By Deb Silverthorn
While the pandemic brought much pain, goodness has blossomed in the form of the Dallas Magnolias, founded by Tammany Stern. The group’s mission is born out of her desire to reach and support others. It aims to inspire, motivate and support women in the workplace, home and through philanthropy.
“Over my last nearly-40 years in business my goal has been to help individuals save money, to help businesses grow, and since March 2020 both of those ideas have been really difficult,” said Stern. “Through Dallas Magnolias we have been able to support so many causes, so many people. It truly does ‘take a village’ to make a difference in the lives of others and, through the Dallas Magnolias, women with big hearts, we’re expanding that village.”
The Dallas Magnolias have helped organizations including the DISD, Dallas Police Association, Jewish Family Service, Turtle Creek Conservancy, Vogel Alcove and Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer as well as numerous homeless shelters, veterans’ and senior-support groups. They have achieved this through financial support, hands-on volunteering and donations of goods.
The women have:
- Provided more than 11,000 school supplies and over 300 backpacks for students in DISD;
- Donated hundreds of toys, food and money to the families of Vogel Alcove;
- Donated to Pajamas for Seniors, providing hundreds of sleepwear items for seniors in nursing homes; and
- Given more than 1,000 sandwiches to those in homeless shelters and to veterans.
During the summer of 2020, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, amid protests and demonstrations, the Dallas Magnolias donated more than 1,300 pizzas to the Dallas Police Association.
“This is a great group of ladies who, at the high point of the ‘defund the police’ movement, with so much anti-police rhetoric and not a lot of love for the work we do, made us feel appreciated,” said Mike Mata, Dallas Police Association president. “They came downtown and greeted us; they made sure all of our shifts, and those at our seven substations, were covered and fed as well. I can’t say enough about how meaningful their support was.”
Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Stern is the daughter of Laura McInnis Smith and Herbert Smith, both of blessed memory, and the sister of Jerry (Fredna) Long, Marie Long and the late Virginia Long. Raised at Temple B’nai Israel, Stern graduated from Hattiesburg High School and then the University of Southern Mississippi.
After college, she moved to Texas. She first went to Houston, where she worked for Wallpapers, Inc., with whom she later moved to Dallas when an opening became available. She then worked at the Aaron Family JCC in the membership department. It was there that she met her future husband, Rob Stern, the brother of Patty (Gary) Rosenblum and Pam Stern and the son of Joan Kessler Stern and Bill Stern, both of blessed memory. Her in-laws were among the earliest members and great supporters of Temple Shalom.
Together, Rob and Tammany have built a family that includes sons Samuel (Layla) and their son Noah; Joseph and his children Kaia and Irving; and Michael (Alice) and their children Hannah and Rebekah.
“The Stern family, with stamina over the decades for helping others, has as a whole always created opportunities to give when they are needed. For Tammany to do so herself, and to mobilize others, in a time when help is needed so badly doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley.
“Tammany isn’t just a member of the community, but she is deep in community. She and her family have always believed in the righteousness of a cause and stepped up to make things happen,” he added.
Stern, who after the J worked in the design studio of Sanger Harris, later spent years working at Passbook Clubs of America, which was founded in 1978 by her mother-in-law. Stern helped the company extend its reach around the country before it went public.
“Joan taught me a lot about business but more about caring through business,” said Stern, who with her husband previously owned Pompeii Men’s Clothiers and Athena’s Greek Seafood Restaurant.
“The Passbooks were sold through nonprofit organizations and $12 of each book went to those organizations. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were given back to our community and to communities around the country while customers saved money and businesses of all sizes succeeded,” she added.
In 2003, Stern created BestofGuide.com and more recently the BOG Rewards mobile app. With no cost to the consumer, only savings, the business is again supporting merchants large and small.
“When I started BestofGuide, my goal was to showcase restaurants and retailers. In the last two years, 75% of this industry has been hit hard. The guide and our app are supporting businesses and their clientele, for whom saving money is more important than ever,” she said.
Stern is a recent inductee into the Les Dames d’Escoffier philanthropic organization of women leaders in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. Giving back to her community, through volunteer work and professional avenues, has always been a priority for Stern. She has served on the Farmers Market Friends Board and the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association Board, and she is a trustee for National Jewish Health respiratory hospital.
“The word ‘cannot’ is not in our vocabulary,” said Stern, proud that the Dallas Magnolias haven’t paused their support during the pandemic — in fact ramping it up more. “We started the Dallas Magnolias just before COVID-19 came to our world and during the last two years we have been needed more than I could have imagined. We’ve been masks on, hearts out making things happen.”
In September, the Dallas Magnolias are co-sponsoring two events: Stilettos at the Statler, benefiting Family Place, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3; and the Chick Lit Luncheon — featuring Tyra Banks supporting Community Partners of Dallas’ efforts to help abused children — at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, at the Hilton Anatole.
For more information about joining the Dallas Magnolias, email firstname.lastname@example.org.