Society / The Seen

Houston’s Most Packed Party Month Ever — Inside the Happy Madness of a Post Vaccine Social World

Rolling Through the Social Calendar

BY // 10.29.21

With COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots opening doors across the city, the nonprofit party scene has been roaring like never before. During October, the calendar was packed with more than 50 charitable events ranging from Houston Grand Opera’s Opening Night to the Ronald McDonald House gala.

In an effort to keep up with the flow of good intentions, PaperCity presents this wrapup of some of the month’s events that we weren’t able to get to in person.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston Dinner

Michelle Young and Robert Ellis, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston Julius Young Youth of the Year (Photo by Jenny Antill Clifton)

As the Houston Astros were priming for the World Series, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston knocked it out of the ballpark with the “Great Futures Dinner: Resilient Together,” which nudged proceeds of $1 million in support of the clubs’ high-quality after-school and summer programming for some 30,000 children and teens who walk through the doors of the 23 clubs every year.

It was an emotional moment when Michelle Young, the wife of BGCGH board chairman, Julius Young, who passed away September 22, announced the new “Julius Young Youth of the Year Award,” a $10,000 scholarship presented to Robert Ellis. BGCGH board member Greg Keller chaired the event that spotlighted corporate honoree Sysco and community honoree the Mary Louise Dobson Foundation.

Theatre Under the Stars

While recording artist Shoshana Bean might have been the headliner at Theatre Under the Stars‘ “Lights Up” gala, the true stars of the evening were  students from The River, TUTS’ arts education program for youngsters and young adults with disabilities. The musical performance of nine students from The River and Humphrey’s School of Musical Theatre had all attending the gala at the Post Oak Hotel dabbing away tears. The event honored founders of The River, Cathy and Bob Binstock, and the program’s 25th anniversary. The evening that raised $735,000 was chaired by Marsha and David Taylor, and Martha and Guy Benham.


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Homemade Hope Gala

It was quite the family affair when the glam Bentley clan headlined the Homemade Hope‘s annual “Hope Is Where the Heart Is” gala. Heading the event at River Oaks Country Club were Blair Bentley, Homemade Hope’s founder and executive director, and sister Brooke Bentley Gunst, the nonprofit’s development director. Country music star Dierks Bentley, uncle to Blair and Brooke, made a virtual appearance while Homemade Hope students spoke to the crowd about the impact Homemade Hope has made on their lives.

The 250 guests helped raise more than $250,000 for the charity that nurtures and empowers underserved Houston children, teaching them how to cook nutritious foods, developing their life skills and engendering stability in their lives. The evening was chaired by Tiffany LaRose and Adam Greer.

Interfaith Ministries Tapestry Gala

More than 530 guests, reflecting Houston’s rich diversity, attended Interfaith Ministries “Tapestry Gala,” held at the Hilton Americas-Houston. Chairs leading the evening to proceeds of more than $600,000 were Philamena and Arthur Baird, Dr. Sushma and Devinder Mahajan, Anuradha and Dr. Kohur Subramanian, and Dr. Kathy Flanagan. The evening honored three longtime supporters of the nonprofit whose programs include Meals on Wheels, Refugee Services, and Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships. Basking in the spotlight were honorees Paula S. Sutton, the Rev. Jim Bankston and corporate honoree Sysco.

Houston Parks Board Annual Luncheon

Texas Monthly Executive Editor Mimi Swartz, Author Florence Williams
Texas Monthly Executive Editor Mimi Swartz interviews Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix, at the Houston Parks Board annual luncheon.

How impressive was the success of the Houston Parks Board annual luncheon. Some 350 park enthusiasts gathered beneath a tent erected on Avenida de las Americas Plaza and raised close to $600,000. Leading support for the parks board mission of creating, improving, protecting and advocating for parks were luncheon chairs Norma and Beto Cárdenas and Laura Spanjian and Susan Christian. Program highlight was author Florence Williams’ Q&A with Texas Monthly executive editor Mimi Swartz during which they discussed the science behind the positive impact of nature on our emotional, mental, and physical health.

The Foundation for Teen Health

Reginald & Dana Lillie, Chelsi Yates, Clarease Yates and Phillip Yates at the Foundation for Teen Health fundraiser at Top Golf Katy. (Photo by Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design)

The Foundation for Teen Health abandoned its 15 year tradition of fundraising luncheons pivoting to Top Golf Katy for an action packed and truly fun event. It was very much a family affair with Chelsi and Phillip Yates chairing the event that raised funds for Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic’s Project Ascend. The winner of the Top Golf tournament was Team Pineapple made up of Lee and Audrey Mitchell, Lisa and Walker Barnett, Sarah and Travis Covington. Key to the event was Dr. Peggy Smith, president of the foundation and founding CEO of the clinics.

The Women’s Fund Rockin’ Resiliency Luncheon

The Women’s Fund for Health education and Resiliency celebrated its 11th annual “Rockin’ Resiliency” luncheon as 400 supporters poured into the Royal Sonesta Hotel ballroom. Olympic Bronze Medal winner in boxing Marlen Esparza, the embodiment of female empowerment, provided the keynote address. In addition to the luncheon program, the event featured a 20 popup vendors, a photo booth, balloon pop bags and more. Martha Walton and Dr. Julie Catherine-Ellse Hakim took bows as honorees. The event raised $200,000 under the guidance of luncheon co-chairs Lara Bell and her daughter, Dylan, and Aliza Dutt and her daughter, Addie, and honorary chair Edna Meyer-Nelson.

AVDA “Party in the Park”

AVDA’s Party in the Park chairs Natalie Mohtashami, Jennifer Fuentes, Meredith Marshall and Jen Fink at Evelyn Park in Bellaire. (Photo by Wilson Parish)

With an increase in domestic violence, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse added this event to its annual fundraising efforts and with it the success of raising an additional $271,700 to the coffers in the effort to build awareness of domestic violence at a younger age and to aid in ending generational domestic violence. Applause, applause for chairs Jen Fink, Jennifer Fuentes, Meredith Marshall and Natalie Mohtashami who orchestrated this fun for all 300 guests with activities that included a magic show, a St. Arnold’s Root Beer Garden, stilt walkers, Tenenbaum Jewelers’ Panning for Gems, and more.

Habitat for Humanity Dream Luncheon

Allison Hay, Leela Krishnamurthy, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Consul General Shri Aseem Mahajan
Allison Hay, Leela Krishnamurthy, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Consul General Shri Aseem Mahajan at the Habitat for Humanity luncheon.

Habitat for Humanity’s “Building a Dream” luncheon at the Westin Houston Medical Center enriched the home building coffers by a record-breaking $400,000. Community activist and philanthropist Leela Krishnamurthy was honored for her instrumental support for numerous organizations including Houston Habitat, UNICEF, Indo American Charity Foundation, Sankara Nethralaya and more. The Carl Umland Award was presented by Mayor Sylvester Turner and Consul General of India Shri Aseem Mahajan. Adding to the bottom line was a surprise transformational gift of $100,000, donated by Angela and Charlie Yalamanchili.

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