Society / The Seen

Houston Earns Its Giving City Reputation — 30 Special Nonprofit Events That Made a Difference

A Special Thanksgiving Party Wrap-Up

BY // 11.24.22

What better time to celebrate the ongoing generosity of Houstonians than Thanksgiving. Today, we take the opportunity to express our gratitude for the wealth of individuals who contribute to the success of the city’s nonprofits — the individuals who dig deep into their pockets and those who devote endless hours of volunteer time insuring that philanthropy remains at the core of H-Town’s ethos.

Houston’s commitment to altruism is witnessed almost daily in many arenas but we focus here on the charitable fundraising events — everything from black tie galas to Western-themed hoedowns and myriad luncheons. Our calendar reveals more than 60 such events in the months of October and November alone with more to come before the end of the year. And as our anthem “So many parties, so little time” confirms, we could not get to them all.

Let’s take a snapshot look at 30 special events held in Houston, the most giving of cities:

Houston Parks Board Annual Luncheon

Houston Parks Board annual luncheon chairs Chris & Alison Porter and Ruthie & Adam Miller (Photo by Katy Anderson)

Fans of the city’s green spaces gathered 350 strong for the Houston Parks Board annual luncheon that was held in a party tent erected in the Avenida de las Americas Plaza. Chairs Alison and Chris Porter and Ruthie and Adam Miller oversaw the event that raised more than $635,000. Author and recently retired architecture writer for the Chicago Tribune Blair Kamin served as the guest speaker.

He applauded Houston for its progress in improving parks and public spaces.

Coalition for Homeless “40 for 40” Campaign Launch

Mo Campo, Ric Campo, David Seeley, Suzy Seeley at the launch of the ’40 for 40′ campaign benefiting the Coalition for the Homeless.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Coalition for the Homeless Houston/Harris County, some 50 concerned citizens gathered in the River Oaks home of Mo and Ric Campo for launch of the “40 for 40” fundraising campaign aiming to secure $40,000 commitment from 40 individuals. The goal is to raise $1.6 million to insure the future of the coalition’s efforts, which have to date been so successful as to earn recognition by the New York Times.

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  • Bering's Gift's May 2024
  • Bering's Gift's May 2024

In the last decade, the coalition has provided housing for 25,000 homeless individuals.

Lone Star Flight Museum

Photo by Katy Anderson
Lone Star Flight Museum chairs David & Mary Novelli and Kim & Brett Williams (Photo by Katy Anderson)

The Jet Setters Ball, chaired by Mary and David Novelli and Kim and Brett Williams, raised nearly $650,000 to support STEM-related programs and the museum’s educational mission and exhibits as guests partied in the Heritage Hangar with spotlights on historic planes and NASA artifacts. The evening included a wine pull, big board auction, paddle raise, a spirited live auction, a delectable dinner from City Kitchen and dancing.

Atlas Scholars’ Sunday for Scholars

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Dylan Seff, Atlas Scholars co-founder Craig Taylor, honorary chair Jordan Seff at the Atlas Scholars polo fundraiser. (Photo by Jacob Power)

The Houston Polo Club turned out to be the perfect setting for an event that combined horses, diamonds and champagne. With the competing teams providing the horse power, de Boulle delivered on the diamonds with its jewelry lounge, and Veuve Cliquot provided the bubbly. The afternoon scored more than $390,000 for the nonprofit that provides high school students with mentorship, scholarships and exposure to performance-based professional environments.

Texas Business Hall of Fame

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Walter Johnson, Amanda Brock, John Arnold, Richard Fisher at the Texas Business Hall of Fame dinner. (Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design)

The Texas Business Hall of Fame celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala dinner, presented by Texas Capital Bank, at the Hilton Americas-Houston where six “business legends” were inducted into the prestigious fraternity. Saluted for their business acumen were John Arnold of Arnold ventures LLC; Ric Campo of Camden Property Trust, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, Thomas O. Hicks of Hicks Holdings LLC, Jeff Hildebrand of Hilcorp Energy Company and Paul Hobby of Genesis Park. Presenting the awards was Amanda Brock, CEO of Aris Water Solutions and chair of the TBHF board of directors.

Memorial Assistance Ministries

Chris Weekley, Bonnie Weekley, David Weekley
Chris Weekley, honorees Bonnie & David Weekley at the Memorial Assistance Ministries annual luncheon.

It was record-breaking proceeds of $791,025 when Memorial Assistance Ministries honored Bonnie and David Weekley at the annual luncheon held at the Westin Houston in Memorial City. The fundraiser was chaired by Doris and Terry Looper.

The Women’s Home

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Susan Walker, Janice Hall, Kay Joyce at The Women’s Home annual luncheon at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. (Photo by Quy Tran)

More than 300 guests joined the luncheon celebrating The Women’s Home 65th year of serving women in need, helping them regain stability for themselves and their families. Chaired by Susan Walker, Janice Hall and Kay Joyce, the event raised $250,000 for the cause.

