Few causes turn on a more tender theme than that of the Care Communities. I’m moved almost every time I attend this group’s gala because the teams of caregivers for the long-term sick and terminally ill are so genuine. Spent most of the early evening tracking down David C. Smith, whose charitable works crisscross the entire community, including the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Along with Dr. Cynthia Brinson and Linda Richards, Smith was honored by this group at the Sheraton Austin at the Capitol last week. My guide, as always, was the slow-burn, eternal flame for the Care Communities, Roger Temme. Yet it was hard not to applaud everyone present this evening.
Equality Day Dinner
Housing, health, schools, jobs — the Austin Area Urban League puts a lot of stock in these basics. During a short video tease about the life of Whitney M. Young Jr., director of the National Urban League from 1961 to 1971, I began to get the bigger picture. Young was effective because he spoke the pragmatic language of business. His name is attached to awards from the Austin Area Urban League, given out at the Equality Day dinner last week at the AT&T Center. Winners were law firm Jackson Walker LLP in the corporate category and the astounding pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Timothy George in the individual class. So much more to admire this evening with the likes of honorary chairman Charles Akins, guild chairwoman LaVonne Mason, local director W. “Teddy” McDaniel III, board chairman Gregory Vincent, and the charismatic Rev. Gaylon Clark.
Food for Thought
Communities in Schools has proven it can do what some thought was impossible: Cut dropout rates. Just how they do it, I’m still learning. Attendance at the group’s annual Food for Thought gala helps. This informal confab, staged this year with plenty of elbow-room at the Austin Music Hall, lines the venue with tasty bites from area chefs, serenades the guests with appealing live music, then gets down to the business of telling its story and raising more money. I was impressed, first, by the Manor High School marching band, out front, then inside by far-flung conversations with Turk and Christy Pipkin, Marc and Carolyn Seriff and Candlelight Ranch’s Harriett Kirsh Pozen as well as Clint and Susan Hackney, who filled me in on the planning for the 2014 Toast of the Town for St. David’s Foundation health sciences scholarships.
Tom Spencer at Snack Bar
Lunched over sandwiches at Snack Bar with Tom Spencer, one of the indispensable Austinites. I met Tom decades ago in a social setting, then followed his splendid civic reporting on KLRU. I even appeared on his shows at times. The gentle gardener left TV to completely resurrect Interfaith Austin as iACT, and along the way he schooled me in the realities of affordable housing. Having accomplished that, he recently moved over to replace founder Patsy Woods Martin as director of I Live Here I Give Here. Heading that umbrella group will make him one of the most informed players on the nonprofit scene. Bright, funny and accessible, Spencer is the right man right now.
Christine Moline at Barlata
A little bit of San Francisco has landed on South Lamar Boulevard. It had been too long since stylish writer and editor Christine Moline and I shared a meal. We had a lot to catch up on, including the latest from her content consultancy business, Jane Doe Ink, and a new venture, as of yet unannounced. She chose as our meeting spot Barlata, the new tapas joint in a cool apartment complex in South Austin. We sat at the bar for happy hour. She ordered cava. I tried the sangria, fruity but not too sweet. We ordered four tapas plates. Little dollops of aioli seemed to decorate every order. The place is tall, sleek, but not too noisy. Except for traffic and parking issues on the boulevard, I expect this extension of a San Francisco brand to do fairly well here.
At the Gateway Guesthouse
It’s always a pleasure at Gateway Guesthouse. There, life-loving couple Blaise Bahara and Bess Giannakakis run a boutique bed-and-breakfast with top-quality cuisine. I met Bess and Blaise a couple of years ago reporting on a Gateway dinner to benefit Project Transitions. Since then, we’ve exchanged dinner invitations back and forth. Recently, we were joined for a Florentine meal by food sharpies Paula Biehler and Pat Sharpe. The fun started with white bean panzanella, followed by a light carbonara dish, then enormous, rare Tuscan-style steaks, finished off with ricotta cheesecake. Bess and Blaise regaled us with stories about their recent culinary adventures in Tuscany. (Heaven.)
Last week, I mentioned U.S. Treasurer Azie Taylor Morton as among the Beta Psi Omega notables honored at the alumni group’s 75th anniversary. I should have added that she passed away in 2003.