August 13 was the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s sixth annual Starry Night Over Austin Gala, held at the Columbus Park Refectory. All the guests were dressed in their after-five attire, and everyone was gorgeous. Cong. Danny Davis in his white Armani jacket; State Rep. Deborah Graham in her Christian Dior beige dress; Ald. Carothers in his Louie Vuitton suit; State Sen. Dan Harmon wearing a Versace suit; Commissioner Barbara McGowan, Cynthia Williams, Camille Lilly and Michelle Collins were all wearing Valentino designer gowns. OK, not really, but the evening was glamorous.
Starry Night Over Austin proceeds help to support Austin young people in summer work experiences at Austin businesses in partnership with the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Starry Night’s committee members consist of B.J. Walker, co-chairperson; Michelle Collins, co-chairperson; and members Fran Bell, Vickie Bledsoe, Donald Dew, Barbara Evans, Renee Jones, Camille Y. Lilly, Eleanor Porter, Mary Russell Gardner, Cynthia Washington, Debra Wilborn and Cynthia Williams.
This year’s special honor went to Austin People’s Action Center (APAC) who are celebrating 25 years of service to the Austin community.
The program began with cocktails and music, provided by Transit Production. Musical entertainment was provided by Howard Sandifer & Friends and the students of Chicago West Music School. The young people participating in this year’s gala evening were Jeremiah Brown/drums, Corey Mathis/bass guitar, Zachary Stigger/clarinet, Jerry Cockrell/flute and vocalist Sharon Malone, who also happens to be Ald. Isaac Carothers’ niece. If you closed your eyes, you would think Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Nancy Wilson were on stage.
In honoring APAC and its CEO, Congressman Danny K. Davis said, “Take a girl, born to wonderfully nurturing parents, raise her up in a household full of love and respect, sprinkle a little common sense and education all over her, she grows up a wise, intelligent, compassionate, beautiful lady. She becomes Cynthia Williams.”
One of the individuals APAC really missed on this night was Mr. Harold McKay, who passed away January 18, 2005. According to APAC, Mr. McKay was their “angel,” and he worked tirelessly each year on Taste of Austin, managed homeless shelters, maintained Sage Homes, delivered food and heaters to needy families, drove teens, parents and senior citizens to doctor appointments.
People like Harold McKay, Cynthia Williams, Howard Sandifer, Jeannette Musengo, Joyce Heddleson, Rev. Graylon Magler, Ann Gaynor, Stanley Heddleson, Rev. Donald Wheat, Diane Russ Ehad, Darlene Sandifer, Vernell Burrell, Marsha Campbell, Reginald Hanks, Sharon White, James Deanes, Cynthia Washington, Kathy White, Nicole Wardlaw and the rest of APAC’s staff make the difference in many people’s lives.
These are just some of the individuals who create and support many well-known individuals and many community efforts. These are the folks who answer the call. Mr. Deanes recently lost his dear mother, but it did not stop his committed meeting schedule, which is probably how his mother and father trained him.
The Austin Weekly News congratulates APAC on its silver anniversary.