots of local produce and nature-inspired art. There is a special area set up for Kids; and a free Solar Jam concert featuring local musicians who have each donated a 30-minute set. Sponsors, exhibitors, performers and volunteers are all needed.

Date: Saturday, April 18, 9:00am – 3:00pm
Location: Republic Square Park (4th and Guadalupe)

APRIL 17-19: Green Apple Festival

The Green Apple Festival is a nationwide celebration of Earth Day founded in 2006 by executive producer Peter Shapiro. Cities across the U.S. including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Denver participate by coordinating a series of volunteer opportunities which meet the unique needs of the communities in which they are held. This year, Austin’s Green Apple Festival volunteer opportunities include the Shoal Creek Cleanup, Green Gardening with Keep Austin Beautiful, and the YMCA Healthy Kids Day. Visit the Volunteer link to learn about and sign up for all of the events being held this year.

Date: April 17-19
Location: All over Austin!

April 17-18: LCRA / McKinney Roughs Nature Park Earth Day Festival

The LCRA and McKinney Roughs Nature Park are teaming up for a series of fun events over the weekend before Earth Day.  The fun begins on Friday, April 17 with Stargazing at the Roughs.  The next day the Earth Day Festival features crafts, activity booths, nature and animal presentations, vendors, food and music.  Later that day the Earth Day Kayak Trip allows kids and adults to enjoy the Colorado River wildlife and scenery.

Date: April 17-18
Location: McKinney Roughs Nature Park, Hwy 71 13.2 miles east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on the westbound side.
Contact: (512) 303-5073  / outdoorprograms@lcra.org
Volunteers: outdoorprograms@lcra.org

APRIL 22: Keep Austin Beautiful: Lady Bird Lake Cleanup (VOLUNTEERS NEEDED)
KAB will lead a team of volunteers to clean up the beloved Lady Bird Lake and Trail.  This area is a favorite destination for thousands of Austinites each week and we all have a stake in keeping it beautiful.

Date: April 22
Location: North shore of Lady Bird Lake underneath I35
Contact: Andrea Dravigne, 610-7768 or dravignea@nwf.org
Volunteers: http://forms.keepaustinbeautiful.org.s27.dotnetsql.com/Forms/VolunteerApplication.aspx

APRIL 22: ACES: Earth Day Luncheon
The Austin Coalition for Environmental Sustainability will hold a luncheon, silent auction and musical reception along with other fun events at Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.
Date: April 22, noon
Location: Ruby Rupner Auditorium / Jay C. Hormel Nature Center
Contact: Susan Hurm, shurm@hotmail.com
Volunteers: Susan Hurm, shurm@hotmail.com

APRIL 22: Free Reusable Bags from HEB

In celebration of Earth Day, H-E-B is striving to remove 1.5 million plastic bags from the environment.  Next Wednesday, April 22 from 3pm to 7 pm, customers can bring in 5 plastic bags and receive one reusable bag for free. H-E-B hopes to give out 300,000 reusable bags in a four-hour period. No purchase is necessary, but there is a limit of one free reusable bag per customer, and the free bags will only be available between 3 P.M. – 7 P.M. while supplies last.

Date: April 22, 3:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: All HEB stores

APRIL 25-26: Eastside Café: Recycling Challenge! (VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!)
The Eastside Café is calling for volunteers to join teams of non-profit organizations for the Art City Austin Recycling Challenge.  Volunteers will man recycling stations and the winning team will receive $1000 for the non-profit organization.  As an incentive, the volunteers will receive free admission to the festival (regular ticket price is $8/$15 for two-day pass), a t-shirt, and an invitation to the volunteer appreciation party.  Art City Austin is a fantastic art festival with over 20,000 visitors expected this year.

Date: April 25-26
Location: Along Cesar Chavez Street from Colorado Street to Lamar
Contact: (512-476-5858 / eastside@io.com
Volunteers: www.eastsidecafeaustin.com/recyclingchallenge/volunteer.html

Amanda Quraishi is a freelance writer, professional blogger and activist.  She’s spent nine years working in the trenches of the Austin non-profit community in roles ranging from volunteer to executive director.  This year she was honored by the National Women’s History Project as one of the Women Helping to Save the Planet because of her work on her sustainable style blog Fashion, Evolved (www.evolvedfashion.com).  You can learn more about Amanda’s freelance writing on her online Ezine: www.theqreation.com.