Interfaith Ministries Tapestry Gala

Bill Gross, Paula Sutton, Dr. Kathy Flanagan, Mayor Sylvester Turner
Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston Tapestry Gala chairs Bill Gross, Paula Sutton, Dr. Kathy Flanagan, Mayor Sylvester Turner (Photo by Terry Thomas Jr.)

Surprise gifts from Sysco and from Houston Methodist totaling $200,000 took the annual Tapestry Gala proceeds to more than $665,000. Chaired by Dr. Kathy Flanagan, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Paula Sutton and Bill Gross, the dinner honored Larry Payne for his longstanding career in public service. On the program were Interfaith Ministries CEO Martin B. Cominsky, emcee KTRK Channel 13 news anchor Melanie Lawson and guest speaker Edward Hymes, president of Jiffy Lube International, a partner with Meals on Wheels.

Arms Wide Open Adoption Services

Taylor Wilson, Ryan Valera, Dan Kohl
Taylor Wilson, Ryan Valera, Dan Kohl winners of the Arms Wide Open Adoption Services ‘Texas Hole ‘Em Tournament’

Chairs Steve Kennedy, Luke Cone, Rachel Von Gonten Dash, Will Maxwell, Michael Tsang and Trace Williams led the annual “All In for Adoption Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament” to record proceeds of more than $250,000. Taylor Wilson took home first place, Ryan Varela grabbed the second place trophy and Dan Kohl came in third place in the poker tournament held at River Oaks Country Club.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Awards Dinner

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation president and CEO Lt. Col. Ted Probert USMC (Ret.), 2022 Houston honoree Donovan Campbell, military guest of honor Gen. John F. Kelly USMC (Ret.), Lone Star State co-campaign chairs Mark & Anne-lyse Frugoni at the MSCF Houston awards dinner.

With more than 300 in attendance, the annual dinner, held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, raised $775,000. Kudos to  Lone Star State Campaign chairs Anne-lyse and Mark Frugoni and military co-chairs Shari and Lt. Gen. Steven Hummer USMC (Ret.) and to Donovan Campbell who received the Semper Fidelis Award. Special military guest of honor was General John F. Kelly USMC (Ret.). The 12th annual Houston event celebrated the 60th anniversary of the foundation that provides scholarship funds for the children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen.

Homemade Hope Gala Dinner

Margot Delaronde Marcell,Heather Mountain and Dr. Monica Patel (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
Homemade Hope gala chairs Margot Delaronde Marcell, Heather Mountain, Dr. Monica Patel. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Homemade Hope founder Blair Bentley and her sister and board member Brooke Bentley Gunst took the reins of the dinner program, encouraging contributions that earned record proceeds of more than $300,000. Those fund will be used for the nonprofit’s mission of nurturing and empowering homeless and underserved children. The event was chaired by Margot Delaronde Marcell, Heather Mountain and Dr. Monica Patel and honored Scarlett and Scott Hankey for their community service.

Elijah Rising Gala

Elijah Rising gala chair Amy Pierce, Marian McClendon, Sherri Zucker

Gala chair Amy Pierce led the fundraising charge for Elijah Rising’s work toward ending sex trafficking in Houston through prayer, awareness, intervention and restoration. More than 300 guests, gathering at the Junior League of Houston, were moved by the interview between the nonprofit’s executive director Micah Gamboa and two Elijah Rising Restorative Program graduates “CJ” and “B.” The event raised more than $290,000 to aid in the mission of ending sex trafficking.

The Heritage Society Luncheon

Heritage Society luncheon chairs Will & Angela Cannady and Gwen & Ed Emmett (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

Stephen Harrigan, author of the all-about-Texas chronicle Big Wonderful Thing, was interviewed by Judge Ken Wise at the annual Heritage Society luncheon, held at the Briar Club. The fundraiser was chaired by Gwen and Ed Emmett and Angela and Will Cannady and honored Gary White, a Heritage Society senior staff docent who is retiring after 30 years at the nonprofit.

Amigos de las Américas

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Tony Chase, Steve Cook at the Amigos de las Américas luncheon at Hotel ZaZa Museum District.

Advocates for global connections and experiential education joined forces at Hotel ZaZa Museum District to celebrate Amigos de las Américas 58th year of connecting students with projects in Latin America. Tony Chase, chairman and CEO of ChaseSource LP and parent of an AMIGOS alumnus, delivered the keynote.

Children at Risk Accolades Luncheon

2. Chairs Donald & Shawn Bowers, Accolades Awardees Dr. Reginald & Paula DesRoches
Children at Risk luncheon chairs Donald & Shawn Bowers, Accolades honorees Rice University president Reginald DesRoches and wife Paula. (Photo by Quy Tran)

The more than 250 guests at the Children at Risk “Accolades” luncheon were greeted at Hotel ZaZa by luncheon chairs Shawn and Donald Bowers and Children at Risk president and CEO Bob SanbornHonorees were Rice University president Reginald DesRoches and his wife Paula, Memorial Hermann Health System’s Carol Paret, and Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan. The event raised $135,000.

