Elena Davis‘ story can’t be beat. She grew up in a transient family. Left the family to work at a pizza joint in order to have something eat. Spotted by an agent, she was shuttled off to Europe at age 14 to model. Davis became a supermodel. Along the way, she educated herself by reading everything she could put her hands on. She met her future husband, a Houston oilman, at a dinner for British royalty.
She happily retired from the profession to raise a family. Then, one day, when she stopped at a Houston intersection, she reached for money to give to a homeless woman. Instead, the woman wanted water. Davis handed her a fresh bottle. She got an idea.
Davis founded the I Am Waters Foundation, which, in a few short years, has delivered 2.1 million bottles of water to hydrate the homeless. A subsidiary sells the plastic bottles of water — adorned with words such as “Hope,” “Dream” and “Peace” — through Whole Foods to help foot the costs.
For several years, I Am Waters events in Houston have included her supermodel pals from the 1980s — Cheryl Tiegs, Kim Charlton, Kelley Emberg and Julie Anderson, for instance — who pose with charity guests and answer questions. This year, they took the show on the road to Austin for the first time. At two events, they were joined by Ruby Stewart, model, musician and daughter of Emberg and Rod Stewart.
The first party took place at the hillside palace of John Hogg and David Garza. Guests mixed on the main floor, while photographer Richard Reens, who helped make their careers, staged a shoot with the supermodels downstairs. I talked at length with David and Margaret Bettner, mostly about Austin’s history of flooding, easily illustrated from the windows of the Hogg-Garza jewel box. I was very engaged by Joel Oppenheim, who now runs a Houston commercial real estate company, but formerly owned signature restaurants in that city.
The luncheon the next day pulled in about 300 guests to the Four Seasons Hotel. For the first hour, they posed with the supermodels for group shots taken by Reens. This event honored humble philanthropist Charmaine McGill who thank her friends who made it all possible.