$500,000 Raised at Children's Hope Crystal Ball in Manhattan

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Over 600 movers and shakers from the tristate area came together at Pier Sixty in Manhattan for the Crystal Ball, organized by Children's Hope India to celebrate its 15th year of service to children.

As parents, we know to be a productive, self reliant adult a child needs more than just education, or nutrition or medical care. In these formative years a nurturing and enriching environment is equally important. Keeping this in mind, our care in all our projects is multi-faceted.

It was a star-studded soiree with celebrities -- and the evening more than met its goal of raising at least half a million dollars for health and education in India. Over 600 movers and shakers from the tristate area came together at Pier Sixty in Manhattan for the Crystal Ball, organized by Children's Hope India to celebrate its 15th year of service to children. This New York based organization of women professionals has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past one and a half decade to support children's projects in India and the US.

The guests included people from many communities, from the worlds of business, finance, medicine, and the arts. The chief guest was the Consul General of India, Neelam Deo, accompanied by Dr. Pramod Deo. Fashion designer Rachel Roy and the Hip Hop mogul Damon Dash were also present.

A highlight of the evening was a reading by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, from her upcoming book 'Unaccustomed Earth.' CH 2 member Pooja Midha, who introduced Lahiri, also took questions from the appreciative audience for Lahiri about her work. For the guests it was a rare treat to hear Jhumpa read since fans won't get to lay their hands on the book till April 2008!

A special surprise for the audience was the presence of two Bollywood personalities: Anupama Chopra, author of the critically acclaimed 'SRK: King of Bollywood' and filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra who has given fans such films as 'Parineeta,' and the Munnabhai films, and whose 'Eklavya' has been selected as India's official entry for the 2008 Oscars.

Actress Sarita Choudhury, who is currently starring in the off-Broadway play, 'The Rise of Dorothy Hale' introduced the work of Children's Hope with an evocative short film about Kathputli Colony, a slum in Delhi where the organization has introduced nonformal learning centers, crèches and performing art centers for the children.

As Dina Pahlajani, president of Children's Hope, observed, "As parents, we know to be a productive, self reliant adult a child needs more than just education, or nutrition or medical care. In these formative years a nurturing and enriching environment is equally important. Keeping this in mind, our care in all our projects is multi-faceted."

The event celebrated philanthropy and the art of giving through the recognition of people whose actions change the community for the better. The prestigious Lotus Award was presented to Raphael and Linda Benaroya, who are active in civic and philanthropic endeavors on local, national and international levels.

Social entrepreneur Benita Singh, the co-founder of Mercado Global, who was recently profiled on the cover of Newsweek as one of 15 people "who make America Great", received the Making a Difference Award for her innovative work with craftspeople in developing nations.

Board members Indie Singh and Kavita Lund acknowledged the sponsors including Avenue, HSBC Private Bank, Valentine USA, Loyaltex Fashion Inc and Fashion Overseas Bureau Limited as Diamond sponsors, and Nationwide which was the Platinum sponsor. Other sponsors included Air India, PepsiCo, Jet Airways, Tanzara International, Liz Claiborne, Sahara One.

The silent auction of luxury goods brought in a whopping $25,000 and included air tickets, jewelry, hotel and resort stays, fabulous paintings and even humidors filled with rare cigars and a dinner at the Grand Havana Room with the creator of the Rocky Patel cigars -- Rocky Patel himself.

The dynamic performers Vishal Vaid and Karsh Kale gave a rousing live concert of fusion ghazals with their one of a kind musical performance. The evening of dance, music and socializing brought in $500,000 for health and education projects and many new supporters for the organization.

Children's Hope India is a totally volunteer organization of Indian women professionals in New York that has been raising funds for children's causes since 1992. Funds raised go toward health and education initiatives in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Bangalore, Bhuj, Pune, Jabalpur and several villages in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

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Dina Pahlajani