Society / The Seen

A Little Cocktail Party With a Big Mission Brings in a Whopping $900,000

BY // 12.12.18
photography Jacob Power, Michelle Watson/

Quite the holiday miracle occurred at the Post Oak Hotel Monday night when a virtually unknown non-profit (SBP originally St. Bernard Project) held its first Houston fundraiser — a mere cocktail party — and cashed in with $900,000 in proceeds. That just does not happen, not even in a city as generous as Houston.

Applause, applause for chairs Brigitte Kalai, Alicia Smith and Hallie Vanderhider, already  recognized as philanthropic leaders, who orchestrated the phenomenal “Answering the Call” success.

For the record SBP was formed as a disaster recovery nonprofit focused on rebuilding homes after Hurricane Katrina wiped out much of New Orleans. Since it’s founding in 2006, the organization has rebuilt, repaired some 1,500 storm damaged homes around the country. It was in fact one of the charities that J.J. Watt graced with $8.5 million from his massive Hurricane Harvey relief effort windfall.

With those funds SBP volunteers have constructed 100 homes in the Houston area and the organization of volunteers is poised to complete another 100.

Along with powerhouse honorary chairs Paige and Tilman Fertitta, Joanne King Herring, Hannah and Cal McNair, Sydney and Jeff Shellebarger, Leticia and Stephen Trauber, Margaret Alkek Williams, and Jennifer and David Ducote, the trio of chairs tapped Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni and Laurel D’Antoni as honorees.

The duo has long been familiar with the efforts of SBP having seen the organization’s work first hand when SBP went into action near the couple’s home in West Virginia following the devastating flood of 2016.

“This event started out at a Rockets game during a discussion with Alicia Smith,” Laurel D’Antoni recalled. Adding that with Kalai and Vanderhider on quickly board, “They did an amazing job of bringing some of the biggest philanthropists in town to this organization that people really weren’t familiar with. And they put SBP on the map.”

Praising the city’s altruistic bent, D’Antoni said, “When they hear about it, that’s the amazing thing about Houston. They hear about something and they go,’I’ll help’. That’s on us to make sure they hear about it.”

Also honored were Mayor Sylvester Turner’s chief recovery officer Marvin Odum and the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

Those involved spread the SBP message far and wide through the city’s philanthropic circles resulting in a whopping $500,000 contribution from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation under the auspices of Margaret Alkek Williams and Randa and Charles Williams.

Among the 350 well-heeled participants were SBP founders Zack Rosenburg and Liz McCartney in from SBP headquarters in New Orleans and community leaders Brenda and Marc Watts, Dick Weekley, Bruce Race, Bashar Kalai, Amy and Rob Pierce, Laura and Dave Ward, Joanna and Brad Marks, Tony Buzbee, Kim and Dan Moody, Megan and Luke Hotze, Jenee and Nick Stefanakis, Anne and Noble Carl, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Beth Wolff, Ed Wolff, Lawanda and Edward Laase, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, and so many more bold-faced types.

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