In its fourth year, NorthPark Center’s Ambassador program boldly merges the worlds of fashion, art and philanthropy. Together with Nancy A. Nasher, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman brought a masterful idea to life ― The Ambassadors ― which shines the spotlight on Dallas’ top influencers and the nonprofits they support.
Hand-selected for their philanthropic contributions, each year-long ambassadorship offers the opportunity to partner with NorthPark Center and its retailers for various events and initiatives to benefit their respective charitable organization. This year’s Ambassadors possess and unswerving commitment to the community, and are unshakably tethered to fashion, art and stylish philanthropy.
Today, we catch up with Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. The chair of the NorthPark Ambassadors Program, she is also an author, lifestyle expert, and Southern Living editor at large.
Whitman’s chosen philanthropy is Dec My Room ― enhancing the lives of children who are admitted to a hospital for a prolonged period. Dec My Room personalizes their hospital room to complement their special interests. This innovative program helps elevate the mood of patients as they continue their healing process.
Why are you passionate about this charitable organization?
Schlegel Whitman: I learned about Dec My Room through NorthPark Center. They were early supporters as the non-profit was just getting started in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the NorthPark team supported them by hosting their first ever fund-raising luncheon. I was really proud to be a part of it and emcee the fashion show that Neiman Marcus presented.
The annual luncheon has continued at NorthPark year after year and I just love watching it grow. The volunteers are so passionate about the great work they are doing ― cheering up the pediatric patients by decorating their hospital rooms during extended stays.
With social distancing, how are you staying engaged with your friends and community?
We are enjoying all of the family time, although I really miss my friends and all of the wonderful people that I get to be around in our amazing community. I love the way that social media keeps so many people connected, but it isn’t the same as the joyful gatherings that we used to share.
NorthPark is at the center of both fashion and art. Describe your own fashion and art interests:
At the start of our “safe at home” time, I was stuck in my yoga pants and tees, but after a few weeks (and Zoom calls where I felt underdressed), I decided it was time to really start getting dressed again. I’m certainly not doing it every day, but I’m trying to keep it fun.
I think so many people are feeling a new gratitude for their homes right now as well. We certainly are. I’ve always been passionate about living with art, and actually thought I would work in the art market someday. I studied Art History at SMU and at Christie’s. I started collecting when I had my first apartment.
I think surrounding yourself with the work of other creative people is good for the soul. That’s one of the many reason’s I love spending time at NorthPark too. From my children’s awe every single time they look up from under Ivan Navarro’s This Land is Your Land, to my own joy every time I walk under Ad Astra ― the art at NorthPark truly enhances the experience of being there.
What little luxuries, hobbies or rituals are keeping you sane these days?
We have been setting the table almost every evening, and it has become such a fun family activity. Millie helps with the choices, and the placement of everything. She especially loves it when family is coming over and she can really show off her table-scaping skills. It really just helps make our dinner time feel a little bit more special every evening.
Describe your ideal day:
Any day that is different than the day before. I’m not good at routine and I like new fresh adventures.
What is your chosen philanthropy doing in the times of COVID-19 to continue its mission and cause?
The mission of Dec My Room is to create healing places for children admitted to the hospital for stays of three weeks or longer, by decorating their rooms in their own personalized style. Given the present “No Visitor” policy at Children’s Health, the team of Dec My Room volunteers quickly pivoted to online shopping and dropping off thoughtful and personalized items to the social workers. Together we take extreme caution to ensure that all supplies are sanitized, as the social workers joyfully install the decorations in the patient’s rooms.
Many of the volunteers who are typically putting their creative talents to use by decorating patient rooms, have started painting rocks with motivational sayings, and sewing appealing masks for patients and family members. In this increased time of isolation and limitations for the patients, Dec My Room created Find It Games with the hope that both the patients, health care workers and families can find a degree of fun while in the hospital.
Several volunteers and friends have done social media fundraising campaigns and there have been many more private donations which help to continue the mission.