Society / Featured Parties

Inside a Socially Distanced River Oaks Country Club — a Mere 80 Guests and Still $225,000 Raised

Houston Hospice Dinner Shows How Fundraising Works in 2020

BY // 10.29.20
photography Daniel Ortiz

Over the years, we’ve seen the River Oaks Country Club ballroom filled to capacity, bursting at the seams with even more than 500 guests happily squeezing in for various fundraisers. So it was somewhat surreal Wednesday when a mere 80 strong-hearted supporters of Houston Hospice sat down for the program in the spacious ballroom for the annual Laura Lee Blanton Community Spirit Award Dinner.

But dinner was takeout and guests wore masks. Hand sanitizer and logo masks, rather than salads, were at their place settings. The whole thing ran less than an hour. Nevertheless, the evening raised more than $225,000 and by all accounts was a success.

Two hundred additional Houston Hospice supporters tuned in from home. Welcome to creative fundraising in 2020 in the mind-altering time of COVID-19.

The two-pronged program featured emcee Lisa Malosky interview with New York Times best-selling author and diva of summer beach reads Elin Hilderbrand, who Zoomed in from her pandemic base in Nantucket. The author has been volunteering for many years at the hospice in Nantucket and her most recent novel, 28 Summers, reflects on end of life decisions. Both entertaining and thoughtful, the interview received rousing applause.

In a turn on tradition, the Laura lee Blanton Community Spirit Award went not to an individual but to the Garden Club of Houston.

“We are pleased to honor a group which has supported the Hospice mission from the very beginning and continues doing so,” said Elizabeth Wareing, who with her husband Peter Wareing chaired the fundraiser which is named after her much beloved late mother. “To be in a garden is to experience both the normal and the transcendent. Gardens offer an opportunity to reaffirm life in the midst of illness.”

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The crystal award was accepted by president of the board of the garden club, Julie Griffin.

PC Seen: Houston Hospice board chairman Dr. Paul Mansfield, Houston Hospice new president and CEO Rana McClelland, Gay Estes, Rich Walton, Jenny and Jay Kempner, Lesha and Tom Elsenbrook, Barbara Van Postman, Jim Rapson, Heidi and Nick Rockecharlie, Leisa Holland Nelson and Bob Bowman, Donna Josey Chapman, Sue White, and Stan and Sandi Faison.

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