Book Lovers Travel to Wonderland
in Support of Literacy
The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Young Professionals Group hosts its sixth annual Storybook Gala: An Evening in Wonderland
Photo Credits: Johnny Than, Jacob Powers
On Friday, November 12, 2021, the glamorous Hotel ZaZa welcomed guests of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s (The Foundation) Young Professionals Group (YPG) to its sixth annual Storybook Gala: An Evening in Wonderland. Joselyn Tego and Jeff Carnrite and Kasey and Nicholas Carnrite cochaired the enchanting evening. Phillips 66 was this year’s honoree. Cathy Garcia-Prats, President of San Francisco Nativity Academy of Houston, was the guest speaker, and Matt Rogers was the emcee.
The nearly 400 participants were captivated by the transformation of the venue into an enchanted forest deftly executed by Art Attack. Woodland drapes, fairy lights, vibrant florals, and larger-than-life butterflies and mushrooms had guests wondering if they really were in Wonderland. Continuing the feeling of having gone down the rabbit hole, Mad Hatter, Alice, Queen of Hearts, and White Rabbit characters mingled and had their pictures taken with guests throughout the evening. The silent auction room, where attendees perused the many stunning packages up for bids, was accented with giant clocks, playing cards, and life-size chess sets, and the VIP reception was Queen-of-Hearts themed.
Delicious drinks, tasty hors d’oeuvres, and food stations featuring such delicacies as lamb lollipops with tzatziki sauce, stacked caprese towers, fajita tacos with grilled elote, mac and cheese, pasta primavera, and tiramisúde dulce de leche delighted and satisfied everyone’s palate.
The spectacular live auction featured a Chopard classic watch courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue, a GIA Certified 1.33 Carat Brilliant Round Diamond and a Custom CAD/CAM Design Experience of Tego Jewelers, and “A Hunting You Will Go – In The Piney Woods” package. Available by raffle was a Peloton Bike + Family Package powered by Reliant. Following the live auction, partygoers danced the night away to the tunes of Drywater Band.
Rogers welcomed guests and invited the cochairs to the stage to present the Childhood Literacy Impact Award, which spotlights the power of volunteerism in impacting the way children learn how to read, write, and comprehend. Phillips 66 was this year’s honoree for its instrumental role in supporting the Foundation’s mission and for spawning innovative programs like Connect4Literacy.org, Read Houston Read, My Home Library, Family Place Libraries, and the Curiosity Cruiser mobile libraries.
Following the presentation of the award, the cochairs thanked their generous sponsors, including title Sponsor, The Carnrite Group and Silver Sponsors: Phillips 66, P2 Energy Solutions, Interfaith Texas, Tego Jewelers, and Karen and Rob Saltiel. Garcia-Prats then addressed the crowd detailing the Foundation’s significant impact on San Francisco Nativity Academy of Houston and its need for a library.
The event raised nearly $300,000 for the childhood literacy initiatives led by the YPG in support of the Foundation’s mission, including the building of the children’s library at San Francisco Nativity Academy of Houston.
Guests: Al Carnrite, Jeff Carnrite and Joselyn Tego, Nick and Kasey Carnrite, Julie Baker Finck and Ron Finck, Beverly Caskey and Steven Westbrook, Megan and Joshua Carrasco, Grace and Tom Gosnell, Amy and Kyle McCully, Deborah and Monte Stavis, Caitlin Rance, Victoria Villarreal, Cody Schlegel, Devin Sauer, Lauren Stanfill, Kayla and Rory Tolunay, Anthony Tarantino and Gabriela Aparicio, Brian Coyle and Andrea Henry, Trish and Rock Morille, Andrew Wilson, Allie Jarreau, Patrick Mikkelsen, and Melissa McDaniel.
About the Young Professionals Group
The Young Professionals Group (YPG) is an organization of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation formed in 2014 to engage the next generation of Houston’s leaders in the literacy cause. YPG is comprised of a community of individuals who are service-minded and eager to make an impact in our city. Members participate in networking and social events, serve in leadership roles, and volunteer in meaningful service activities that help make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children and their families.
To learn more about The Young Professional’s Group, please visit
About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation
The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is a charitable organization formed by Neil and Maria Bush to carry forth First Lady Barbara Bush’s legacy in the literacy cause and to focus deeply on breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in the Bush family’s hometown. Founded on Mrs. Bush’s belief, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless,” the Barbara Bush Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy: the ability to read, write, speak clearly, and think critically.