They did it again! Ask any Islander about their favorite Galveston events and you will get a resounding, “Oh, that’s easy: Mardi Gras, and the ACCT Champagne brunch in May.” Access Care of Coastal Texas (ACCT), long recognized as a stellar program offering healthcare, education and support of HIV patients and their families, held its annual soiree on Sunday, May 19th and it was, as expected, a huge success. Housed in the beautiful Galveston Island Convention Center overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the gala was attended by several hundred guests who enjoyed the food, drinks, entertainment, and the silent auction.
Executive director Mark White beamed proudly as he talked about the gilded event and the team that put it together.
“This started years ago as a blacktie dinner and over the years has grown into this fantastic champagne brunch,” White said. “The locals and their guests look forward to this every year. It is a tremendous fundraiser for the organization and certainly helps with our mission to provide assistance for the community.”
“Provide assistance” is an understatement, to say the least. ACCT (originally called the AIDS Coalition of Costal Texas) had been providing assistance, education, and outreach programs for the Galveston community for many years, all through generous donations, grants, fundraisers, and the efforts of devoted and tireless staff and volunteers.
The theme for this year’s event, “Journey to the Bottom of the Sea”, transformed the grand ballroom of the Convention Center into an undersea adventure. Tables and walls were adorned with all sorts of sea “treasures” and artistic creations representing undersea life. From mermaids and dolphins, to colorful coral reefs and treasure chests, every aspect of sea life was represented. Sponsors for this year’s event were given catchy titles such as Wondrous Whales, Dapper Dolphins, Shimmering Seahorses, Jamming Jellyfish, and Crafty Crabs. In a matter of minutes after opening the doors at noon, the ballroom quickly became a Who’s Who gathering as the well-attired guests mingled and strolled from table to table, greeting friends, exchanging hugs, and sipping delicious champagne.
Board president Pam Froeschner was radiant as she observed how the fruits of her labor and effort came to fruition. Froeschner, who coordinates the annual event, is a tireless and devoted ACCT team member.
“Oh my, we could not do this without our Pam,” director White said. “This is her baby and she does it beautifully. She knows how to motivate the staff and our wonderful volunteers to pull this off without a hitch. Pam can never leave — she is irreplaceable.”
A very modest Froeschner is quick to remind commenters that it takes a team, cooperation, and great effort on everyone’s part to plan and execute the event.
One of the highlights of the annual gala is the silent auction. Each year local artists contribute to the auction with works and creations with items ranging from paintings and sculptures to jewelry and photographs. There are famous autographs, fancy masks, liquor baskets, fishing trips, dinners at some of Galveston’s finest restaurants, bed-and breakfast stays, apparel, and even bicycles. The silent auction was a hit, as always, as guests lined up to place their bids. As the party moves along, folks really wanting a particular item hovered around the table and bid sheet. The array of donated items for the auction, offered a bit of something for everyone.
Then there was the food! The Convention Center, part of Island son Tilman Fertitta’s hospitality empire, did not hold back. There was everything from breakfast foods and finger snacks to roast beef, glazed ham, chicken breast, custom burritos, and shrimp and grits. The food was a virtual smorgasbord of deliciousness. Plates were filled, emptied, and re-filled as the attendees relished in the delights. Bread pudding, cupcakes, fresh fruits, and a variety of mouthwatering desserts waited on the sidelines.
There is always music and even dancing and this year’s affair was no exception. Island diva Kymber Divine entertained the crowd with her performance and did a splendid job emceeing. Divine, who has a large following on and off the Island is a deserving title holder in the LGBTQ entertainment world. It seemed as though the crowd could not get enough of her. If you have never attended one of the champagne brunches for ACCT, try and get it on your schedule for 2020 events. It is one of the best ways to meet and mingle with locals, family