Mariposa Montessori School Fundraiser

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement regarding my children’s preschool event. Thanks for your patience!

Sam loves to learn!

Dear friend of Mariposa Montessori School:

You’re invited to be a part of our school fundraiser! More than 100 parents and school supporters will enjoy great food and company at the school’s second annual fundraiser. Thanks to support from the community, 100% of your sponsorship donation goes directly to the school.

Please consider making this generous donation to be a sponsor. While we are not a nonprofit organization, we are an Austin-born, Montessori-based preschool, serving over 50 Austin children, ages 3 months to 6 years, by providing a supportive, engaging environment to prepare them for grade school.

Friend of Mariposa Sponsorship: $200
Includes the following:
Recognition on the cover of the evening’s program
Your name on posters at the event
Recognition and announcement of your name at the event
Recognition of your support on Mariposa Montessori website
Two (2) free tickets to the fundraiser (value $35 each)

Complete the sponsorhip form online here

Need an official letter? Download and print it here.

Please indicate your support by Friday, May 1, 2009
You can complete the sponsorhip form online here. Questions? Contact parent volunteer Monica M. Williams or call at 512.627.8178.
Thank you in advance for your generous support!

About the fundraiser
Mariposa Montessori School Spring Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, May 16, from 6-10 p.m. at The Scoot Inn, 1308 E. 4th St @ Navasota. Music will be by Mario Matteoli, Dinner will be by Ruby’s Barbeque. Sales from donated silent auction items will also benefit the school.

About Mariposa Montessori School  
When Mariposa Montessori School opened in 2007, the community responded by quickly embracing the school and recognizing the strengths and talents of its teachers and staff. Today the overwhelming desire for more Montessori education enabled the school to open a second Children’s House this past fall, with even more growth on the horizon!  With your support, Mariposa Montessori School will continue to grow and make valuable contributions to the Austin community.  It is through the continued involvement of our families and the local business community that Mariposa Montessori School is able to fulfill its mission to educate and empower the children of Austin, Texas.  We hope you will be a part of the school’s mission by becoming a generous sponsor of our fundraising event.

Weird! Free breakfast, free dinner this week

I just got an email from IKEA advertising, among other things, free breakfast this Friday – Sunday. And earlier today, I heard via Twitter that Threadgill’son Lamar is giving away free CFS, CFC, and catfish dinners all week (tell them you heard it on the radio).

I know I can be pretty naive and sentimental, but doesn’t it  just make you feel like people are looking out for each other? Yes, I know, to get the free breakfast from IKEA you have to wander all the way through the store, and chances are you’re going to buy something. And I know you can’t go to Threadgill’s and not get pie. They’re going to make money off the deals.

But still. Free food! It reminds me of when I was at Southwestern, working at Cafe on the Square, mostly for the free CFS, and bumming the rest of week because I had to scrounge around for free meals. I would have been all over this.

What a strange world. You have to admit this economy is an adventure. And if you don’t think so, try getting a table at Threadgill’s tonight.

Tell It to the Troops

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D), a national nonprofit with an office in Austin, is sending a CD of your recorded messages to our military troops. Now is your chance to tell our servicemen and servicewomen how much you appreciate their sacrifice and dedication. These greetings from home and words of gratitude could be an effective and poignant boost to morale. RFB&D is hoping to find at least 250 Austinites to record for this effort, and that means you. Go ahead. Say thank you. Recordings can be scheduled from April 20th through April 25th. See Tributes for Troops for registration information.

VIDEO: Interview with Laurie Loew of Give Realty

More about Laurie Loew and her real estate agency that gives 25% of its commission to the charity of your choice in your name (still blows me away) in our next issue. In the meantime, enjoy this short interview by Christine Cox.

Check out more GivingCity videos on our YouTube channel.