ALWAYS GIVING HOPE

ALWAYS GIVING HOPE

Helping Hand Society Hosts Annual Presentation Gala

By Rose Betty Williams     Photography by Jetter Photography and Rose Betty Williams

THE SETTING: The Helping Hand Society recently celebrated the 78th annual Crystal Ball with a brunch and fashion show followed in the evening by a black tie Debutante Presentation Gala at Palmer Events Center. Twenty-nine debutantes, their escorts and junior escorts were presented along with 143 ninth grade Helping Hand Girls and Boys and 36 First Grade Princesses.

 

THE STYLE: Adelante, The Garden Room and Nordstrom presented the stylish fashion show that was produced by Sue Webber and team of Webber Productions. Emcee Jim Spencer introduced the First Grade Princesses, Helping Hand girls and Helping Hand debutantes. Helping Hand Home for Children Executive Director Ted Keyser expressed gratitude for everyone’s important support. At the gala, HH Society President Lucy Weber thanked the event sponsors, underwriters, auction donors, the participants, their families, Helping Hand Society members, and the gala committee for devoting “countless hours creating this special celebration in our community despite these unprecedented times and a date postponement.” The gala featured the debutante presentation, a silent auction, a seated dinner, and dancing to the music of Skyrocket.

 

This year’s Helping Hand Crystal Ball debutantes are: Riley Elizabeth Alam, Katherine Pearson Braziel, Madeleine Taylor Breeden, Bridget Faith Bryant, Taylor Ann Chatmas, Martha Coffin Crawford, Charlotte Williams Crider, Virginia Kathaleene Dolce, Grace Elizabeth Eckols, Anna Grace Gerrie, Mason Claire Gillingwater, Mei Mei Elizabeth Graber, Ellie Worth Greer, Brennan Paige Haralson, Corley Catherine Holland, Kay Lee Jenkins, Allison Elaine Kemmerer, Sarah Louise Latham, Hannah Mckenzie Maund, Ellen Reed McCartt, Madalyn Ann McCutchin, Ainsley Caldwell Merritt, Annabel Dooley Merritt, Shelby Lynne Owens, Grace Elizabeth Paape, Sarah Grace Shore, Hallie Varner Tyler, Meg Helen Utley and Patricia Claire Warner.

 

THE PURPOSE: Leslie Davenport and Suzanne Nash co-chaired the 2021 Crystal Ball and worked with a gala committee comprised of more than 65 Helping Hand Society member volunteers. It is the largest fundraiser for the Helping Hand Home for Children, annually raising approximately $1.4 million in support of the Helping Hand Home’s mission: to provide a nurturing and therapeutic home for children and to restore each child to a healthy family setting. The goal of the organization is to protect and restore the lives of victimized children so that those without hope may reclaim their futures. Today the Helping Hand Home has a nationally accredited Residential Treatment Center, a growing Foster and Adoption program and an on-campus charter school, and is mid-way through the construction of new facilities on the east side of the campus.

 

WISHES GRANTED

WISHES GRANTED

Make-A-Wish Night of Wishes Dazzles

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Chris Caselli, Julia Franco and Mary Holguin

THE SETTING: The Fairmont Hotel was recently the setting for the Make-A-Wish Night of Wishes gala. Over 250 of the Capital City’s philanthropists and community leaders turned out in person…with another 250 guests attending virtually for an incredible night of fun and fundraising that those fortunate enough to be a part of will not soon forget.

 

THE STYLE: From the second the black-tie crowd entered the foyer of the venue, partygoers knew they were in for a special evening. The festivities began with a VIP cocktail reception where the organization’s patrons sipped cocktails, socialized with friends, and posed for photos on the step and repeat to commemorate the event.

 

The action then moved to the Fairmont Ballroom for the program. Emcees Allison Miller and Cariel Rentas effortlessly kept the festivities flowing and the audience engaged in the action-packed evening. As guests dined on their delectable multi-course meals, they were treated to touching stories from several testimonials from children whose dreams came true due to the efforts of Make-A-Wish. The evening was capped off with a live auction and paddle raise, which included several experiential packages like luxury getaways to Costa Rica, Lake Tahoe, and Willamette Valley Wine Country in Oregon.

