16 Notable Houston Parties Worth Remembering — A Look Back at This Most Charitable City’s Social Swirl

No Good Cause Is Left Behind

BY Caitlin Hsu // 06.11.23

The Houston social calendar is always chock-a-block with events raising funds for worthy nonprofits covering nearly every sphere of the city from the Houston Food Bank and Bayou preservation to education and assistance for youth with learning disabilities.

It’s been another successful run of charitable fundraising. But it’s never easy to keep track of everything that’s been happening in this charity-minded behemoth of a city. Here are some notable Houston parties you may have missed:

Night of Broadway Stars

LaKisha Jones performs at Night of Broadway Stars (Photo by Wilson Parish)
LaKisha Jones performs at Night of Broadway Stars (Photo by Wilson Parish)

Elaine and Robert Shaffer chaired this star-studded night at the Wortham Theater Center, benefitting Covenant House Texas, which provides care to homeless youth age 18 to 24. The program featured performances from Broadway stars Jason Bernard, Catherine Brunell, Rita Harvey, LaKisha Jones and Houston’s own Alan H. Green, with composer Neil Berg. Receiving the biggest ovation was a performance of “Seasons of Love” from Rent by eight Covenant House youth.  

The Center for Pursuit Luncheon

Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Houston franchise owners Kelly & Drew Scoggins at The Center for Pursuit Luncheon (Photo by Steven David)

This annual luncheon brought in $196,000 for The Center for Pursuit’s mission to empower individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Center partnered with Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Houston, a coffee shop that employs people with disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. In fact, six employees at Bitty & Beau’s Rice Village location are alumni of The Center’s employment services program. 

Chairs Victoria Beard and Lance Reynolds helmed the event with KTRK Channel 13 weekend sports anchor Adam Winkler served as emcee. 

Abandoned Little Angels 21st Annual Gala

Vinh Nguyen, Vickie Do at Abandoned Little Angels 21st Annual Gala (Photo by Hung L. Truong)

A night of bidding, gambling and fun unfolded at the Kim Son Ballroom. David Dinh and Jennie Naomi Haryanto chaired this Casino Royale-themed gala, which raised $210,000 to provide food, clothing, medicine and other vital resources to orphaned and disabled children in Vietnam.

Honorees Love 2 Yeu, Duke Nguyen and Dr. Emily Tran Nguyen and Christine Hoang were recognized for their continued support of ALA

Vita Living’s Pearls of Wisdom Fiesta

Lisa Eicher, Ace Eicher, Sevy Marie Eicher at Vita Living’s Pearls of Wisdom Fiesta (Photo by Andy Phan)

Vita Living brought the color to River Oaks Country Club for their fiesta-themed fundraiser in support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The highlight was a silent auction featuring two unique art pieces from Sevy Marie Eicher, an internationally renowned artist with Down syndrome. Eicher’s two works raised more than $16,000 of the night’s $200,000 overall earnings. 

Key players were chairs Pamela and Marc Perilloux, Kristen and Drew Perrin, Lisa and Ace Eiche, and honoree Chris Mehling. 

Jillian Nel, Philamena Baird, Elaine Turner at The Women’s Fund dinner at Tony’s. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

The Women’s Fund 8th Annual Wine Dinner

More than 200 guests gathered at Tony’s for an elegant dinner in support of The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency. Board president Jillian Nel delivered touching remarks, introduced chairs Elaine Turner and Misti Pace-Krahl, and awarded Philamena and Arthur Baird with the Jane and David Braden, MD “Heart of Volunteer” Service Award.

Attendees sipped on wine while enjoying a spirited live auction. The Wine Dinner raised more than $200,000 for The Women’s Fund, helping to empower Houston-area women and girls to advocate for their own health.   

DePelchin Children’s Center Families For Kids Luncheon

Alice Rohrman, Lisa Wright, Susie Distefano, Randi Fiedler at DePelchin Children’s Center Families For Kids Luncheon (Photo by Jenny Antill Clifton)

The Families For Kids luncheon, chaired by Cecily and Rick Burleson, raised more than $360,000 for DePelchin Children’s Center. The Kezia Payne DePelchin Award, named for the organization’s founder, was awarded to Baker Botts LLP, and accepted by Baker Botts partners Scott Janoe and Keri Brown. The luncheon also featured Fox 26’s Fox Finding Families host Sally MacDonald and motivational speaker Dr. John “Push” Gaines, a former at-risk youth turned youth advocate. 

Nora’s Home “Wish Upon a Star” Gala

Faith and Bobby, Nora’s Home special guests, share a kiss. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Co-chairs Carla and Cole Dawson and Neva and John Dawson welcomed 600 guests to dine under the stars at the McGovern Centennial Gardens, in honor of the 10th anniversary of Nora’s Home. The audience applauded Drs. Lillian and Osama Gaber, both transplant doctors and co-founders of Nora’s Home, as well as parents to the namesake Nora.

The crowd was delighted when three operatic performers, disguised as waiters, suddenly broke into song. A glamorous live auction led by Rusty Mertink helped the gala raise more than $1.1 million for the transplant hospitality home.

The highlight of the evening? A proposal from Bobby, a heart recipient, to Faith, a lung recipient. The couple met while staying at Nora’s home. She said yes.

Avondale House’s Embracing Autism Evening

Ryane Jackson, Avondale House CEO Steve Vetrano at Avondale House’s Embracing Autism Evening (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

River Oaks Country Club was host to Avondale House’s second annual Embracing Autism, Hear Our Voices event. A performance from Nashville musicians Phillip White, Monty Holmes and Kent Blazy; a rousing speech from Kaitlyn Merz; a diamond raffle sponsored by IW Marks Jewelers; and the live auction all helped raised $245,000 to benefit the organization’s three programs for adults with autism. 

