Shelby's Social Diary
I practically had to pinch myself when I pulled up to Terri and John Havens' River Oaks chateau last week. There on the doorstep of one of the posh neighborhood's most remarkable houses were Dr. Mike Sweeney, entrepreneur Tony Gracely and attorney Sean Gorman posing as waiters!
There they stood in matching uniforms, khaki slacks and monogramed oxford shirts, offering glasses of champagne and Perrier on silver trays to the waves of high-fashion ladies arriving for a night of schmoozing, sipping and snacking. The guys were so out of character that you just had to laugh — except that the masquerade for these three and three dozen other men was in the name of charity.
Hubba, hubba for the Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer, a Dallas-based non-profit that answers last-minute needs/desires of dying children and their families, which created this out-of-the ordinary night. Funds raised help the 250 families served annually by the foundation. At least 50 families come from Houston, most from Texas Children's Hospital. That according to foundation director John Owen, who came in from Dallas for the fundraiser.
No trouble selling tickets for this event. As many as 300 well-heeled women poured into the John Staub-designed house to tour the antique-filled rooms, explore the stunning grounds and to be waited on by those gents who are more accustomed to receiving white-glove service than to dishing it out.
They were good sports one and all — Neil Bush pouring wine in the kitchen, John Daugherty making sure that the champagne glasses were filled, Ray Childress towering over the drink proceedings, Douglas Schnitzer filling orders and architect Ken Newbury, who helped the Havenses with the renovation of the house, passing the wine.
"We had to turn the sweet little waiters away," Terri cooed, explaining that John was told to get 20 volunteers, he confirmed 40 and had a waiting list of disappointed friends. City Kitchen staffers did the heavy lifting with the hors d'oeuvres.
Benefit chair Kristi Whiteside and Bracken McGee, who heads the foundation's Houston office, could not have asked for a better crowd that included Kate Gibson, Carol Ballard, Denise Monteleone, Liz Decker, Beth Muecke, Mary Tere Perusquia, Lisa Hotlhouse, Melissa Schnitzer, Sharon Adams, Shannon O'Brien, Nicole Zarr and Kathy McCord.
Add ASID interior designer Kara Childress and Annie Amante to the mix. The two have worked with the Havens and Newbury for six years perfecting the renovation of the French chateau-style home. It was built in the 1930s for a coffee manufacturing magnate, who ordered a home that was "pure Louis XV." Also on hand was Ruth Gay of Chateau Domingue , which provided much of the ancient masonry work from France. The choice location would be a sellout for any charity event.
The connection between the Havens and the foundation is evident from the list of Houston advisory council members — Kara and Ray Childress, Ruth and Jack Gay, Christiana and Luke McConn, and Shawnna and Tom Fatjo, among others.