 

THE PURPOSE: The event raised over $900,000 for Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas, which provides life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses. Since its founding in 1980, Make-A-Wish has granted over 315,000 wishes to children throughout the United States.

VIRTUALLY TOASTING

VIRTUALLY TOASTING

St. David’s Toast Of The Town Star-Studded Party Series Goes Virtual

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography courtesy of St. David’s Foundation

THE SETTING: St. David’s Foundation’s Toast of the Town, one of Austin’s most anticipated party series of the year, recently completed another star-studded round of soirées with a twist. This year’s events were hosted virtually due to the pandemic. Despite toasting from afar, guests were treated to the same fun, engaging parties with interesting speakers as in years past. The result was virtually the best Toast party series ever.

 

THE STYLE: Those who attended the party series were still treated to the same white-glove  experience they’d always had for the in-person events. In advance of each of the events, a welcome kit featuring multi-course meals from some of Austin’s best and most beloved venues, along with program details and a special thank you gift, were delivered to guests for them to savor and enjoy their five-star experience at home. In addition, prior to the launch of each event, guests were provided a special welcome on their screens by St. David’s Foundation CEO and President Dr. Ed Burger, allowing them to feel a part of the action in person.

 

The evenings began with words from St. David’s leadership before moving to the main programs. This year’s parties provided something for everyone. Those passionate about food engaged in separate events, including the Taste’s of Japan with celebrity chef Tyson Cole and barbecue with Daytripper Chet Garner. While, history buffs were treated with several options, including a conversation with Presidential historians Douglas Brinkley, Mark Updegrove, and H.W. Brands, as well as a national security discussion featuring Gen. Vincent Brooks, William Inboden, and Robert Chesney. Lastly, no Toast party series would be complete without music. This year exceeded expectations with separate evenings featuring music from legends of multiple music genres. These performances included country music legend Clint Black and Society Texas’ own Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli, who interviewed pop and punk rock icon Kathy Valentine about her new book All I Ever Wanted…she even serenaded the audience with The Go-Go’s iconic song, Vacation.

 

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Mary Katherine Stout, with Ellen Troxclair serving as vice-chair, raised over $1.7 million for the Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program. Since the program’s founding, nearly 600 students have received annual scholarships of $7,500 to pursue health-related careers at Texas colleges and universities.

A LIFELINE FOR CHILDREN

A LIFELINE FOR CHILDREN

Dell Children’s Medical Center Virtual Gala Raises Over $1.6 Million

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Ben Porter Photography and Dell Children’s Foundation

THE SETTING: The top philanthropists in Austin and beyond recently enjoyed an evening of fundraising for one of the capital city’s most influential and beloved organizations. This year’s Dell Children’s Ball went virtual and featured over 2,000 philanthropists from 96 Texas cities and 42 states who accessed the occasion. The event included touching tributes and dazzling musical performances, which resulted in an incredible experience that those on hand will not soon forget.

 

THE STYLE: The fun commenced before the event even began courtesy of the city’s celebrity florist David Kurio, who provided a gorgeous Ball in a Box to the sponsors’ homes and VIP attendees. Guests dressed for the evening with a wide array of styles from Austin casual to fine cocktail attire that allowed revelers to bring the ballroom to them, even in a virtual environment.

 

The evening began with a virtual cocktail hour followed by the evening’s main program. Due to the generosity of the event’s lead sponsor, AT&T, guests were able to view the program from their homes at no charge, which created a welcoming space for all who attended. Highlights of the event included testimonials from two families whose children’s lives were saved due to Dell Children’s Medical Center care and a spirited fundraising appeal. The evening was capped off by a soulful, inspiring performance by Grammyâ award-winning artist, Lukas Nelson.

