Austin Children’s Services, Project Transitions, Austin Film Festival Gala, the Seton Fifty and more

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Amy and Markel Petty at Austin Children's Services Gala.
Amy and Markel Petty at Austin Children's Services Gala.

Amy and Markel Petty at Austin Children’s Services Gala.

CHARITY: She’s helped them go from ‘Shelter’ to ‘Services.’ And now’s she’s in the Women’s Hall of Fame. Kelly White, along with Dorothy Richter and Olga Campos Benz, were honored recently by the Austin Commission for Women. “When I looked at the resumes of the other inductees, I felt like I’d done so little,” White said during the Austin Children’s Services circus-themed gala at the Hyatt Regency Austin. “But Dorothy does have a few decades on me. There’s still time.” Richter, by the way, is known as the “Mayor of Hyde Park,” and led the charge to preserve the neighborhood’s venerable character. Campos, the former TV news anchor, has spent her recent days guiding community relations — and having a good time at it. White leads the group formerly known as the Austin Children’s Shelter. Now it has evolved into a full-service center for children in jeopardy.

Ryan Piers Williams, Barbara Morgan and Matthew Weiner at Austin Film Festival Gala.

Ryan Piers Williams, Barbara Morgan and Matthew Weiner at Austin Film Festival Gala.

HEALTH 1: Twenty-five years and counting. “We don’t want a 50th anniversary,” said one patron during the Project Transitions Silver Ball Gala at the Austin Music Hall. They did the place up right. Fountains of David Kurio flowers poured on onto the cleverly decorated tables. The fabulous Sentimental Journey Orchestra from Kerrville played big-band standards from the stage. James Armstrong and Larry Connelly — among those steady leaders honored this evening — held court to one side. I ran into Austin’s Mr. Pride, Casey Lee Fontaine Kline, who wore a rainbow sash, but no crown. Nice guy. Not lost in the festivities was the somber reminder that Project Transitions, along with AIDS Services of Austin, Care Communities and other groups, have been among the city’s bulwarks against the worst consequences of the HIV/AIDS scourge.

Scott and Chris Vasquez at Superheroes, Villains and Sidekicks for the Seton Fifty.

Scott and Chris Vasquez at Superheroes, Villains and Sidekicks for the Seton Fifty.

MOVIES: When a gala is small, you get a chance to meet everyone. The inaugural Austin Film Festival Gala, held on the 55th floor of the Austonian, was, by necessity, an intimate affair. After all, the fest was still in progress and the sky quarters are not ample. (The changing view, as always, is disconcerting from that height.) As a result, one could chat away with some pretty amazing folks, including actor Robert Walden, who, among many credits, played the Woodward-and-Bernstein-style reporter Joe Rossi on “Lou Grant.” He received three Emmy nominations for the role. Such was the impression he left, I still treat him like a revered investigative lion. Also present and quite gracious was “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner and “X/Y” writer-director Ryan Piers Williams. No sign during my Austonian stay of his wife and collaborator America Ferrera. Just as well. I might have swooned.

HEALTH 2: All of a sudden, I realized that this is the real Chris Vasquez. At a costume party, you never know. This very approachable woman is the head of the new Seton-affiliated teaching hospital that will accompany the University of Texas Dell Medical School. Her husband, attorney Scott Vasquez, told me more about their career journey from Houston to San Antonio and Austin. They are going to be a couple to know well. The party given by the Fifty, a group of young leaders who back the hospital under construction, is called Superheroes, Villains and Sidekicks, an appropriate theme amid Austin Film Festival weekend and just days before Halloween. I saw a lot of men padded into superhero shape, then noticed some guys whose muscles were genuine. (Fooled again!). They were part of a parkour team, who then nimbly scampered around walls and rafters of Brazos Hall. Freaked me out a bit.


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