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Gala Raises Over $1 Million Dollars for UNICEF's Life Saving Programs in India

HOUSTON, September 30, 2008 – The US Fund for UNICEF Southwest Regional Office announced today that their recently held “Mystique of India” Gala was the most successful event in its 26 year history, raising over $1 Million (US) for their life-saving programs in India. This record breaking event was chaired by Board Chairman Dr. Carolyn Farb, hc and co-chaired by Nidhika and Pershant Mehta and was held on Saturday, September 27, 2008 at the Hotel InterContinental Houston. “Despite the rescheduling caused by the devastation of Hurricane Ike and with great spirit, Houstonians opened their hearts and contributed to the ongoing emergencies and needs of women and children of India,” said Dr. Farb, who went on to say, “Houston is an international city composed of many different cultures and responds accordingly globally to natural disasters, human rights issues, HIV-AIDS prevention and basic food, water, clothing, education and protection of children around the world.” ... read more below video.

Receiving the UNICEF Gold Medallion of Valor for extraordinary service to UNICEF at this year's gala included: Grammy Award winning artist, former member of Destiny's Child and this years official 2008 MTV Ambassador of the Staying Alive Foundation, Kelly Rowland ; fashion designer to Indian royalty and celebrities, Naeem Khan ; and Philanthropists Eileen and Kase Lawal . In addition to the honorees, John M. Tsacrios, Jr . was recognized for his 26 years of dedicated service as the Founding Executive Director for the Southwest Region of UNICEF and was presented with a bronze sculpture by renowned artist, Eric Kaposta and recognized by Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee with a Congressional Proclamation for his 26 years of service.

Over 750 guests attended this year's event and created a beautiful vision of women in colorful saris and men in Nehru jackets and some bravely wore turbans.  Upon arrival, guests entered the foyer and were transported to the magical and mystical land of India.  Mandap Creations and Steven Wagner and Paul Hensley created a Magical Bazaar for the silent auction area and cocktail reception.  Snake charmers, puppeteers, and exotic and colorful costumed characters mingled among the guests.

Renowned Houston florist, Nino Shbeeb of Flowers by Nino, created a spectacular backdrop of roses and peacock feathers for the stage and the most magnificent floral centerpieces of orange and cream roses for the tables.  The centerpieces complemented the exquisite jeweled table linens and chair covers that Francesca Nilsen of Distinctive Details had custom made in India for the event.

Following a culinary Indian-fusion masterpiece created by Hotel InterContinental Chef Peter Laufer, guests danced the night away to the wonderful music provided by Dan Dyer and his band, which made a special effort to be able to perform at the event.

Guests in the crowd included: Dr. Carolyn Farb (Chair of Board and Gala) and Sam Banks, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Pamela and Ignacio Martin-Duarte, Donna and Bob Bruni, Drs. Asit and Ulupi Choksi, Nidhika and Pershant Mehta (Co-Chairs), Christina and Jean Francois-Bonnete, Chuck Jenness (proud Father of entertainer Dan Dyer), Susan Khron and Mike Willis, Martha Turner and Glen Baugess, Cathy Cagle, Susie and Joe Ting, Anna and Thomas Au, Leela and Nat Krishnamurthy, Sharon and William Morris, Ken Harrison, Eileen and Kase Lawal, John M. Tsacrios, Jr. (Founding Executive Director), Franco Valobra, Darlene and Cappy Bisso, Betty and John Hrncir, Marie and Christian Bruns, Maureen and Adel Chaouch, Councilman Peter Brown, Robert Thompson, Pily and Alejandro Simon, Astrid and Gene Van Dyke, Sandy and Barney Barrett, Trish Millard and Al Lasher, Amanda and Robert Brock, Ali and Gita Saberioon, Joyce Goss, Marthann Masterson and Dr. John Mendelsohn.

About the U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Founded in 1946, UNICEF helps save, protect and improve the lives of children in 155 countries and territories through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water and sanitation. UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority. For more information about UNICEF or to make a donation, please visit www.unicefusa.org .

For more information regarding the event, please contact Jeff Smith, Smith & Sacco Public Relations at 713/627-8777 or email jfsmitty@aol.com.

  text from Houston Chronicle article

Indian-themed party benefits UNICEF

Copyright 2008
Houston Chronicle
Oct. 1, 2008, 6:07PM

Not only was Saturday night's UNICEF Mystique of India gala the nonprofit's most financially successful to date, it was also the most dazzling gala in recent memory.

Picture the foyer of the InterContinental-Houston filled with hundreds of guests in formal Indian attire — lavish beading, bangles and jewels shimmering in the party lights. The setting — rich with antiques, embroidered fabrics and decorative umbrellas from India — included musicians playing traditional Indian instruments, costumed characters from Indian lore, snake charmers and puppeteers.

None among the 750 guests were more elaborately attired than chairs Carolyn Farb and Nidhika and Pershant Mehta, all three wrapped in yards of exotic fabrics replete with elaborate beading.

Beneath the glamorous spectacle, the serious mission of UNICEF was paramount. The money raised, more than $750,000, is earmarked for child-survival programs in India, such as clean-water initiatives and inoculations.

The evening honored Eileen and Kase Lawal for their community leadership and for their support of UNICEF, which includes their roles as co-chairs of the Texas UNICEF AIDS campaign. The much-admired John Tsacrios Jr . was honored for his 26 years as founding executive director of the Gulf Coast regional office of UNICEF, which today covers 12 states. Tsacrios is stepping down to pursue philanthropic fundraising on an international scale, but he will continue to make Houston his home.

Guests are still talking about the elaborate decorative scheme created by top-tier Indian wedding designer Mandap Creations in conjunction with party designers Steven Wagner and Paul Hensley. Likewise for the Indian-themed feast overseen by InterContinental chef Peter Laufer and the profusions of flowers provided by Nino Shbeeb, in most elaborate dress complete with with maharaja's turban.

In the mix were Sam Banks, Manmeet and Paul Likhari, Margaret Williams and Jim Daniel, Pinder and Jag Gill, Astrid and Gene Van Dyke, Jyot and Dr. Harmohinder Kochar, Betty and John Hrncir, Omana and Sam Abraham and Susan Krohn with Mike Willis.


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