[Source: Loni Nannini, Arizona Daily Star] — In Tucson, they are the hostesses with the mostest: The Silver & Turquoise Board of Hostesses throws a party with purpose. Over the past 16 years, the Mission San Xavier del Bac has been the sole beneficiary of more than $325,000 in proceeds from the Board of Hostesses’ annual Silver & Turquoise Ball.
Their commitment to restoration of the mission is just one example of the 50 active members’ dedication to the community, according to Ginny Healy, chairwoman of the upcoming ball and 11-year veteran of the non-profit Board of Hostesses. “The women I have worked with at the Board of Hostesses are some of the most outstanding women in the community. You see their professional accomplishments and contributions through volunteer service everywhere around Tucson,” said Healy, senior director of development for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science at the University of Arizona.
The Board of Hostesses was created 59 years ago to promote, support and encourage the preservation of Tucson’s historical traditions and diverse cultural heritage. The ball originated as a potluck thank-you for volunteers of the now-defunct Tucson Festival Society, which staged events such as Pioneer Days, La Parada de los Niños and the Children’s Writing and Art Festival. The potluck soon moved to the Arizona Inn at the urging of proprietor Isabella Greenway and has remained there since. Healy believes the location, the history and the compelling cause culminate in Tucson’s most enjoyable ball. “It is really just a party to celebrate people who have volunteered in the community and the work they have done. It is for people to sit back and enjoy themselves and has really become one of Tucson’s great traditions,” said Healy, who is producing a documentary on the ball with director and co-producer LuisCarlos Romero Davis.
Healy said support of the mission remains a motivating factor, particularly because $150,000 in state funding for the ongoing $7 million-plus restoration was cut on Feb. 2. The grant had been awarded through Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund, which set aside proceeds from the Arizona Lottery to fund historical restoration projects and trail management. The money was slated for work on the east tower, where continued water damage could eventually threaten the structural integrity and damage interior artwork. “Originally those (Heritage) funds were voter-approved, and I don’t think voters approved what the state is doing with them now. We can’t start work on the tower until we have more funds available,” said Vern Lamplot, executive director of the Patronato San Xavier, a non-profit corporation dedicated to preservation of the mission.
In his appeal for support of the mission, Lamplot emphasized its cultural and historic value as one of the original 10 structures on the National Register of Historic Places and its bankability as a major tourist attraction that hosts more than 250,000 worldwide visitors annually. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]