Helping Hand Home Hosts Annual Crystal Deb Presentation And Gala

By Rose Betty Williams Photography by James French Photography

THE SETTING: The Helping Hand Society recently celebrated the 2019 Crystal Ball Brunch And  Fashion Show and black tie Debutante Presentation Gala at the Palmer Events Center. Thirty-two debutantes, their escorts and junior escorts were presented along with 165 ninth grade Helping Hand Girls and Boys and 41 First Grade Princesses.


THE STYLE: The fashion show was presented by Julian Gold and Webber Productions, and the brunch cuisine was provided by Catering by Rosemary, which also catered the Presentation Gala dinner. The debutantes and their fathers enjoyed the first dance followed by the capacity crowd of participants and Helping Hand Society member families, Helping Hand Home supporters, event sponsors, underwriters and friends dancing to the music of the Blind Date.


The 2019 Helping Hand Crystal Ball debutantes are: Lily Balagia, Julia Breeden, Ellie Brumley, Ellen Campbell, Abby Chambless, Marilee Cowden, Cate Davis, Abigail Downing, Carlisle Dunnam, Merritt Fish, MaryAlex Frishman, Tucker Garrison, Claire Gill, Grace Gilmour, Elle Hansen, Suzanne Huff, Sophie Johnson, Mary Frances Kocurek, Olivia Late, Olivia Mansour, Susie McCartt, Libby McFarland, Marina Monsivias, Frances Newton, Carter Nokes, Molly Pitts, Anna Louise Sanders, Anna Claire Smith, Ellie Strehli, Cameron Thompson, Josie Turlington and Cate Von Dohlen.


THE PURPOSE: This year’s gala was co-chaired by Stacy Turlington Dollar and Susie Meserole with a committee of more than 70 Helping Hand Society member volunteers, including HHH President Julie Metzger. The Crystal Ball is the largest fundraiser for the Helping Hand Home for Children. It raised more than 1.3 million dollars 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.



Fashion X Austin Features Showcases Designers From Both Sides Of The World

By Rob Giardinelli          Photography by Gregg Cestaro, Charles Linn and Fashion X

THE SETTING: Fashion X Austin recently held its annual Austin Fashion Week, with nearly a dozen events around Austin, over the course of ten days. In the process, several thousand of Austin’s most stylish were on hand to celebrate fashion and philanthropy. The week’s festivities were capped off with three runway nights that honored three stylish women, each of whom make a tremendous impact on Austin by giving back to the city they love.

THE STYLE: The fashionistas attending the three main runways shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening sported their best Austin-chic attire with those wearing fashion-forward looks blending perfectly with those who wore timeless pieces. In addition to a Style Setter being featured each night, Thursday featured a show of emerging designers who competed in the Bernina Fashion Showcase. Friday’s theme, Celebrate Texas, showcased a slate of top designers from around the state. The festivities concluded on Saturday night with Moda X Australia featuring collections of eight designers from Austin’s Sister City Down Under: Adelaide, Australia.

THE PURPOSE: A portion of the proceeds honoring Thursday Style Setter Natasa Valocchi benefited Ballet Austin. A portion of the proceeds honoring Friday Style Setter JK Baxter Hunt benefited ARC of the Capital Cities. A portion of the proceeds honoring Saturday Style Setter Lesa Rossick benefited Relay for Life.



Stages Repertory Theatre Hosts The Night Garden Gala

By Jennifer Roosth     Photography by Priscilla Dickson and Daniel Ortiz

THE SETTING: Attended by a record breaking 464 guests, the 2019 Stages Repertory Theatre hosted its most successful gala to date. The Revaire’s ballroom décor, designed by Bergner and Johnson, was inspired by the theme, The Night Garden, with a hint of the theatre’s upcoming show, Little Shop of Horrors. Garden vines, blooming branches, trailing greenery and carnivorous plants filled the space, along with touches of rich red and hot pink, adding a sensuous layer to the evening. Following dinner with cuisine by A Fare Extraordinaire, attendees crowded the dance floor and danced the night away to the sounds of Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra.

THE STYLE: It was a night charmed with a big surprise. Glenda and Russell Gordy’s longtime friends, Sue Smith and the late Lester Smith, had informed them that they would not be able to attend this year’s gala. However, unbeknownst to the Gordys, the Smiths had reserved a table and planned to make a special announcement at the event. Following dinner, a messenger presented the Gordys with a giant red gift box containing a check revealing a $2.5M gift, enabling Stages Repertory Theatre to fully fund their new campus, The Gordy, nearly a year ahead of opening. The Smiths deliberately chose to bestow their first significant performing arts donation in honor of their close friends, the Gordys.

