My first trip to Gladney’s Texas Campus will be difficult to beat. The New York Asia Program Team arrived in Dallas/Fort Worth on Thursday afternoon. We loaded our bags in an SUV, piled in, drove straight to Skittle at Six Flags Over Texas and jumped out! I hardly had time to be nervous (or prepare for the Texas heat) as I began meeting Gladney Families, staff, and board members. Roller coasters turned out to be great ice breakers! Everyone seemed to be having a great time, running from one Texas themed ride to another, winning Texas sized prizes, and resting to catch some Texas themed entertainment.
Friday was a whirlwind of meeting more co-workers who I e-mail with often, but have never met in person. As we toured Gladney’s main campus, our guide made the scene come alive with Gladney’s rich history and her own personal stories. Seeing the residence for birthmothers was a unique opportunity and further showed how committed Gladney is to helping pregnant women in need. The women who live there have a computer lab, gym and pool onsite. They share “family meals” and have areas to study, read, and relax. I was very impressed with the facility. My favorite part of the main campus was the “adoption museum” in the visitor’s center. I could have spent hours staring at the collection of photographs and reading stories, but we were a busy bunch!
We had lunch with Gladney Family Association (GFA) volunteers and leaders where Gladney directors told us about the status of various Gladney programs and services. Later, we rejoined GFA leaders at a happy hour. These families are enthusiastic about Gladney and helping other adoptive families. Meeting these loyal members was greatly encouraging.
Saturday was the big event, “The 125th Anniversary Coming Home Party” at the Gladney Center Campus. Children and families gathered to celebrate with Gladney staff and volunteers. There were dancers, face painting, jumpy castles, a petting zoo, crafts, photo booths, a train ride, and more! The day flew by as we helped kids make Chinese lanterns, met families, and soaked up the sun. We watched traditional Ethiopian dancers, a dragon presentation, line dancers, and ballerinas. After such an exciting day, we had no time to be tired as that evening was the Gala!
Dressed to the nines, we joined Gladney families, donors, and honorees at the 125th Anniversary Gala held at the Omni Hotel. The event was spectacular! While the entire weekend was amazing, the Gala really drove home how outstanding Gladney is. You could feel the passion for Gladney and for adoption. It was remarkable to be surrounded by such inspiring families and individuals. I am honored to work for Gladney and be part of this wonderful organization. Gladney really is a place “Where Hope is Born”!!