Best Friends Brunch raises more than $100,000 for AniMeals on Wheels

Houston’s elite animal advocates champion the cause at pet fashion show

HOUSTON – On the heels of fashion week in New York City, a pet fashion show in Houston stole the hearts of elite animal advocates at the Feb. 10 Best Friends Brunch – a fundraiser that brought in $100,000 for AniMeals, a program of Interfaith Ministries (IM) for Greater Houston that feeds the pets of Meals on Wheels’ homebound seniors.

Susan Boggio, a long-time AniMeals supporter and a champion of animal welfare causes, was this year’s passionate honoree. In fact, before being honored at the masquerade-themed event at Hotel ZaZa, Boggio rushed to rescue a 9-month-old puppy that she read about on Facebook.

More than 200 attended the event, which was chaired by Brigitte Kalai and Sippi Khurana, who were joined by honorary chairs Tama Lundquist and Tena Lundquist Faust.

After a vegetarian brunch, Kalai, Lundquist and Faust all walked their dogs down a runway as television personality Casey Curry humorously personified the bios of the furry models. All 18 animals – including one super chill feline – were dressed to the nines and had the audience in stitches. Walking her mini chocolate Schnauzer named “Max”, who sported a snazzy black vest, Kalai and her canine companion won top prize in the fashion show as gauged by an applause meter.

Attendees also included Katherine McNeil, Bret Baccus, Mandy Kao, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, Jay Harberg, Ellen Susman, Sidney Faust, Paula Sutton, Charlene Chuang, Shaukat Zakaria and Mrs. Texas Legacy 2018 Jennifer Hennessey, a local veterinarian.=

As Boggio graciously accepted the 2018 AniMeals on Wheels Champion Award, she emphasized the need for people to extend their generosity to all creatures. “There is so much you learn from being generous,” she said. “There is so much that needs to be done. We can all give more and do more. There is someone who needs you. That’s what makes life worth living.”

Martin B. Cominsky, president and CEO for IM, reminded attendees that AniMeals was established 10 years ago after Meals on Wheels drivers saw their senior clients feed their meals to their pets, not wanting their only companions to go

hungry. Ten thousand pounds of pet food each month feeds more than 1,200 dogs and cats, and new programs are transporting seniors’ pets to the vet for vaccinations, microchips, check-ups, medicine and medical procedures.

“For many, these pets are our seniors’ only companions,” said Heather Holland, AniMeals Committee chairperson. “They are their families.”

Recognizing Boggio’s tremendous support of AniMeals, Holland added, “We thank you for your donations and we thank you for your advocacy. Seniors should not have to choose who gets to eat on certain days.”

Meals on Wheels client Betty Harris, 88, brought her dog, Coco, to the event to explain how AniMeals has helped her best friend. “Not only do they feed Coco, but they give her shots, cut her claws, give her medicine, and they even give her toys,” Harris said. “It’s amazing how much they give. I can’t thank the staff and the vets enough. They are such a joy. And Coco thanks you, too!”



HOUSTON (FEB. 15, 2017) – Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s Best Friends Brunch drew more than 200 people and plenty of pups to Hotel ZaZa, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017.

IM raised more than $100,000 from the brunch, which is a main source of funding for aniMeals on Wheels, a program that provides much-needed food for dogs and cats belonging to IM’s Meals on Wheels seniors. This year’s brunch honored Jerri Duddlesten Moore, along with her dog Armi. Heather Holland chaired the event, and Neal Hamil and Karen Winston served as Honorary Chairs. The top sponsors for the event were Linda and Fred Marshall, along with Susan and Dan Boggio and Don Sanders.

“It’s always fun to celebrate aniMeals on Wheels with our four-legged friends,” said Martin B. Cominsky, IM’s President & CEO. “We are so grateful that we have such wonderful and enthusiastic support from the community for this program. And we know our seniors are grateful to be able to provide for their cherished pets.”

This year’s brunch featured a doggie fashion show, cat video contest and a silent auction that included sports memorabilia donated by Alan Helfman of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, a Billy Gibbons autographed guitar donated by Kristy Phillips and a vacation getaway to The Pelican Reef Villas in Belize donated by Teena Davis.

Guests at the champagne brunch included: Jim Moore, Diane Lokey Farb, Dee Dee Dochen, Wendy Phillips, Kristy Phillips, Nadia Tajalli, Miya Shay, Frank Billingsley, and IM Board Members, Bret Baccus, Charlene Chuang, Debra Garner, Jay Harberg, Mani Subramanian and Paula Sutton. ABC-13 meteorologist Casey Curry served as emcee.

More than 600 homebound seniors are enrolled in aniMeals on Wheels program. Each month, volunteers distribute more than 9,000 pounds of food to more than 1,000 pets, who provide valuable company and love to their senior companions. Studies show pets can enhance the lives of seniors, improving their physical and mental health, while reducing trips to the doctor.


