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Michael Barnes

Austin Recovery Luncheon with Jeffrey Tambor, iAct’s Hope Awards with Michael Morton and more

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Val Armstrong and Bobbi Topfter at Austin Recovery Spring Luncheon.

Val Armstrong and Bobbi Topfer at Austin Recovery Spring Luncheon.

HEALTH: “Wouldn’t it be funny if I just made all that up?” So said character actor Jeffrey Tambor after telling an Austin Recovery audience about the emotional journey he took with his recently deceased recovery sponsor. Organizers of the lunch at ACL Live surely knew that Tambor (“Transparent,” “Arrested Development”) would not be an ordinary inspirational speaker. The son of eccentric Russian-Hungarian-Jewish parents, he’s led an unlikely life that now includes four wise children, an arcing acting career and many years of sobriety. Earlier, we heard from recovery supporter Val Armstrong, winner of the Edith Royal Service Award. She was particularly moving and funny as she talked about her late brother, Buck Finley, who struggled with addiction. The luncheon ended with a look at the branding for the new Council on Recovery, an amalgam of Austin Recovery and the Houston Council on Alcohol and Drugs. Money raised at the event helps ensure that nobody is turned away from their growing network of services.

Hai Zhen, Ricky Chen and Chunhua Zhao at iAct's Hope Awards.

Hai Zhen, Ricky Chen and Chunhua Zhao at iAct’s Hope Awards.

FAITH: Michael Morton might not be a living saint, but he comes close. The man exonerated of murdering his wife and released after 25 years in prison answered questions from the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith at the Hope Awards for iAct. His conversion story would hearten even a nonbeliever and his forgiveness for his persecutors and the recovery of his son’s love are equally edifying. Also uplifting was the separate testimony from Virginia Garcia, a recipient of iAct’s Hands on Housing help and former Statesman Season for Caring subject. Widow, cancer survivor and caretaker for an adult son with a severe disability, Garcia was able to give him a final birthday party in her repaired home with new appliances. The whole evening from this growing interfaith group, which also helps refugees and promotes cross-cultural dialogues, was elevating and very Austin.

FOOD: Been wondering what to do with the surplus loquats all around you? Taken from a story by Addie Broyles in the Statesman: “Every year around this time, loquat lovers unite around the pale yellow fruits that are growing — mostly unnoticed and unappreciated — on trees all over Central Texas. Some homeowners loathe the loquats because they draw squirrels and birds who know just how sweet and succulent they are. Others are just annoyed because they drop off trees and cause something of a mess in their yards. But if you’ve ever stopped to pick one and taste its apricot-colored, kiwi-textured flesh, you might change your tune. I’ve been on a loquat awareness crusade for years, so my apologies if you’ve heard this story before: I first discovered loquats while living in Spain, where they are called nisperos and sold by the kilo at local markets. I’d never seen anything like them before and ate as many of them as I could stomach …” https://shar.es/1pTPFz