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The Second Annual Power of Literacy Luncheon Shines a Light on

Literacy’s Importance



On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, the River Oaks Country Club was the site of an important event. It was the second annual Power of Literacy Luncheon hosted by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Ladies for Literacy Guild; former First Lady Barbara Bush; and luncheon chair, Ginger Blanton. The occasion highlighted the importance of literacy as a top priority for Houston. It is a cause former First Lady Barbara Bush has championed for nearly 30 years. The Ladies for Literacy Guild also unveiled the Curiosity Cruiser, a 30-foot, custom-built mobile library that will be donated to the Harris County Public Library.

A notable lineup of prestigious influencers spoke about the importance of literacy and the manner in which it has affected their lives and the lives of those in their community. KPRC-TV anchor, Rachel McNeill, opened the event by thanking Mrs. Bush for her continued leadership and service in the community. McNeill, a mother of two young boys, put things into context by discussing how low literacy is an issue that impacts far too many children and adults in our community. Susan Baker provided the invocation before guests enjoyed a delicious lunch catered by the River Oaks Country Club.

Following the meal, event chair, Ginger Blanton, thanked Phillips 66 for serving as the title sponsor for the second year in a row. She also recognized The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation as this year’s literacy champions. The Ladies for Literacy Guild president, Betty Hrncir, then had the honor of revealing the foundation’s Curiosity Cruiser. It was a highly anticipated moment. She also had the pleasure of introducing its mascots, Owlbotron and Northtale. The Curiosity Cruiser will hit the streets this fall, providing children access to free books and opportunities to participate in reading clubs and literacy rich learning activities.                    


Following the presentation of the Curiosity Cruiser, Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University, shared her innovative research on the quality of mothers’ and fathers’ interactions with their children. In particular, she explained how it relates to the responsiveness and richness of child-directed language. Emcee, Rachel McNeill, thanked the keynote speaker for the incredible work she is doing to amplify the power of parent-child relationships in literacy development and future academic success. Foundation co-chair, Maria Bush, then took the stage and thanked, on behalf of the entire Bush family, everyone for supporting the foundation and the guild.

Following the event, guests were escorted outside where they gathered for photos and explored the Curiosity Cruiser.

The event raised over $350,000 to help support the guild’s activities and initiatives, including providing relief to teachers and children affected by Hurricane Harvey.


Barbara Bush, Maria Bush, Lester and Sue Smith, Ginger Blanton, Betty Hrncir, Susan G. Baker, Julie Baker Finck, Rachel McNeill, Cora Sue Mach, Sidney Faust, Cathy Cleary, Terri Havens, Lilly Andress, Ann Bookout, Beth Wolff, Carolyn Mann, Diane Gendel, Susan Sarofim, Sandy Barrett, Paige Fertitta, Jo Lynn Falgout, Nancy Ames, Amy Pierce, Mehrnaz Gill, Donatella Benckenstein, Dorothy Ables, Elizabeth Wareing, Leslie Blanton, Laurel D’Antoni, Kathy Goossen, Grace Givens, Bobbie Nau, Mariloli Odum, Bree Ariza, Deborah Cannon, Dancie Ware, Candy Knudson, Anne Taylor, Limor Smith, and Tracy Tucker.

About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, co-chaired by Neil and Maria Bush, was established as a charitable organization focused on improving the quality of life for Houston residents through the power of literacy. The foundation advocates for literacy as a fundamental right of everyone and a foundational skill toward success in life. It is founded on the belief held by former First Lady Barbara Bush that, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless.” In 2013, the Bush family created the Houston-based foundation as a separate entity from the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which is a national foundation. It was conceived in response to the need to deepen the awareness of, and intensify services and support for, the nation’s fourth largest and most diverse city – Houston.

About the Ladies for Literacy Guild

The Ladies for Literacy Guild is a volunteer auxiliary group that supports the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. Led by President Betty Hrncir, this dynamic assemblage of women is committed to carrying forth Barbara Bush’s legacy in literacy. It also supports the foundation’s mission to improve lives through the power of literacy: the ability to read, write, speak clearly, and think critically.

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