THE PURPOSE: The gala chairs were Judy and Jim Nicklos and Brenda and Bradley Jones served as the underwriting chairs, The evening raised over $630,000 including auction proceeds. The Gordys made a leadership $5M gift to the capital campaign, Staging Our Future in 2017, making their gift one of the largest individual gifts in the history of Houston’s performing arts community. The campaign supports the construction of its new 66,850-square-foot three-theatre campus, The Gordy, which will open in January of 2020. Stages surprised both the Gordys and the Smiths by announcing that the new campus’s 223-seat arena stage will be named the “Lester and Sue Smith Stage”.



Dell Children’s Medical Center Gala Shatters Fundraising Records.

By Rob Giardinelli Photography | by Ben Porter

THE SETTING: A beautiful evening at Austin’s JW Marriott hotel was the setting recently for the annual Dell Children’s Medical Center gala. In total, over 1,000 of Austin’s most notable sociables, community leaders and philanthropists were on hand to support one of Capital City’s most venerable organizations for a night of hope, fun and fundraising.

THE STYLE: The fun began even before the impeccably dressed crowd in their finest black-tie attire ascended the escalator to the main ballroom. Here guests had the opportunity to pose for photos on a one-of-a-kind step and repeat, set as a living room, designed by Autumn Rich and Lisa Hickey. Dapper in gowns and tuxedos, the partygoers then made their way to their seats in an impeccably designed ballroom full of orchids courtesy of David Kurio. The program included heart-warming testimonials from families positively impacted by Dell Children’s Medical Center and a spirited live auction. The festivities were capped off in the foyer-turned-disco of the JW Marriott for the after party where guests danced the night away in style.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Pat and Katherine Jones, raised a
record-setting $1.7 million dollars for Dell Children’s Medical Center. Since 1996, the gala has raised over $18.5 million dollars to provide valuable resources and programs for children and their families.



Blanton Museum Of Art Gala Receives Major Gift From The Moody Foundation

By Rob Giardinelli   Photography by Tyler Schmitt and Julie Skarratt

THE SETTING: The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin was the recent setting of their 2019 biennial gala. Over 250 of the top patrons of the arts throughout Texas were on hand for an evening of fun that also announced a major donation that will further transform of one of Austin’s most venerable cultural institutions into an international arts destination.

THE STYLE: The festivities began in the foyer of the Blanton Museum for 
cocktails. While some mingled over cocktail chatter, others headed to see a sneak peek of the Blanton’s latest exhibit Words/Matter: Latin American Art and Language at the Blanton. After cocktails the partygoers headed to a tent erected on the Blanton Courtyard for the main program. As guests dined on a multi-course meal courtesy of Chef Elmer Prambs of the Four Seasons, they heard words from top supporters of the Blanton, which included Austin Mayor Steve Adler. The best was saved for last as the Moody Foundation announced a $20 million gift to transform and reimagine the Blanton grounds bringing the crowd to their feet and capping off a spectacular evening that those fortunate enough to attend will always remember.

THE PURPOSE: The gala, hosted by Gregory Fenves, Simone Wicha and Janet Allen raised almost $800,000 for the Blanton Museum of Art beyond the Moody Foundation gift. Proceeds from the 2019 gala will go toward providing essential funding to the museum’s programs.



The Center for Child Protection’s Annual Dancing with the Stars Features 12 Austin Celebrity Dancers

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Estrella Chacon, Jeff Loftin Photography, Christina Murphy and Haley Plotkin Photography

THE SCENE: Recently, the Center for Child Protection hosted its 12th annual Dancing with the Stars event presented by Lexus of Austin and Lakeway. This annual winter social mainstay, held at the JW Marriott, featured 850 notable and stylish Austinites for an evening of fun those on hand will not soon forget.

THE VIBE: This black-tie extravaganza began in the ballroom foyer of the JW Marriott for cocktails where Austin’s hip and chic mingled with other partygoers as well as the celebrity dancers. The festivities then moved to the ballroom where guests took to their seats and as they dined on a multi-course meal listened to personal video testimonials of how the Center for Child Protection has positively impacted the Austin community. Next was a spirited live auction where guests bid on a host of luxury items.

After the live auction, came the main event, the performances by the 12 celebrity dancers. Cheering on their favorites, the revelers were often brought to their feet by the show-stopping performances. Guests then voted for their favorite dancers before Kendall Beard McMinn was crowned the winner. Then, the action continued well into the night as guests danced the night away to the tunes of DJ Gatsby.

THE CAUSE: The event, chaired by Francie Little and Jenny Mason, raised $1.4 million for the Center for Child Protection. Over the past 25 years the Center for Child Protection has served as a first stop for children in Travis County who have witnessed violent crimes or have experienced physical or sexual abuse.