It was a ‘Wizard of Oz” magical kind of evening July 25 at CASA of Galveston County‘s No Place Like Home fundraiser honoring Judge Anne B. Darring.

The evening began with a guided tour of The Bryan Museum, 1315 21st St. in Galveston, followed by cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and a silent auction. Twinkling lights were ablaze as attendees stepped out of the museum into The Conservatory, where tables were beautifully decorated with Dorothy’s ruby red shoes, crisp linens and an array of fresh flowers. Chop Mon Ami catered the event.

Connie Ricketts, CASA executive director, welcomed the guests. Inside, family, friends and volunteers gathered to honor Darring, a passionate advocate with a heart for children and their families, as well as to raise much-needed money to support the work being done by CASA of Galveston County. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA’s mission is to provide trained community volunteers who advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in the foster care system in an effort to secure safety and permanency while increasing child abuse awareness.

Darring practiced family law in Texas City for 25 years before being elected to serve as judge of the only court in Galveston County that exclusively handles family cases. There to offer congratulations, love and support were: Her husband, Mark Barnett, and sons Jeffrey and Dustin Barnett; her brother John and his wife, Carol Darring; court coordinator Jaclyn Cobb-Chavez; Anne Darring’s sister Jenny Darring; and Ken and Lisa Pickering. Lisa Pickering is Mark’s sister, who delivered the honorary message. Vicki Spriggs, CEO Texas CASA, delivered a powerful keynote presentation reminding all about the need for more CASA volunteers. County Commissioner Darrell Apffel served as the auctioneer.

Also on hand sharing in the celebration were the board of director officers, Timothy Axt, Norma Jacobson, Lydia Cook and Kathy Trussell and board members Kelli Becka, Taylor Biddle, Sandra Hernandez, Kristina Lucas, Linda Stickline and Nick Viator.

In keeping with the night’s theme, a playhouse built and donated by DSW Homes and Holly Larsen of Newhaven Design was presented to a lucky winner.


Local business and community leaders gathered July 24 in League City and leaned into the conversation. The group’s focus was sharing ideas and opportunities for serving their community, giving back to their neighbors, building friendships and relationships. Manish Maheshwari, owner of Little Mia Bella Italian Restaurant, 2471 Interstate 45, welcomed the group and served up delicious, fresh foods and drinks.

Many of these local leaders are volunteers involved in many areas of their communities, nonprofit organizations, schools and running their companies. Conversations around the tables were lively and engaging. In attendance were Erika Steele of Lighthouse Caring Ministries; Janet Coan; Brittany Green of Advantage Business Coaching; Lauri Coppock of PrimeLending; Julia Gallagher of NRL Mortgage; Sarah Ferguson of Texan Bank; Kat Clemons of The Foundation for Hope Village; Ashley Helms of PowerTech Services; Lucy Woltz, retired community leader; Twila Lindblade of Oceans Behavioral Hospital; Cathy Ture and Ronda Cook.

The Ladies Lunch Bunch meets monthly at various local venues in and around the community.

Doreen Hughes covers events and happenings across the county. Her column appears each Sunday. Contact her at with “Out and About” in the subject line.

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