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