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Photography: Jacob Power

The Celebration

JOEY Uptown at The Galleria was the site of much excitement on Thursday, September 14, 2023 when the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s (Foundation) Young Professionals Group hosted its Storybook Gala kickoff. The event, whose theme was Around the World with Madeline, was cochaired by Grace and Tom Gosnell, Courtney Harmon, and Victoria Villarreal.


The Story

Upon arrival, guests were greeted with a friendly “Bonjour” by Madeline, who appeared courtesy of J&D Entertainment, and who also engaged with guests throughout the evening. Partygoers enjoyed libations and light bites. Two of the surprise highlights of the evening were the Madeline in Paris cocktail and the Madeline in Texas cocktail. Guests were also treated to a silent auction featuring such coveted items as a Tito’s Vodka gift basket, a Rodeo Houston package, a Houston Astros-themed package from Paris Texas Apparel Co, a wine basket, a home décor package, and a homemade Halloween wreath personally created by Foundation president and CEO, Julie Baker Finck. As the event ended, guests left filled with anticipation for the upcoming gala.


The Moments

The cochairs welcomed everyone and thanked them for their generous support of the Foundation. They also announced that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be recognized at the Storybook Gala as this year’s Childhood Literacy Impact Award honoree.


This year’s kickoff event was generously underwritten by The Galleria.

Guests: Grace and Tom Gosnell, Courtney Harmon, Victoria Villarreal, Lindsey and Devon Sauer, Catherine and Sean Tobin, Michael and Mimi Tarantino, Amy and Kyle McCully, Caitlin Rance, Elizabeth Blanton, Nate Church, Tom and Nancy Wolff, J. P. Ramirez, Kiyah Hays, Allie Jarreau, Julie and Ron Finck, Lisa and Mark Jakel, Anthony Tarantino, Gabriela Aparicio, Meredith and Scott West, Melissa McDaniel, Patrick Mikkelsen, and Whitney and Andres Calabressi.


About The Upcoming Storybook Gala

This year’s Storybook Gala will be held on Friday, November 10 at Union Station at Minute Maid Park. The lavish event will feature beverages, hors d'oeuvres, food stations, and a silent auction. There will also be a memorable live auction that will feature a custom-designed diamond tennis bracelet from Tenenbaum Jewelers. Houston-based Drywater Band and Madeline characters from J&D Entertainment will provide the entertainment. The Childhood Literacy Impact Award will be presented to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR). Over the last decade, the organization has been unwavering in its commitment to empowering underserved children across Houston with access to high-quality programs and resources that they need to become strong readers. Initiatives such as Reading Roundup, Read Houston Read, and the Curiosity Cruisers are just a few examples of what has been made possible with support from HLSR.


Gold-Level Sponsors for the Gala contributed $25,000 to the Foundation and include Portfolio Resident Services and Texas Inter-Faith Management. Silver-Level Sponsors contributed $10,000 to the Foundation and include Deloitte, Faust Distributing Company, Kroger, PNC Financial Services Group, and TC Energy. All proceeds will benefit the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.



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. Over the past 10 years, the Foundation has spearheaded innovative literacy programs and expanded access to high-quality services and resources that empower children, families, and adults with the support they need to learn how to read, write, and comprehend.


For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook at, on Twitter @bushhoustonlit, and on Instagram @bushhoustonlit.


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

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