The unsung heroes behind the scenes of North Texas’ nonprofit pandemic recovery


Overcoming the pandemic was not that easy. It was a bit like waking up from a coma or hibernation. As North Texas nonprofits have regrouped to raise funds for those in need, the providers they serve have encountered challenges that many may not realize.

To provide servers and behind-the-scenes staff for fundraisers, it was a tough job hiring people who show up… and more importantly, are accountable.

Like restaurants, caterers have fought valiantly to bring back their waiters and kitchen staff who have had to be laid off during the months of the pandemic.

As for the valet parkers, it was even more challenging. Not only do they need to bring back their tried and true employees, but they also need to find extra people who not only don’t have cars screeching out of the driveway, but also don’t search through vehicles for “items.”

What is that? What is special about these luxury companies? Nothing unless you realize that the people who give generously deserve quality because they have made this field remarkable.

There were times when fundraisers were held in frigid and blustery conditions and these outdoor Sir Walter Raleighs literally braved all the elements to reassure guests.

Even old-timers might not know that the event servers and parkers keep life smooth well beyond their job descriptions. Example: After a major fundraiser, when recruitment for the clean-up operations recently began, the organizers realized that not enough staff had been recruited. Without hesitation, the servers/valets stepped in and worked into the wee hours of the morning.

According to eyewitnesses, a situation arose a few years ago when a prominent real estate agent blocked all traffic at a residential driveway for an afternoon fundraiser. As the arriving cars piled up, he/she was keen to strike a deal and didn’t budge. Despite the valet’s repeated pleas, he/she was anchored in the driver’s seat. Eventually the deal was finalized and he/she handed over the car to the parkers. An hour later, he/she picked up their car and tipped the valet… a quarter.

Yet another episode happened eons ago when a man who had built an empire and had a reputation for philanthropy was also known among parkers as a challenge to the park attendants. The routine was too familiar. Upon arriving with his petite wife, he was friendly but distant. But when he left, his Dr. Jekyll turned into a belligerent Mr. Hyde. Once, at a Beverly Drive mansion, his ugly side was so out of touch that the valets suggested that his little Mrs. take the car keys home with her. The gentleman was so outraged by the suggestion that he lashed out at Parker, hitting his wife instead. Fortunately, the situation calmed down when Mr sat in the passenger seat and the woman drove home.

However, if you attend an event in the coming weeks/months/years where a server or parker is at your disposal, at least thank them. And if you like heart and wallet, add a little extra tip.

There are still some among the area’s philanthropists who remember their early days when even a meager tip made the difference in their households.

* Photo credit: Skeeter Hagler

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