A United Way agency, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (IM) brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration and service, as a demonstration of our shared beliefs. IM provides three main services: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston which delivers more than 1.5 million meals each year to seniors in Harris and Galveston Counties; Refugee Services which, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, resettles thousands of refugees in Houston; and, Interfaith Relations, which provides community services fostering understanding, respect and engagement among Houstonians of all faiths. For more information, visit


Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s (IM) popular event, the Best Friends Brunch, attracted nearly 300 guests to Hotel ZaZa on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016.

IM raised more than $112,000 at the brunch, which is main source of funding for aniMeals on Wheels, a program that provides much-needed food for dogs and cats belonging to IM’s Meals on Wheels seniors.

“Our Best Friends Brunch gets bigger every year,” said Martin B. Cominsky, IM President & CEO. “This growing success is a testament to how much Houstonians love pets and want to help our homebound seniors care for their beloved dogs and cats.”

Guests at the champagne brunch included honoree Leisa Holland-Nelson, the 2016 aniMeals on Wheels Champion; brunch chairs Laura Max Rose and Ben Rose; co-chairs Kristy Phillips and Wendy Phillips; Philamena and Arthur Baird; Dr. Franklin Rose; Susan Boggio; IM Board Members Bret Baccus, Mary Gwen Hulsey and Dr. Fatima Mawji; and, Steven and Debra Costello. Channel 13 meteorologist Casey Curry served as emcee.

More than 570 homebound seniors are enrolled in IM’s aniMEALS on Wheels program. Each month, volunteers distribute more than 8,000 pounds of food to more than 1,200 pets, who provide valuable company and love to their senior companions. Studies show pets can enhance the lives of seniors, improving their physical and mental health, while reducing trips to the doctor.

Second Annual Best Friends Brunch benefiting aniMeals on Wheels, a program of Interfaith Ministries of Houston

Puppy love was in the air at the Second Annual Best Friends Brunch benefiting the aniMeals on Wheels program at the Omni Hotel Houston on Saturday, February 14, 2015. Brunch chairs Teena Davis, Wendy Phillips and Kristy Phillips along with host committee, Bruce Padilla and Shelby Kibodeaux were head over heels when more than 200 guests, helped raise more than $100,000 to feed the hungry pets of Meals on Wheels homebound seniors.

Before the reception, guests enjoyed cocktails and a pet treat snack bar sponsored by the Doggie Snack Bar in the lobby of the Omni Hotel Houston. Master of Ceremonies, Casey Curry of ABC Channel 13, set the mood as she welcomed guests and was followed by an invocation from Rev. Kathleen Davies of Servant Savior Presbyterian Church. Guests enjoyed spinach, strawberries and pecan salad along with chicken salad and pasta salad. It was love at first sight when the aniMeals on Wheels Top Pet Fashion Show began. Awarded with the title of “aniMeals on Wheels Top Dog” for 2015 was Jesse and his owner Sonia Soto.

The chairs of the brunch took the stage and honored Banfield Charitable Trust as the 2015 aniMeals on Wheels Champion. aniMeals on Wheels volunteer and Meals on Wheels senior and her pet engaged the audience with their heart-warming story on how aniMeals on Wheels helps feed the four-legged companions of Meal on Wheels seniors so they don’t have to sacrifice their own food, health and well-being.

For every table, centerpieces included of a glass vase filled with sweetheart candies and an assortment of heart-shaped Mister French’s Gourmet Bakery signature vanilla cookies for a sweet take-home treat. The cookies were meticulously hand decorated to the smallest detail and designed specifically for the event by Scott French himself.

Guests were invited to fall in love and place their bid on 12 over the top fabulous silent auction packages put together by silent auction chair, Kim Padgett.  The silent auction and a raffle drawing for a stay at the Pelican Reef Villas in Belize raised $15,000.

Those spreading the love on Valentine’s Day included: Jessica Rossman, Elizabeth Stein, Barbara Van Postman, Susan Boggio, Erin Hicks, Jodie Eisenhardt, Laura Stein, Sidney Faust, Karen Turner-Smith, Stephen and Debra Costello, Mary Benton, Leisa Holland Nelson, Dr. Angela Sturm, Jake O’Brien, Jennifer Roosth, Laurette Veres, Lara Bell, Sharron Melton, Terri West, Christine Johnson, Chris Goins, Michelle Mantor, Bret Baccus, Paula Sutton and Jay and Karen Harberg.

Special thanks to our 2015 Best Friends Brunch sponsors Banfield Charitable Trust, Bullock Diamond and Estate Brokers, David Peck, Fred and Linda Marshall, PetSmart, Dr. Angela Strum, David Huntington, John West Physical Therapy, Debra Costello, Teena Davis, Ellen and Harvey Grodjesk, Friends for AniMeals on Wheels, Haute Pets, Mister French’s Gourmet Bakery, Jackie Moore, Nicole Moore/The Joan Moore Foundation, Pura Vida Tequila, and Wendy Phillips & Kristy Phillips.