 

THE PURPOSE: This year’s event, steered by a committee featuring 21 of Austin’s most influential and philanthropic couples, raised over $1.6 million for Dell Children’s Medical Center. At Dell Children’s, 70% of children who receive care are uninsured or underinsured. The funds raised from the event help ensure that no child, regardless of income level, is turned away from receiving the world-class care Dell Children’s offers.

THE STARS MUST GO ON

THE STARS MUST GO ON

14TH Annual Center for Child Protection’s Dancing With The Stars Goes Virtual

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Jeff Loftin, Haley Plotkin and MJ Routh

THE SETTING: Residences around Austin recently hosted small, socially safe gatherings in support of one of the cities most highly anticipated annual events. The Center for Child Protection took the 14th annual Dancing with the Stars gala online. The virtual event had over a thousand viewers, from Austin and beyond, glued to their screens for a night of dancing and fundraising. It proved that the show must go on, and in this case, the dance must go on, because the needs of our communities remain as urgent and important as ever.

 

THE STYLE: The small gatherings featured supporters wearing their favorite cocktail attire, while others opted to stay at home for a date night while dressed in their finest black-tie ensembles. As guests took to their screens for the evening’s program, they enjoyed the proceedings, which flowed with ease, thanks to emcees Glenn Ball and Holly Mills Gardner. Donors also received a welcome kit from the Center that featured ingredients for the event’s signature cocktail, The Tequila Tango, to help folks find their groove. Video instructions on how to mix them were provided by Society Texas’ own Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli.

 

Patrons were then treated to eleven spectacular routines where viewers watched each duo Rip it Up on the dance floor, Vogue a pose, have Sweet Dreams of this Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and head out to the Wild Wild West. Each routine featured color commentary from celebrity judges Gary Little, JR Martinez, and Venus Strawn. Between dance takes, there was a live auction item, the highlight of which was Project Graduation, where donors had the opportunity to sponsor an event that allows for teens exiting the foster care system to begin their adult lives. The festivities were capped off by declaring the winners of the 2020 Dancing with the Stars, Julie Jumonville and Travis Herman, followed by an after-party featuring the tunes of DJ Hexum.

 

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Tracey Marshall and Jenny Mason, raised over $685,000 for the Center for Child Protection. The Center is a nationally accredited children’s advocacy center. In 2019, it provided forensic interviews, medical exams, counseling, and interventions to help begin the healing process from trauma for nearly 3,000 abused children.

THE KINDNESS OF FRIENDS

THE KINDNESS OF FRIENDS

The Kindness Campaign Hosts An Evening Of Giving With Friends

By Rob Giardinelli      Photography by Ben Porter

THE SETTING: Recently, The Kindness Campaign’s Friends-Giving event provided the opportunity for social VIP’s and philanthropists around Austin the ability to purchase a Gala-In-A-Box in celebration of the holiday season, which allowed many in Texas’ capital city to give in a safe, socially distant way. The festivities were capped off with a five-star spread at a private residence in Austin featuring The Kindness Campaign’s founder, Andra Liemandt.

 

THE STYLE: The Austin-chic crowd adorned their favorite ensembles for the alfresco dinner held within the local social distance guidelines. Tables of four were set underneath single open-air tents that created the illusion of an extended family table, allowing families of four the opportunity to celebrate among others safely.

 

To make sure guests were safely able to enjoy the full extent of the evening, each tent featured a customized bar cart featuring whiskey, tequila, wine, and champagne. The intimacy of the evening was perfectly accented by the décor, which featured a soft color palette and warm lighting, which perfectly accompanied the cool yet comfortable Texas air.

 

After dinner, guests enjoyed additional socializing at one of the several plush and luxurious outdoor living rooms on the grounds, again for safe socializing. Fireplaces were placed between every other seating area that kept all guests warm and ensured the fun would safely go well into the night, capping off a magical evening guests will not soon forget.

 

THE PURPOSE: The event raised funds for The Kindness Campaign, which seeks to improve outcomes for young people by improving emotional health through the teaching of a positive self-image, empathy, emotional awareness, and community. This year, The Kindness Campaign donated a meal to a family in need for each Gala-In-A-Box purchased in support of the organization.