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.




Dallas Arboretum’s Food + Wine Festival

By Cynthia Smoot Photography by Dallas Arboretum/Steve Foxall

THE SETTING: On a recent evening, guests arrived at the grounds of the Dallas Arboretum for its Annual Food + Wine Festival. Event Chair Alicia Voltmer welcomed VIP arrivals to the Arboretum’s A Tasteful Place Gardens for a champagne reception. Gates opened an hour later to the public as the event spilled out onto the gorgeous 66-acre garden grounds, with pandemic protocol in place.

THE STYLE: Themed A Gatsby Garden Soirée, guests arrived dressed in a wide variety of The Roaring ’20’s attire, from flapper dresses to gangster suits, complete with newsie caps. Looking dapper, gents and their dolls strolled the garden while enjoying music, fine wines, and craft beer provided by Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. Delectable small plates prepared by top local area chefs, including John Tesar with Knife Dallas and Casey La Rue with Carte Blanche, were savored by all and generously sponsored by Rosewood Ranches Waygu Beef and Amegy Bank.

THE PURPOSE: The mission of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is to build and maintain a public venue that promotes the art, enjoyment, and knowledge of horticulture while providing opportunities for education and research. They are committed to excellence, good management, and fiscal responsibility.



Texans Can Academies Hosts Annual Luncheon 

By Jake Gaines            Photography by Jenna Beth Lyde

THE SETTING: Texans Can Academies–San Antonio recently honored Kim Lewis, CEO of KSL Resources and champion of childhood education and the arts, as its 2021 honoree.


THE STYLE: The annual Texans Can Academies–San Antonio Motherhood Lifetime Achievement Award was the purpose of the annual luncheon that honors leading women in the city who are distinguished for their exemplary compassion and service. San Antonio Country Club was the venue for the event and served as the backdrop for the many guests, including past honorees, for a moving tribute to Lewis. The Mistress of Ceremonies was Deborah Knapp of KENS 5 News. The event’s special speakers included current students of Texans Can Academies San Antonio, Adam Rubio and Jackeline Cabrera.


THE PURPOSE: Gloria Delgado served as the host committee chair. The event benefits the students of Texans Can Academies–San Antonio, a dropout prevention and recovery school now in its 20th year of service to the San  Antonio community, which today educates 600 at-risk San Antonio youth. This year’s sold-out event raised $205,000 to advance their mental health services, food services, scholarships, and other vital student support.



Houston’s PetSet Gala Offers Support To Animals

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Quy Tran

THE SETTING: Houston’s movers and shakers came out in full force with both their hearts and wallets to support the  PetSet’s 17th Annual Fierce and Fabulous Soirée. The beautiful chandelier-lined ballroom of the event’s Post Oak Hotel created the perfect backdrop for this year’s gala, which raised a significant amount of funds even during the pandemic.

THE STYLE: It was a resoundingly successful evening of cocktails, dinner, and luxury auction items. Mistress of Ceremonies, Deborah Duncan, provided the audience with much laughter and banter from the podium. First, The Angel Award recipient, Jan Duncan, was celebrated with a moving video tribute. Then, the celebrity canine guest, a rescue dog brought back to good health through the services of Houston PetSet, was showcased. With pandemic protocol in place at the gala, other longtime supporting PetSet guests such as Sue Smith, Les Alexander, Don Sanders, and Honoree Jan Duncan live-streamed the event from the comfort of their homes.

THE PURPOSE: More than 400 animal lovers joined Tena Lundquist Faust, Tama Lundquist, and Brigitte Kalai, the event chairs. PetSet events are always full of glamour, but the animals were the true winners of this event. Houston PetSet is a non-profit organization providing grants to Houston area charities that benefit animal welfare. They are committed to spaying, neutering, rescuing, adopting, and transporting the homeless pet population. Houston PetSet partners are recipients the of net proceeds of the evening as well as Houston PetSet’s own critical programming focusing on animal homelessness in Houston.



San Antonio Botanical Shines With Stunning Al Fresco Gala 

By Jake Gaines   Photography by Greg Harrison

THE SETTING: Over 500 guests in fashionable floral and garden-inspired attire enjoyed a beautiful breezy evening at the San Antonio Botanical Garden for its annual Splendor in The Garden gala. The décor, living walking florals, by Artisan Oddities was a delight to behold. The floral, ribbon decor, and sparkling tree lights by Trinity Flowers’ Danny Cuellar, Danesa Woehrle, and Alex Woehrle were a feast for the eyes.


THE STYLE: The gala was a wandering affair through the San Antonio Botanical Garden as guests were serenaded by Carlos’ Guitar. Greeted by butterfly ballerinas, attendees strolled down the promenade to the iconic Lucile Halsell Conservatory Courtyard for the cocktail hour featuring live music, butterfly ballet vignettes, and delicious hors d’oeuvres. As the sun was setting, guests were escorted to the Greehey Lawn, set ablaze in twinkling tree lights. The beautiful new space is ringed with a massive canopy of oak and cypress trees. The seated dinner consisted of 68 beautifully adorned tables at which a gourmet meal was served. Following a Ballet Conservatory of South Texas performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, complete with glowing butterfly wings, guests heard remarks from San Antonio Botanical Garden Board of Directors’ President Karen Greenwood, Mayor Ron Nirenburg, Botanical Garden CEO Sabina Carr, and Event Chair Susan Shown Todd. The afterparty in the Betty Kelso Center had guests dancing to DJ Catwalk’s beats into the night.


THE PURPOSE: The record-breaking signature fundraising event raised nearly half a million dollars to support the San Antonio Botanical Garden. The mission of the organization is to enrich lives through plants and nature. One way the Garden does that is by connecting more than 60,000 children to the natural world by funding educational programs throughout the year. Programs include Little Sprouts, Terrarium Ecosystem, Early Childhood Lifecycles, the Children’s Vegetable Garden, summer camps, culinary health and wellness, drop-in programming, and the Family Adventure Garden.



Stars In Recovery Gala Celebrates With Music

By Cynthia Smoot Photography by Thomas Garza Photography

THE SETTING:  The 33rd Annual Jim Bradshaw Memorial Stars in Recovery event featuring the legendary Ray Wylie Hubbard took place at Artspace111 in Fort Worth, with pandemic protocol in place and hundreds more watching virtually. Upon entering the venue, guests browsed the silent auction items while enjoying a stripped-down performance from local musician Rachel Stacy. 

THE STYLE: Once inside the reception hall, Event Chair Shauna Jenkins welcomed attendees and brought Recovery Resource Council CEO, Eric Niedermayer and Board of Directors Chair, Maureen Maidlow to the stage to share new findings of how alcoholism and drug addiction are impacting the North Texas community. Hubbard had the audience chuckling with his many anecdotes and stories. It was an exciting surprise when Hubbard treated guests to a song and closed the show by singing, The Messenger.

THE PURPOSE:  This year, the council celebrates 75 years of service to North Texas as the gateway to health and wellness for individuals and families seeking help with substance use disorders and mental health issues.