Shelby's Social Diary
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush play to a packed house for Yellowstone Academy
Last year, the Yellowstone Academy Guild luncheon drew a healthy crowd of 300 but Thursday's event was beyond a sellout with more than 600 men and women packing the ballroom of the InterContinental Houston — thanks in no small part to the headliners Jenna Bush Hager and former first lady Barbara Bush.
University of Texas friends, adoring fans and Bush family groupies filled the luncheon scene to beyond capacity with familiar faces and many that were fresh to the charity luncheon circuit. Barbara Bush was special guest and her very grown-up granddaughter was guest speaker.
Hager did not disappoint as she gracefully and charmingly shared anecdotes from her travels as a UNICEF volunteer working in the educational policy department for the Caribbean and Central and South America. From those travels came her best-selling book Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope, based on the inspirational life of a 17-year-old single mother living withe HIV. Currently, Hager is a contributing correspondent for NBC's Today Show.
She also spoke of her time as a teacher in inner-city Washington and related her experiences to the work being done in Houston and the "transformative power of education."
"As a teacher, I'm incredibly inspired by the work of Yellowstone Academy," she said. Before she left the podium, she asked every representative of Yellowstone, staff and board, to stand and be recognized by the audience.
"You see these people," she said. "they need your help. They need volunteers and they need money." She then encouraged everyone to approach those individuals after the program with offers of assistance. Needless to say, the Yellowstone team loved Hager's unscripted call to action.
Founded in 2002, Yellowstone is a faith-based private school in the city's Third Ward, serving children, kindergarten through the seventh grade, who live at the poverty level. Ninety-three percent of the 300 students come from single family homes where annual incomes hover at $8,000. The driving mission of the school is "reversing the odds" that these children will not be able to escape poverty.
Chairing the luncheon that was sponsored by the Yellowstone Academy Guild were Jane Lundell, Glori O'Donnel and Nancy Ruez.