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Austin Child Guidance Center, I Live Here I Give Here, SoCo at Night and more

Michael Barnes

HEALTH: An Old Austin group sheds new light. You know the type: The Austin group that has been doing good work for decades, but is not well known or understood by New Austinites. Consider, for instance, the Settlement Home, Helping Hand Home, Sunshine Camps, Caritas or Marbridge, all many decades old, but just now emerging from relative obscurity among those who arrived here during the past 30 years. Add to the list the Austin Child Guidance Center. Founded in 1951, the mental health provider was the first to bring a child psychiatrist to Central Texas and the first to treat children who had been sexually abused, well ahead of the national curve. It treats 3,500 clients each year on an out-patient basis. A sign that even newcomers are catching on: Its annual Austin Originals benefit jumped from 250 to 500 guests this year and moved from the old KLRU studios to the welcoming Austin Music Hall.

CHARITY: “I’m not the normal I Live Here I Give Here person.” Thus joked Julie Stevenson, selected as the Big Giver at the Big Give event for I Live Here I Give Here. “I’m not in my 30s.” Indeed, the group that encourages local charity skews younger than the traditional philanthropists around town. Stevenson had been nominated by Any Baby Can and SafePlace. The win automatically places Stevenson in the running for the national Jefferson Awards, sponsored locally by the American-Statesman. I Live Here, now headed by Tom Spencer, is best known for having raised $5.7 million for local nonprofits during a 24 hour period last year through its Amplify Austin program. The group’s playful Parisian circus party fit just right into the new Hyatt Zilker Banquet Room.

NIGHTLIFE: Seeking SoCo after dark. Taken from my story published in Austin360: “South Congress Avenue is for daytrippers. Right? Families with children on holiday. Locals looking to scratch the retail itch. Flâneurs lounging in the shade of more than 100 eateries, shops, coffee houses and watering holes. After the sun sets, however, SoCo gradually shifts gears. The children scatter. The sidewalks clear out. The cognoscenti slip into darkened rooms to do what adults do. Not that! (Well, maybe that too, but not in public. Life is no longer as louche as it once was along this former red-light district.) Rather, the revelers quietly turn SoCo into a nightlife district that rivals, at times, downtown’s more crowded — and infinitely noisier — precincts.”