Houston Maritime Center Dinner

Sarah Howell – Mayor Sylvester Turner – Ed Emmett – Ned Holmes – Leslie Bowlin
Sarah Howell, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Ed Emmett, Ned Holms, Leslie Bowlin at the Houston Maritime Center dinner.

Houston Maritime Center annual dinner honorary chair Ned Holmes along with former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett led the charge to honor the Houston International Seafarers Center. Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke to a crowd of 300 guests, all dressed to cruise. The evening netted more than $200,000 benefiting HMC, which will be moving to Midway’s East River mixed-use development in spring of 2023.

Nick Finnegan Counseling Center Gala

EventChairs Reagan and Jim Bailey, Kathryn and Jimmy Bailey, Susan and Ben Cravens, and Mary Evans and Ben Cravens
The Nick Finnegan Counseling Center gala chairs Reagan & Jimmy Bailey, Kathryn & Jimmy Bailey, Susan & Ben Cravens, Mary Evans and Ben Cravens.

Supporters of the counseling center dressed up in their Western best for a fundraiser at Goode Company Armadillo Palace on National Mental Health Day. The annual “Tree of Life” gala raised $415,000 to aid the center’s mission of providing affordable and accessible mental health counseling services. Joe Herman, 2020-2021 advisory board chair, was honored with the Angels Among Us Award, presented by Susan and Bill Finnegan. The event was chaired by Reagan and Jim Bailey, Kathryn and Jimmy Bailey, Susan and Ben Cravens, and Mary Evans and Ben Cravens.

Bayou Preservation Association

C. Mike Garver, Commissioner Jack Cagle, Rachel Powers, and Andy Sansom

The Bayou Preservation Association‘s 12th Annual Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Award Luncheon at the Junior League of Houston honored C. Mike Garver, Rachel Powers and Andy Sansom for their outstanding commitment to aiding in the conservation, preservation, restoration and advocacy of Houston’s waterways.

Foundation for Teen Health

Ralph & Jenny Hull, Dr. Peggy & Ashley Smith at Top Golf for the Foundation for Teen Health fundraiser. (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

Supporters of the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinics teed up at Top Golf for a friendly fundraising competition chaired by Annie Beck and Ingrid Carrasco. The event doubled as a celebration of Dr. Peggy Smith, BCM Teen Health Clinics founder and CEO, who is in her 50th year with the clinics.

Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans gala

Benjamin Hernandez, Daisy Morales, Debbie Ortiz, Adolfo Melara at the AAMA Illumine Gala

The Ballroom at Bayou Place saw AAMA supporters turned out at The Ballroom at Bayou Place for a casino-themed evening that was chaired by Christian Dias, Agostina Loiacono and Telisa and Tom Shead with Veronica and Brian Neal serving as honorary chairs. Funds raised support the nonprofit’s education and counseling services.

The Periwinkle Foundation

Sean Beck, Adele Corrigan Wade, John Clutterbuck at The Periwinkle Foundation Iron Sommelier competition (Photo by Eric Forsythe)

Adele Corrigan Wade of 13 Celsius won top honors as Iron Sommelier with Zachary Newman of Bludorn as first runner-up, Skylar Ring of Mastro’s Steakhouse as second runner-up, and Andres Blanco-Le Jardinier winning the People’s Choice Award at The Periwinkle Foundation’s Iron Sommelier competition. And wine draws. More than 450 guests brough in record proceeds of $420,000.

Houston Audubon

Robert and Cullen Muse
Robert & Cullen Muse at Houston Audubon’s ‘Avian Affair’ held at The Revaire.

Visual artist Dixie Friend Gay, noted for her extraordinary mosaic works at Bush Intercontinental Airport among others, was guest speaker discussing the relationship between art and nature at Houston Audubon‘s “Avian Affair” fundraising dinner at The Revaire. Serving as honorary co-chairs were Isabelle Curry Chapman and Jim Blackburn.

Habitat for Horses

Ginger Barber, Sammi Schoelman
Ginger Barber, Sammi Schoelman at the Habitat for Horses benefit held at Armandos

Jerry Finch, Rebecca Williams, Ginger Barber and Cinda and Armando Palacios joined forces for the 11th annual Habitat for Horses fundraiser held at the wildly popular Armandos on the edge of River Oaks. The event that included delish Tex-Mex food and tempting auction items raised more than $50,000 for the nonprofit that rescues and places abused horses.

 Heels & Hot Wheels

Alex Blair and Diane Caplan
Alex Blair, Diane Caplan with Heels & Hot Wheels models at the Post Oak Hotel. (Photo by Dainel Ortiz)

After a period of hibernation, the Heels & Hot Wheels Club has returned under the ownership of Alex Blair. You might remember that in 2018 Ferrari aficionado Diane Caplan founded the club for women who own supercars or premium-luxury cars such as Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, etc.

The big relaunch began with perusal of the ladies’ hot wheels parked at Post Oak Motor Cars and then moved on to The Oak Room, the hotel’s somewhat secret and very private club on an upper floor.

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