Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Fourth Annual Power of Literacy Luncheon

By Jennifer Roosth     Photography by Jenny Antill and Michelle Watson

THE SETTING: Pre-COVID-19, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Ladies for Literacy Guild welcomed over 800 guests to the fourth annual Power of Literacy Luncheon at The Post Oak Hotel in Uptown Houston. The event featured OscarÒ-winning actress, singer and author, Julie Andrews, along with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. The Events Company led by Richard Flowers, beautifully decorated the ballroom in light and royal blue linens with floral centerpieces, and a copy of Julie Andrew’s new biography, Home Work–A Memoir of My Hollywood Years was placed on every chair.

THE STYLE: This luncheon shined a light on the cause former First Lady Barbara Bush championed for nearly 30 years–literacy. The conversation with Andrews and Hamilton, moderated by Public Media’s Ernie Manouse, spanned a variety of topics including Andrews’ globally recognized entertainment career, her family life, and relationships. The mother-daughter duo kept the crowd entertained by sharing personal experiences from Andrews’ career, as well as the time they spent together writing more than 30 bestselling children’s books, as well as Andrews’ new biography. “Reading and writing has played an important role in both my professional career and my personal life for many, many years. Through our own books, Emma and I strive to not only entertain readers, but also to inspire them to experience the wonder of life,” said Julie Andrews. “We were so pleased to make Houston the first stop in our book tour and support the cause of literacy, which we are both so passionate about.”

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Lilly Andress and Vicki West, raised $600,000 for the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. The Ladies for Literacy Guild’s President Donatella Benckenstein joined the co-chairs on stage to share her remarks on the accomplishments of the Ladies for Literacy Guild, which included the building of children’s libraries at the Mission of Yahweh and New Hope Housing Reed. In addition, she shared that, through a partnership with Harris County Public Library, more than 25,000 books have been distributed and more than 7,000 children served by the original Curiosity Cruiser mobile library, which launched in late 2017.