By Deborah Hamilton-Lynne and Kathy Blackwell | December 6, 2017 | Culture
Ten essential parties, people and nonprofit partners from Austin’s philanthropy scene right now.
Fashion and philanthropy come together in a spectacular way each year at Beauty of Life, which benefits Austin’s Seton Breast Care Center and the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation. This year, more than 650 guests, including dozens of “breast cancer survivors, fighters, thrivers and lifers,” came together for an inspirational meal, special surprises by favorite jewelry designer Kendra Scott and a jaw-dropping fashion show by Neiman Marcus. For its 20th anniversary in 2018, the luncheon will move from its traditional spring date to be closer to October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month initiatives; it will change locations as well. Save the date for Sept. 28 at the new Fairmont Austin and look for new partner initiatives.
Only a cutting-edge museum could go for the unexpected in the most artful way. The Contemporary Austin’s Art Dinner (contemporaryaustin.org) is a multicourse feast for the senses. At $1,000 to $1,500 a plate, this beautiful event on the grounds of the Contemporary’s historic Laguna Gloria estate and Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park outdoes itself each year with provocative art installations, avantgarde musical performances, a beautiful seated dinner prepared on-site by McGuire Moorman Hospitality and, this past April, even a Ferris wheel. This year’s live auction of works by contemporary artists—some in attendance—raised more than $400,000 in a heartbeat. We can only imagine what’s in store at the next dinner, April 20.
Ava and Steve Late’s commitment to serving the community is a family affair, one instilled in each of them by their parents, Ava says. The philanthropic philosophy of the couple, who own the Late European luxury car dealership for Aston Martin, Bentley, Lotus and Rolls-Royce, includes building a legacy of involvement at every level for the organizations they support. Ava is the founder and chairman of the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease, and serves on the board of Ballet Austin and on the Helping Hand Home’s Community Advisory Board. Steve is active in the Texas Exes Association and on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. In recognition of the Lates’ dedication to education, human rights, children, the arts and more, the two were honored as the Helping Hand Home’s 2017 Philanthropic Honorees in October. Says Ava: “Steve and I know it is much more special to give to organizations locally, so you can see the results and feel the heart of those you are helping.”
Austin sure loves its dogs. Fundraisers for our four-legged friends and other beloved pets are easy to come by for groups such as Emancipet, the Austin Humane Society and Austin Pets Alive. APA, which helped rescue more than 3,000 dogs and cats during Hurricane Harvey, has had quite a year for fundraising. In April, actor Justin Th eroux, who filmed part of The Leftovers here, gave $10,000 to APA after winning the “Hot Hands” game on Ellen. Th at same month, chair Mary Herr Tally and her team threw the inaugural Tailwaggers “nongala” (apatailwaggers.org), which drew more than 400 animal lovers for a festive night that included a silent auction of designer pet collars. Says Herr Tally: “Tailwaggers was such a hit that sponsors and guests have been asking about the 2018 event since last April—and those who missed it have sworn they’ll attend [next year].” Mark your calendars for April 7 at a new event venue in East Austin.
When you walk into a ballroom and the first thing you notice are the floral arrangements, chances are you’re looking at the work of David Kurio Designs (davidkuriodesigns.com). With 33 years in the fl oral industry, Kurio has designed some of Austin’s most memorable arrangements and fl oral treatments for events supporting Dell Children’s Hospital, the March of Dimes, AIDS Services of Austin, Hospice Austin and Seton Healthcare, among countless others. Although Kurio has a signature, elegant style, his designs are never the same. His goal: to make each event memorable and exceptionally beautiful.
Since opening a decade ago, Neiman Marcus at The Domain (512.719.1200, neimanmarcus.com) has become the must-stop shop for black-tie engagements. Austin women are drawn to pieces from Badgley Mischka, La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni, Marchesa Notte, Carmen Marc Valvo and Zac Posen. Th e Dallas-based retailer, which marks its centennial this year, is also an important part of the community. General Manager Chris Hendel and Public Relations Manager Jennifer Carnes often represent the store at the biggest fundraisers in town. Th e store’s charitable giving program, Th e Heart of Neiman Marcus, supports organizations that provide enriching art education and experiences to young people, including Ballet Austin, The Contemporary Austin, Zach Theatre and the Texas Cultural Trust.
With the mid-November opening of the Fairmont Austin, the city’s largest hotel at 1,048 rooms, event chairs now have expanded options. Among those hosting galas at the Fairmont’s ballrooms are Dell Children’s Medical Center Jan. 27 as well as Easterseals Central Texas, Rawson Saunders and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. With almost 140,000 square feet of event space and five restaurants and bars, the Fairmont will soon be on the regular rotation of gala hot spots.
Sally Brown, Camila Alves and Amy Ingram (shown above) are the women behind one of Austin’s most successful and highly anticipated charity events of the year—Mack, Jack & McConaughey (as in former UT Coach Mack Brown, country star Jack Ingram and Austin’s favorite resident Oscar winner). “MJ&M started with the idea that if we all worked together, we could help kids and have a lot of fun at the same time,” says Sally. In five years, the trio of women and their spouses have raised more than $7.5 million for benefi ciaries including the Dell Children’s Medical Center, The Rise School, CureDuchenne, Heart Gift and the Just Keep Livin’ Foundation. The two-day MJ&M includes a gala dinner with a celebrity concert (past performers include Miranda Lambert and John Mellencamp), a fashion show from a top designer (think Jason Wu and Veronica Beard), a golf tournament and the closing Jack & Friends concert of acclaimed singersongwriters. April 12-13, mackjackandmcconaughey.com
One of the superheroes during Hurricane Harvey was the state’s favorite grocery chain, H-E-B. Less than a month after Harvey devastated much of Houston and the Gulf Coast, H-E-B’s total giving to disaster relief efforts exceeded $3 million in monetary donations, support of emergency shelters, food bank donations, volunteer hours and the deployment of H-E-B’s Mobile Kitchens and Disaster Relief Units, which were the fi rst on the scene in some cases. The Mobile Kitchens served 50,000 hot meals, and delivery trucks carried 150,000 cases of water, 75,600 bags of ice, and 4,000 bags of cat and dog food. On top of that, H-E-B chairman and CEO Charles Butt personally gave $5 million to the JJ Watt Foundation. H-E-B also sent goods to Florida and Puerto Rico after hurricanes Irma and Maria; supported Tim Duncan’s relief efforts in the Caribbean; and donated 350 tons of food, water and more to Mexico after the heartbreaking earthquakes. Texas Strong, indeed.
Hollywood comes to Austin each March on the eve of South by Southwest as the Austin Film Society (austinfilm.org), founded by director Richard Linklater in 1985, honors movies and filmmakers with ties to the Lone Star State at the Texas Film Awards. This year’s guest list alone included Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Jeff Nichols, as well as Shirley MacLaine, Nick Kroll, Jesse Plemons and Tye Sheridan. Look for honorees for the March 8 event, which raises money to support fi lmmakers and the local fi lm community, to be announced soon.
BEAUTY OF LIFE RUNWAY PHOTO BY BEN PORTER; ART DINNER PHOTO BY BRIAN FITZSIMMONS