A sure sign of spring is the VOICE Inc. Spring Luncheon, which was held Thursday at the Cook Center at Navarro College.

Bird cages with candles and greenery along with fresh fruit centerpieces added to the festive spring flair of the Cook Center for this event, in which pulled pork sandwiches, chicken salad, and key lime cupcakes were served, prepared by Bob and Donna O’Toole. Waiters for this event were male leaders in the community and political candidates.

This was the eighth annual spring luncheon for VOICE Inc., which provides services to families and children over an eight-county area. According to Lynda Sloan, CEO of VOICE, over 30,000 children and families were assisted in the last year with programs and services designed to promote healthy lifestyles and healthy families.

Hors d’oevres were served while guests browsed the silent auction items, which included a garden package, a “date night” basket, a “Me Time” package, Texas wines, travel, and more.

C.L. “Buster” Brown III, chairman of the VOICE board of trustees, announced Eric R. Meyers as the recipient for this year’s Gioia Keeney Service to Children Award. Meyers is the president of Oil City Iron Works, the Office of Emergency Management coordinator, vice chairman of Go Texan, is on the board of the Texas Chapter Foundry Education, and has served in the past on the VOICE board of trustees. He is a father, husband and son, and was unable to accept his award in person due to a surgery on Tuesday. His wife, Angela Meyers, accepted the award on his behalf.

“Eric always admired Mrs. Keeney,” she said. “To receive this award in her honor is a highlight to his career.”

Leslie Norris Townsend, comedienne, was the speaker for the luncheon, and began her schtick with a couple of songs, including one called “This List” about her husband and a honey-do list to the tune of Faith Hill’s “This Kiss.”

A married mother of two boys, Townsend lamented about the “honeymoon phase” being over in her marriage about 10 years into it, when her husband’s idea of a big night out is a trip to Wal-Mart to get duct tape.

Originally from Pensacola, Townsend’s career took her to Los Angeles, where she met her husband, who was production manager for Loretta Lynn. He proposed and mentioned living “on a farm,” and in her mind, she pictured Gone with the Wind.

“It wasn’t that way,” Townsend said. “I was pregnant, and one morning he woke me up saying ‘Let’s go pull a calf.’ I said, ‘You know I don’t like aerobics.” So wearing her $65 Reeboks, she saw their prized cow “hunched over really ugly, and the moos were just awful.”

After being a comedienne on the road for 20 years, doing things like “The Tonight Show,” Townsend decided to make a sacrifice to stay home when her sons were little. She found herself yelling at them increasingly, so she began praying for help. She also tried drinking during Oprah Winfrey, just to relax. Going to church, she enlisted more people to pray for her.

“On the fifth year of praying, a miracle happened,” she said. “The school bus came to my house — and the angel of the Lord was driving. He said he’d pick up my son at 8 a.m. and drop him off at 4 p.m. I said, ‘Thank you, Jesus! How much is this going to cost? Can you come on Saturday and Sunday too? The moral of the story is, never give up!”

Sloan followed the speaker thanking the VOICE board, underwriters, sponsors, in-kind sponsors, and Melissa Stacy and the luncheon committee, which includes Tresa Darby, Sue Lagomarsino, Faith Holt, Paula Butler, Rev. Leslie Byrd and Gina Dieterichs.

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