Houston Snapshots

“Six in the Hand, Two For the Bush” – A Television Icon Discusses Her Storied Career and Upcoming Book at Power of Literacy Luncheon

Event Date:  October 15, 2021
Location:  The Post Oak at Uptown
Event:  Luncheon
No. of Attendees:  500~
Money Raised:  $430,000+
Beneficiary: Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation
Chairpersons: Stephanie Tsuru and Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman
Title Sponsor:  Phillips 66
Emcee:  Keith Garvin
Interviewer:  Dominique Sachse
Special Guest:  Kathie Lee Gifford
  The Events Company
Florals:  H-E-B
Photography: Daniel Ortiz and Jacob Powers

“Six in the Hand, Two For the Bush” – A Television Icon Discusses Her Storied Career and Upcoming Book at Power of Literacy Luncheon

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, founded by Neil and Maria Bush in 2013, was formed to advance Former First Lady Barbara Bush’s literacy legacy. Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city (rapidly approaching third largest) is one of the nation’s most diverse, but a literacy crisis still looms large in our metropolis. This Foundation focuses deeply on increasing awareness and literacy services and support in the Bush family’s hometown. What a tribute from a son in memory of his remarkable mother!

Nearly 500 guests opened their pocketbooks to support the efforts of this organization at this sixth annual luncheon. Two of Houston’s notable women (and founding members of Ladies for Literacy Guild within the foundation) helmed this notable gathering at The Post Oak at Uptown. Chairpersons Stephanie Tsuru and Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman, title sponsor Phillips 66 (for the sixth year), presenting sponsors Cathy Cleary, Rhonda Graff, Stephanie Tsuru, Bobbie Nau, Memorial Hermann, The Quanex Foundation and Stavis & Cohen Private Wealth, and supporters, helped bring in more than $430,000 to assist in funding the charity’s mission.

The giant “Giving Tree” in the foyer was a big hit for this event and became a sell-out with 200 velvet pumpkins being sold for $100 each. Each pumpkin represents 20 books for children that were supplied to the three Curiosity Cruisers, which travel through underserved neighborhoods and gift books to children. That totals to $20,000 raised and 4,000 books supplied on this effort alone!

Renowned Houston décor company, The Events Company was the master behind the ballroom’s giant fall-floral and pumpkin canopy on a boxwood stage backdrop, as well as ivory linens on the guest tables. H-E-B’s floral department created beautiful centerpiece arrangements to tie the autumnal look together.

Featured speakers at this illustrious gathering were:  Channel 2’s Keith Garvin who served as emcee; Rabbi David Lyon who gave the invocation; Co-Chairs Stephanie Tsuru and Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman and Ladies for Literacy Guild President Lisa Jakel.

Four-time Emmy Award winner, former “TODAY” co-host and New York Times bestselling author Kathie Lee Gifford was interviewed in a “fireside chat” format by Channel 2 news anchor Dominique Sachse, where they discussed Kathie Lee’s long and varied career, family life and upcoming book. Three monumental surprises occurred during the interview:  Dominique teed up an unexpected video message from former “TODAY” show co-host Hoda Kotb congratulating Kathie Lee on the new book, secretly unveiling the new book at the luncheon and notifying guests that each would receive an advanced copy of it. At that moment, confetti cannons shot across the ballroom!

Congratulations to all involved in raising awareness for the value and importance of literacy. Co-chairperson Stephanie Tsuru said it best, “Seeing a child receive brand new books for the first time or a 19-year-old be able to reach her goal in reading independently is simply indescribable. Helping a child or adult learn how to read, not only changes their life but also can save their life.”

Socially present (not already mentioned):  Alice Mosing, Betty Hrncir, Bobbie Nau, Bob Bowman, Julie Baker Finck, Cathy Cleary, Sidney Faust, Elsie Eckert, Paige Fertitta, Hallie Vanderhider, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein, Lilly Andress, Vicki West, Ann Bookout, Rhonda Graff, Nancy Ames & Danny Ward, Lisa & Mark Jakel, Iris Griffiths, Jennifer Wilson, Carol Sawyer, Diane Gendel, Ginny Endecott, Janna Roberson, Rosie Damgaard, Mehrnaz Gill, Gail Garland, Claudia Kreisle, Laurie Lashier, Patricia Mitchell, Sonya Reed, Anne Neeson, Sara Wise, Sue Conway, Susan Bruch and Marsha Montemayor.

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