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UNICEF honors Houston’s iconic couple at annual gala

Linda and Jim "Mack" McIngvale (right) were presented with the Global Community Hero award by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. (Photos: Shobana Muratee)

Linda and Jim “Mack” McIngvale (right) were presented with the Global Community Hero award by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. (Photos: Shobana Muratee)

Susan and Fayez Sarofim,recepients of the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

Susan and Fayez Sarofim,recepients of the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

by Shobana Muratee
HOUSTON – A plethora of Houston’s rich and famous helped UNICEF US raise over $900,000 in donations at their 5th Anniversary fundraiser held at The Post Oak Hotel on Friday May 4, in aid of UNICEF’s lifesaving work.
Presenting Houston’s own Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and his wife Linda McIngvale with Global Community Hero Award, Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “UNICEF reminds the world that we are a state of compassion, and resilience.” When it comes to disasters UNICEF and Houston had the same progress: get people to safety as quickly as possible and to always place children’s needs first,” he added. “Astros and heroes stepped up to save the city’s last year. The McIngvales are the first recipients of the award that was specially created by UNICEF after witnessing the extraordinary support received by heroes during Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Turner said.
In his acceptance speech McIngvale said about UNICEF,” Putting children first, what could be greater in this world that we live?” He told a couple of incidences that impacted his life and that of his family’s. One of them was Regina, a child known to the family, who was undocumented, suffered eight years of global and was being fed ketchup for 2 years. Touched by her plight, his daughter asked him to have her removed from Child Protective Services. “She is 18 now and has better life. UNICEF steps in to fill in the gaps,” McIngvale said. His second anecdote was in connection with Hurricane Harvey.
As the guests listened intently, McIngvale spoke of the incident during Hurricane Harvey when a family showed up at the gates of his business, Gallery Furniture, seeking shelter. “We had about 300 people sleeping on mattresses, sofas and recliners,” he said. A young girl of about 7 years old was at the door her parents and another man. “She was traumatized, crying frightened and shivering, he narrated. “Can we stay here tonight,” she asked him for shelter. Shelter and food is what children need across the world need every night he reminded concluding with Mark Twain’s quote, “Kindness is a language that deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Southwest Regional Board Chair Susan Boggio, Honorary chair Leela Krisnamurthy and other Board members. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

Southwest Regional Board Chair Susan Boggio, Honorary chair Leela Krisnamurthy and other Board members. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

Margaret Alkek Williams with UNICEF officials. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

Margaret Alkek Williams with UNICEF officials. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

The evening also honored Susan and Fayez Sarofim with the Margaret Alkek Williams Humanitarian Award. The Award was presented by philanthropist Margaret Alkek Williams.
Mayor Turner introduced Emma Kathleen Hepburn Ferrer, granddaughter of Audrey Hepburn, UNICEF’s longstanding ambassador, spoke of her grandmother’s compassion for children’s cause and her passion for supporting UNICEF’s mission.
Nelson Bowman, Managing Director, Southwest Region, gave an overview of UNICEF’s work serving in 190 countries and territories. UNICEF works to improve the policies and services that protect all children.
Southwest Regional Board Chair Susan Boggio also spoke on the occasion. Honorary chairs Leela and Nat Krisnamurthy, , Penny and Paul Loyd, Jr., Rosanette and Harry Cullen, Margaret Alkek Williams, Randa and Charles Williams were all in attendance on the evening. Gala chairs included: Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, Leticia and Stephen Trauber, Ileana and Michael Trevino.
Deborah Duncan, TV host of the show, Great Day Houston, sang the national Anthem and served as emcee for the evening that featured performance by Professor D.
Exciting live auction included presenting sponsor’s Tenenbaum Ultimate Jewelry and NYC Getaway, brand-new 2018 Lexus NX 300, two tickets to sold out show, “Hamilton: An American Musical” and more.
The evening was a fitting tribute to heroes, living legends and those who support UNICEF’s work putting children first.


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