Published May 10, 2021 at 3:58pm.
Story and photos by Jan Osborn.
The past year-and-a-half has been challenging for different reasons to different people. For Yvonne Crum, it has especially been a distinct lifestyle change. Yvonne has been out in the community raising resources for local nonprofits for over forty years. Her value of hard work paired with an effervescent personality make her one of the most well-known fundraisers in Dallas. For Yvonne, being around people and making life better for others is what keeps her going at the young age of 80.
Yvonne’s life began with a series of challenges. She grew up with an alcoholic mother and never met her father. She says, “I was always left alone and in the 9th grade I came home from school and everything was gone except my bed and my clothes.” Her mother never returned home, and Yvonne never heard from her again or knows what happened to her. After her mom left, Yvonne lived in several foster homes and says, “I saw more than I ever should have seen. I think it framed my way to a life of caring for others and volunteering.”
After an interview with Braniff Airlines in 1964, Yvonne was hired the very same day. She flew for 46 years, 26 with Braniff Airlines and 20 with American Airlines. Yvonne loved every day of it saying, “It gave me the freedom to make my schedule and have time for other things that I wanted to do for the community.”
In May of 1967 Yvonne met the love of her life, Mayo Crum, and they were married four months later. The Crums had two boys, Paul and Mike. But at the age of 26, Paul was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from seeing the new Texas Motor Speedway, a devastating loss for the entire family. Mike became a professional skateboarder and recently co-founded 4DWN Project, a charitable organization and facility, rooted in skateboarding, brought to life with volunteers, whose mission is fostering growth & opportunity for youth in the community. Last April, after nearly 53 years together, Mayo passed away.
As a young mother Yvonne began volunteering with Dallas Summer Musicals and other events around the city, dedicating years to community service. Dallas philanthropist, the late Ruth Altshuler, approached Yvonne about chairing an event for the Mental Health Association. “It was there,” Yvonne says, “that I was introduced to Margie Wright, Executor Director of Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas (SCC), and in 2006 she asked me to chair a fundraiser for SCC. I said yes, and here I am all these years later.” Yvonne says it’s the most fulfilling thing she has ever done. Yvonne had the idea of combining the SCC fundraiser with fashion and that was the beginning of Fashion Stars For A Cause (FSFAC) benefiting SCC. Yvonne realized the best way to involve the community in raising awareness and funds to provide hope was to select a dozen women and men annually to serve as fundraising ambassadors. These ambassadors, or Fashion Stars, work tirelessly to promote and sell raffle tickets for the annual FSFAC signature event, which is a celebration of fashion and compassion. Since the beginning of FSFAC, more than $2 million has been raised for the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas in support of providing hope and saving lives.
When asked what most impacted Yvonne during her time working with SCC, she says “I think at the time in 2006, not that many were saying the word suicide. FSFAC helped change that and put a focus on mental health problems and what it leads to.” Yvonne goes on to say, “Just hearing so many talking about it, it’s now a great tool for steering people to get help. The best tool of all is listening! I never give advice on the subject. I just help them to the direction of the Suicide and Crisis Center and Margie Wright.”
Yvonne has been an inspiration to many who volunteer in Dallas, and her own inspiration runs deep. “What inspires me most these days with FSFAC,” says Yvonne “is how so many have stayed involved and still care about the cause. We have become a vessel to those struggling with suicidal thoughts to get them to the right place. That is Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas.”
Yvonne has traveled the world but still calls Dallas home. She says, “My favorite part of living in Dallas is the opportunities available for all of those who want to do anything to help others. So many organizations have a volunteer army, and these days it takes one!” Yvonne is proud and happy to be associated with SCC, Margie Wright, and all the amazing individuals that help each year.
With all that Yvonne has faced over eight decades—abandonment, stage 3b breast cancer, the loss of a son and husband—she still feels extremely lucky. She says, “I still look forward to every day I have. Most of all, I am GRATEFUL.” The advice she often gives to her granddaughter, Samantha, applies to us all. “Do something that YOU like and you will always be content. Most of all, be kind to all you meet, as you never know what they are going through.”
Fashion Stars For A Cause will be held on Saturday, October 23, 2021. If you would like more information regarding Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas, call the 24/7 Crisis Line at (214) 828-1000 or (800) 273-8255. You can also visit sccenter.org.