25th annual luncheon honors three generations of women at River Oaks Country Club
Mary Jo Peckham Award luncheon featured Escada fashion show by Elizabeth Anthony
Updated 5:38 pm, Thursday, September 29, 2016
It’s not every day that a luncheon begins with trays of mimosas. Then again, it’s not every day that an organization celebrates a 25th anniversary.
Such was the case late Thursday morning when 250 Assistance League of Houston® supporters trickled into the River Oaks Country Club. Flutes of champagne and orange juice swirled in the lobby with equal gusto to the multitude of Chanel chain-strapped handbags favored by dozens (trust me, I counted) of attendees.
Designer duds are par for the course at the annual Mary Jo Peckham Award Luncheon – and for good reason. As emcee Jan Carson explained during her opening remarks, 40 years ago, a group of local women – many of whom sat in the audience – formed the organization to meet the educational and emotional needs of disadvantaged children, young adults, and families in crisis. To further that very mission, the milestone soiree chaired by Jenny Price and Betty Puryear grossed approximately $90,000 toward initiatives including Operation School Bell, which clothes 4,200 students annually, and the Head Start Readers program.
More than 22 previous luncheon chairs celebrated their past and present achievements with a group photo during the reception before being recognized officially in the grand ballroom.
County commissioner Steve Radack acknowledged another impressive force, Mary Jo Peckham, onstage.
“There are a lot of women getting dressed back here,” he confided after an unexpected detour through the pop-up changing area en route to the podium. “If you knew Walter Rufus Peckham, then you know that Mary Jo Peckham deserved to have a park named after her.”
Radack also shared that his own grandson plays in Peckham’s eponymous Katy green space and that Peckham, herself, was a kid at heart.
She brought out the kid in everyone, he said.
The non-profit’s president, Linda Hall, followed to introduce the 2016 honorees which included one very young kid.
“We call them the three generations of givers, but actually, there’s a fourth here today,” she revealed. In addition to Phyllis Holland, Leisa Holland-Nelson, and Laura Max Rose, 27-day old Selma Baines Rose joined her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother onstage during the award presentation.
Afterward, a mix of special volunteers and professional models hit the catwalk dressed in fall Escada looks courtesy of Elizabeth Anthony.
“Remember, if you’re too busy to come to the store, just circle what you like and we’ll take care of it,” joked Julie Roberts, the boutique’s owner.
With $100 gift cards placed at each table setting, there’s a good chance several lunch-goers will take her up on that offer.