Austin won’t ignore Ann Richards School and People’s Community Clinic

It’s impossible to ignore how composed and accomplished they are.

The students from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders are the real celebrities during the annual Reach for the Stars benefit for the Ann Richards School Foundation, now held at Four Seasons Hotel Austin.

Teacher Anah Wiersema with students Haley Loan and Julie Apagya Bonney at the fabulous Reach for the Stars gala for the Ann Richards School Foundation. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

They speak with such assurance and wisdom. They are headed to top colleges all over the country. Many are the first in their families to do so.

Julie Apagya Bonney and Ebheni Henderson led the charge before we saw a video interview with Girl Scouts national leader — and former Austinite — Sylvia Acevedo conducted by Maddy Schell and Maggie Saucedo. As if to trump that, young journalist Haley Lone interviewed Oprah pal Gayle King on the set of her TV show.

We throughly enjoyed our conversations at a table front-and-center sponsored by Ellen Richards, the late governor’s daughter who doesn’t have a new book out. (We talked mostly birds and nature.) Then we heard from more Class of ’18 — Eleanor Bailey and Maria Cruz, before Becky Alonso and Gus Flores introduced the winner of the Ann Richards Legacy Award, who happened to be super-sharp former principal Jeanne Goka.

Sorry guys, but I’d trade her for any principal from my past.

I barely glimpsed Ann Richards writer/actor Holland Taylor before slipping out during the “pompoms up” funding round.

My only private concern: Is anyone doing this sort of things for the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy across town? We’ll ask around.

People’s Community Clinic

Anyone who thinks that repasts such as There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch are merely light social duties has not been to this fundraiser for People’s Community Clinic now held at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin.

Regina Willis, Mitali Kapadia and Haley Aldrich at Tjere’s No Such Thing As Free Lunch for People’s Community Clinic. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Surrounded by folks at our Becky Beaver-led set of tables such as Nancy ScanlanMelissa Miller and Nancy Inman would have been intellectually exhilarating enough. But then we heard from clinic CEO Regina Rogoff, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Louis Appel and longtime board member Dr. Nona Niland, all of whom could easily hold my studious attention.

Niland introduced Philip S. Dial, reluctant winner of the W. Neal Kocurek Award, named for the strategist behind much of the city’s enlightened civic health. Despite his reluctance to take the limelight, financial expert Dial made a fine speaker and reminded us that the quiet money aces often make a nonprofit grow and thrive, as he has done for People’s.

The meat of the lunch, so to speak, was a public conversation between Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith and Dr. Karen DeSalvo, former acting assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and now at the University of Texas Dell School of Medicine.

DeSalvo was head of the health department in New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina crisis and learned much about decentralizing health care and going “upstream” to encourage health before care is needed through community clinics. She believes we need to get past debates on coverage — everybody should be — to talk more about how to save money and lives through community solutions, including a “blue-cities-in-red-states” ones, like the grand experiment going on in Austin right now.

She’s a firecracker and I’d love to profile her for this publication.

 

 

What caused all the excitement at Austin nonprofit pitch fest

I would have given each group $100,000. No, make that $1 million.

At the LBJ Auditorium, reps from each of seven nonprofits made their cases for three minutes at Philanthropitch, then followed up with three minutes of answers to questions from six judges, all successful entrepreneurs.

Chelsea Elliott of the Half Helen Foundation and Kevin Iraheta of the Global Good Fund at Philanthropitch Austin. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

That’s it. No stacks of paperwork. No hours of pleasing donors.

Just pure, compact rhetorical power. And oh yes, a good cause. And a plan that includes growth and internal sustainability. This is how the celebrity judges split up the money:

– Half Helen Foundation: $64,100
– Thinkery: $38,210
– Code2College: $35,553
– College Forward: $18,913
– Generation Citizen: $11,722
– VentureLab: $7,052

But wait, there’s more.

“There was this amazing moment in the judges’ deliberation room where Kendra Scott asked if she could announce two internship placements for Code2College (which coaches nontraditional students to code) and the answer was obviously, YES!” reports Dan Graham, CEO of BuildASign.com cofounder of Notley, the group behind Philanthropitch, which has spread across the country and to the U.K.. “Immediately Gay Gaddis from T3, Jag Bath from Favor and Mellie Price from the Dell Medical School also committed to two internships each!”

CODE2COLLEGE: How to make any student ready for tech career.

On stage, as the the winners received big checks, Lisa Graham announced “Oh and Mr. Stephenson, we have another announcement for you” and proceeded to announce all the internships, which give Code2College added credibility and sustainability.

