A first in Texas history happened at this year’s Salvation Army Austin Doing the Most Good Luncheon as Dick Rathgeber a long-time supporter and Advisory Board member – pictured above with his wife, Sara – was presented with the Honorary Colonel designation in front of a record crowd of more than 650 people at the JW Marriott.  And through heartfelt giving, guests donated a record $274,000 in sponsorships and donations to provide emergency shelter and services to local women and families. (See press release here.)

In addition to luncheon honoree Dick Rathgeber becoming the first in Texas to receive the Honorary Colonel designation, he is only the eighth person in the world to receive this honor in the 150 year history of The Salvation Army.

Along with the award presentation, attendees were treated to a live musical performance and film featuring Sam’s story about his family and how The Salvation Army helped bring them from homelessness to self-sufficiency.  It was a very moving presentation, with songs intertwined with Sam speaking on how his family found help at The Salvation Army when they were facing homelessness.  Our local organization was able to provide them housing, food, bus passes and most importantly, the support they needed to get back on their feet.

2016 Doing the Most Good Luncheon

Event Chair Cathy Present with Sam Espinosa and Event Committee Members Mary Durham and Betsy Hester – Licarione Photography

Sam experienced all of this with his family when he was in high school. Once the family had become stable again in their own home, Sam applied to and was accepted at Yale University, where he went on to receive his degree. Back in Austin now and a successful businessman, Sam said, “You may wonder if what you are doing is working.  I’m telling you today that it worked for me and my family.”  He then invited the crowd to write a check to support local families like his who come for help every day, taking out his own checkbook to make the first donation.

Many thanks to Ramy Antoun of Creative Arts Group and Clayton Corn of Crosswind Events + Experiences, who produced this moving live performance and film.  Other thanks goes to our emcee, Bob Cole of KOKE FM, our event chair, Cathy Present and her hard-working committee and to our faithful volunteers.  We appreciate everyone who took time out to attend the luncheon and donated from the heart.  If you were not able to attend but would like to make a difference for a local family like Sam’s, click the button below to donate now.

Click on the photo below to see the photo gallery of all of our luncheon photos taken by Licarione Photography and others at this year’s 2016 Doing The Most Good Luncheon.  To request a print quality version of a specific photo(s), please email heidi.garcia@uss.salvationarmy.org and we will be happy to send you what you need.

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Jerry Dollar; Britni Peters; Heather Merz; Ben Estes – Licarione Photography