Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s A Celebration of Reading Raises Over $1.8 Million

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Gary Fountain and Daniel Ortiz

THE SCENE: Houston’s Hobby Center for the Performing Arts was the recent setting for a magical evening that celebrated a milestone for one of the city’s most beloved organizations. The 29th annual A Celebration of Reading served a special purpose this year as it celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. The event drew over a thousand of the city’s most notable sociables and philanthropists for an evening that honored the three things most important to the late First Lady and served as a theme for the evening – Faith, Family, and Friends.

THE VIBE: The cocktail-chic crowd began the evening mingling in the foyer of the venue where old friends reacquainted and new friendships were made. Patrons then proceeded to the main theatre inside the Hobby Center for the program. Upon entering the theatre, guests were wowed as they looked at the stage, which featured a replica of the living room inside George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s former residence.

Once patrons took to their seats, the festivities were kicked off with words from Neil and Maria Bush, son and daughter-in-law of Barbara Bush, which was followed by words from several other Bush family members. The evening then continued with conversations with several best-selling and acclaimed authors.

Featured authors included New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, and Seven-time New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. The festivities were capped off by Reverend Dr. Russell Jones Levenson Jr. who shared touching memories of President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush during each of their final moments of life.

THE NON-PROFIT: A Celebration of Reading, co-chaired Maria and Neil Bush, raised over $1.8 million for the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. Proceeds raised from the event will benefit local programs via the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation as well as national programs through the Barbara Bush Foundation of Family Literacy



Hats, Heart and Horseshoes Derby Party For Bo’s Place

By Jennifer Roosth             Photography by Daniel Ortiz and Jacob Power

Christie Sullivan, Millette Sherman and Alissa Maples

THE SETTING: The Houston Polo Club was the perfect setting recently for the fifth annual Hats, Hearts & Horseshoes event benefiting Bo’s Place. The green fields and the polo horses watching from their stalls made this year’s event extra special after last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic. With social distancing protocol in place, over 250 supporters were excited to be dressed in their finest attire to watch and celebrate the running of the Kentucky Derby. 

Deanna Barton, Paige Fertitta and Karen Thompson
Neil and Maria Bush

THE STYLE: The fabulous hats and beautiful dresses, made for perfect people watching as tables were scattered under many tents. Guests socialized throughout the grounds, sipping traditional mint juleps and nibling on lite bites. Puppy Pals, a racing wall raffle, and purchasing a rose for a friend kept the crowd busy until post time. Multiple large screens gave all the guests a perfect view to watch the race. As the race got close to the finish line, many people started standing and cheering at their tables to see Medina Spirit win the race.

Bill Baldwin, Hallie Vanderhider and Fady Armanious

THE PURPOSE: Mary Beth Staine, the executive director of Bo’s Place, said, “Bo’s Place helps families who are grieving in their journey to find a renewed hope for the future.” Chairs Alissa and Kevin Maples, Millette and Haag Sherman, and Christie and Mark Sullivan, along with Honorary Chairs, Paige Fertitta, Megan and Luke Hotze, Hannah and Cal McNair, Hallie Vanderhider, and Kelli and John Weinzierl were thrilled to raise over $280,000 for grief programs at Bo’s Place. 

Aaron and DeeDee Howes
BoHats, Hearts & Horseshoes Event Benefiting Bo’s Place