“As Lisa was finishing, Matt Stephenson (founder of Code2College) began running around hugging the judges and that’s when a woman starting sprinting up the aisle,” Dan recalls. “It was Amy Averett with Alamo Drafthouse announcing that they, too, were committing to two internships! That’s a total of 10 internships.”

 I love Austin.

Two dozen Austin parties you don’t want to miss

It’s been a while since we previewed key upcoming Austin parties. Sorry. SXSW intervened. As well as some Austin news that made it hard to celebrate.

But we are back with some prize-winning dates, including the last hurrahs for 2018 Rodeo Austin.

March 23: Rodeo Austin Youth Livestock Auction. ACL Live.

March 23-May 12: Performance Park. The Vortex.

March 24: Fab Five Event for Seedling Foundation. Westin at the Domain.

March 25: Ignite for Shalom Austin. JW Marriott.

March 31: Texas Whiskey Festival. Bullock Texas State History Museum.

April 3: Lift a Fork for Forklift Danceworks. Springdale Station.

April 5: Generosi-Tea for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Hotel Ella.

April 5: Quest for the Summit for Explore Austin. Fair Market.

April 6: Storybook Heroes Luncheon for BookSpring. Renaissance Austin Hotel.

April 7: Partnerships for Children Gala. Cover 3 Downtown.

April 7: Manos de Cristo 30th Anniversary Gala. ACL Live.

April 7: Tailwaggers Neo-Gala for Austin Pets Alive. 7Co.

April 7: Bandana Ball for Ronald McDonald House. Wild Onion Ranch.

April 10: Breakthrough Champions Celebration. Austin Central Public Library.

April 12-13: Mack, Jack & McConaughey. ACL Live and other venues.

April 14: Capital Area Dental Foundation Gala. JW Marriott.

April 14: I Am Art for Women & Their Work. Private home.

April 11: DSACT Cocktail Bash. 800 Congress Ave.

April 13-14: Art City Austin for Austin Art Alliance. Palmer Events Center.

April 21: Andy Roddick Foundation Luncheon. Hilton Austin.

April 26: Women of Distinction for Girl Scouts. AT&T Center.

April 26: Umlauf Garden Party. Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.

April 28: Putting on the Ritz Gala for Sam Bass Theatre. Marriott La Frontera.

April 27-29: Austin Food + Wine Festival. Auditorium Shores and Fair Market.

April 29: An Afternoon in Neverland for Ballet Austin Guild. Driskill Hotel.

 

Find out the Philanthropy Day Award winners ahead of time

The Austin nonprofit community perks up every year for the Philanthropy Day Awards, given out by the Austin chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Tito Beveridge hand packs cases of 1.7 liter bottles of his handcrafted Tito’s Vodka. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

These honors are chosen by the pros! The following individuals and groups will be applauded during a luncheon at the JW Marriott on Feb. 8.

A special bravo goes out to the always generous Bert “Tito” Beveridge and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Given the recent evaluation from Forbes valuing his company at $2.5 billion, however, Tito’s might more accurately qualify in the Large Corporation category.

RELATED: This Austin vodka maker is now one of the richest people in America.

Outstanding Philanthropists:
NANCY AND NYLE MAXWELL
Nominated by Seton Foundation, Dell Children’s Medical Center Foundation

Outstanding Philanthropic Large Corporation:
APPLIED MATERIALS
Nominated by Breakthrough Central Texas

Outstanding Philanthropic Small or Medium Corporation:
TITO’S HANDMADE VODKA
Nominated by Seton Foundation, Miracle Foundation

Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation/Organization:
ST. DAVID’S FOUNDATION
Nominated by YMCA of Austin, AGE of Central Texas

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser:
MAC McELWRATH
Nominated by KIPP Austin Public Schools

Kelly Davidson Memorial Outstanding Philanthropic Youth:
SPENCER SARTIN
Nominated by The Livestrong Foundation, Cyclists Combating Cancer

Outstanding Fundraising Professional:
DONNA EMERY
Nominated by Christie Bybee, ABE Charitable Foundation Inc.

Special Recognition:
DR. PASCAL “PAT” FORGIONE, JR.
 Nominated by the Christi Center

Hats off to James Armstrong Celebration and Building Healthy Futures

Clarity. Efficiency. Effectiveness.

The Building Healthy Futures luncheon that benefits AIDS Services of Austin glorifies these virtues.

Mary Herr Tally and Scott Ballew at ASA’s Building Healthy Futures luncheon. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Start with the simple cards that share the lunch menu at the JW Marriott and the schedule for the hour-long event, inaugurated by Toya Bell, exact to the minute.

