George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, talked about the importance of family, faith and service to those in need during the Buckner Hope for Children dinner May 1 at Dallas Market Center. The event, Buckner International’s premier annual fundraising dinner, saw a record-setting attendance.
Bush shared his comments along with his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, in a question-and-answer interview format with WFAA Channel 8 news anchor Cynthia Izaguirre. Among the topics discussed were the recent death of his mother, Barbara Bush, grandparenting, and parenting daughters Jenna and Barbara while serving as president.
The pair also shared their personal recollections of the events surrounding 9/11, offering the crowd of almost 1,000 a personal look at the tragedy that shook the world and served as a defining moment of Bush’s presidency.
Buckner International President and CEO Albert Reyes called Bush’s public service and family an "inspiration" to America and the world.
"President Bush and Jenna, day after day, the staff of Buckner who work with some of the most vulnerable children and families in the world, tell me that one of the greatest gifts we can give them is inspiration," Reyes said. "Inspiration is the first step to hope. You and your family provide the kind of inspiration that leads to hope."
In recognition of the Bush family’s contributions, Reyes presented the former president and his daughter with folk art depictions of Jesus washing feet. The set was crafted from banana leaves by a Kenyan artisan whose family was served by the Buckner Family Hope Center of Nairobi.
During his keynote address, Reyes recalled Bush’s first inaugural address in 2001. "Standing in front of the American people and the entire world, he talked about a 'story' that was the American story."
He remembered Bush’s words that America is a story "'of flawed and fallible people united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals. The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.'
"That clear call from President Bush must reverberate in this hall tonight," Reyes said. "Everyone deserves a chance. No insignificant person has ever been born. And while those words were spoken in 2001, their meaning has been the very heart and soul of Buckner International and friends like you for more than 139 years. That is why we say with one voice, 'Hope shines here!'"
The event also served as the public kick-off of the "Shining Hope Dallas" campaign to build and fund a Buckner Family Hope Center in the Bachman Lake Community of Dallas.
Campaign co-chairs Meredith and Kyle Bebee and Katie and John Golden made the announcement, appealing to the crowd to support the effort.
"The goal of the campaign is simple," explained John Golden. "To raise $14.5 million to build a new Buckner Family Hope Center in the very heart of the Bachman community – an area that is home to nearly 90,000 vulnerable people. Together, we’re going to build something that becomes the most significant place in the Bachman community. This Family Hope Center will become a beacon of hope."
Meredith Bebee echoed the need, inviting Dallas to rally behind the effort. "Kyle and I are so excited to be part of this campaign. We’re already seeing the incredible impact we can have on this community. And with your help, we’ll do even more."
The campaign seeks to raise capital and operating funds for the new Buckner ministry, which will offer programs and services to protect children and strengthen families in the area. Preliminary fundraising efforts among select Buckner supporters have already raised $9.5 million towards the goal, including a $1.125 million commitment from Crystal Charity Ball.
The proposed 21,795-square-foot, two-story Family Hope Center will be built on approximately two acres at the corner of Lombardy Avenue and Geraldine Drive. It will sit strategically between multi-unit family living complexes and single-family homes in one of Dallas’ most economically challenged areas. Buckner operates 26 similar Family Hope Centers in Texas and six countries.