AVDA New Beginnings Luncheon

Honoree Stephanie von Stein Schusterman, AVDA CEO Maisha Colter at AVDA New Beginnings Luncheon (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

More than 230 guests gathered at the Junior League of Houston for AVDA’s (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) New Beginnings luncheon, an event that raised more than $292,000 for survivors of domestic abuse. AVDA CEO Maisha Colter delivered remarks, reminding the audience that “domestic violence is not a private matter, but a public health crisis.“ Colter also introduced AVDA board member and volunteer Stephanie von Stein Schusterman, who received the Ambassador of Advocacy Award.

Also making an appearance was TV personality Courtney Zavala, who emceed the afternoon, and co-chairs Sarah Barrett, Rachel Delaney, Jessica Leeke and Alexis Smith.

Family Houston Pillars of Strength Luncheon

Debbie and honoree Khambrel Marshall at Family Houston Pillars of Strength Luncheon (Photo by Quy Tran)

The first in-person Pillars of Strength Luncheon since 2019 was a great success, raising more than $160,000 for Family Houston’s mission to provide resources, mental health counseling, and financial coaching to those in need. In the crowd was luncheon chair Rene Casares; Greater Houston Partnership president and CEO Bob Harvey, who was emcee; Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale, who delivered the keynote address; and beloved KPRC Channel 2 meteorologist Khambrel Marshall, who was honored for his work in mental health advocacy. The day was even declared as “Khambrel Marshall Day.” 

Boots on the Bayou Gala

Will Ramos dances with Rose Sobel at Boots on the Bayou. (Photo by Jared Jones)

Bayou Preservation Association’s highly-anticipated gala brought 150-plus guests, decked out in their finest Western wear, to The Ballroom at Bayou Place for an evening of dining, line dancing and giving. The generous support of sponsors including John P. McGovern Foundation, The Howard Hughes Corporation, TBG partners and SSCI Environmental will allow Bayou Preservation Association to continue its work to preserve Houston’s beloved and essential bayous and streams.

Small Steps Wine Classic

Small Steps board president Emily and David Sheeren at Small Steps Wine Classic (Photo by Brian Kennedy)

The 13th annual Small Steps Nurturing Center Wine Classic, a paired wine dinner at a private club near Memorial Park, was chaired by Leslie and Randy Newcomer and Stephanie and Brian Sauer. This exclusive, sold-out event raised more than $800,000.

Under a beautiful tent in the club’s lawn, 550 party goers enjoyed a four-course meal with corresponding wine pairings, led by River Oaks Country Club director of wine & beverage Lindsay Thomas, while discussing the importance of early education and intervention in breaking the cycle of poverty. 

Houston Food Bank Chef’s Dinner

Brain Greene with Dr. Kathleen Gilbert and students from the Sam Houston State University Food Pantry (Photo by Quy Tran)

Hotel ZaZa was host to Houston Food Bank’s 23rd annual Chef’s Dinner, which raised a record-breaking $623,733. These funds will provide more than 1,871,199 meals to those in need. 

In the crowd of nearly 400 guests were chairs Michele and Jeff Dodson, Houston Food Bank board chair Laura Juliano, Jamie and Greg Grissom, the Keegan family, H Town Restaurant Group’s Tracy Vaught, Lori Gallagher and Curtis Huff, and Cheniere Energy’s Kristen and Jack Fusco

The Blue Bird Circle Gala

Honoree Dr. Huda Zoghbi & Dr. William Zoghbi at the Blue Bird Circle centennial anniversary gala (Photo by TK Images)

Some 370 Houston party goers celebrated the 100th anniversary of The Blue Bird Circle at The Ballroom at Bayou Place with live and silent auctions, delicious food, and groovy live music. Chair Sarah Burchfield honored Texas Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Huda Zoghbi for her extensive research in pediatric neurological disorders, a critical part of The Blue Bird Circle’s mission. The all-women volunteer organization presented Texas Children’s Hospital with a generous $10 million gift, with Blue Bird Circle president Abigail Tonry doing the honors

Boys & Girls Clubs Great Futures Dinner

Youth emcee Nadiya M., emcee Marc Vandermeer at Boys & Girls Clubs Great Futures Dinner (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston honored its longtime partnership with the Houston Texans Foundation at the 2023 Great Futures Dinner, held at Hilton Americas downtown. Chairs Hannah and Cal McNair, vice president and CEO of Houston Texans respectively, welcomed 600 guests to BGCGH’s premier fundraiser. The crowd enjoyed dinner in the ballroom and delighted in a special performance from the Houston Texans cheerleaders and Texans Deep Steel Thunder Drumline. 

PC Seen: Emcee “Voice of the Texans” Marc Vandermeer and youth emcee Nadiya M., BGCGH chairman Kevin Hattery, BGCGH president and CEO Laura Gump, 2023 Julius Young Youth of the Year Ky’Saan Piatti, Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce and Texans mascot TORO. 

Arrow Child & Family Ministries 30th anniversary

Friar Juan Torres, Arrow CEO Scott Lundy, George & Laura Pontikes, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, Arrow CRO Debi Tengler at Arrow Child & Family Ministries 30th anniversary (Photo by Quy Tran)

Longtime Arrow donors Laura and George Pontikes opened their beautiful Tanglewood home to more than 200 attendees to celebrate 30 years of Arrow Child & Family Ministries’ work. This nonprofit serves a large number of kids in Texas’ foster care system. Guests enjoyed an exquisite feast from Chef Aaron Bludorn of his popular Bludorn restaurant with wine pairings from sommeliers Jack Mason and Steven McDonald.

The highlight of the evening came when Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, an Arrow foster parent and donor, was named Arrow’s Defender of Children, and was awarded with a Superhero cape. A video showed his contributions to Arrow. 

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