The testimonial videos and speeches were tight and touching. The brochure that details ASA’s 30-year history is mini-masterpiece: A timeline cleanly chronicles the US and Austin HIV/AIDS epidemics and ASA’s responses. Clear graphics in shades of cool blue lay out revenues, expenses and services as well as programs for food, housing, testing and dental care, while precise pages honor volunteers and receipts from the Octopus Club and AIDS Walk, which is coming up Oct. 29.

Every nonprofit that gives a charity luncheon should make this event a case study in cogency.

James Armstrong Celebration of Life

Artists know how to celebrate even in mourning. A tribute to major benefactor James Armstrong was every bit as compelling as a show staged by one of the outstanding arts groups represented on the stage of the Long Center for the Performing Arts.

James Armstrong Celebration of Life. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

First, the flowers, which were everywhere and overwhelmingly beautiful. Then the crowd, which included Armstrong’s husband, Larry Connelly, and his family, as well as hundreds of respectful admirers.

One after another Dave Steakley (Zach Theatre) Philip Barnes (Austin Opera), Peter Bay (Austin Symphony), Stephen Mills (Ballet Austin), Margaret Perry (Armstrong Community Music School), Doug Dempster (University of Texas College of Fine Arts) and others talked of Armstrong’s generosity, humor and ardency for life.

Almost every speech came with a performance of a song or aria or medley. Each was extraordinary, but I was taken unawares by Liz Cass‘ deep, rich, heartfelt rendition of “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Camille Saint-Saëns‘s “Samson and Delilah.” You never know what will make you choke back tears.

Life well lived, James!

UPDATE: Scott Ballew’s name was misspelled in an earlier post.

Austin’s nonprofit Care Communities to close its doors

In a surprise move, Austin’s Care Communities has announced that it will stop providing free support for those living with HIV or cancer in Central Texas.

Star Furniture store manager John Chronister, right, and Z Blair, a social worker with the Care Communities, arrange gifts that were part of the American-Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign in 2014. Andy Sharp/For the American-Statesman.

The mid-size nonprofit that operated with an annual budget of almost $600,000 according to GuideStar.org sent out a message Monday afternoon saying it would close its doors Oct. 31 after 26 years of coordinating volunteers, staff and care partners for the seriously ill.

FOR MORE INFO: Expanded story on the Care Communities closing.

“It has been our esteemed honor to serve those in our community who have faced serious illness alone or with little to no support and who have extremely limited resources,” shares Executive Director Mary Hearon in a statement. “We have had the great privilege of working with phenomenal volunteers and outstanding staff who have given of themselves to ease the pain and suffering of others.”

It was found in 1991 as part of the Central Texas AIDS Interfaith Network, then became its own nonprofit in the mid-1990s. Care was extended to cancer patients in the mid-200os, which is when it took on the name Care Communities.

Its close nonprofit partners have included AIDS Services of Austin, Breast Cancer Resource Center, Family Eldercare and Meals on Wheels Central Texas. It has also received help from the St. David’s Foundation, Shivers Foundation, Stillwater Foundation, Donald D. Hammill Foundation, Ilsa Carroll Turner Friendship Trust and Certoma Club, along with the Hill Country Ride for AIDS and the Texas Mamma Jamma Ride.

For several years, Care Communities was also part of the American-Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign.

“Nonprofits have to constantly hustle to serve the missions and raise money at the same time,” says Monica Maldonado Williams of GivingCity, which covers Austin charities. “The power of Care Communities was all in its volunteers, but great volunteers alone can’t keep the organization running. The problem is, the needs served by Care Communities doesn’t go away just because the nonprofit closes its doors. It’s a loss for Austin, for sure.”

American Medical Association hails Sen. Kirk Watson

Locally, State Sen. Kirk Watson has received well-deserved acclaim for his hand in transforming the region’s medical ecology, which now includes the Dell Medical School, soon-to-open Dell Medical Center, area-wide Central Health and a host of other collaborative projects.

photos-medleyphoto-6489593
State Sen. Kirk Watson. American-Statesman

But on Tuesday, a high-fallutin’ national group noticed, too. Nominated by the Travis County Medical Society, Watson was one of 10 recipients of the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service from the American Medical Association. 

RELATED: How Kirk Watson wants to transform the aging Austin State Hospital.

Winners that night included a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Representative — both medical doctors — and others chosen as “government officials who go above and beyond the call of duty to improve public health,” said AMA Board Chairman Dr. Patrice A. Harris.