Event Date: September 14, 2022
Location: River Oaks Country Club
No. of Attendees: 300
Money Raised: $178,000
Beneficiary: Italian Cultural & Community Center scholarships
Chairpersons: Sandra Porter and Gina Gusemano Leck
Honoree: Rose “Rosie” Carrabba
Fashion Show Sponsor: Neiman Marcus
Fashion Show Producer: Jeanne Ruberti
Emcee: Owen Conflenti
Photography: Michelle Watson
Da Vinci. La Scala. Milan. Valentino. Tuscany. Pasta. Ferrari. Gold! All Things Italian Were Celebrated at the ICCC Luncheon
For over four decades, the Italian Cultural & Community Center has serviced Italian families coming to Houston and given them ways to celebrate their heritage, citywide. It has also been a lightning rod for those seeking to “soak up” some of that “Roman Essence” everyone loves so much. Such was the case as over 300 guests crowded the River Oaks Country Club ballroom this past week for “Celebrating the Jewels of Italy.”
Channel 2’s Owen Conflenti introduced Chairpersons Sandra Porter and Gina Gusemano Leck, who proudly greeted the crowd, who were still amazed by the a capella Bellini aria performed by soprano Bailey Bower, which opened the show.
Italian Community Center Executive Director Erika Myers spoke about the good work of the organization and wondered how the organization would surpass the success of this luncheon, when it’s held next year.
Restaurateur Johnny Carrabba brought everyone to tears, as his heartfelt introduction of his amazing mother and the luncheon’s honoree, Rose “Rosie” Carrabba, was extremely moving. A surprise congratulatory video from family friend and singer Steve Tyrell was shown to much applause. In the same manner as which Johnny brought the audience to tears minutes earlier, his mom brought the audience to tears … of laughter! Anyone who has graced the Voss location of Carrabba’s always finds Rosie there welcoming guests and holding court. She is a notorious joke teller and did not disappoint on this occasion. Rosie ended her acceptance speech by telling two fairly “colorful” jokes, which had everyone in stitches. As always, Rosie steals the show!
The pezzo di resistenza was the Neiman Marcus fashion show, showcasing Italian designers, produced once again by Jeanne Ruberti. Beautiful models from Page Parkes strutted down the runway in one of the finest shows seen in a long time. It ended with models dressed and arranged in the colors of the Italian flag. Neiman’s GM Chris Hendel and Brand Experience Manager Heather Almond were on-hand to receive well-deserved congratulations on the show’s success.
A delicious all-Italian lunch presentation, the beautiful floral table arrangements from H-E-B, a Prosecco sipping experience, the silent auction of Italian treasures and a raffle courtesy of Tenenbaum Jewelers added to the dollars procured for the organization.
At event’s end, the more than $178,000 raised by this successful affair benefits the center’s scholarship programs for college students studying here and abroad in Italy. Chairs Sandra Porter and Gina Gusemano Leck proudly stated, “What a joy this was for us. Our hope was to raise awareness about the great work the ICCC is doing while providing a beautiful, warm, and loving experience for our guests.” Brava to the chairs, the Center’s team, the fashion team and the generous sponsors who combined their efforts to create a memorable and prosperous afternoon.
Socially present (not previously mentioned): Warner Roberts, Philamena Baird, Donna Vallone, Mike Turner, Cathy Brock, Lisa Holthouse, Leisa Holland-Nelson, Leila Perrin, Charity Yarborough, Marilu Garza, Lauren Fisher, Chris Hendel, Heather Almond, Lara Bell, Roz Pactor, Crystin Pactor, Nicole Graham, Vicki Rizzo, Suzan Deison, Anne Romano, Dana Kervin, Jo Ann Petersen, Carolyn Faulk, Missa Sutton, Pamela Lockard, Cynthia Wolff, Franelle Rogers, Lu Caltagirone, Dionne Delery Breen and Debbie Clemens, Sue Giammalva, Sylvia Goldstein, Michael Wiesenthal, Lary Barton, Deborah Stavis and Odilia Conflenti