All-American Charity Ball celebrates patriotism and the power of volunteerism

February 2017

Cue the red, white, and blue.

The Junior League of Houston’s 69th annual Charity Ball was a celebration of all things patriotic, though chairman Jennifer Scheifley Roberts explained that her theme of choice had nothing to do with politics.

“‘American Journey’ was inspired by my family living in Malaysia for three years,” she clarified on Friday evening.

The well-attended soiree has grown into a three-part celebration beginning with an intimate kick-off on Thursday, followed by two back-to-back galas over the weekend. Each night saluted a different motif: “Bayou City Lights” (Thursday), “Stars over Texas” (Friday), and “Sea to Shining Sea” (Saturday).

Tearoom general manager Malcolm Rowland, who dressed up as Uncle Sam for the occasion, described the program as “an absolutely Yankee Doodle Dandy Show.” He forgot to add “from start to finish.”

A barbershop quartet serenaded black-tie arrivals from the valet stand. Swathed in cobalt and crimson gowns, underwriting chairman Beth Zdeblick, community partner chairman Abby Swalick Katiblou, ad sales chairman Elizabeth Parke Kincaid, auction chairman Bethany Buchanan, and Roberts formed a striking receiving line. The welcome quintet stood under one end of a star-spangled canopy while a live Statue of Liberty manned the other.

Following cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served al fresco in the courtyard, Junior League President Shannon Wiesedepperattled off statistics – from memory – to remind gala-goers of the party’s purpose.

According to Wiesedeppe, the chapter’s 1,500 active members complete 100 hours of annual community service; on average, 3,400 sustaining members provide ten years of total service. The organization participates in 37 projects throughout the Houston community.

This year, she said, they packed 100,000 sack lunches for Kids’ Meals and wrote 800 letters to Houston Independent School District students through a pen pal program.

Next came the entertainment. Abby Sands Barratt, Chelsea Johnson, Emily Crocker, Emily-Frances Wright McAdams, Ginny Young Ledwell, Janie Enloe, Jennifer Wauhob, Leslie Bramlett Keyes, Lindsey Falconer Williford, Melissa Polka, Morgan Gates Daugherty, Selina Victor Sauter, and Buchanan performed a string of sing-along numbers ranging from the “Dreamgirls” title track to Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

Austin-based country band Reckless Kelly hit the stage on Friday night and Sunset BLVD closed shop the following Saturday. Thanks in part auction items which included Taft McWhorter’s popular live-painting and a chance to spend four hours with Olympian Simone Biles, this year’s festivities raised $740,000.

Source: Monday, February 13, 2017, Houston Chronicle All-American Charity Ball celebrates patriotism and the power of volunteerism by Amber Elliott